salesperson_with_2_phonesAfter examining data from hundreds of thousands of dials, it turns out that sales voicemails can be adjusted, tweaked, and tested to improve response rates.

While there are many variables, these are “Three S’s” you can look at when testing voicemail messaging at a high level:

  • Structure: How you’re saying it
  • Subject: What you’re saying
  • Star: Who’s saying it


Structure is a matter of getting to the point. Succinct voicemail is more likely to generate responses, according to our beep! Directed Voicemail research. Quickly and clearly communicate the value proposition of why someone would take action based on your voicemail.

A/B testing structure is not as hard as you might think. The only change required is for your team to take the existing message, find the meat, and bring it to the top. 


Testing the subject of the voicemail is more involved as it could change the entire value proposition of your message and may even require additional content development, sales training, or coordination with other resources to support the sales team.

Our data showed that the more value-oriented and less sales-specific the subject, the more likely prospects were to take action and schedule a meeting (a whopping 144% more likely based on our tests). But note that some of our clients have actually found the opposite to be true, with sales-oriented messaging driving action better than more value-oriented approaches. My recommendation is to determine which option your prospects will prefer, and then test how you can make your call-to-action as powerful as possible.


The star of your voicemail show can also have a surprising impact on results. Are prospects more likely to take action based on personal outreach from a senior executive or a front line inside salesperson?

If you find that you’re not getting the results you expect or need, you might discover that changing the person delivering your message can reel in prospects that were previously unresponsive. A challenge with the ‘star’ variable is making senior outreach return on investment worthwhile, but nonetheless, it is another variable to test that could have a major impact on response rate.

The chart below shows the results of just such a test. Take a look at the difference between the number of meetings booked when a junior salesperson placed a webinar follow-up call as opposed to when a senior leader made the dial:

That's a 232% lift!

Test Time: Fire Up the Phones

Now that you're more familiar with the Three S’s and the impact they can have on response rates, you’ll need to build out a proper outreach program to test your voicemails on these criteria. Here are five steps to follow.

Step 1: Define clear goals across all messages (meetings scheduled, registrations generated, links clicked, pipeline activity forecasted, etc.).

Step 2: Build unbiased lists that have a critical mass to declare a winner (think hundreds or more).

Step 3: Ensure outreach team will execute different messages around the same timeframe.

Step 4: Collect results and declare the winner.

Step 5: Plan the next round of testing to incrementally improve the winning iteration.

Bonus: If you have a large enough pool of prospects, consider adding a radically different message to see if you find surprises along the way.

This process should only add a negligible amount of time to existing follow-up requirements while providing significant insight on how to improve outreach programs. An hour to brainstorm and develop scripts, an hour to properly prepare split lists in the CRM, and an hour spent in a debrief meeting where results are tabulated -- that’s all that's required to improve every call moving forward. What are you waiting for?

Have you A/B tested your voicemails? What were the results?


Originally published Oct 28, 2014 8:00:00 AM, updated January 23 2018


Sales Voicemails