The Seven Deadly Sins Of Voice Mail

Today, it seems more important than ever that we make the most of our business communication. And using voice mail is one of our most important tools.

By avoiding these seven deadly sins of voice mail, you’re giving yourself a much better chance of having your phone call returned by your customer.

SIN #1:

Your name isn’t clear: This is perhaps the most common mistake. After all, people are extremely familiar with their own names. But you should never make the assumption that your customer or prospect is aware of yours. Most people say their names too quickly and subsequently their first and last names tend to run together.

The solution: Slow down when you say your name. Experts advise to put an audible pause between your first and last name. At first, this can feel strange and foreign to you — but with a little practice, the pause won’t seem so bad. The key is to make 100 percent certain that the person on the other end of the phone knows both your first and last name. Now your customer knows who you are.

SIN #2:

Your company name isn’t descriptive enough: This one has become more of an issue since the age of the Internet. Unless you’re working for a globally branded company, the chances are that most people won’t know your company or what it does. This is especially the case if you use an acronym for your company name.

The solution: Like your own name, say your company’s name slowly and clearly. If your company’s name is an acronym, consider saying the whole name. Or, at the very least, let people know what it is you do. For example, “I work for ABC Building Supplies, with the widest selection of building supplies in the Northwest.” Now your customer knows what your company is and does.

SIN #3:

Not leaving the reason for the call: I see a lot of “old school” sales types who have a (wrong) belief that you should always try and keep your customers and prospects hidden in a cloud of mystery. The reality is — “mystery” might have worked 30 or 40 years ago, but today’s savvy customer wants none of this. They are generally incredibly well informed and don’t have the time or patience to play games.

The solution: Simply tell the person why you are calling. If you want to add more punch, then create a compelling benefit statement. Remember, it needs to be put in the form of a benefit to your customer — not you — for it to be compelling. Now your customer knows why you are calling.

SIN #4:

No reference to another person or event: A lot of times when we’re calling someone for the first time, simply saying your name and company generally won’t mean a thing to them.

The Solution: Chances are, if you’re not calling someone “cold,” then you have a person or a point of reference to use to jog the person’s memory and further “soften” the call. Remember people are much more receptive when there is a common thread. It creates a personal connection. And creating that personal connection is the first step to building trust. Now your customer personally connects with you.

SIN #5:

No time to call back: Oftentimes, when we’re making out-bound sales calls, we do them one after another. So, if a person returns your call right away, they’ll end up getting your voice mail! The worst part about ignoring this sin — it inevitably leads to the “game of phone tag.” Which is both time consuming and frustrating for all involved.

The solution: Leave your customers with a couple of options when you’ll be available. While it won’t eliminate “phone tag,” it will considerably reduce the odds of it starting in the first place. Now your customer the best time to call you back.

SIN #6:

Only leaving your name and number once: This sin is very common and very important. As strange as it may seem, when you leave a voice message, the chances of your customer forgetting your name by the end of the message are actually quite high. Most of the time people spend so much time and energy listening to the body of the message, that by the end of it, they’ve already forgotten your name. Making matters worse, people tend to rush through their phone number — again, like their name, because of their familiarity with it — and they generally say it once. This means that your customer often has to rewind and listen to your entire message multiple times to try and decipher what your name and number.

The solution: Clearly re-state your name in the same way you did at the beginning of the message. Also, state your phone number clearly, two times. Saying your phone number twice will give your customer a chance to correctly write it down without having to rewind the message. If possible say it at the same speed that you would if someone were writing it down in front of you. Now your customer knows who you are and how to contact you.

SIN #7:

There is no warmth in the voice: A rushed voice mail lacking in personal warmth will not be received as well as one that has it. Remember, people want a personal connection — and having warmth in your voice is so much more appealing to your customers.

The solution: Smile. It really is this simple. Smile as you leave your voice mails. It’s amazing and true — studies have shown that people can hear your smile. A smile conveys warmth and puts people at ease. So even though it may feel a little strange to smile at a phone while you’re leaving a message on a machine — smile anyway. And if it helps, have a picture of a friend or loved one in front of you to help make it easier.

You may not be able to avoid these “Seven Deadly Sins of Voice Mail” all the time, but with a little practice, you’ll be leaving a far better voice mail message. Now it’s time to get back to those phones!

Jefferson Steelflex is a Sales Made Simple Coach who helps entrepreneurs aim higher and achieve more. He is the author of the audio seminar, “The 20 Sales Secrets of Top Entrepreneurs”. For more info:


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