Press one if you want to leave a message.
Press two if you don't think your call will ever be returned.
Press three if you've already left three messages, haven't had your call returned, and want to send a bolt of lightning directly through the phone and strike the butt of the person who won't return your call.
Press four if you want to shoot the person who installed this voice mail.
Voice mail can be the scourge of the salesperson, but it doesn't have to be.
Voice mail is a tool used to establish contact. It is not used to make a sale. Your objective is to leave a message that will elicit a return call. Your option is to ignore voice mail and use your resourcefulness to get in direct contact with your prospect.
Here are five guidelines that define the sales perspective of voice mail:
- It's a game – play to win.
- It's here to stay – know how to get around it.
- Know when to leave a message (and when not to).
- Know how to leave a message that will get a response.
- Be resourceful. Be creative. Don't be ordinary.
The big question is: Do you leave a message or not?
The big answer is: It depends!
Since there is no cut and dry answer, why not develop a method that works for you? Don't listen to what everyone else says. There is always a way around it and there is always a way to get your call returned. Figure out a way to make voice mail work for you.
Do leave a message if:
- You've spoken with them before and gotten positive feedback.
- You're following up a good (interested) lead.
- You have valuable information the prospect really needs to know.
- You have a prepared message that has enough impact to get the prospect to respond.
Don't leave a message if:
- It's a cold call or exploratory call.
- It's likely you're selling something the prospect already has.
- It's likely you're up against an existing relationship.
- You're trying to raise funds for a charity.
- You're selling insurance, stocks, or financial planning services.
Getting around voice mail, getting directly to the prospect...
- Press "0" to get live to an operator or secretary. Ask if they can page.
- Tell the operator you don't want voice mail, and ask how you can reach your prospect live.
- Tell an administrative person you got lost in the voice mail options, you're not a college graduate, and can they please help you. If you nicely act exasperated, you can get someplace – especially at the CEO executive administrative level.
- Find the administrative person and get the prospect's schedule of normal arrival and departure.
- Get someone else to book a tentative appointment.
- Call before the gatekeeper arrives 7:45–8:30am
- Call after the gatekeeper leaves 5:15–6:30pm
- Call the sales department – they'll tell you everything if they think you can help.
- In a larger company call the publicity or public relations department – it's their job to give out information.
- Find a champion or comrade – someone within the company who likes you, or believes in what you do.
Voice mail is not all bad. It's great when you're in the middle of a sale and need to get important or timely information to a customer. Voice mail is helpful when you are trying to reach an existing customer. It just hurts (frustrates) at the beginning of a sales cycle. Your challenge is to beat it by using the one sales tool you always carry with you – your brain.
Just a note on hypocrisy. Part of Total Quality is totally returning phone calls. If I had a dollar for every executive preaching "TQM" who doesn't have the courtesy to return a call, I could buy my own voice mail system and not return his call. It's a shame returning phone calls can't be made mandatory.
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