If you work in a professional services firm or sell B2B products, you need to have people in your organization prospecting on a consistent basis to ensure your sales funnel is strong and your organization is able to hit its sales targets. When making those calls to new leads, it's not uncommon to hear dejected sales professionals complain that all they get is voicemail and the prospect never returns their calls.
This is what a day in the life of a sales professional often looks like.
It's important not to get too frustrated because, no matter how successful you are, you'll have to deal with voicemail most of the time. But what makes the difference between good sales professionals and great ones is how they use voicemail to their advantage.
Below is an exercise in how to use voicemail to build suspense! Use this exercise for the week when prospecting and see how well it works. It's designed to be run from Monday to Friday.
Step 1. Leave a succinct message that requires no action from prospect or lead
Example: "Hi Enrico, it's Shawn from company XYZ. Sorry I missed you. The reason for my call is because Arlin at company ABC asked me to get in touch with you about the project we executed that helped drive more leads to his sales pipeline. I will call you back Wednesday at 4 p.m. to try and connect. Talk then."
The objective of this first message is to just let them know you called. There's no reason to leave a phone number or talk about your company. Your first message shouldn't require any type of action on the part of the prospect/lead. You're the one who is making the commitment to reach back out – the onus is on you.
Step 2. Leave a succinct follow up message
As promised you need to follow up at the time you suggested. If you get the prospect/lead's voicemail again, leave them another short message but this time leave them with a teaser – something that compels them to want to talk to you! Again, don't put any action on them, this is your second call and you want to keep it short and compelling. Just commit to calling back again.
Example: "Hi Enrico, it's Shawn from company XYZ calling. As promised on Monday, I would reach back out to try and connect. Sorry I missed you. Arlin at company ABC thought it would be a good idea for us to connect so you can learn more about how we were able to drive an increase in sales leads in six months. I will try you again on Friday at 8 a.m. Talk soon."
Step 3. Leave a third and final message for the week if the prospect/lead doesn't pick up the phone for a third time
"Hi Enrico, it's Shawn from company XYZ. I promised that I would reach back out today at 8 a.m. Sorry I missed you. It's too bad we haven't had an opportunity to connect yet. Perhaps you're busy developing your next go to market program or maybe I'm just picking the wrong times to reach you. Why don't you give me a call at ###-###-#### and if I don't hear from you next week, I will try again shortly thereafter."
My challenge to you
This simple three-step voicemail strategy has been field tested for many years with a number of sales professionals as part of a program I run. So I know it works, but in case you're not able to break through after one week of calls (which happens often as well) don't stop prospecting.
If you go past the three days, continue to call, but drop it to twice a week. In those calls share specific benefits from your engagement and bring them ideas on how you feel you can benefit them. Your goal is to continue to educate, compel, and intrigue them over voicemail.
Some of the most successful and profitable businesses I know use this approach repeatedly. Just don't be so quick to give up. Have some tenacity!
Ryan Caligiuri is the president of Ryan Caligiuri International, a consultancy focused on driving revenue growth through creative growth strategies for professional services firms. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network, a program that provides sales/marketing resources & training to help grow professional services firms.
Follow Ryan Caligiuri on Twitter: @RyanCaligiuri