7 Voicemail Message Tips

If you place a cold call and your prospect's voicemail picks up, don't give up and hang up the phone. Voicemail provides a golden opportunity to get leads to call YOU instead of spending days trying to chase them down yourself. But if you expect to get many of your calls returned, you'll need to make a point of leaving messages that will give each lead a good reason to get in touch with you.

Know What You Want to Say

Voicemail sales tips
Yulia-Images / Getty Images

Before you even pick up the phone, jot down a few sentences that you can use as a 'default' voicemail message. These sentences should act as a safety net, not a script. In other words, if your mind goes blank at the sound of the beep, you can glance down at the paper and start talking instead of sitting there saying “Uh, uh, uh...”

Speak Clearly

If your lead can't understand what your message says, she's not going to call you back. This sounds pretty obvious but after the fortieth cold call of the day, you might start to mumble without even realizing it. So make an effort with each and every voicemail message to speak slowly and clearly.

Repeat Yourself

Give your name, company name and phone number twice on each message – once at the beginning of the call and again at the end. That way, if your lead didn't have a pen in hand at the beginning, she doesn't have to replay the message to get your information. Take special care to speak your phone number slowly and clearly – picture the recipient sitting there with pen in hand trying to take down the number as you say it.

Not Too Short

Some salespeople like to leave a message with nothing but their name and phone number, and possibly a hint that they're calling for “business purposes.” This is not usually a good idea. The only people who call for business purposes and don't include details in the message are salespeople and collection agents. Either way, your lead isn't going to be in a hurry to call back.

Not Too Long

On the other hand, a voicemail message is not the place to describe your entire product line in great detail. The ideal sales voicemail message is no more than one minute long, tops. You want to leave just enough information to intrigue the lead into calling you back. Don't wait until the end to mention your “hook” because if the first 15 seconds of the message are boring, your message will be wiped before it gets that far.

Mention Your Connection

If you got the lead's name from an acquaintance or co-worker, drop that person's name early in the voicemail message. Or if you met the lead (or someone from her company) at a convention or other event, then bring that up instead. Failing any kind of connection between you and your lead, say something like, “While researching your company, I noticed that your website mentions XYZ...” This shows that you aren't just calling your way through the phone book.

Pick Your Time Wisely

The worst time to leave a voicemail message is Friday afternoon, especially for B2B sales. By the time the lead gets your message, it will be Monday and she'll have twenty more important things to deal with. And don't leave messages at times far outside of the business day, like 2 AM, because the time stamp on the voicemail message will make the lead think you're either calling from China or keep really bizarre hours. Weekday mornings are the best time to leave messages because your lead will have the option to pick up the phone immediately, instead of having to wait until the next day to call you back (by which time they may have forgotten all about you).