The Pipeline Guest Post – Mike Weinberg
I’ve been working with several sales teams making a whole lot of phone calls, and am getting an earful about reaching a prospect’s voicemail. It appears the running average today is that somewhere between 75 & 90 percent of calls end up going to voicemail.
It has been interesting to hear all the varying theories on how to handle voicemail. There are as many opinions as there are people making calls. Seemed like a good time to revisit my own material to freshen up my coaching. I’ve been reflecting on my own experience, reading all I can, observing and tinkering with my clients’ approaches, and comparing notes with my favorite sales gurus.
Here’s what I am coming up with as Keys to Winning with Voicemail:
Mindset Matters – Positive Perspective: Most people who make a living in sales complain about voicemail. They dread it. And it kills their energy, enthusiasm and effectiveness. Stop the whining and start seeing the opportunity it provides to “touch” the prospect. We all know it takes x number of touches to breakthrough. Be thankful for the chance to make this a positive touch.
Expect It – Prepare for It: We’ve all babbled like an idiot on someone’s voicemail. We’ve puked out nonsense. We’ve gone on too long. We’ve talked in circles. We’ve panicked and starting hitting the pound key or the star key hoping to kill the evidence of our pathetic effort! If we are going to get voicemail three-quarters of time, shouldn’t we expect it and be prepared to leave a well-crafted, articulate message?
Serve an Appetizer – Use a Snippet of Your Story: Go ahead make it a productive message. Leave a tiny piece of your story – making sure it is about a pain/problem/issue or two that you solve for customers. Just don’t ramble. We want to leave them hungry the main course.
Take the Long View – See it as a Campaign: Accept that it is going to take multiple messages to get a call back. Try to see your voicemail as one in a series. That will help keep it succinct and stop you from leaving 90-second messages. Use a slightly different snippet of your sales story with each message. Reality is that almost nobody calls back after receiving one message. So plan to make it a campaign.
Ask for a Call Back – State That You Will Call Again: Yes, leave your number at a pace someone could actually write it down and ask the prospect to call you back. But make sure to let them know that you will call again. We want to send the message that we are serious and that this isn’t a “one and done” half-baked effort to reach them.
Be Human – Use Humor or Guilt, Not Anger: I believe that a key to prospecting success is to convert the buyer from seeing you an anonymous salesperson making robo-calls to viewing you as a real-life human being. To make that happen through voicemail, we need to sound and act like real people. Normal people with feelings. Prospects don’t respond to robots going through the motions. They are much more likely, however, to respond to a fellow member of humanity who has a great story and is making a supreme effort to pique their interest. If I haven’t received a call-back after a few messages it is time to ramp-up the human-side. I like to do that with humor and possibly a little guilt thrown in. It’s amazing how often the return call finally comes after a third message that includes something funny or plays on the fact that “I hope by now I’ve earned a call back based on perseverance alone.” Also, never get angry or show frustration in a message. You have no right to be angry. If they’re not calling back, it’s on you, not on them.
A client recently asked me if you can have a relationship with someone who isn’t returning your calls. I believe you can. You demonstrate commitment. You work the soil, plant the seed, fertilize then water… Very often something beautiful springs up out of the ground. But it takes work, skill and persistence on your part.
About Mike Weinberg
Mike’s specialty is new business development. He’s been the #1 producer in three companies and after 5 years leading sales organizations, returned to his passion, full-time sales coaching at the end of 2010. Based in St. Louis, Missouri, Mike coaches sales leaders and sales teams, leads sales-force turn-arounds and shares insights on hunters and business development on his blog http://newsalescoach.com.