Sales and Sales Management Blog

June 4, 2009

Boost Your Sales Series: “Why Your Voice Mails Are Ignored, and What to Do Instead,” by Art Sobczak

Filed under: cold calling,prospecting,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 6:01 am
Tags: , , , ,

Art Sobczak is up with guidance on what to do to get your voice mails answered.

Tomorrow ‘s my turn as I talk about how to turn a business to business cold call into an introduction and conversation about a real problem the prospect has that needs to be dealt with.

Upcoming topics:

Next week:  Successful Networking

The week after:  Referrals and Word of Mouth Marketing

The week after that:  Prospecting and Using Social Media

Come back every weekday for a summer’s worth of great guidance from the world’s top experts.


Why Your Voice Mails Are Ignored, and What to Do Instead           
By Art Sobczak

“I leave voice mail messages all day long for prospects,” the salesperson complained to me. “Why don’t people call me back?”

I didn’t need to listen to his calls to give an answer. The same reasons apply to all salespeople leaving voice mails. Pick any three (or more) of the following reasons.

The message is too long. Grab their attention within 10 seconds or you’re “sixed” (or whatever their delete key is.) Picture someone picking up their voice mails in a busy, noisy airport; they don’t have time to listen to your life story.

It’s not about them. They don’t care about you, your products, or that you’re their new “account manager.” And really, why should they?  They’re just like Toby Keith in his song, “I Want to Talk About ME.”

You sound salesy. Mention that you have a new product, a service, that you want them to do business with you, or that you want to meet with them, and you evoke the same resistance as when the retail store sales rep says, “May I help you?”  Face it: most people run the other way when a salesperson approaches them.

Most people don’t return voice mails from sales reps. News alert: They’re swimming upstream as fast as they can just to stay up with their daily piles of work and emails. Very few say, “Oh, good. Another call from a sales rep. Move that to the top of the to-do list.”

You only called once. Even if someone returns the occasional voice mail, who do they call? Probably not the one-time caller. A buyer I interviewed told me that he never returns calls, and the only sales reps who have the remotest chance of even getting through his screener next time are those he recognizes as having left several interesting voice mails.

So is voice mail a lost cause for sales reps?

On the contrary, it’s a great tool to separate you from the majority of reps making mistakes. Here’s what to do.

Learn about them first. Be a detective. Glean info wherever possible. Go to their website. Enter the company name and prospect’s name into search engines. Read trade publications, your local Business Journal, and the ones in your territory. Then use that information in your message as it relates to how you might be able to help them get or avoid something.

Talk to others in the company. Anyone and everyone. Continue your info-gathering. Identify yourself and company and say, “I hope you can help me. I’m going to speak with Ms. Byer, and I want to be sure that what I have would be appropriate.” Then ask questions.

Be prepared. Voice mail is not new technology. It shouldn’t be a surprise that you will be asked to speak after the tone. So why not be prepared for what you’ll say, without hesitation?  (Just notice how many messages you get that begin with, “Uhhh.”) There’s no excuse to not be smooth and confident.

Use a “possible results” statement. This is the grabber. Mention what you might be able to do for them. Personalization increases their interest level: “I understand you’re now looking at ways to increase the number of long-term leases at your Highland Park property. We specialize in some unique marketing methods that help property managers minimize vacancies…”

Use a multi-media approach. Don’t rely on voice mail to carry the entire load. Back up your message with an email, a fax, a letter, or a message that you ask the screener to write on the pink message pad and give to the boss. And don’t overlook the lowest tech, but highest touch approach: handwritten letters.

Say YOU’LL call back. You need to control the communication. It’s your responsibility to reach them. Tell them you’ll call back Thursday morning. Then DO it. But do give them options to reach you, leaving your phone number and email just in case they want to contact you.

Use a “last resort.” At some point of repeated futility, depending upon their future potential and the size of your prospect pool, you need to punt and leave a final, firmer message. What is that point?  If you sell office supplies, everyone could be a prospect, so the magic number at which you let go would be smaller than for someone selling train locomotives to railroads. What to say?

“… I’ve tried several times to contact you about how we might be able to help cut your cost of customer acquisition by 20% like we have for B.O. Industries. If I don’t hear back from you I’m going to assume this is not something you’d like to discuss at this time …”

This often elicits a response (I’ve even heard apologies) from people who are interested and simply were too busy to reply.

While most sales reps are ensuring they never get through because of their voice mails, you can set yourself apart and pave the way for a productive conversation. Avoid these mistakes, use these ideas, and the sound of the tone will be like the music of a cash register!

(For over 26 years Art Sobczak has helped sales pros say and do the right things to minimize resistance and rejection, and get “yes” answers by phone in their sales and prospecting. Get his free weekly emailed tips, see more examples of articles like this one, and hear recordings of actual calls at his Telesales Blog,


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1 Comment »

  1. That’s a valuable suggestion to be made a note of. Thanks for sharing it.

    Comment by CRM Solutions — June 10, 2009 @ 6:53 am | Reply

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