Almost every time I conduct a training session focused on prospecting and outreach, at least one workshop participant will ask: what are the best practices for voicemail?
I’m convinced that this is in large part due to the frustration sellers feel with how many calls they make in a day that go to voicemail. My first reaction is to question whether they might get more prospects to answer the phone live if they had more direct lines. However, even if a sales person connects 2-3 times more than the average, they will still face many voicemail boxes. A good strategy for effective voicemails won’t guarantee a full funnel, but it’s an important component of your overall outreach strategy.
Here are five guidelines to follow as you refine your strategy in leaving great voicemails:
- Keep it short.
We know that executives don’t have the time or patience to listen to a long voicemail, yet we rarely practice being more concise. Here’s a quick exercise you can use to self-evaluate: Grab your phone and time yourself while reciting what you would typically record on a prospect’s voicemail. Check the clock: if it’s over 30 seconds, you’re at risk of going too long. Try to reframe your message with brevity in mind and time it again. The shorter you can get without sounding rushed, the better.
- Stay calm and casual.
While being succinct is important, your cadence is equally vital. When you have a prospect who is partially distracted, pace and tone can convey more than the words you say. Some sellers have “overworked” scripts full of buzzwords or formal phrases that don’t sound natural or comfortable. Other sellers inadvertently assume a robotic monotone that comes from saying the same words over and over. Adopting a comfortable tone for voicemail will differentiate you from the start.
- Don’t pitch.
According to CHI, only 3% of buyers are actively buying, meaning they are already looking for what you are selling. These are the only prospects who would be sufficiently motivated by a features and benefits pitch to return your call. You are sending the message to your prospects that “If you call me back, I am only going to talk about myself!” If you want to catch the attention of the majority of prospects out there, the message must focus on them, instead of you and your company.
- Do your research.
In order to leave a prospect-focused message, you’ll need to understand a little about your prospect! Have you ever walked through a room of people, ignoring the surrounding conversation… until you heard your name?
People naturally become interested when they hear something about themselves. Think about what you might say in a voicemail that the prospect is not expecting you to know. Customizing the message only by name and title won’t set you apart. You must find some key information other sales people don’t bother to seek.
- Choose one focus.
There are a few different reasons people return a call after hearing a voicemail; for example:
- they may feel obligated,
- they are curious about what you have to say
- you may have said something that positioned you as knowledgeable and helpful.
Remember, the shorter the better. Don’t try to incorporate all of these approaches in crafting a single message! Decide before calling which focus you might use to engage your prospect. Would it be appropriate to position why this target should feel compelled to contact you? Is your main goal to leave a “hook” to tempt your prospect to call back and open the conversation? Or, you can cite a trend or pattern in the industry that highlights your company’s thought leadership.
These strategies will help yield more results from leaving voicemails. However, it’s important to remember that voicemails alone will not keep the top of the funnel full; it’s crucial to vary your messaging and channels of communication.
Perfect the cold call.
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The Comprehensive Guide to Cold Calling