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15 Tips to Surviving (and Thriving) with Voicemail

Voicemail is either our best friend or worst enemy (or possibly a little bit of both). Is it a convenience in sales and critical in our selling skills — or just one more layer sabotaging our sales success as we try to reach clients and prospects?

My suggestion is that instead of lamenting about how frustrating it is to reach people’s voicemail, why don’t you instead commit to improving your voicemail skills and phone skills so that you can strengthen your sales motivation and your bottom line?

Here are 15 tips to surviving (and thriving) with voicemail:

  1. If your goal is to get the phone call returned, don’t leave information that would allow the person to make up their mind. Add a call-to-action to your message by providing a key date or something of interest that will encourage the person to return the call. You have to create a reason for them to call you back.
  2. Repeat your phone number twice. If the person can’t quickly write your number down, you’ve given them a perfect reason to not call back.
  3. Avoid asking the person to call you back at a certain time. This provides them with an excuse not to call you.
  4. Never state in the message that you will plan to call them back. Again, this only gives the person an excuse to ignore your message.
  5. Messages left on a Friday afternoon are the least likely to be returned. For most people, Monday mornings are very busy and, as a result, only high–priority activities will get their immediate attention.
  6. Do not leave voicemail messages at odd hours of the night. Most voicemail systems offer a time stamp and the person hearing the message will immediately suspect you really did not want to talk to them.
  7. The best hours to leave voicemail messages are from 6:45 to 8:00 a.m. and from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Driven people are usually working during these time periods, and the person receiving your message could potentially view you as one, which is good.
  8. Wisely use time zone changes to make as many calls as possible during the optimal voicemail periods listed in the previous tip.
  9. Voicemail messages are an excellent way to introduce yourself to a person. Be personable, yet professional, and link your message to something of interest to the person you are calling (such as another person or event). The recipient may view your message as a waste of time if you have no purpose other than getting your name in front of them.
  10. When leaving a message with multiple points, be sure to immediately disclose how many you will be making. This will prevent the recipient from accidentally fast-forwarding or deleting it before it is completely heard.
  11. If you can’t say it briefly, don’t say it at all. Voicemail is not “story time.” Leaving a long message is an invitation to have the entire message skipped. The optimal voicemail message is between 8 and 14 seconds.
  12. When leaving your phone number, do not leave your website address as well. This will give the person an opportunity to make a decision about you without calling you back.
  13. Leave a “PS” at the end of your message. A “PS” is a very quick, additional piece of information that will connect with the person.
  14. Mention the person’s first name at least twice in the message, but don’t use their last name (doing so comes across as very impersonal).
  15. Refer to a mutual acquaintance in your message as a way of connecting with the recipient. (Caution: Make sure they think positively of that person!).

Voicemail doesn’t have to be your nemesis. Instead, it can be a tool to keep your prospecting and sales motivation on track. Don’t try to wing it. Be conscientious of the way you are using voicemail to its fullest so that you won’t just survive it — you’ll thrive with it!

About the author

Mark Hunter, The Sales Hunter, is a consultative selling expert committed to helping individuals and companies identify better prospects, close more sales, and profitably build more long-term customer relationships. He is also author of “High-Profit Selling: Win the Sale Without Compromising on Price.”