Breaking Free of Voice Mail Jail

I was combing through the questions from our Best Year Yet call last week and WOW! There were a lot of questions about voicemail. What to say. How to say it. When to leave a Voice mail. How often to leave a voice mail. And so on.  It seems as though everyone these days is struggling with voice mail…except for a few smart Engage clients who have mastered our voice mail strategies! Instead of losing to voice mail these sales pros are using voice mail to make sales, and commissions. Check out these results:

“I began my prospecting calls using your 3 part voicemail method that you showed us, and I have already received 2 responses back, one telling me no way (that’s ok, sometimes we just need the no to move on) and one confirming my next call!  These two prospects I have been trying to reach for weeks using my old and no longer used method.” 
– Angela Farmer, HelmsBriscoe

“Colleen, your technique for using voicemail more effectively has increased our sales call success rate by 80%!”
– Jerry Everett, OnConference

Well, I have been… and getting much better results, even after one day. Also, I left the voice message that we discussed and she called me back this afternoon! You’re a genius!” – Thanks
– Allison Terpening, United Online Inc.

These are real results by real people and I want you to get these results too. This week we take a detailed look at our voice mail system and provide you the outlines and scripts you need to be successful. Whether you are being reintroduced to these ideas or you are seeing them for the first time, your job is to implement.

First, some strategies for success:

Voice Mail Strategies

  • Never leave a voice mail on the first attempt you call. An Engage best practice is to call at least 3 times randomly during the day. If on the 3rd time you still don’t get through, leave a voice mail.
  • Never leave a voicemail message for someone who doesn’t know you. To the prospect, you’re an anonymous caller. The chances of this stranger ever returning your call are, at best, about one or two percent! The only time you should ever leave a voicemail for a prospect is when you have been referred to them.
  • Voicemail should only be used as a last resort. Too often, we give up as soon as the voicemail kicks in on a call, either leaving a message (bad idea) or simply hang up (better, but not great).
  • If you do leave a message make sure you have a reference. Use a testimonial or reference to breakdown the skepticism barrier between you and the prospect. Make sure that the referral source’ name is used up front in your message.
  • When in doubt, hit zero.
  • Hit zero and ask for the sales or customer service department. Ask “I’ve been trying to reach Bob to speak to him about X and I notice he is difficult to reach. Do you know if he is the right person?” Generally customer service team and sales teams will help guide you through the organization and give you insight into how best to reach your contact and whether they are in fact the right decision maker.

You owe it to yourself to try everything you can to either locate them, or at least find out something about them. One way to do this is to hit zero when a voicemail message kicks in. You’ll likely get bounced to a receptionist, an executive assistant or a co-worker. Try asking the following question:

“I was hoping you could help me. I’m trying to reach Jane Smith, and her voicemail picked up. Do you know if she’s in a meeting, or out for the rest of the day?”

Depending on the response you receive, you can then try one of the following strategies:

Strategy one

Them: “She’s in a meeting.”
You: “Thanks for your help. Do you happen to know when she’ll be available?” “Maybe it’s best to call back then?”

Strategy two

Them: “She’s away today.”
You: “Thanks for your help. Do you know if she will be back tomorrow?”

Strategy three

If you speak to your prospect’s personal assistant, ask if it’s better to schedule a call in advance, and then have them set a fifteen-minute appointment.

3 Step Voicemail Success Script

If you decide that you want to leave a voicemail message, try this three-step process to dramatically increase your chances of getting a positive reply from your prospect.

This three-step approach works because it’s non-threatening, honest and friendly—attributes that all salespeople should develop if they want to be successful. It also works because it means you have shifted your focus from trying to make a sale to trying to start a conversation. 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.

1. The first call—Example: “Mr. X, this is Colleen from Engage Selling. Paul Smith suggested I call you because (insert Unique Selling Proposition statement or referral source or short reason for calling) Sorry I missed you today, I’ll try to reach you again on DATE and TIME.”

Make sure your tone is soft, non-threatening and friendly. You don’t want to sound like a radio ad for a furniture liquidator. Plus, it’s critical that you do call back exactly on the date and time that you say.

2. The follow-up—Example: “Hi, Mr. X. This is Colleen from Engage Selling calling because I promised to reach you today at TIME. Sorry I missed you.  Paul Smith suggested I call you because (insert Unique Selling Proposition statement) I’ll try you again on DATE and TIME.”

Again, it’s critical that you call back exactly when you said you would. Anything else would result in your being less than honest, and risk losing your local-market contact’s confidence.

3. One last try—Example: “Hi, Mr. X. This is Colleen from Engage Selling calling, because I promised to reach you today at TIME. Sorry I missed you. I noticed that you’ve been difficult to reach and I’m wondering if that is because you’re swamped at work, you are not interested in doing business with my company or I’ve been wrong at guessing the times you might be at your desk. Either is OK. If you wouldn’t mind letting me know how to proceed, that would be great. I promised Paul I would be in touch with you, and that I would get back to him about our conversation. My number is 613-730-7700 ext 111″.

The last reason for not reaching the prospect “I’ve been wrong at guessing the times you might be at your desk.” Is the most important because you are taking ownership of the reason you can’t reach the customer. You can change the other two reasons based on your specific sales situation. For example if this was a follow up call after a proposal was sent you might say “I’m wondering if that is because you didn’t have a chance to see the proposal, you were unhappy with the pricing I sent or I’ve been wrong at guessing the times you might be at your desk.”

Take these ideas and make them your own. We know they work. Engage clients all over the world are using them and receiving massive success. So unless you are receiving an 80% call back ratio from your voice mails or better…you owe it to yourself to try something new!

Dedicated to increasing your sales,

PS. If you’d like to see the EXACT plan I follow for leaving voice mails with prospects I recommend getting a copy of the Sales Mastery Home Action Kit (tm) The voice mail flow chart templates are right there for you to use  (in the day 2 section on the binder) and will save you LOTS of time and effort (feel free to model it). And while you’re at it, the the Home Action Kit will show you the most important things to do to set up simple, solid sales  systems, so that you consistently fill your pipeline and continually get new clients. It’s all step-by-step, not a big mishmash of things. So, you do step one of the system, and when you’re done with that, you move on to step two, and so on. All the tools, scripts, templates, and examples are handed to you on a silver platter. Easy. You can get it at

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