"Hello, Youve Reached The Office Of
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Perhaps even more than "No," these words create
more anxiety and tension with sales people than anything else. When we hear the dreaded
words "Im not in my office right now, but
leave a message
return the call
," we feel defeated. Voicemail is a fact of life for all of us.
Yet how many of us use it as a tool to help us sell and capture the attention of our
customers? Usually, we leave messages:
"Hi, uh-uh, this is, uh, Diana Smith of XYZ company,
uh, please call me at, hmm, 555-1234."
"This is Dave Johnson, I am not sure what you do, but I
have got great products to sell you. Can we meet?"
"This is my fourth call, plee-ea-se return my
We know our customers are busy people. They are constantly
in meetings and difficult to reach. We know that they will have a large number of calls to
return, and hope they will return ours. We also know that many people use Voicemail to
screen their calls. My own Voicemail is a great example, when I check it, often I get:
"You have 12 new messages
" I sort through the messages, focusing on the
Faced with this electronic gatekeeper, we need to create a
sense of interest or urgency, getting our customers to return our calls. We need to
exploit Voicemail as a tool to help us sell, differentiating us from the competition and
shortening our selling process. Lets examine this challenge and how we overcome it.
When we make a phone call, we have prepared ourselves to
speak to a person. We know how to be effective speaking to a real human being. Yet when we
reach Voicemail, we are deflated, we lose focus and energy, and probably waste an
opportunity when we hear the beep. The challenge is that we have to expect reach
Over 80% of the calls I make are first intercepted by
Voicemail. If we make a call expecting Voicemail and have prepared a message that creates
interest and urgency on the part of the customer, our calls will be prioritized first when
the customer chooses to return the call.
For every phone call be prepared to reach Voicemail. Think
of what message you are going to leave that will create the interest to motivate the
customer to choose return your message over all of the others. Lets take a lead from
the advertisements we see on TV and on the radio. How can we use a 10-15 second sound bite
to capture the hearts and minds of our customers? How can we create recorded
advertisements that set us apart from the others?
Tip Number 1: Focus on: Why should the
customer want to speak with you? What is in it for them? Develop your message in terms of
a benefit for the customer to speak with you. How are you going to help them? What new can
you tell them? Consider the following examples:
Mr. Jones, this is Diana Smith of ABC company. Id like
to opportunity to demonstrate how weve helped businesses like yours increase their
productivity by XX percent. Can we arrange to meet on Thursday afternoon? My number is
Ms. Davis, Im Dave Johnson at 215-555-2468. Would you
be interested in learning how you can reduce your manufacturing costs by applying new
software technologies that increase the effectiveness of manufacturing operations? Please
call so that we can share our experience with you.
Hi, Jim, this is Chris Kelley following up on our meeting
last week. We discussed cycle time reduction in the meeting and I wanted to review how we
can help reduce your cycle by up to 30%. Lets meet on Monday to show how quickly you
can start achieving these results.
In each of these examples, a specific benefit, meaningful
to the customer, is the focus of the message. Remember that customers are not interested
in buying products, they are interested in solving problems or addressing new
opportunities. A message oriented around their need to buy is more effective than one
about your need to sell.
Tip 2: Keep it short, limit your message to
10-15 seconds. Too often, I get messages from people who drone on and dont seem to
have a point. I never listen to a Voicemail for longer than 30 seconds and at 15 seconds,
I start getting impatient. Regardless of the message, I stop and discard it at 30 seconds.
No one will take the time to listen 5 minutes to understand the point you are trying to
make. Again, television commercials and sound bites are a great to learn from. They get to
their point quickly and clearly.
Tip 3: Dont try to develop your message
in the time before the "beep." You will not be successful. Prepare in advance
and write it down. Before I make a call, I take a couple of minutes to write my benefit
statement on a 3x5 card. When I get Voicemail, I dont have to improvise, I know
exactly what I am going to say.
Tip 4: Be different. We all have gone through
our voicemails and heard the same messages. Dare to differentiate yourself from other
messages your customers are likely to hear. Project excitement, vary the tone of your
voice, be enthusiastic, and create interest.
Alternative Strategy 1: Most Voicemail
systems offer the alternative to speak to someone else. Consider using that to bypass the
Voicemail to get directly to the person you want to speak to. This strategy works
sometimes, but more often than not, you roll into someone elses Voicemail. Never
leave your message in this persons box, it may never get to the intended recipient.
If necessary, call again and leave your message in your customers Voicemail box.
This strategy is only useful if you reach a real human being that is willing to locate the
customer for you.
Alternative Strategy 2: Sometimes an
assistant will pick up the phone and offer the alternative of taking a message or to
transfer you into Voicemail. Consider the Voicemail alternative. At least in Voicemail,
you can leave your message, not someones interpretation of your message! Assistants
are busy people too and may not leave the message you intended. They are unlikely to
convey your excitement and the benefit.
The great secret behind this approach:
Thinking about your compelling Voicemail message and
crisply articulating it in terms of value to your customer prepares you better if you are
lucky and reach that person directly! This message is actually the same message many of us
use in creating an Initial Benefit Statement to speak to our customer. Imagine using your
benefit statement as the opening sentence in your conversation with that real individual!
You immediately capture their interest and earn the right to spend more time on the phone.
Voicemail is a fact of life for sales professionals.
Dont fight it; exploit it as a selling tool to differentiate yourself from your
competitors. Use it to create value for your customer. I have had a few customers tell me
they have kept some of my voicemails because they enjoy them so much. Exploiting Voicemail
to deliver a valuable message can help you move through the selling cycle more quickly.
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