I was originally going to title this blog, "Does Leaving a Voicemail Really Work?" However, as I researched for statistics on voicemail/callback ratios, I was surprised to find that there was really no such statistics to be found.
It's my opinion that voicemail metrics are one of the most subjective metrics in all the land. It depends so much on tone, delivery, content, speed, emphasis, etc. - all of which are highly variable. Essentially, every time you leave a B2B lead generation voicemail, you are a commercial pitch man for 30 seconds, in which you have to utilize some psychological marketing saavy to get good results.
There a few schools of thought among individual salespeople - some ALWAYS leave messages, and some will NEVER leave one. After reading Doyle Slaton's article, 6 Goals for Leaving Voice Mail and from my own experience, I'm inclined to think that USUALLY leaving a voicemail is the correct path. Slaton says:"So much of sales is about maintaining perspective. I need to leave messages with the expectation, not that the prospect is going to call me back… but instead, leaving the prospect knowing that… whether they return my call or not… I am going to call them back."
In prospecting for Vendere Partners, our lead generation reps have left 3,763 voicemails for 2,520 unique individuals YTD. Our callback ratio is in the neighborhood of 20%. But why do people call us (or you, or anyone) back based on a voicemail?
Due to the subjective and volatile nature of leaving voicemails, keep in mind that some of these suggestions might help in some situations and might not in others. Take the tips at face value, play with what works, and track success.
Here are a few tips that have helped us along the way:
1. The first and last words they hear should be their name
Tons of psychological research tells us that when people hear their name, it's a cue to start listening. Try starting with this: "Hello, Dan. This is George Copeland from Vendere Partners in Dallas, Texas..." and ending with this: "I look forward to your return call. Thank you, Dan."
2. Workflow should contain at least two voicemails over two weeks
We build our callflow out mostly with the format of Call-Call-Call-Email-Call-Call-Call-Email-Drop. We recommend as a best practice that two of those calls should be voicemails - usually the first and fourth.
3. Use e-mail in conjunction with voicemails
We find that e-mails greatly increase the chance of a call back, and at the very least, create awareness. We've had success sending e-mails with a subject line like "Follow-up on Wednesday's voicemail" or "My 1/9/09 voicemail."
4. Establish credibility... fast
You have only a few seconds to shine. Avoid lines like, "We are a premium provider of B2B appointment setting." and replace it with, "We're the people helping HP and Microsoft with their B2B appointment setting needs."
5. Insert a decision phrase
It is estimated that up to 75% of business calls go to voicemail. Ones that require action are often returned while most others die a not-so-honorable death from the dreaded "Delete" button. Replace, "I would like to talk about the order you placed last week." Instead, you might say, "You need to approve the final order pricing that I faxed you on Monday prior to processing the order tomorrow."
6. Avoid mucking up your voicemail with too many topics
Use an e-mail if you feel you absolutely need to be thorough and alert them to it's arrival via voicemail. Otherwise, mention one hotbutton at a time on their machine.
7. Keep voicemails short and simple
The sweet spot tends to be 15-25 seconds according to many sales researchers. The average person speaks in the range of 150 words per minute, so that means that if you're drafting a script for your voicemails, make it between 40-75 words.
8. Where applicable, use teasers
It helps if you say that you are sending an article, book, or other content and that they might benefit from it. So now when you get that person on the line, you can have a neutral conversation about the subject matter of your content. You've also gained credibility as a subject matter expert.
9. Mention a challenge they might have
Focus on a problem you might solve with your solution; support with numbers. Solve a real tangible problem, not a pie-in-the-sky generality. For instance, instead of "Vendere Partners can fatten your sales pipeline," I might say, "Vendere Partners can free up your salespeople from chasing down contacts, by stuffing their pipeline with 15+ qualified leads per month."
10. Dig deeper, shoot broader, and aim higher
You're never going to get anywhere with a sales prospect who never returns voicemails or e-mails. Have a point in your workflow where you drop the prospect. Here's the key though: contact another influencer, decision-maker, or at least a person who would help guide you towards the a correct party.