The Right Way to Leave a Voicemail in Sales

There are very few reasons not to leave a voicemail when you are calling your prospective clients to ask them for a meeting. There may only be one reason you might hang up the phone without leaving a message. That reason is that you are going to redial their number later that same day. Other than that single reason, you should leave a voicemail.

First, let’s look at why it is critical to leave a message, and then we’ll look at the components of an effective voicemail.

Why You Always Leave a Voicemail

Some salespeople worry about leaving a voicemail because they believe that the contact they are pursuing is going to recognize their phone number and avoid their calls. They hope that by not leaving a voicemail, the connection won’t know who is calling and answer the phone when they call. It’s as if they believe that the element of surprise is going to somehow improve their chances of getting a meeting.

There is no evidence that hiding who you are when you call or hanging up multiple times without leaving a message somehow engenders trust in the relationship. Numerous calls from the same number without a voicemail are proof that the person calling doesn’t want you to identify them, which is why telemarketers use different numbers. However, you do not want to use telemarketers as an example of how to prospect effectively in b2b sales.

You are pursuing your dream client, a company you have explicitly targeted because you know that you can help them produce better results. Your value proposition is tailor-made for the kinds of everyday challenges and obstacles they face. When this is true, it is also true that you want the contacts to know your name, your voice, and the fact that you are pursuing them for a meeting.

You don’t want to hide the fact that you are pursuing your dream client’s company by not leaving a voicemail. Instead, you want credit for the call.

Credit for the Call

When you leave a voicemail message, you indicate that you are pursuing your contact for a meeting, something we’ll have more to say later in this post. The second voicemail you leave is an indication that you might be serious about gaining that meeting. Most of the dabblers, those who are not serious about their profession or pursuit of their dream clients, make a single attempt and disappear, never to be heard from again.

The third voicemail message is some proof that you may be the type of person with the intestinal fortitude to persist in their pursuit. Who would want to work with or buy from someone who lacks the discipline and the will to continue to pursue the things they profess to want? How much value could a person offer if they were willing to make only a single call? How serious could they be if they quickly give up on themselves?

Over time, your voicemail messages stack up. You become known for your persistence, which defines you as someone serious enough about your business to be worth a meeting. The unanswered voicemails (and emails) and the rejections to your requests for a meeting end up being critical to gaining a meeting.

Your voice is more intimate than an email. When your contact can hear your voice, especially when they hear it multiple times, they begin to recognize it. If you have a personality that allows you to be loose and playful, your voice will be more than a sound; it will be a person.

How to Leave a Voicemail

Much of what follows is very basic. But part of this approach isn’t something salespeople commonly use when leaving a voicemail.

Identify Yourself: You want to start a voicemail by telling your contact who you are and your company’s name. If you have a difficult name (like mine), you are going to speak slowly and clearly. There are voicemail messages that are so unintelligible that the person leaving it would have been better off not leaving the message.

Your Value Proposition: Far too many salespeople leave messages that project the fact that they have no real value to offer outside of their solution, leaving their contact with the feeling that taking their call will only result in being pitched for a meeting to “share a little about my company” and “learn a little about you and your company.”

Instead of a mostly self-oriented approach, you want to leave a message that provides a value proposition that your contact will recognize as worth their time. When you tell your contact that you have “an executive briefing” that will benefit them—even if they never buy from you, and even if there is no next step now—you improve your message, making you someone who has a view about their business and potentially piquing their interest.

No Request for a Call Back: You might avoid sounding like a lot of salespeople by not asking your client to call you back. It isn’t their responsibility to call you back, so why bother asking for a callback? Instead, you are better off telling your contact that you will call them back—and then keeping that promise.

Leave Your Phone Number: Even though you are not asking for a callback, you should always leave your phone number when cold calling. You never know when the Gods of Prospecting will shine fortune on you because you have been doing the work and persisting over time. While you can never count on a callback, occasionally, you show up at the right time with the right idea.

Follow Up: When you promise to call your contact back later in the week, make that call. If you say you’ll try again next week, make that call. Patient, professional, persistence is the key to success. See Jeff Shore’s new book, Follow Up and Close the Sale.

Voicemail is a necessary and useful part of any prospecting sequence. Done well, it can help your contact become familiar with you—and the ideas you want to change with them—opening up the possibility of the coveted first meeting that always precedes a new opportunity.

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