To Leave or Not Leave a Voice Mail - That Is the Question

by MJ Durkin

Voice mail and caller ID have changed the landscape of telephone prospecting forever. It is not uncommon for a networker to make two dozen calls over a two hour time period and not reach even one person live. It is the world we live in now and the networkers who will take the time to learn the skills of leaving voice mail messages that get return calls will be the ones who succeed in the next several years.

Traditional sales training espoused the caveat that if you received someone's voice mail that you should not leave a message – you should wait until the prospect answered the phone live! It is vital for you to realize that this is advice that was given in the 1970's and 80's when telephones were still attached to the wall by coaxial cable! This is outdated advice that doesn't work in today's Pentium-like environment. If you have the ability to sit at a phone all day long, every day and call your prospects at different time intervals you will eventually be able to reach them live. Most networkers don't have the luxury (or the tragedy) of having that kind of time to call that consistently. So the 21st century answer to the question of whether or not to leave a voice mail is this: always leave a voice mail every time you call. Yes, every time you call!

Today's prospect listens to their voice mail just like they open their snail mail - only instead of physically throwing your voice mail into the garbage their finger is poised over the "7" button on their phone ready to delete it. Most networkers leave incredibly boring voice mails that list the features and benefits of their product or service imploring the prospect to return their call. Unfortunately for our well meaning networker their voice mail gets deleted half way through before the prospect has even listened to the whole message. No wonder most networkers will tell you that leaving voice mail messages for prospects doesn't work!

Here are some tips for leaving voice mail messages:

  • Always leave a message each time you call. Don't worry about looking like a stalker. Persistence is always rewarded – reticence won't get you to your goals!
  • Let your personality shine through. Chances are you are going to end up leaving several messages before you get a return call. Start to build a "relationship" with your prospect on the voice mail even though it is "one-sided." Let them start to get a feel for who you are.
  • Don't leave a list of features or benefits about your product or opportunity. The more you tell them, the less reason they have to call you back.
  • Create curiosity by leaving a message that says that you need to talk to them but you really can't get into the details. You might say, "I need your advice on something, give me a call." Keep it simple. Give them a reason to call you back.

If you work at leaving voice mails that intrigue your prospect you'll increase your call back ratio and get more "voice to voice" contact than ever before.

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