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Voice Mail As a TeleSales Tool

Does it seem like voice mail is the bane of your voice maker inside sales existence? As inside sales people, we want to be able to directly speak with our decision makers. When we get voice mail after voice mail, it can seem as though we are wasting our calling efforts. Voice mail, however, presents us with some unique opportunities.

For some telesales personnel, the opportunity to say something – anything – to a live person is all that counts. This can be an unwise and wasteful attitude. Used effectively, voice mail is a powerful addition to our telesales toolkit.

The subject of how to handle voice mail effectively is a particular favorite in my training classes. One of my favorite questions to ask a group of people about voice mail is “How many people have received unintelligible or incoherent voice mail messages?” Without hesitation, every hand in the room will shoot up. Here’s the rub: it stands to reason that if we all get unintelligible voice mail messages, we are all leaving unintelligible voice messages.

Let’s take a look at what make a voice message unintelligible. Many voice mail messages are spoken too quickly, leave no return telephone number and consist of a rambling message. Prepared for properly, there is no reason to be incoherent or inarticulate.

There are steps to take which can help ensure a greater return on your telesales time investment.

Slow down. Probably the biggest offender of poor messaging is speaking too fast. You want people to be able to comprehend your message – and in some cases write it out while listening – the first time they listen to it.

Make sure you leave your first and last name as well as your telephone number twice during the voice mail message. Give your name up front, leave your message, give your telephone number, repeat your telephone number. This allows people to get the pertinent information without having to listen to the message a second time.

To message or not to message. There are two schools of thought. One is just leave your name and number, the other is to leave a detailed message so the person will have enough information and/or reason to call you back. Both have their pluses and minuses. I felt that both techniques can be used, but you must be careful how you use them. Avoid leaving a voice mail message the first 2-3 times you call. Really, your goal is to speak with a live person. If you’ve tried at different times over a few days and can’t reach someone, then it’s time to leave a message. The pitfall of just leaving a name and number is when you are called back the decision maker will be turned off when realizing this is a sales call.

Be prepared to call back. Do not expect a call back from leaving a message. Instead, think about building a campaign of messages. Over time, you will have made a great sales case for yourself. Voice mail messaging should be thought of as a radio advertising campaign. You have 30 seconds with your target market to convincingly get your point across.

If you are given a choice by a receptionist, ask for voice mail. Remember messages aren’t always passed on. Make your calls in a relatively quiet place. Whether you’re actually reaching decision makers or leaving lots of messages, you want to be able to concentrate on your activities.

Create a message outline that includes your name, company name, an interest generating statement and call to action. Finish your message by leaving your telephone number, repeat your number again slowly and thank them for listening.

You should develop several interest gathering statements that you can use sequentially over a period of 3 to 4 calls. Each statement while being short, informative 1 or 2 sentences that give people a reason to call you back, should build on each other. Give people a chance to get to know you.

Remember these basic points: Always use your first and last names. It shows accountability and professionalism. Use area codes with your phone numbers – not everyone is using a phone with an incoming call display feature. Messages should be brief. Message should give reason to call back. Make message an opportunity for a 30 second commercial. Finally, before you even dial the phone: rehearse, rehearse.

Voice mail shouldn’t be considered the bane of an inside sales person’s job. Used properly, voice mail messaging can be an effective telesales tool.

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