Since the advent of unlimited text messages, there are only 2 categories of people who leave voicemails for me: sales reps and my parents. And you wonder why I barely check voicemail anymore?

A lot of outbound prospecting reps wonder if they should even leave voicemails anymore since they hardly ever get called back. Voicemail is a difficult platform to reaching prospects on, but it shouldn’t be cut out of the sales strategy entirely – it just needs to be done well.

Truth is, your reps probably won’t get called back. Relax, though – getting called back is not the point of leaving sales voicemails. Great voicemails are ways to demonstrate professionalism and integrity to a prospect: professionalism in the way your rep presents himself in the message, and integrity when he says he’ll follow up and he does.

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If your reps want to get better results from voicemails, they need to change their technique. Great prospecting voicemails are not like great sales calls – they require a slightly different approach. Here are some tips for success:

  • Leave voicemails Monday afternoon thru Friday morning for the highest probability your prospect will listen to your whole message. Don’t leave voicemails on Monday mornings, Friday afternoons, weekends, or evenings. Make sure you are aware of which time zone your prospect is in!

  • Keep it under 15 seconds. Short and sweet, or your prospect might stop listening. Keep in mind that since your message is short, you should take a minute to prepare what to say on a voicemail before each dial.

  • Don’t begin the message with your name and company. Do introduce yourself and your company, just not at the very beginning. Almost every single voicemail starts with something like, “Hi, this is Jane Doe with XYZ Company…” It’s generic, and a surefire way to get your message deleted. As soon as your prospect doesn’t recognize your name or company, they will likely assume you’re a waste of time.

  • Never use the prospect’s last name. It sounds impersonal. Same goes for beginning a message with “How are you?” It sounds formal, fake, and will disengage the listener.

  • Connect yourself to the prospect as early as possible by mentioning a mutual connection, a mutual location, and so on. If your prospect recognizes a name or place, even if it’s not your name, they will be more incentivized to listen.

  • Don’t sell. Voicemails are for piquing interest, not for selling. Once your prospect thinks of you as just another salesperson, they will probably delete your message.

  • Don’t refer to failed attempts. “I called last week and left you a message…” just reminds the prospect that they ignored your first voicemail, so why shouldn’t they ignore your second? Or third, or fourth? Have slightly varied reasons in mind for every call. And never use the phrases “just checking in” or “following up.”

  • Don’t ask questions. Wait to ask your questions until you have the prospect on the phone.

  • Sound enthusiastic. Just like you should de-zombify your cold call script, make sure you de-zombify your voicemail script. Know what you want to say without sounding like you’re reading from a piece of paper. Since you want them to call you back, don’t leave so much information that your prospect can make up their mind about you — leave room for further inquiry.

  • Tell them you will call them again. If you mention that you’ll call back if you don’t hear from them, they are more likely to take note of your name and company, or even call you back.

  • Leave a voicemail from the number you want to be reached at. Don’t make calling you back any harder than it needs to be. But say your phone number twice just in case – slowly.

Finally, conduct a workshop to evaluate your reps’ voicemail skills. After going over voicemail best practices, have your reps swap voicemails and give each other constructive criticism. Make yourself available for their questions, listen in, and offer your own insight.

Have any of these tips worked for your team in the past? What other sales voicemail advice do you have?

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