The question I get over and over again these days is, “Why should I even leave voice mails? No one ever calls me back.” To that I say, it’s probably because you leave crappy voicemails. Don’t get me wrong. I know phone isn’t the primary means of communication anymore, and callbacks are few and far between regardless of how good the message is. However, phone and voicemails are still an important piece of an effective inside sales or sales development prospecting strategy.

There are more than a few reasons I still make calls and leave voicemails.

  • My email response rates go up when I leave voicemails.

  • Sometimes prospects have voicemails set to go to email — another chance they’ll hear them.

  • Different people like communicating in different ways (see Neuro Linguistic Programming)

  • Email is only 7% of the way we communicate and absorb information while phone is 45% (see Professor Albert Mehrabian's communications model).

  • Gen Xers like me grew up with the phone and still like to talk.

  • No one else is doing it anymore so it’s an opportunity to stand out


With all this, why do people still argue that the phone is dead and don’t believe in leaving voicemails? Here are some surefire ways for you NOT to get a callback when you leave a voicemail:

I know that seems a bit obvious, but let me give you an example. Say I have two sales reps — Rep A and Rep B. Rep A makes 20 calls and leaves 20 voicemails. Rep B makes 20 calls and leaves zero voicemails. What can I guarantee about tomorrow? I can’t guarantee that Rep A will get a callback, but I can 100% guarantee that Rep B won’t. If you’re going to make calls, at least get credit for your work.

“Touching base” and “checking in” are the two most meaningless phrases in sales. It means there is no reason for your call so therefore there is no reason for me to talk to you. Time is the most valuable asset any of us have. If you want someone’s time, it better be pretty obvious in your message that they are going to get something out of it. “Understanding my needs” is not adding value. Make sure you always have a reason for your call that focuses on adding value. Share an example of a client you’re working with or something new happening in the industry. Show you did some homework before making the call.

No one listens to long-winded anything, never mind voicemails. As I noted  above, sometimes voicemails go to email. If I see a voicemail that is 30 seconds I might actually listen to it. If I see one that is over a minute there’s no way I will. If your voicemails are longer than 30 seconds you’re trying to sell on your voicemail. You can’t sell your solution that way. You can sell time or the next step, which is a callback. Focus on saying something short and sweet that gets their attention and piques their interest enough to call back or get them to think.

No one likes sleazy sales reps who use tricks. The ones that bother me the most are the voicemails that reps leave pretending like they know me, saying something like, “Hi John, it’s Bill, call me back when you get a chance” in a real friendly tone. Someone might fall for this once, but when they call back and find out it’s a sales rep, I guarantee that call doesn’t go well. Make sure you stay above board. I love sales tips; I hate sales tricks.

Everyone knows what a script sounds like, and no one likes a pitch. It’s a good idea to write down what you’re going to say and practice it a few times, but eventually we need to drop the script and be a normal human being. People buy from people. I get more callbacks when I screw up a voicemail but sound human than when I leave the perfect pitch.

We all have weak words in our vocabulary (um, maybe, possibly, in terms of, basically, etc.). The more weak words you have in your vocabulary the less people pay attention. Find out the weak words you have in your vocabulary and get rid of them.

Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm. You can transfer enthusiasm over the phone, not over email. In his communications model, Professor Mehrabian discusses how body language makes up 55% of the way we communicate as human beings, which means we’re only dealing with 45% of the way people communicate when we talk over the phone. This is why we need to maximize that 45% by having as much energy as possible (without being cheesy). When we leave monotone voicemails that make it sound like we couldn’t care less about what we do, why would we expect for anyone else to care? This is why you should stand up when making calls. When you stand up, your voice resonates better, and it’s a much more confident position than sitting down hunched over your desk praying that people around you aren’t listening to what you’re saying.

Making calls and leaving voicemails will probably not drastically change your results, but it will make a difference if you do it right. Phone skills will also be something that will benefit you for the rest of your career and give you the confidence you need to excel at the next level. Make it happen!

Sales is the transfer of enthusiasm. You can transfer enthusiasm over the phone, not over email.”

John Barrows | Owner, J. Barrows LLC
How to Craft the Perfect Sales Pitch By Annie Simms,
Account Executive, Salesforce
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President and CEO, Productivity Keynote Speaker and Author, The Productivity Pro, Inc.
 
 
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