There is a running debate in sales on whether you should leave voice mail messages when contacting prospects.
One school of thought goes like this –
Leaving voice mail messages is a waste of time because most people rarely return phone calls anymore from salespeople. If you leave enough voice mail messages, the prospect may delete them before having a chance to listen to your entire pitch.
Thus, it’s better to keep calling until you reach someone or send them enough emails that they will reply to you.
The other school of thought goes like this –
Leaving voice mail messages is just one of many ways you can break through the wall to reach a prospect. Sure, the argument goes, most prospects will not return your voice mail messages, but with a combination of different tools, including emails, and social selling, like Twitter and LinkedIn, you will eventually reach your important contact.
So, which is the better school of thought?
I take the middle ground.
Yes, you should leave voice mail messages. But…. don’t waste your time leaving your phone number. Because based on my experience, most prospects these days will not return your phone calls. Even inbound leads will rarely return your phone calls. Why? Most of them are busy, and they don’t want to play phone tag.
(I will only leave my phone number if the prospect requests it in his message as a matter of courtesy).
The better solution is this –
Leave a short voice mail message telling the prospect why you are calling. Then identify who you are and what solution you have that you think will solve their problems or pain points. And finally, let them know that you are sending them an email with openings for this week and next to schedule a short initial call.
I recommend doing this at least four to five times in a combination of using LinkedIn and Twitter.
What you want to avoid is the following –
First, you don’t want to do a “product vomit”, i.e., telling the prospect everything about your product and benefits before you had a chance to qualify him and understand his concerns or problems properly.
Second, you don’t want to leave cryptic messages, like “This is Joe Doe. I have some important information to share with you. I will call you at 4:00 p.m. today to discuss further.”
That kind of message will make most prospects angry because they don’t have time to play games. Also, because they have hectic schedules, they probably will not sit around and wait for your phone call.
Sure, you may try the approach of leaving an honest message about why you are calling and inform the prospect that you will call back at a specific time later that time or the next. It could work. But I doubt it.
Third, don’t repeatedly call and leave messages. Give prospects some space and time to call you back. As a rule, when I leave a voice mail, I quickly follow-up with a short email outlining some openings I have for that week and next. Further, I may attach an interesting article or some other content to share that I feel will interest the prospect. After leaving a message and sending out an email, I will usually wait at least two to four days before following up.
Fourth, I leave a different voice mail each time. I usually have a script of different voice mails to leave. The same is true when sending emails. Leaving the same message or posting the same email is boring and will undercut your chances of getting a sale.
Fifth, avoid long lingering voice mails. Try to keep the voice mail no longer than 30 seconds. Your goal is to get to the point quickly, highlight why it’s in the best interest for the prospect to speak with you and move on. You will have plenty of time later to do your sales pitch and presentation.
Sixth, ask a specific question in your voicemail. Instead of opening with “This is Tom Smith from ABC Company calling about Widgets products,” start with “How are you securing your passwords?” or “What types of sources are you using for tax research when doing tax preparation?” And then go on and add that you offer a solution that could help him them, and that you will send them an email with some openings and more details. Sometimes, I might mention specific vendors that use our services/products, and do a little name dropping. In other voice mail messages, I might add a benefit or two that may help the prospect.
Seventh, don’t be that mysterious caller who never leaves voice mails. Yes, I’ve been guilty of doing this before, but I now realize it was a mistake. Why? Because if someone is screening your calls and you don’t leave a message, they may not think it’s important and they will completely ignore you.
And finally, don’t sound salesy. Speak with your normal tone of voice. And, please don’t sound desperate. That’s a major turnoff.
Leaving voice mail messages is just one of many tools you have in your arsenal to make sales. Even if a prospect doesn’t respond immediately, it’s a great way of promoting your company with the goal of getting a deal down the road.
Sometimes you must play the long game to be successful.