I shadow sales reps, sitting in or near their cube or at a desk next to theirs. I listen to recent college graduates, first time sellers, and veteran sellers at new companies grasp some basics at their new job. Then I work to help them, along with their manager's support to have enough confidence and a message to make outbound calls to prospective buyers.
Even with all the advances in sales technology tools, for sales reps to be successful they need to have some communication basics. We will focus on voicemail messaging today.
Eight Tips for Better Voicemail Messages
Before you make a single call, know who your buyer is and what is helpful for them to hear. You will hurt your brand and waste your time with generic messages - especially if you lead with talking about your company or services you offer.
Find ways to connect your potential buyer to you. By crafting a more personal message, you'll show that this call recipient is not just a number on your spreadsheet - "call #40" but is someone you know might be a good fit for your product or service. I can't tell you how many calls I receive from a careless or hurried rep who found me on some sort of list and who treats me like a prospect rather than a potential strategic referrer.
Be interesting and alive! There is no place for a monotone conversation - you don't benefit from hearing the person at the other end, but in the 10-15 seconds you have before they hit "delete" - catch their attention in what you say or how you say it.
Speak clearly and in a simple manner. Pace yourself so that you are not speaking too quickly because no one will understand you. Give your phone number at the beginning of the call and the end. Make it easy for someone at the other end to understand what you are calling about.
Remove weak words and phrases from your vocabulary. Take a class, read blog posts, or go to Toastmasters to learn how to pack powerful phrases into your messaging. Instead of saying, "If you have a quick minute, it would be great to hear from you" change to "Please return my call at ......" or "Call me back at ......"
Know that power likes power. If you call on C-level executives, you must sound like one yourself. To do this, listen to TED talks, and listen to executives in the industries you call on. There is abundant video online to watch. Begin modeling this in how to talk to others. With enough focus, you can be that executive too. That means professional, not arrogant. People like people who are similar to themselves.
Change up the 2nd and 3rd voicemail message you leave for your buyer. If you say the same thing over and over in message after message you become an irritant. No one wants to hear from that person. Keep mixing it up with new ways to show value and to show you understand your buyer.
If nothing else, your 20-30 second, well-crafted voicemail message will help your brand. They probably won't call you back, since our industry statistics show that about 2% -5% of voice mails are returned. What a great voice mail does, though, is offer your professionalism, and it can demonstrate your integrity. If I say that I'll call you back next week if I don't hear from you - and then I do -- I am good on my word. If I follow up until I reach you, I show tenacity and focus.
These eight ideas can turn wasted calling time into successful time. Better crafted messages will up your reply rates.
What other ideas have you used to be more successful at calling?
Post one tip in the comments that you think is your best one, and we'll share those in a future post.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2013" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management for 2013". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute" newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips in selling. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.