Here is the question beginning sales reps ask a lot during my sales training sessions:
I’ve left 25 voicemail messages and sent several emails. How do I get a response from my prospect?
After mulling over the question, I have a few questions of my own:
- Are you trying to connect with the right person?
- Is the product/service you are offering a good match for what the company does?
- Are your sales processes and techniques a match for their environment?
I understand that these are more questions, but if you are expending that much effort without so much as a peep from your contact, I’d say either they have left that place of business or they don’t see a reason to talk with you.
3 Keys to Leaving Effective Voicemail Messages
Before you start working on your voicemail techniques to get a response from your prospect, consider the following:
- Determine if he or she is the right person to contact. Some sales reps get caught up engaging contacts that have no authority to buy. It makes them feel productive. However, some reps go in the other direction and waste time trying to contact people that are too high on the organizational chart to care. You won’t get far with either one.
- Insure that your product or service is a match for their environment. Sometimes as sales people, we buy into the myth that “everyone needs what we have to sell” and we happily go from door to door or from phone number to phone number singing our praises to everyone that will listen. Do some research on your market and understand the impact your product or service can have in the companies that you are selling into. If the prospect doesn’t see a match, they won’t want to be bothered with you. Forget about the “if they will only spend a few minutes with me I can show them how this will benefit them” argument. There must be a legitimate match for your offer and their environment.
- Match your process and techniques to theirs. While I think it’s always good to develop relationships, using a consultative selling process for transactional sales won’t be an effective selling strategy. Neither will using transactional selling methods to sell the executive team capital equipment. Use the right tools to get the job done. Don’t throw techniques at a challenge haphazardly, hoping something will work.
So, You Have the Right Contact, the Right Offer, and You Still Aren’t Getting a Response.
Let’s say you are contacting the right person and you know your product or service is a good fit for what they are doing. If you are still striking out after leaving 10 voicemail messages, then it’s time to start looking at the details of your technique.
Here’s an easy layup for you. If you called your contact 10 times and left the same the same message repeatedly, then you haven’t left 10 voicemail messages. You’ve made one call 10 times. That will only annoy your contact.
Researching the industry and knowing something about your prospect, their environment, and what they want is crucial to increasing your odds of creating a favorable impression with your voicemail message. Information is key. Once you have credible information on your prospect, you can create messages that will get their attention.
In training sessions, I’ve seen sales reps create unique and unusual messages that grabbed a client’s attention and yielded a response. I’ve seen sales reps use the curiosity approach effectively and get responses. I’ve even seen sales reps inject humor into their message to get gain attention.
The key in all effective approaches is to know something relevant about your prospect and to tailor the message to what they want.
An Example of a Voicemail Message That Won’t Yield a Response.
Now, if you are leaving voicemail messages like the following, I can guarantee you won’t get a response:
“Hi, my name is Bill from ABC company. Call me at 408-255-1212. I have some ideas I’d like to run by you. When would be a good time to connect?”
There’s no reason for the prospect to listen past the first few seconds. This does nothing for grabbing the prospect’s attention and there is no compelling reason for the prospect to return your call. As I say in my training sessions, “Your name is not an attention-getter. It means nothing to them unless you’ve established a meaning with them. Don’t lead off with it.”
On the other hand, a voicemail message like the following does a better job of getting a prospect’s attention:
“Bob, 20% of car dealerships won’t weather the current economic downturn. Yet, two of our clients have taken steps in the last month that will put them in the top 10% of national producers. I’ll call you on Thursday to discuss what they did and see if this will work for you. Bob, ABC Company, 408-555-1212.”
Here, I’ve created curiosity through statistics and a little drama that is tied to their current business model. At the very least, they will be expecting my call, if they don’t call me first.
Again, I emphasize that you need to know something about your prospect and what they want. Calling blindly and leaving generic messages about irrelevant products and services won’t work in the today’s business environment.
Don’t Limit Yourself to Just One Contact
Last point on strategy. When calling into a company, contact multiple people in that company. Build yourself a strategic contact infrastructure so that you can bounce back from minor setbacks, such as a two-week long vacation or a month-long sabbatical.
I can’t tell you how many times I was working with a prospect where everything was proceeding as planned. Suddenly, all correspondence with my prospect ceased with no explanation. After 10 to 12 useless voicemail messages, a call to the gatekeeper revealed that my contact had suffered some debilitating health ailment with no timetable for their return.
So, if you find yourself leaving a string of voicemail messages to your contact and you aren’t getting a response:
- make sure that you are calling the right person,
- make sure your offer is right for the company,
- and know something about what they do and their needs.
Oh, and as an extra bonus, make sure you have multiple contacts within the company to insure that somebody is home.