Voicemail: you either love it or hate it. But there’s no mistaking that sales professionals are still relying heavily on the phone to make connections, create new relationships, and keep in touch with potential buyers throughout the sales process. And in making all your calls, you’re likely leaving many voicemails. In fact, you may be taught that leaving a voicemail is an industry best practice—that if you don’t leave a voicemail, it’s as if the call never existed.
However, leaving voicemails on every sales outreach poses two main challenges for sales professionals:
1. 99% of voicemails are never returned
In my own sales experience as well as the experiences of others that I’ve spoken with, 99% of the voicemails that are left when attempting to establish contact with a buyer for the first time are NEVER returned. Let’s take a quick look at the math behind this inefficient activity: If a rep makes an average of 50 calls per day and leaves a 30 second voicemail on every call, that’s 25 minutes per day spent leaving unreturned voicemails. Now multiply that by roughly 200 business days in a year, that means the average rep is wasting over 83 hours every year on voicemails that are never return!! That’s the equivalent of two full work weeks.
2. You’re unprepared when they DO call back
Has this ever happened to you? In the past I’ve made between 50 to 100 cold calls per day and have left voicemails for each call. Then, when someone actually did call me back in the rare case, I’d made so many calls that day that I was completely unprepared for that conversation! I had to scramble to remember off the top of my head who this person was and how our value proposition was to align to their specific business needs. I’ve even gotten call backs on my cell phone when I’m at lunch or relaxing on the weekend when I don’t have my notes with me! This is an embarrassing situation to be caught in that will almost certainly lead to losing the opportunity.
So what are you as a sales rep supposed to do instead? Enter The Social Voicemail…
The New Way to use Voicemail
You certainly do not have to stop leaving voicemails all together. Quite the opposite in fact. Instead, you should use your voicemails as a Call-to-Action that drives your buyer to respond via the social media message or email you have also just sent them.
Here’s how it works.
Leave a voicemail. Then send a social message or email.
When you call a buyer the goal is always to engage them in a live discussion. Assuming, however, that a large number of the calls you make are unanswered by your buyer (the average buyer now takes 8 contact attempts to be reached via phone) you’re still going to leave them a voicemail. The difference is that now you want to employ a diversified approach to establishing contact and most of your unsuccessful attempts at reaching a buyer via phone should also be couples with sending them a social message (on LinkedIn or Twitter) or an email.
Don’t ask them to call you back.
As I just explained, your buyers probably won’t call you back anyway or you’ll be left unprepared on the rare occasions that you do receive a call back. Instead, leave a very short and sweet voicemail that asks your buyers to check out your email or social message and respond there.
This approach turns your voicemails into an additional awareness tool to drive engagement on your emails and social messages. It also makes it much easier and more comfortable for your buyer to respond. Let’s face it, speaking to individuals on the phone that you don’t know can be nerve racking for some. Now your buyers will have a chance to 1) research you before responding, 2) respond in a way that’s comfortable and 3) schedule a conversation with you when you’re both available instead of catching you off guard.
The Social Selling – Voicemail connection
Using Social Selling to empower your voicemails is extremely effective and provides a much greater value than leaving just a voicemail.
To start with the social selling check the ultimate guide to social selling here.
First, go online and research the individual buyer that you’d like to establish a connection with. Find a couple of key points about them that you can speak to. Perhaps they’ve had a past work history with one of your current clients. Great! You now have a relatable success story to share with them. Start thinking outside the box and separating yourself from the norm.
Be value-centric in your messaging. Use what you’ve discovered in your research in your voicemail, email, or social message. Call a potential client, send an email or LinkedIn message and leave a voicemail prompting them to check out your message because you’ve shared a valuable piece of content based on something they’re interested in that has come out of your research.
Bottom line: Instead of the old-school, cold-call, scripted approach, you’re now showing genuine interest in the buyer. Personalized your messages to them and watch your response rate dramatically improve!!