• April 23, 2015

Is It Ever Okay To Leave A Voicemail?

Is It Ever Okay To Leave A Voicemail?

Readers know that we think salespeople should never ever leave a voicemail for a prospect. It’s a terrible idea. Everyone hates voicemails, and they really want you to stop leaving them.

Except sometimes.

Yes, there are instances – not many – when leaving a voicemail is okay. We’ll explain in a second, but first, a reminder of why they’re a bad idea in general:

  • They’re the hallmark of the lazy salesperson. Voicemails are used by those looking for the easy way out.
  • They show a lack of initiative. As a salesperson, you’re supposed to make things happen rather than waiting for someone to respond to your voicemail.
  • They don’t usually work. People just don’t respond to voicemails, no matter how cleverly you try to word them.

When Is It Okay To Leave A Voicemail?

Generally speaking, voicemails can be acceptable once you’ve established contact with a prospect:

  • Confirming meetings – As we’ve said before, we strongly recommend confirming upcoming meetings (which you can do through Spiro). Failing to do so can have dire consequences. If you can’t reach your prospect when trying to confirm, it’s probably fine to leave a voicemail. Besides, it gives you a free pass at another sales pitch (within limits).
  • In the middle of active engagement – Sometimes you’re already deep into a sale that the voicemail’s an acceptable option. For instance, you may be in the middle of negotiating fine points on a contract. Still, consider sending a text.
  • The customer prefers voicemails – Occasionally, you’ll find someone who likes voicemails more than emails. Some people got used to voicemails and never fully adapted to emails. You’ll probably be able to tell because they’re not on LinkedIn.

Besides those instances, sometimes mixing things up works. You might have tried emails, texts, etc., and still not reached them. It might not hurt to leave a heartfelt voicemail. You never know.

The Rules for Sales Voicemails

If you find the need to leave a voicemail, be careful what you say.
Do not:

  • refer to other calls – People will instantly delete a message that says, “I’m following up on my voicemail from …”
  • be vague – No one returns a call when the caller is “just checking in”…
  • be boring – Try to be engaging. Years ago when voicemails were widely accepted in business, my friend Chris Lochhead always concluded his voicemails with an amusing “thought of the day.” People listened to the whole message just to hear what Chris was going to say at the end! If you ever leave a voicemail, try doing this.
  • be a robot – There are technologies that will allow you to leave mass, pre-recorded voicemails. Never do this, unless you think being replaced by a sales robot is a good idea.

The Bottom Line for Salespeople

There are limited circumstances when voicemails can work. But proceed with caution or they may backfire on you.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user plantronicsgermany.