Leaving a voicemail for a prospect can feel like sending out a message in a bottle. Because the communication is one-sided and there’s no way to track whether a voicemail has been listened to, it can be easy to assume that they’re less important or effective than emails or phone calls.

But this couldn’t be farther from the truth. When used as part of a thoughtful outreach strategy, the best voicemails help reps build relationships with their prospects and position themselves as valuable resources.

Let’s dive into the right -- and wrong -- ways to approach sales voicemails.

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The Power of Voicemail

A good voicemail can be more powerful than an email. Research reveals people have roughly 50/50 odds of correctly interpreting a written message’s tone -- which means even a great sales email may easily be taken the wrong way.

A verbal message, on the other hand, lets reps communicate additional meaning with their tone of voice. A comment that would obviously be friendly if delivered in person or over the phone could be misinterpreted but might seem aggressive over email.

Listening to a voicemail also reminds buyers that there’s a person at the other end of the line. In 25 seconds, salespeople can transform themselves from anonymous names in their prospects’ inboxes to actual humans.

How to Think About Voicemail

Reps can’t reap the benefits of voicemail without the right attitude.

When it comes to voicemail, there are three general schools of thought:

  1. Successful voicemails generate callbacks.
  2. Successful voicemails educate buyers on your product.
  3. Successful voicemails add value to buyers’ lives.

Reps who judge their success solely based on whether a prospect returns a voicemail will inevitably decide they don’t work. According to Jill Konrath, 97% of sales calls go to voicemail. If the typical salesperson's callback rate was that high, prospecting would be a walk in the park.

Reps who simply dump their sales pitch in their buyer’s mailbox will also be disappointed. These types of voicemails are irrelevant to buyers, who will quickly press “Delete.”

That leaves the third school of thought -- that reps should use voicemails to help their prospects. This approach benefits both parties. Buyers won’t waste their time listening to a boring or pointless message, and salespeople build their reputation as strategic consultants rather than order-takers.

The prospect might not call back, but that’s fine. Reps should think about each voicemail as another touchpoint, not an end-all be-all solution. It takes an average of five touches to close, so leveraging this opportunity can help shorten the process.

How to Leave Effective Voicemails

Good voicemails reinforce sales emails, not repeat them. Salespeople should assume their prospect is going to read or listen to every message they send. There’s no way to know whether they’re skipping any, so err on the side of providing new value.

There are a few ways to structure a voicemail.

First, reps can leave a one- to two sentence tip to instantly improve the buyer’s life while piquing their desire for more.

Check out this sample message:

“Hi Sarah, it’s Greg from HubSpot. I noticed Grasshopper tweets at the same time every day -- have you tried varying your posting schedule to reach more people? There are a few additional things you can do to optimize your social strategy. If you’d like to walk through them together, give me a call at 123-867-5309.”

Greg’s request is more effective than a typical sales voicemail because he’s proactively providing value. Even if Sarah doesn’t return his call, she’ll likely be more open to communicating with him down the line.

Alternatively, salespeople can use their voicemails to “warm up” their prospects for their emails.

Here’s an example:

“Hi Sarah, it’s Greg at HubSpot. The GIFs Grasshopper posts on Twitter and Facebook always crack me up. I rounded up some of my favorite lesser-known GIF sites that might come in handy for future social posts. I’ll email you those right now. If you’d like a couple more social media suggestions, my number is 123-867-5309.”

This message puts Greg’s email on his prospect’s radar. And without this heads up, she might have passed over a valuable email.

For the best results, salespeople should vary the types of voicemails they leave. Here’s a sample sequence to give you an idea:

  • First voicemail: Quick tip
  • Second voicemail: Warm-up for email
  • Third voicemail: Quick tip
  • Fourth voicemail: “Breakup” message

Leaving a boring, self-centered voicemail -- or worse, no voicemail at all -- is a wasted opportunity. With a well-crafted message, reps can add value and increase their credibility.

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Originally published Oct 4, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Sales Voicemails