Sales people are strange when it comes to prospecting, specifically telephone prospecting. Many find all kinds of reasons (excuses) to rationalize (excuse) why they fail to make call in order to engage with prospects to fill the gap in their pipelines. Some tell me they do not want to phone people because no one ever answers the phone these days.
OK, do they have voice mail?
Great, so you left them a voice mail.
No, I did not.
I want to speak to them directly.
Thud – (that’ the sound of me banging my heads against the wall)
Well if you don’t leave them a voice mail, how will they know where to call you back so you can speak to them directly, they would pretty much need to be clairvoyant would they not?
Seems to me, if you are not prepared to give up the phone as part of your prospecting routine, voice mail is your only path to success. Now I know that the “no cold calling crowd” and their “social cronies”, are saying, “duh, we know the phone does not work”. Well not exactly, there are many examples where one cannot master something, like say playing an instrument; that does not mean the instrument is not playable.
It is true that few answer their phones these days, especially between 9 – 5, because they are working, and if they do answer, then you’re an interruption, their version of that call you get in the middle of dinner for duct cleaning. But, and this is a big but missed by many, that does not mean the phone is not an effective tool, one that will get you meetings with prospects you are targeting.
People use their voice mail as a triage tool to ensure that they preserve their most important resource – time – for their most important objectives and related tasks. I do it, you do it; you get back from two or three meetings, and you listen to your messages, and do one of the Three D’s:
- Deal with
I have come to learn that phone now works in a different way, just as you want to qualify, so does the prospect. Voice mail, allows them to stack a bunch of calls together, and deal with things based on their merit. Problem for many in sales, the messages they leave, usually have little merit in the eye (ear) of the prospect.
Voice mail is a different environment, a different mode of communication, and requires a different approach to getting results. The reason many messages don’t get returned, and get Deleted, is the message just misses the mark. Many of the people who gave up on voice mail did so because they left the wrong or wrong type of message.
The message they leave is almost always the same intro and content they would use had the person answered the phone. This is usually designed to be part of a dialogue and to encourage further dialogue. But given the environment, the dynamics, and the goal of the message, your voice mail needs to be very different than your live conversations.
Once I was taught the technique, adopted it, and adapted it to change with the market, my success changed. I now regularly get 40 – 50 percent of messages I leave, returned within 72 hours, I now love voice mail, love talking to people who call back, and having them as customers. So, come join me on the dark side, leave voice mails, get appointments.