Like it or not, times have changed and the usefulness of a voicemail is up for debate. With email, text messages and Caller ID, some people find it irritating to see that they have a blinking red light or a notification alerting them to check their voicemail. And as sales professionals, the last thing we’re trying to do is annoy a prospect or current client.
Above all, I recommend trying to establish a rapport voice to voice if possible. (Of course, face to face is best, but not always an option in our business.) Try calling the contact at different times of the day – first thing, mid-day, after 5 p.m. – on different days to catch them on the phone. Careful though, with Caller ID you need to make sure you’re not over-doing it.
The following are questions to ask yourself when trying to make contact with a business connection.
1. Have I ever met this person before? If the answer is no, then I highly recommend not leaving a voicemail as the efficacy is practically diminished. If you’ve tried calling and feel defeated on that front, then leave a brief message that includes your name, company, number and a compelling, emotional reason for them to want to call you back. (Max voicemail time: 30 seconds.)
2. Have I been referred to this person by a mutual connection? If a friend or contact has made an introduction for you and there’s an identifiable connection between the two of you, then it’s acceptable to leave a brief voicemail.
3. Have I left a voicemail for this person already with a response? I recommend hanging up and continuing to try to reach the person on a phone call or consider other means of connecting.
4. Is the information I need to convey better for an email? If a complex subject matter needs to be shared and a phone call can’t take place, then send an email. No one wants a 3-minute voicemail that they need to repeat two or three times to understand.
5. Have I considered the age of the person I’m trying to reach? The more I work with the younger generations, the more I understand them. If you’re able to identify a contact’s age through LinkedIn or other means, then take that into consideration. What I’ve seen is that the 35 and younger crowd are more likely to be irritated by a voicemail, while the 35 and older crowd still rely on this as an effective form of communication. But, there are always exceptions to the rule. One thing everyone agrees on – a phone call is the fastest way to do business and move a conversation forward.
6. Should I text them? This is tricky and largely subjective. Just because you have a contact’s cell phone number doesn’t mean they want to receive a text message from you. I never recommend using this form of communication on a prospect. When it comes to a current client, only send a text when they’ve open the door to this and encouraged you to text them. No exceptions.
Now I’m curious to know your style when it comes to receiving voicemails? Comment below.
By: Dave Hiatt, International Training Director, Global Accounts at Sandler Training