Voicemail is a fact of life. It allows us to decide if and when we want to return calls; it puts us in control of our day, and it gives us time to prepare the information we need before calling back.
The challenge comes when we come up against somebody else’s voicemail in a sales situation. We need to find a way to persuade prospects to return our calls.
Start by calling just outside normal office hours. Calling before 9 am or after 5 pm gives you a greater likelihood that your prospect will answer. There are two reasons why this works.
- Most business people don’t keep 9 – 5 hours. They are at their desk early, sometimes even before 8 am and they tend to finish late to get that day’s work finished. After 5 pm is when drop-ins, emergencies and meetings won’t usually interrupt them.
- Personal assistants and other gatekeepers usually work office hours.
When you leave a voicemail, try these steps.
Say it twice
Most people cannot write as quickly as you can run through your standard introduction and rattle off your phone number.
Start your message with “Hello, Mr Prospect, this is Joe Benson from Able Computing. My phone number is 02 9999 1111 and I’m calling ….” Then finish your message with almost the same words. “Again, Mr Prospect, this is Joe Benson from Able Computing and my phone number is 02 9999 1111. I look forward to speaking with you soon.” Don’t include your title or other extra information. It is irrelevant in a voicemail.
Get to your key message
Don’t waste their time. You want to sound like a business professional. Deliver your voice mail message in 30 seconds or less without rushing. No one will listen for longer than that so you have to be quick and professional.
Do your homework
Research their business. If you have a networking connection through a client or a contact perhaps one who suggested you call, state it early in your message. It will keep the prospect listening. Using a mutual friend, shared contact, competitor’s name, or other networking reference creates attention. Also, check their website and use any background intelligence that is appropriate.
Talk about their outcomes
Your prospect wants to know what you can do for him or her. Can you save them time, increase their revenue, enhance their profit, offer a financial safety net or minimise debt? If so, say so. They want to know what’s in it for them.
Call to action
What do you want them to do? Call you? Take your next call? Respond to an email? Tell them clearly what you would like and when you will call back. Oh, and make your call back before 9 am or after 5.00 pm.
If you have an email address follow up with an email. If you have a mobile number, follow up with a text message. If you don’t have an email address, call the company and ask for their email format or better still ask for your prospects email address. Search online first though. You may be able to find it without calling the company.
Stay reasonably formal
Until you meet face-to-face or chat by phone formality helps you build a positive impression. Call them Ms. Prospect or Mr. Prospect rather than by their first name.