Leaving the perfect voicemail is a critical sales skill

Anyone in business development does (or should do) a lot of outreach.  They do research, send emails and hopefully, use the telephone. Business development people are faced with a lot of decisions such as what account to call; who in the account to call first, when to follow-up, how many follow-ups. etc.

Two of the most common decisions that a business development rep makes dozens and dozens of time each and every day are:

(1) To leave a voicemail or not

(2) What kind of voicemail to leave

After studying 1.8 million outreach efforts over 15 years and developing prospecting software to help sales people get more first appointments with the right people, I can tell you that the decisions made in this area are significant contributors in driving positive outcomes.

The answer to the first question is a simple “yes”. With few exceptions, you should always leave a voicemail. Even if you don’t get a response, the message left will have an impact in building awareness about you, your company and your solution.

That said, a bad message is more damaging than no message at all. We see a lot of discussions and advice about “multi-touch” approaches and cadences of calls and emails. This advice is good ONLY if the content of the voicemails and emails is good.

Leaving a voicemail sounds like a very pedestrian sales skill that every rep would have. But that’s not at all reality! (This is a great example of a poor voicemail and an explanation of how they could’ve improved.)

How to Leave A Voicemail – Effectively!

Our study concluded that the perfect voice message should last between 28-32 seconds and contain the following (very simple) characteristics.

  1. Identify Yourself and Your Company. While this sounds simple, our research shows that more that 20% of voice messages DON’T include this information. Identifying yourself means including your company name along with your first and last name. By doing so, you convey the seriousness of your outreach.
  1. Leverage Intelligence (if appropriate). It is important to add context to the voice message as to how you got to them. This could be as simple as stating you were referred by a colleague or responding to their inquiry. If there is no context, don’t make it up. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a lie!
  2. State the Purpose of the Call. Clearly state what you want from the call. You’ll want to include the reason for the call based on your value proposition, for example, “to talk about how we can help your sales team double or triple the number of appointments with key decision makers.”
    Statistically speaking, calling to “check-in”, “touch-base” or “follow-up” will not get you responses nearly as often as a specific call to action like the example above. Remember that the value prop is one that focuses on how it will benefit the prospect to take time out of their day. A value prop is NOT a list of features and benefits!
  1. Provide Two Date Options. The date options provide context and urgency for the timing of your request. In an effort to be open and flexible, many reps say something such as, “Let me know your availability over the next couple of weeks.” but this actually has the opposite impact. To make it easier on the prospect, suggest 2 dates and times that are 3-5 business days out. This way they can zero in on their calendar and accept one you offered or more readily respond with an alternate date/time.
  1. Give a Clear, Simple, Concise Way to Reply. If you want a return call, simply restate your name clearly and even spell it out if it isn’t common. Remember, people may be listening to your voice message between meetings, while driving or doing something else. Recite your phone number in a manner that makes it easy for someone to write it down or remember it.

Leaving voice messages is a critical sales skill, but it’s just one factor in the process of creating more opportunities to tell your story to the right people, more often. Remember that even if you don’t get a phone call response, your voicemail is still reinforcing your message and increasing brand awareness. Well-constructed voicemails left in combination with emails and social touches will dramatically improve your prospecting results.

If you’d like to learn more about what our study of 1.8 million outreach efforts revealed, feel free to reach out to us!

Or reach out to me directly!

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