One of the unavoidable facts of a life in sales (especially in light of current events) is that you’re going to have to leave voicemails. The simple truth is your leads are as busy as you are—they too are on the phone working, and yes, leaving voicemails. It’s a vicious cycle for cynics, but as with most things, where some see wasted time, others see potential opportunity. You could just leave your name and call back number in your “I’m-going-through-the-motions” voice, or you could lay the groundwork for a future relationship. The choice is yours, and if our research is right, you have anywhere from 20-30 seconds to decide. That’s considered the optimal amount of time for messages before they are deleted, even if the poor caller was mid-sentence. With that in mind, it’s incumbent on all salespeople to have a plan before you pick up the phone. Here are a few things to think about:
Who Are You Calling?
All leads are not the same. Rather than some generic individual at a desk, imagine a living, breathing person on the other end of the line, going through their missed calls. Think about your approach. Where did this particular lead come from? Maybe you heard about them from an existing client. Perhaps they commented on your company’s blog or they followed you on LinkedIn. Jot down a few specific points about their company or them individually Use their name. State your name and repeat it before you hang up. As much as possible, try to make each call sound like you are calling them directly about a specific opportunity for them and not just calling down a list of possible leads.
Time of Day
To get the best possible return on your voicemails, the time of day you leave them is crucial. Monday mornings and Friday afternoons are out: most people have way too much going on before or after a weekend to give their full attention to unsolicited calls, and you’ll be lucky if they get as far as your name and company before they press the delete button.
Speak Clearly and Be Concise
Remember, on a voicemail, the clock is ticking from the moment you hear the beep. You must be ready to go with your cheerful, upbeat, warm and positive voice. There’s no time for stammering through your intro as you finish chewing your last bite of a donut. Clear your throat before you call. Swallow. Excess saliva in your mouth can distort your voice, and the last thing you want is to disgust them with the sounds of your personal habits. You don’t get a do-over, so resist the tendency to rush. Yes, you must be quick, but the goal is to convey information, not beat the clock.
Get to the Hook
Factoring in the time it takes to say your name and where you’re calling from, you have mere seconds to get to the point. This is your hook. What can you do for them? What is in it for them and of value for them to call you back? A famous ad for an insurance company (you know who they are) states, “Give us 15 minutes, and we’ll save you 15% or more.” That’s what you’re going for. Eliminate all excess introductory words, and repeat after me: “Good morning, Jennifer. My name is Nick from the XYZ Company, and I recently saw you’re expanding into some new markets. We have some exciting new products that can boost your sales by 15%, and I’d love five minutes of your time to learn more about your objectives and how we may be able to help. Please give me a call back at 123-456-7890. Again, this is Nick from XYZ.” Boom.
After a little time, you should send them an email. State that you recently called, and you wanted to follow up. Here, you can get a little more specific about the products you offer and reiterate how you can help them, but again, you want to be brief and focus on them. No matter how much you can help them, nobody wants to be bombarded with offers and opportunities. You don’t get extra points for persistence, and you can waste a lead by being too pushy.
Remember that, in many cases, your voicemail could serve as a potential client’s initial impression of you and your company. As with all first impressions, you want it to stand out. Nothing can ruin a potential sale like a poor attitude, and our moods can often manifest in our voices. This is, perhaps, most true in a voicemail, where you don’t have the immediacy of a conversation–the thought process involved in the give-and-take of personal interaction that can cover for such things. If you’re disappointed about leaving a voicemail, they could very well hear it. All they should hear is your voice, over a speaker, for 30 seconds. Make it count.