Getting Past the Voicemail Box

As a sales and marketing professional since 1996, I have faced many challenges when it comes to getting past the dreaded voice mail on a sales call. I can receive up to five sales calls from outside vendors in the course of a day.  I am continually shocked by the lack of valuable information provided in these messages.  As a result, I am left with the impression that I have no need for their services because I have no clue what they are trying to sell.  I’m also left feeling like they don’t truly care about my business since they have not done any work at all on trying to find out what my needs are. They just want me to take time from my day to call them back. The tips below will help you in making the most of your sales calls, so you can actually speak with potential customers to build your business.

Tips for getting past voice mail…

  1. What time are you leaving voice mails?  Do you find yourself making sales calls later in the afternoon or the same time every day and tend to only be able to leave a message?  If so, try calling at different times throughout a work day, odd hours or even during lunch.  Chances are you may be able to speak with that person at a more convenient time, helping to make a better working relationship with them.
  2. Listen to their Voice mail: This might seem strange, but many times you can find out a lot about the person you are calling by their voice mail. Make notes of these things and follow any instructions they may have requested of the caller.  If they say to email, do that; however, send them a teaser email and ask them to get back to you by phone or email. Do not give them all the information in the first email, as you will lose any chances of explaining your service or product in detail that would meet their needs.  If they report being only available at certain times of the day, call back at the requested time.  Again, keep these notes in your call logs so follow-up with your customers is productive.
  3. Follow-up:  Many times, sales and making calls turn into a numbers game.  Not becoming pushy or rude is important since the decision maker will be more apt to return the call of someone who is persistent and professional.  They may even call to tell you they are not interested, but your goal is to get a response, so think of ‘no’ as a win too. They have just allowed you to update your list by removing them and replacing with a better suited customer.  During your follow-up call, if you can only leave a voice message, wait three days and then call them back. Tell them you left a message before (if you get voice mail again) and you wanted to make sure they got your message, as well as how they can reach you again.  An email address may be another beneficial tool to give to the potential customer, in addition to your contact number, so they can reach you at their convenience.
  4. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat: Have a list of all the voice mails you have left and carve out some specific time each day to make calls (see above – vary the time each day you make sales calls). During that time,  review your list and dial away.  Do not leave messages; just make sure you get through the entire list. Keep repeating until you actually reach some potential customers.  Watch out, you may surprise yourself with the positive outcome of your hard work and persistence!

Hopefully, these tips will help you in becoming more successful and productive in sales calls. Beyond these recommendations, I have also found this blog post by Tom Searcy (@tomsearcy on Twitter) who gives some wonderful ideas for getting your customers/leads to contact you back.

What tips do you have for reaching your customers or leads?