Only a small percentage of prospects will return their sales calls, so how can you use it to your benefit? Some reps feel that, because prospects often do not call back, leaving a voicemail is a waste of time. But think of voicemail as a form of communication similar to email or text messages. Don't let the one-way aspect of voicemail keep you from exploiting its benefits. People do listen to voicemail, and you can use it to your advantage.

One advantage of voicemail is that it helps you let prospects know that you're attempting to reach them. You can also remind them of your company name and business, keeping it fresh in their minds along with the solutions that you want to discuss. It sets the connection in motion; your prospects might forward them to others in the company, who, in turn, save them for later, or they look up your company on the Internet, etc. Prospects who don't return calls are, nevertheless, often considering what you have to offer. It's not unusual for a prospect, once you get them on the phone, to say something like, “I listened to your voicemail and looked at your website.” It is also not unusual for prospects to be prepared to talk when you call because they've researched your company.

Remember that the ball is always in your court, and you must leave a compelling voicemail if you want a call back. I initially script and test voicemails to avoid drawn-out or ineffective messages. It allows one to concentrate on the content that will work.

When crafting your voicemail message think about the prospect's time and attention span. The formula is:

  • Introduce yourself.
  • Give the name of your company.
  • Mention some referenceable customer names.
  • Briefly state the purpose of your call- brief being the operative word here.

You can test the effectiveness of your voicemail by using your voicemail script to call your own phone number and leave yourself a message. Listen carefully to it and then ask yourself the question, “Would you call you back?” You can test if you lose interest in it, if it is too long, if it is unclear, or it is otherwise awkward. Put yourself in your prospects' shoes—consider how they might respond to such a message if they don't know who you are or what your company does. Testing your messages gives you the opportunity to fix any problems with wording, intonation, or style. Keep making changes until the answer to, “Would you call back?” becomes an unqualified yes. If the number of callbacks you receive declines, do this exercise again, leaving yourself a message and then listening to it from the prospect's perspective. You may discover that you sometimes talk too long and take too much time in getting to the point.

Use voicemail to throw a wider net out to prospects, even if they aren't calling back it still is working for you.