Voicemails that get Callbacks : How To Get Them To Respond.

Erin Piper Social Media Consultant

Erin Piper
Author & Social Media Consultant


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.
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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 Vendors or 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%. Which is much higher than email marketing at a near 10%
But why do people call us (or you or anyone) back from a voicemail?

Make certain that your landing pages are;
Targeted and direct.Landing pages that you use to target people with an ad that made them go there will help you a lot more than the main website. This page is exactly what they land there. If you place a contact form on that page, then you're getting somewhere with lead generation.

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:

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."

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.

Generating real leads is easy if you establish yourself as worthy of trust. Avoid screaming ads and offers that may seem cheesy or too hyped up.

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."

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."
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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."

Make sure you take care of opt-out and privacy concerns. Make certain you are aware of the leads that have opted to not to receive incentives or other offers.

Avoid mucking up your voicemail with too many topics.

    Focus on one intention with one call to action.

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.

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.

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.

Use the phone to call people need what you have to sell. You'll be surprised how many people out there want to work with you after you pitch to them. Someone will always want to buy what you have to sell.

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."

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.
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