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Prospecting Training ~ Creating Voicemails That Get Returned Part 1

Part 1 of 2


As you know, many decision-makers go through great lengths to protect themselves from unwanted interruptions. Even if they are at their desk, they will allow telephone calls from unknown numbers to go to voicemail, and then listen to them later on.

There are a number of strategies that I use that help create enticing voicemails that get returned.

The first thing to do is to recognize what is working and what isn't. Sales reps tend to complain about the impact of voice mail on their selling success but often they are their own worst enemies.

In the good, old days many people returned phone calls...within a 24-hour time frame. Today, phone etiquette, if it exists at all, is different. People simply don't call back. Your call is not high on a prospect's to-do list. We are all pressed for time. We all have ADD. Return phone calls are not a priority...which is why a little effort into your voicemail messages, can go a very long way!

One of the most common voicemail mistakes is that voicemails have sounded like mini-commercials for a business, with very little in stated benefit statements for the customer. We have all probably left or heard messages like this one below:

Hello Mr. XXX. This is ABC with XYZ company. We specialize in ____. Our (product/service) has won the Top 10 Service company award in 2007 and we know it will be a great fit for you.

I'm calling today to see if I could set-up a time to meet with you to learn a bit more about your needs in this area and to tell you about our new (product/service).

Please call me at your earliest convenience. I look forward to getting together with you. My number is ...

When I see this voicemail, I cringe because admittedly, I have left these types of messages in the past, with little results.

Today, decision-makers require a reason to call you back - and its not to see if there is a fit. Decision-makers are pressured for time and pressured to find solutions to the current problems they are facing. If you speak in the language of problem-solving, you are more than half-way there.

What are some of the other reasons we don't get our calls returned?

1. Leaving a Voicemail Too Soon

The goal of making the phone call is to REACH the decision-maker. Getting a live prospect often means trying different times and tactics. Some approaches that are successful are to prepare a list of at least fifty or so prospects. Try calling them earlier (e.g., start at 7:30) or later (after 5:00) in the day. Don't leave a message, simply dial. If there is no answer hang up and move to the next name on the list. Cycle the list for about an hour with the objective of getting a live prospect. Try doing this every day for about two weeks.
After 3 or more attempts per prospect over a couple of days, then you are ready to leave a voicemail.

2. Not listening to the Prospect's Voicemail Message

When you do intend to leave a voicemail, make sure you LISTEN to what the prospect has to say on there message. Some have bland generic messages ("I'm not in. Leave a message") but others might give you some clues about how to approach them. For instance, suppose the message says this:

"Hi this is Mary Kay. Today is Monday, June 25th and I will be out of the office until Thursday June, 28th. If you'd like to leave your name, number and a detailed message I will get back to you as soon as I can."

Note that Mary provided the date. It implies she checks her voicemail regularly and will probably listen to it. Because the message is detailed, one gets the impression that Mary is a detail-oriented person. This suggests you might want to be equally detailed in your approach.

But more significantly, Ms. Kay is out till Wednesday. There is no point in leaving a message at this stage because there are probably thirty other messages waiting for her. Even if you leave a good message there is a pretty good chance that it will be lost in the chaos of catching up.

Finally, and this is so critical, don't call Mary on Thursday! Her day will be hectic after having been gone for three days. Think about it. Call on Friday when things have calmed down. If you have to leave a message, do so but again at least you increase your chances of it being heard.

Our research shows that up to 95% of sales reps give up after two attempts. Will you be one of the ones who gets through?

3. Poor Delivery

Some sales reps make listening to voicemails torture with poor delivery of the voicemail message. I am talking about the "...aahhhs....ummmmms...errr... duhs..." that are liberally peppered throughout the message. And I am especially talking about monotone deliveries that put the prospect to sleep.

You have about 5-8 seconds to catch your listener's attention and keeping it is even tougher. Understand this: about 15% of your message is communicated by the actual words you use i.e., the message you leave. The remaining 85% of the message is communicated by the tone of your voice. If you sound lifeless, unsure, hesitant or if you speak too fast or too slow, or if you are too loud or too soft: you will lose the prospects interest.
So here's what you need to do: Write down a script or talking points that you want to cover in the message. Then practice delivering it a few times before dialing. The message should flow trippingly and convincingly from your lips. There is no excuse for a poorly delivered message.

4. Lack of Persistence

One of the BIGGEST mistakes is a simple lack of persistence. Of all the voice mails I received over the last two weeks not one rep...not a single, solitary rep...has called and left another message!

According to Jim Domansk, of Teleconcepts Consulting, about 87% of sales reps give up after a single half hearted attempt. About 95% give up after a second message. Personally, I rarely listen to voice mails from vendors because I figure if it is important enough they will call back. They rarely ever do. That tells the whole story.

I recommend that sales reps leave three voice mail messages spaced three business days apart. I call it the 3 in 3 strategy. When you do the 'math' it reveals about two calendar weeks of follow up but spaced apart so that it is not too overbearing. I will supplement the messages with a fax or e-mail (if I have it) or a letter. I want the prospect to know that I will not give up easily; I will be polite but persistent.

5. Stalking

The last mistake is not nearly as common as a lack of persistence but it does exist and it is sinister and frightening in nature. It occurs when a sales rep calls and leaves a voice mail message (or messages) every day for days on end.

That is not prospecting, it's stalking.

It's a waste of the sales rep's time and energy ...and you can bet it was not endearing to the poor prospect. (I'd be calling the police).

So, how do you entice decision-makers to call you back?

Well, it takes some time and research to get it right - but the results are well worth it. Every voicemail needs to contain at least one of the following hooks to get your calls returned:

1. Reference or referral from another person. That reference could be someone within that organization or someone else who your prospect would recognize.
2. Some type of insightful information. What do you know that they might like to know about other business units, competitors, industry information?
3. Provide them with business ideas that help them. What difference has it made for similar companies? Do you have metrics that prove how you have helped others?
4. Demonstrate that you can help them with new ideas. Do you have a different approach to solving their problems?

This approach works because it's providing some real value to the decision-maker in a non-threatening, honest and friendly manner. It also works because it means you have shifted your focus from trying to make a sale to trying to starting a conversation about how you may be able to solve some of their business problems.
In doing so, you give your prospect the expectation that you can be trusted to keep your word, and you begin to build the rapport you need to win new business.

In our next segment, we will give you a step-by-step model to creating Voicemails that Get Returned.

Are you tired of having ineffectual results from your prospecting campaigns? Don't give up - our cold calling bootcamps and prospecting training in Toronto will help you supercharge your campaign results quickly and easily.

After hundreds of thousands of phone calls, clients (Mirvish, HP, Scotia McLeod, etc.), 20 years of experience, Marguerite and her team know exactly what you need to succeed using the phone. Her 7-Step Model to implement successful outbound telephone prospecting campaigns has driven 300% year over year growth for clients.

You can reach Marguerite at The Results Source

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