Voice Mail: Enough of the Crap Already. Here’s the REAL Story

Voice Mail

I’ve about had it with a lot of the garbage floating around about sales voice messages.
I’ve always had the same stance, but It’s time that I get more vocal and ask for your help in spreading the word.
Seems like every day someone is putting out a blog, article, tweet, “free” webinar, video, LinkedIn update or whatever on how to leave a sales voice mail.  I am sometimes amused by the funny suggestions, but usually annoyed by the tactics suggested.

Some are asinine, others just flat out deceptive, which is unacceptable.

For example, one I saw online recently instructs you to call a prospect, leave only your name and number, tell them to call you, and say the call is in reference to one of their competitors. Really?
And of course there’s the old, “Just leave your name and number and nothing else” -technique because you are mysterious, and then they must call you back. Please.

When it comes to voice mail in sales, I firmly believe that the means does not justify the end. Doing whatever it takes to get a call back is NOT an acceptable strategy. If that were the case, why not leave a message that one of their family members was in an accident and they need to call you right away? Outrageous, right? Just like a lot of voice mail advice.

What Should We Do?
Well, what should you do to be effective with voice mail?
So that we can plan the optimal approach to leaving messages that gets the results we want, let’s take a logical look at what is really going on with people when they get a voice mail. I’m trying not to get into the weeds here… please stay with me.

First, we need to examine the possible thoughts and feelings experienced by a prospect, or anyone in business when they receive a voice message from someone they do not know or recognize, including you.
1. They instantly identify the caller as a salesperson and have no interest at all in whatever the salesperson was pitching.

2. They instantly know there is something in it for them and are excited (i.e., a potential customer calling them).

3. They are curious about possible value the caller hinted at. They feel there just might be something in it for them. Even though they believe it is a salesperson, their mind is more on what they might get.
4. They are somewhat curious, but very skeptical about what the caller wanted, since there wasn’t much communicated. It might be a salesperson, then again it could be a prospect or customer. They don’t know for sure, since the message was brief, and very vague.
In looking at all of these possible scenarios, of course you don’t want to elicit those emotions in 1.

And you can’t fall into the 2 category (unless you are buying something.

Lying is not an option). Number 4 is a possibility, but I recommend against it, as you’ll see in a minute.

If you are a professional, salesperson who doesn’t live in the gray fringes of ethics, that leaves us with 3; you want to make them curious about possible value so they feel there might be something in this for them.

Possible Outcomes and Actions
Exploring further, now, let’s look at the possible outcomes and actions from someone receiving those voice messages:

a. No call back. They might not even listen to the entire message. They would never want to talk to this person and will avoid their calls in the future.

b. No call back now, although they still have those curious feelings. But they do not feel compelled enough or see enough urgency or value to call, although they might be open to hearing more.

c. A call back, and they become engaged in the conversation. That’s because they see some value in doing so, either confirming their feeling that they might gain something, or avoid some pain or loss.

d. A call back, and within seconds of realizing the caller’s motives, they feel duped
. They feel taken… tricked because they realize the caller is a salesperson that has nothing of value for them and was deceptive with his message.
Which outcomes do you desire?

Naturally you want to avoid (a), although that is what happens with most sales voice messages.

And I ask you, as a professional, ethical salesperson, would you want (d), tricking them into calling you? Not me, not a chance.

That leaves (b) and (c), which is providing them with a valid reason to be open to some possible value you might be able to provide. You maintain your integrity, and you are placing them in a frame of mind where they are thinking about their favorite subject: themselves.
Sure, everyone would like that golden magic phrase that gets all calls returned. Sorry to break it to you, but if you want the results I just pointed out, it doesn’t exist.

But, you can work to create messages that will get those results. Here’s how.

The Smart Calling Voice Mail Process
This process–and it truly is a process, not a technique–is based on my best-selling book, “Smart Calling- Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection from Cold Calling.”

Its premise is fairly simple: KNOW something about the prospect and his/her situation before the call, and use that to create interest and be relevant in your call opening, and voice mail.

The first step is doing your research on your prospect. Information is more accessible today than ever. Google, LinkedIn, their website, Facebook, Twitter, all can hold great info. Services that collect sales intelligence like InsideView and OneSource/ISell are invaluable.

And doing “social engineering,” calling into the prospect’s business and talking to people other than your prospect can be one of your best sources of information.

What are you looking for? Anything that might make what you have to offer of possible interest to them.

Then you can plug it into the Smart Calling Voice Mail formula.

1. Identify Yourself and Company. “Hi Mike, I’m Pat Stevens with Executive Financial. “

2. Use Your Smart Intelligence
. “I understand that your firm is aggressively making a push this year to take on more high net worth clients…”

3. Your Possible Value Proposition.
“We work with many advisors nationwide in providing unique options that are very attractive to that segment. They tell us it helps them attract more clients, as well as helping them grow their existing business.”

4. Engagement. “I’d like to ask a few questions and see if I could provide you some information…”

5. Conclusion. “I will call you again Friday morning. If you’d like to reach me in the meantime, I’m Pat Stevens with Executive Financial. My number is 800-555-9898, I’ll repeat that, 800-555-9898. And my email is Pat@EFinancial.com. Thanks.”

No Pitching
Notice the message doesn’t say that you want to pitch products or services, or that you want to meet with them or invite them to a webinar, or make any outrageous promises. If fact, it doesn’t ask for anything.

It does touch on something that is going on in their world, suggests how you have worked with others in the same situation to get the results they desire, and that you simply want to ask questions to possibly provide information.

It also likely makes them curious about what you are talking about. Remember that from earlier? A great voice message should leave a question in their mind about how they could get that value.

And, it says that YOU will call back. Let’s face it, most voice mails are not returned. Sure, occasionally you’ll get a call back. But importantly, you are planting a seed of value that can enhance your chances on the next call.

There is no super-secret method to voice mail success, nor magic techniques that work every time. But, if you employ the time-tested method of understanding your prospect, and hinting at possible value they might be interested in, you will show success.

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