I delete most of my voicemails after listening to – maybe – 5 seconds of the message. Most of these messages are cold pitches from sales reps, and the majority of them will go forever unheard. While voicemail can be a valuable tool for sales reps, it only works if you do it right.

The key is to use voicemail to intrigue a sales prospect. It’s all about putting yourself in the prospect’s shoes and thinking about what would interest you the most, if you were in their position. Checking your voicemail is annoying– you have to dial in, enter your passcode, listen to whatever the person says, and write down a name and number. If you make someone go through that entire process, you damn sure better have left them an interesting message; otherwise, why would they make the effort in return?

There’s a reason that most people prefer sending email and text messages – it’s faster, easier and much less intrusive. But you can learn to use voicemail the right way, to connect with new prospects and cultivate more business.

A Bad Sales Voicemail:

The vast majority of the voicemails left by sales reps are boring, bland, and uninteresting. The main problem is many sales reps forget it’s not about you, it’s about who you’re calling. Most sales reps start off a voicemail by introducing themselves and their company – but why should the prospect care? If you’re trying to reach an executive, like a CEO, VP or other decision-maker, you are competing with dozens of other people for that CEO’s limited time. What makes you think they’ll take the time to listen to you, or call you back?

“Hi Mr. Smith, this is Bob from Old-Fashioned Sales Company. I just wanted to offer you an amazing opportunity to purchase our newest product, the X3000. It’s faster than ever and has some amazing new features I’d love to share with you. Call me back at 333-3333 and we’ll set up a meeting. Thanks!”

This voicemail is ineffective because:

  • It starts by addressing Mr. Smith, which is too formal.
  • It then goes to the rep’s name and company, which the prospect doesn’t care about.
  • The overall message is boring and doesn’t catch the prospects attention.
  • The wording is timid and unappealing.
  • The rep is trying to sell in a voicemail, which won’t happen.
  • The call-to-action (CTA) is asking for the prospect to call them back, which is highly unlikely for a busy CEO.

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A Good Sales Voicemail:

The best voicemails start by talking about the prospect – their business, their job, and maybe even flattering them a little. Do some pre-call research to find something interesting about them, and lead with that information. Everyone loves talking about and hearing about themselves, so that is guaranteed to grab their attention. People also pay the most attention at the beginning and end of a message, so make sure you articulate the most important information up front, and at the end. It’s also vital not to ask for too much from the prospect – requesting a callback is not going to work as a CTA.

“Hi Steve, I saw that you just started as Sales VP at Company Z a month ago. My company is a world leader in helping Sales VPs get a handle on their pipeline. I’m asking you for 5 minutes of your time so I can see if our product can help make your business better. I’m going to email you with a couple times for a call. By the way, my name is Evan, and my company is InsightSquared. Keep an eye open for that email from me.”

This is an effective voicemail because:

  • Informal use of Steve’s name catches his attention.
  • The rep doesn’t identify himself or his company until the end of the message.
  • The voicemail is short – under 30 seconds.
  • This message has a clear CTA to reply to an email, which requires much less time than a call.
  • The rep is asking for an opportunity to speak with him at some point in the future.
  • The message piques the prospect’s interest, but isn’t focused on who the rep is, or the name of the company.

There have only been 2 voicemails that actually got my attention in the past 6 months. Both began by saying, “Hey Evan,” then explained why they were calling quickly, and said who they were at the end. I actually make it a challenge for new hires to call me and leave me a voicemail. I dare them to get through to me and have me not delete their voicemail immediately. By learning from the mistakes most sales reps makes, and emulating the best sales voicemails, you too will be able to get my attention on a cold voicemail.
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