Day in and day out, it’s easy to overlook something as basic as voicemail. It’s second nature in our everyday professional lives. But with just a little more attention, voicemail can be a powerful extension of your selling efforts. Here are a few tips on effective voicemails.
Face to face, each of us works hard to convey professional competence and to extend our personality to our prospects. Yet in the midst of the intense pace and complexity of closing new business, even the best salespeople let their guard down in voicemail. It’s easy to forget the role voicemail plays as your customers formulate opinions of you, your capabilities, and your products and services.
A Selling Asset
Much of successful selling is about the impression you leave. How well do your customers view you as a resource for knowledge, service and support? Like all sales conversations, voice mail provides you with a tool to help establish and to build seamlessly on those impressions.
- Reinforce Competence. Well planned messages help maintain strong images of professionalism and maturity.
- Add Personality. Enthusiastic messages help to evoke and support positive emotional connections.
- Build Value. Timely messages with honest answers help to reinforce trust and commitment.
A Selling Liability
When voicemails are exchanged, customers often sense that they’ve lost touch. Of course, strictly speaking, they have. Never underestimate the negative perceptions voicemail can generate. Virtually everyone is guilty of using voicemail to delay difficult conversations, duck issues, or to buy time for problem resolution. Worse yet, salespeople sometimes try to use voicemail to take the place of these conversations. Voicemail’s left after 5 or 6PM may signal that you’re working overtime on a customer’s problem, or it may indicate your desire to dodge direct communication. Your customer will know the difference as readily as you do. To show your authentic desire to connect with a customer, use voicemail to be specific about when you will be available to talk. Leave relevant and brief facts that don’t aspire to take the place of real dialog.
A Few Simple Rules
The best voice mails are short and efficient but also engaging and responsive. Remember, they represent you, your sincerity, and your reliability. Successful salespeople work to strike a balance.
- Prepare. Leave thoughtful messages. Seat of the pants explanations are often frustrating or tiresome. Write out difficult communications.
- Focus. Discuss a single topic in a single message. Multiple items lead to long messages and lower retention. Leave multiple messages if you need to.
- Respond. Return all messages by the end of the day. Late responses send strong negative messages of commitment. Call even if you don’t have all the answers.
- Engage. Bring your personality to the phone. Low vocal energy conveys apathy. Pick up from where you left off the last time you spoke in person.
Finally, it’s important not to discount the value of or lose touch with forwarded messages. Provide details. Share customer expectations. Then keep in touch with the progress made.
The Pay Off
We’ve all had instances of missteps and missed opportunities on the phone. Yet, I was reminded recently that our expectations of salespeople tend to be pretty universal and basic. At a recent trade show, one of our customers was saluting his Laddawn sales rep: “She calls me, she gets back to me, she’s focused on my business, and she’s always there for me.” It’s what we all want, and what voicemail can help us achieve.
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