Are you leveraging sales voicemail as part of your prospecting process?
There’s this dirty little rumor circulating the sales world that says voicemail is dead and gone.
Sure, we are largely a society of text messages and email consumers, but voicemail still remains a very valuable sales tool… You just have to take a strategic approach.
What if I were to tell you that no matter how great a salesperson you are, the majority of prospects aren’t going to call you back?
You would probably respond with something like, “then why the heck am I reading this post?”
Check out the following stats:
- The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%.
- The optimal voicemail is between 8 and 14 seconds.
- 80% of calls go to voicemail, and 90% of first time voicemails are never returned.
These aren’t meant to discourage, only to help you set realistic goals.
Increase your callbacks from your by crafting the best sales voicemail messages that you can. Take advantage of that short time you have to connect with your prospect.
Don’t become a sales voicemail leaving zombie.
Emails may get more responses, but returned voicemails typically show a greater level of interest. These leads are truly interested in doing business with you.
Never forget that key decision makers are busy. Going to voicemail doesn’t need to make you stop in your tracks and panic.
Don’t hang up.
Don’t call back 15 times in a row hoping for an answer.
It’s time to EMBRACE the sales voicemail – it’s far from dead no matter what anyone tells you!
1. Make Sure You Have Context for Your Call
How did you first become introduced to the person you are calling? Did they download an ebook or accept a LinkedIn invite?
Whatever the original introduction, make sure you are mentioning this.
Top decision makers are left with mailboxes full of messages each day, so establish context in order to make your message stand out.
Fortunately, gaining intel and connecting with these contacts is easier than ever with the many opportunities we have on the Internet to cultivate relationships.
You might be making a cold call, but you can warm it up a bit by doing your homework, creating connections, and building a relationship prior to leaving your message.
2. Be Clear About What You Want
As with any sales message, you need to be clear about your call to action.
What are you hoping to gain as a result of you message? Why should they call you back?
Don’t go into a lengthy description – simply leave enough information to make them curious about the whole story.
Tell them you would love to set aside 10 minutes to chat or schedule a time next week to go over a demo.
When you are clear about what you want, your chances of a callback increase dramatically.
3. Offer a Clear Value Incentive
“What’s in it for me?”
This is our first thought whenever we are prospected.
Take your sales hat off for a second and consider your personal experience as a consumer. We are never truly interested in listening to a sales message unless we can easily identify the benefit we can expect for ourselves.
By nature, we are greedy.
With this in mind, be sure to offer a clear value incentive in your message. Use statistics and real facts on how you are going to improve their life – the trick is you have about 5 or 10 seconds to achieve just this goal in your message so typically you are better off going with one strong stat.
It’s your chance to pack a punch and keep your prospect from immediately hitting the ‘delete’ button.
4. Keep it Short and Sweet
While it seems no two professionals can agree on the exact number of seconds that equal the perfect sales voicemail, the overriding theme is that short and sweet is best.
As mentioned earlier, somewhere between 8 to 14 seconds is believed to be ideal.
It’s no easy task to get every point across in this short amount of time, so use each second to the fullest.
The moment you start rambling you are getting deleted.
5. Call at Strategic Times
This will take a little research on your end to discover the best time to reach prospects, but follow what other industry leaders say to get you started.
For example, the folks at RingLead claim Wednesday through Thursday from 6:45 to 9:00 A.M. or Wednesday through Thursday from 4:00 to 6:00 P.M. work best for them. The worst times are Mondays 6:00 A.M. to noon, and Friday afternoons.
Avoid calling very early in the morning or late at night. This means you need to be aware of time zones in the areas you are calling. Not all your calls will be in-state, so be conscious of the local time in the areas you are reaching out to.
Do a bit of A/B testing on your own to find the most successful call times.
6. Use the Person’s First Name More Than Once
Using the prospect’s first name establishes a sense of familiarity; using the last name, however, does just the opposite.
Be sure to say the first name of the person you are calling at least twice (so long as it doesn’t sound forced).
On occasion, you might have those hard-to-pronounce names to contend with. Make sure you figure out the normal pronunciation BEFORE you call.
The second someone screws up your name, you instantly see them as a stranger and the only thing worse than a call from a stranger is a call from a stranger trying to sell you something – poof, instant deletion.
7. Repeat Critical Information Twice
We’ve all had that voicemail where we need to listen to it 5 times just to get the information we need to call back.
Unless it’s from your dear grandmother, chances are that you aren’t going to make the effort to listen again and again to get the gist of the message.
When leaving your message you are against the clock without a doubt, but it’s still recommended that you leave your critical info (callback number, for example) twice so that your message doesn’t require work on the other end.
Additionally, avoid making the call from a number that you don’t want the callback going to. In the days of answering machines this wasn’t such an issue but smartphones make it easy to call back the person who left a message. Remember, you want to clear all obstacles out of the way to increase your chances of getting a response.
8. Perfect Your Tone
Walking the line between professional and personal is tough, no doubt, but it’s typically the best way to connect through voicemail. The second you SOUND like someone selling something you have lost all chance of a callback.
One method I have heard and am completely on board with is scouting out the contact’s LinkedIn profile and then leaving the message while looking at it.
It might sound silly, but if you can visualize who you are leaving the sales voicemail for, you are better able to develop the correct tone of voice.
Above all, try to keep it friendly and professional.
9. Use a Contact Name You Both Have in Common
Part of building context for the call is relying on any mutual connection or reference you have in common.
Using this in your message will create a personal connection and increase the importance of the message as a result.
A word of warning – make sure this is someone that has a positive connection with them! Do a little research before accidentally name dropping an old business partner who is currently at war with them.
10. Craft a Script
If you are the type that doesn’t like to leave anything to chance, craft a script.
Remember those high school days when you had to leave your crush a message on their machine? You needed to think out each aspect while not sounding desperate or overly excited. Maybe you wrote down the key points.
Look at your sales prospect as that crush – you want to impress, get a callback and ultimately make the sale. Sure it’s not a date you are after, but use this same thought process to get you on the right page.
Carefully write out a sales voicemail script, or even bullet points, that you need to cover in your message. This will help you avoid those awful moments when your mind draws a blank.
11. Don’t Sound “Salesy”
Even as a salesperson, let’s face it, you hate being sold to in your personal life.
Why do you think your contacts are any different?
The point of a sales voicemail is NOT to close a sale, it’s to gain their interest and invite them to learn more. Don’t use those power closing skills in a voicemail, you will be turning potential clients off from entertaining learning anything more about you.
12. Appeal to Curiosity
So how do you pique someone’s interest in a sales voicemail?
You appeal to the natural sense of curiosity we all have.
This is where the idea of stating your value proposition comes in. Mention the impact you have made working with clients similar to themselves and allow that curiosity you’ve created to result in a callback.
13. Don’t Start With Your Name (or Your Company’s Name)
Starting with your name, or the name of your company, is one of the biggest mistakes salespeople make. Sure it may seem like the professional way to start off but it also knocks you back into the category of a stranger selling something.
These are of course important things to leave in a message, but don’t start off with them. Near the very end you can state your first name and your company along with your callback info.
14. Never Request a Callback at a Specific Time
While on the topic of leaving your callback information, do NOT – I repeat – do not request that the prospect call you back at a specific time.
Sure, you may argue that this is a part of creating your call to action but what you are actually doing is giving them a great excuse for never returning your call. “Oh, he wants me to call back at 3? Well, I have a meeting at that time – too bad!”
Make yourself accessible and don’t ask for any favors.
Alright, have I renewed your enthusiasm for voicemail?
It’s time to take action, ask for what you want and ditch the ‘salesy’ tone. Voicemail is far from dead and is yet one more skill you can bring to the table. Closing sales is your goal right? It all starts with paving a great foundation.