When Prospecting, Never Leave Voice Mail Except…

by Chris Arlen on August 23, 2011

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There's only one exception to never leaving voice mail when prospectingThere’s a sales practice of cold calling prospects until no response, and then leaving a voice mail with the hope they’ll call back.

You don’t return those voice mails, why should your prospects? No one has the time or inclination.

Voice mail is a burden, an irritant, a pain, especially when it’s a cold call leave behind. So don’t prospect by leaving voice mail – with this one exception*

* Only leave a voice mail for a new prospect when you are referred by someone you both know.

This is prospecting with a caveat, a referral that makes voice mail appropriate when done intelligently. Here’s how:

1) Before calling, research prospects online by reading their:

  • Web site & blog
  • LinkedIn personal & company profiles
  • Facebook & Twitter posts

This will guide the development of your voice mail outline in step 3) below.

2) Search LinkedIn for shared connections

– If you have shared connections, ask for an introduction via LinkedIn, email or in-person

– If it’s inconvenient for your shared connections to introduce you, ask for permission to use their name with the prospect

– If you don’t have shared connections or your prospect is not on LinkedIn, find another route to first contact (don’t waste time leaving voice mails with prospects where there are no connections)

3) Outline the voice message you’ll leave

Change all the following into your own words but keep them to as few as possible while still making it intelligble. The more words, the more likely you’ll be deleted.

– Start with your referring connection’s name:

“Jane Smith of XYZ thought we might help each other”

– State your name, company, phone number and why you’re calling:

“I’m Bob Adams with Acme Services at 555-321-1234 and we’d like to get on your [service] bid list.”

– State why they’d want to return your call:

“I know your schedule is full but I’d like to offer our free [benchmark data, industry trends report, white paper, case study, assessment, etc.] in exchange for a 3-minute call. Jane found the [whatever you’re offering] useful and you may too.”

– End by re-stating your name, company, phone number and asking them to call you:

“This is Bob Adams with Acme Services at 555-321-1234. Please call me to find out more about our free [whatever you’re offering]”.

4) Practice your leave behind voice message on yourself

Call and leave your message for yourself, and then listen to it. Sounds strange, doesn’t it?

Practice until you’re at ease, until you sound conversational. You’re not reading it, you’re speaking it, to another human being (your prospect).

5) Call your prospect

Speak slowly yet energetically, sounds harder than it is, but both are important.

– If you get their voice mail, follow your outline, you’re off and running

– If you get their admin/assistant the first time, ask for voice mail (voice mail is better this first time)

– If you get the prospect on the line, you know what to talk about, it’s the same conversation as from your voice mail outline, but now you can improvise live

Voice Mail in Prospecting: Your Thoughts?

The speed, complexity and volume of business communication starts to make traditional prospecting (cold calling and voice mail) seem obsolete.

  • Do you leave voice mail when cold calling prospects?
  • Do you combine voice mail with email, letters, etc?
  • Is cold calling dead?

Here’s your chance to comment on a miniscule, yet ubiquitous sales practice. Post your comments online at our blog.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Scott August 24, 2011 at 6:33 am

What are your thoughts on leaving voice mail as a way to keep your name in your prospects thougths? We do this because our company is not the largest in the industry.

Chris Arlen August 24, 2011 at 6:45 am

Scott, I think creating name (brand) awareness is a marketing function, not selling, and is done in better ways than leaving voice mail to new prospects. (for more see “Outbound & Inbound Marketing” at http://bit.ly/jeEsIf)

Also, it’s unlikely prospects will remember you 10 seconds after they delete the voicemail. And if that voice message shows up several times in the next few weeks it’s possible they’ll develop a negative association (spammer).

What other ways have you created name awareness?

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