Shall I leave a voice-mail message is a question I get asked a lot. And it is complicated in that the answer is “it depends !”


Certainly when I am training telephone sales and telemarketing people or anyone making outbound calls I suggest that you have to consider it on a case by case example. Not very helpful you may think. But let me explain. Generally, and the majority of the time if you get put through to someone’s voice-mail I suggest not leaving a message. First of all if you did this on every call where this happened, it would take more time. Admittedly it might only take 45 seconds or so, but imagine if you did that 50 times in a day, that’s nearly 40 minutes gone that will never come back. Most of the time people won’t call back anyway.


The second reason for not leaving voice-mail messages is that if you’re leaving them frequently it makes you sound more desperate. And whatever the reality you certainly don’t want to give that impression ! Added to that of course if you keep leaving messages you remove the incentive for them to call you back. They’ll be thinking “I do want to talk to Tom, but he keeps on calling so I’ll wait for him to call again.”


Some tips


So that’s the advice – don’t leave voicemail messages. HOWEVER there are exceptions, and here are the main 3 I work with.


1.         This is a new prospect you’ve not spoken to before. You will often be calling people you have no previous call history with. It could be a brand new company. Or perhaps more likely it may be a new contact at an existing company. Either way you have no dialogue with this person. And remember it’s people who buy your products and services not companies or organisations. So in this instance it may be a good idea to leave a message on their answerphone. It may just be that they are looking around for the types of products or services that you supply. And if they don’t know about you, well ………. they don’t know about you, do they ? Don’t rely on the fact that you sent the previous job holder an e-mail or brochure a year ago either. Somebody new into a role will frequently look to stir things up a bit and look at new ways of doing things. Now is your time to strike ! In this instance leave them a message to let them know what you do, and of course leave your contact details.


2.          You’re following up a proposal. Frequently you will be following up some work you’ve done on their behalf, such as a proposal, or a demonstration, or you’ve sent a brochure with product details and prices. In this instance it is worth leaving a message as you have had a dialogue with them about something specific. People buy more frequently if you make it easy for them to buy. So leave your details. It also shows you’re professional. That is what professional people do – they follow things up, and see them through – so be a professional. Professionals get paid more because they are more successful more of the time. Finally you’ve put some time and effort into this person and their company and so you have a reasonable right to expect something back, in the form of some feedback from them and a definitive response. Otherwise you’ve just wasted your time haven’t you? It certainly doesn’t mean they owe you an order (however much effort you’ve put in), but it does mean that you have the right to expect a response. So leave a specific message that you’re “following up the recent proposal I sent you through…………. and I was wondering if you’d had anymore thoughts on it.” That sort of thing.


3.         It’s been a while since you’ve spoken. Marketing is all about brand awareness and so you do want to make sure they remember you, and recall you if they’re in the market or even talking about it within their company. So if it has been a long time since you’ve spoken to them, or you’ve taken the advice in section 1 here and not left a message on the previous 8 times you’ve called them over the last 6 weeks, it might be a good time to do it now. You want to avoid a situation where you lose an order simply because you weren’t talking to them at the right time – especially if you’ve been trying to make contact and can never get through.


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