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How to Leave a Sales Voicemail and Actually Get a Call Back

July 10, 2020

sales voicemail

There’s a lot riding on leaving a message after the beep. 

Because you can’t rely on the energy and spontaneity that a two-way conversation can provide, the success of a sales voicemail lies on the shoulders of the person leaving it. Sales reps, we’re looking at you. 

There’s a lot of pressure when leaving a message for a prospect, begging the question, “Is it worth my time to stress over a silly voicemail that might not even be listened to?” The answer is yes.

Why? Because when you get a call back, you can be sure that that person is interested enough in your business to have followed up after hearing your message. While it may seem tedious to leave voicemail after voicemail to your list of prospects, when they give you a call back, there is an added layer of assuredness that they might convert into a customer. 

So yeah, it’s worth it to leave a voicemail when prospecting. And it’s also worth it to sharpen up your skills before dialing. 

Sales voicemail tips

You could run down the list of prospects you have to call, leave a standard voicemail for each one, and call it a day. Or you could implement the following best practices and make that voicemail worthwhile for both you and your prospect. 

Do your research 

The difference between an effective voicemail message and one that is forgotten the second you hang up is research. The worst thing you can do when leaving a sales voicemail is offer generic information and speak in a way that could apply to any business. If you do that, the prospect might mistake you for a robot. 

Before calling, research your prospect. Conduct a thorough investigation of their website, and find information regarding their history, mission, and solutions. Pay attention to their social media channels so you have an idea of what’s happening within the company right at this moment. 

With information you have gathered from your research, find a connection with the prospect. It could be an alma mater or a partnership you have in common. Anything that acts as a good enough reason to start a professional conversation, use it.

While you won’t be able to pack all of the information you’ve gathered on them and their business in your short voicemail, the small details you decide to include will stick out. 

Besides creating that connection, another primary purpose of researching your prospect is to identify any influencers and decision makers within the company, helping you figure out which person you should actually reach out to.

Be strategic with the phone number you choose. You don’t want to be passed around a lot before speaking with the right stakeholder. The more touch points you have with the wrong people, the more likely you are to be forgotten. 

Practice 

While your sales prospecting voicemails will typically follow a script, you will still have to adjust what you’re going to say to include the personal details you found during your research. Because this will change up what you say during your sales voicemail from prospect to prospect, practicing before the phone call is crucial. 

When you practice, do it with intention. Run through the script and get it to sound exactly how you want it to before you actually make the call. In your script, highlight or underline a few key phrases you’ll want to return to if you lose your place or unintentionally get a bit off message. 

There’s no such thing as too much practice. 

Call at the end of the day 

As the day goes on, our motivation dwindles. What seemed like an exciting task in the morning might turn into one that we are dreading once 2:00 p.m. hits. There’s no shame in this. It’s simply the way of office life. 

As you plan your prospecting calls, think about the time of day when they’ll be able to give you their full attention without thinking about the million other things they have on their to-do list.

Spoiler alert: it’s at the end of the day.

In the morning, we sit down with a fresh cup of coffee, making our to-do list with our energy and readiness for the day at its peak. If you were to receive a sales prospecting call at that time, you would probably roll your eyes and shut them down pretty quickly so you could get to that list of predetermined activities for the day. 

Call your prospects at the end of the day. Statistically speaking, the best time to call a prospect is when they are wrapping up their day, which is usually anywhere between four and five p.m. You also need to be strategic with the day you call them. Stray away from Mondays and Fridays, as those days include playing a lot of catch up and a lot of winding down early, lowering the response rate. 

Don’t hang up 

Calling a prospect can be a bit nerve-racking. Some might feel a sense of relief when your cold call goes to voicemail because you have the option to hang up and avoid a somewhat difficult and uncomfortable conversation. 

When a phone call goes to voicemail, one of two things can happen: 

  1. You can decide to not leave a voicemail. The prospect will see they have a missed call from you, but nothing else will be there to push them to give you a call back.
  2. You leave a voicemail. The prospect will see that they have a missed call and a voicemail from you, signifying that the call was important. They might listen to the voicemail and hear something that spikes their interest, inspiring them to give you a call back to hear more. 

If your cold call gets sent to voicemail, do not hang up. While there are no guarantees, not leaving a voicemail offers a zero percent chance that you will start a conversation with that prospect. If you leave a voicemail, those chances increase.

Share your name, company, and reason for calling

It’s an unfortunate truth that your prospect might not listen to your voicemail all the way through to the end. However, to make it worth your while, it’s important that you state your name, company, and reason for calling in both the beginning and end of the message, especially if this is a prospect you’ve never spoken with before. 

Get the boring parts about you out of the way so you can steer the conversation towards the real reason why you are calling, whether it be to get an answer to a question you couldn’t find online or to recommend a solution that can help the prospect improve their business. State this intention clearly so they know how to proceed once they listen to the voicemail. 

Show your personality 

The last thing any prospect wants is to listen to is a voicemail that sounds like it was left by a robot with zero emotional intelligence. That’s a recipe for not getting a call back, guaranteed. 

Make sure you’re letting your personality show through your sales voicemails. Make the passion you feel about your business, the solution, and selling as a whole obvious. Use the connections you’ve found during your pre-call research, get excited about them, and make it clear to the prospect that you’ve done your homework and genuinely want to help their business. Make a joke or mention something personal. 

“A tiny light-hearted joke makes me a human, not a sales robot.”

Mikey Henninger
Director of Sales at Accelity Marketing

Long story short, you want your prospect to imagine they’re being called by a human being that can offer them something of value, not a robot-like sales rep looking to hit their quota. 

While you want to let your personality show as you leave voicemails for your prospects, don’t overdo it and sound fake. Too much enthusiasm can sound forced and inauthentic, increasing the chances that the prospect will roll their eyes and hang up without even considering calling you back. 

Keep it brief

When leaving a sales voicemail, the last thing you want to let yourself do is ramble on for a couple of minutes. Prospects will be wondering when you’re going to get to the point, become impatient, and probably hang up before listening to your entire message. 

The ideal sales voicemail length is anywhere between 18 and 30 seconds. Every second you add beyond that decreases your chances of making a connection with the prospect. Also, when a message is too short, it might pass them by so fast that they won’t even remember your name, company, or reason for calling. 

Phones these days will show the duration of your voicemail. If the time’s too short, they might think you misdialed and the voicemail is a few seconds of static. If it’s too long, they might give it the old “I’ll get to that later” excuse to not listen to it. But, if you hit that sweet spot of 18-30 seconds that sparks their interest without demanding too much time, they might give it a listen. 

Make it different than email

Well before you even start your sales outreach, you are faced with the decision of which method to use, phone or email? Whichever one you decide on (probably phone in this situation since you are reading this article), both are going to require a different approach. 

Make sure the sales voicemail you leave has different contents than those you would include in an email. Emails are often a bit more generic than sales voicemails. They still contain a bit of personalization, but aside from a few details here and there, they can be refreshed, reused, and sent to multiple prospects. 

Voicemails, on the other hand, should be so uber specific that the same one couldn’t be used for two different people. Make your questions so specific and directed towards that one particular person that they feel inclined to answer. This goes for not only the information presented, but the questions you ask and the responses they would give as well.

Say you’re selling a project management software. During the voicemail, you might ask the prospect what kind of project management tools they currently use. While the question might be the same, the response  will vary from business to business. 

Always come back to the value 

As you’re leaving the voicemail, some random thought might pop up in your head, causing you to go a bit off script and stray away from the main idea of the message. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, as long as you can seamlessly redirect the conversation towards the main idea, which should revolve around informing the prospect how your solution can benefit their business.

If you ever start to feel lost in the conversation and find yourself rambling, rely on returning back to the main idea of the message. Always, always, always come back to the value. 

A good tactic for honing in on the value within your sales voicemail is to mention a business that is similar to that of the prospect that you’ve helped in the past. 

“Something like, ‘Oh, by the way, Company X was able to close $1 million of business using our software. If you want to know how, let me know and I’ll prepare a free demo for you.'”

Petra Odak
CMO at Better Proposals

Consider using a series

Sales voicemails might seem plain and simple, but there is an added layer of strategy you can implement that might make the process more effective. If you aren’t seeing much success with your current sales voicemail methods, or if you just feel like switching things up a bit, consider using a sales voicemail series with two different messages. 

While it might take some extra effort, make sure you don’t just leave the same message twice. Offer unique information in each voicemail so you don’t sound as if you simply forgot that you already called this prospect. Leaving more than one voicemail will tap the prospect on the shoulder again, making them give you their attention. 

Don’t talk too fast

It’s easy to start a voicemail rather slowly and then pick up speed as you go on. Nerves present themselves, the urge to check another number off the list kicks in, and you might be hitting the top of that 18-30 second time limit and feel rushed to finish in time. 

Controlling your pace gives off a confident, articulate, and professional vibe. Talking too fast can make the prospect feel like just another number on the list, which they might be to you, but to them, they want to feel special and valued. While you might be pressured to hit a certain sales activity metric, it’s better to have made a smaller number of solid sales calls than a larger amount of rushed voicemails. 

Provide a call to action 

So you’re nearing the end of your call. You’ve successfully hooked the prospect and they’ve followed you to the end of this wild ride that is your sales voicemail.

Before you hang up, make sure to leave some sort of action for the prospect to take. If you miss this opportunity, they will hang up and ask themselves, “Now what?” That is the last thing you want.

Lay out a clear and simple call to action for the prospect at the end of your sales voicemail. Give them something to do. Don’t just repeat your phone number. Tell them to give you a call. Or an email. Whatever action you want them to take, tell them to do it. They might not follow through on that desired plan, but it’s worth a shot. 

Mention that you’ll follow up

After the call to action, give them an idea of when you will follow up. It doesn’t need to be super specific, but let the prospect know they haven’t heard the end of you.

However you decide to follow up is up to you - it can be another phone call, an email, or any other outreach method you feel comfortable using to contact your prospect. You can even use the initial sales call as a heads up that you’ll be reaching out on another channel, like email or LinkedIn. 

“My goal isn’t to get a call back. I use voicemail to alert a prospect that I’m sending them something else.”

AJ Alonzo
Director of Marketing at demandDrive

Whatever the case may be, let the prospect know that they’ll be hearing from you again and the channel in which it will occur. 

End with your contact information

Again? Yes, again. 

End the voicemail with another repetition of your contact information. Making sure your phone number or email is the last thing the prospect hears is a good way to be sure they’ll remember it.

Also, smartphones these days can transcribe audio, so ensure you say it nice and slow. This way the prospect’s phone will pick up on it and they can simply click on the transcription to give you a call back. 

Best sales voicemail scripts

If those tips didn’t necessarily do it for you and you’re looking for a bit more inspiration, look no further. We have a few different sales voicemail scripts that can work for your outreach, depending on the vibe you want to give off.

It’s important to note that while these scripts might be a good place to start, you shouldn’t rely on them completely. Give them a once over and then see how you can customize the script for your particular business. 

If you want to sound familiar

Unfortunately, one of the keys to a successful sales voicemail is not sounding like a sales rep. So doing your best to sound familiar is a good tactic.

Leverage that connection you found during your research or mention a shared history and use it to make the voicemail sound like anything but a cold calling message. Here's an example. 

“Hi [prospect’s name]. It’s [your name] with [your company name]. I’ve been working with your team at [prospect’s company name] for [relevant time period] now and need to quickly chat with you about [relevant topic]. You can reach me at [your phone number]. Again, this is [your name] with [your company name] at [your phone number]. Thanks!”

This is another good method if you’ve already spoken with the customer about buying your solution, so you actually are familiar to them. It might sound something like this. 

“Hi [prospect’s name]. It’s [your name] from [your company name]. We last spoke on [date] and discussed a quote for [solution]. I wanted to see if you got the relevant pricing information, and I was hoping we could help you move forward with your purchase. You can reach me at [your phone number]. Again, it’s [your name] at [your company name] – [your phone number].”

If you want to cut to the chase

Depending on your style, some reps might want to cut right to the chase. In the situation of selling, this “chase” is the value that your solution can offer their business.

Here’s a script for that method. 

“Hi [prospect’s name]. This is [your name] from [your company name] calling. I recently thought of your business because I’m currently working with [similar brand to that of the prospect] and we just helped them [desirable outcome from using your solution]. I’m sure we can make that happen for your business as well. Give me a call back at [your phone number]. Again, this is [your name] with [your company name]. Thanks!”

If you want to keep it simple

There’s nothing wrong with keeping your voicemail simple. It might be refreshing and appealing to some prospects that are sick and tired of everyone trying to be sneaky when selling.

If you feel like going back to the basics, here’s your script. 

“Hi [prospect’s name]. This is [your name] from [your company name]. I’m calling because I’d love to chat with you about [benefit your solution can offer]. You can reach me at [your phone number]. I’ll send you a [another outreach method of your choosing] as well. I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks!”

Leave a message after the beep

The fact that your sales voicemail can make or break your chances of creating a meaningful connection with a prospect is a lot of pressure. That first touchpoint is key, and you want your efforts to create results.

It might not be perfect from the start, but there’s no shame in learning as you go and making adjustments where needed. And remember, practice makes perfect. 

After you've mastered a sales voicemail method, make sure to add it to your sales playbook

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