Voicemails in a Virtual World

I'm on "staycation" this week - which means I should have technically just shut it all down. I haven't yet. Maybe later. Maybe tomorrow. I know, I know. I really should just hit the reset button.


These last few days I've been thinking about voicemails a lot - maybe in anticipation of being out myself for a few days this week. And maybe more broadly because of how drastically different work seems to look for many of us in these strange and unusual days.


Incoming Calls


How many phone numbers do you use? How many are on your email signature? Your business card? Do you keep a desk number? Maybe a cell number or two?


When was the last time you listened to what clients and future potential customers hear on your own voicemail when they call you? At any or all of your numbers? Is it your own voice? A robotic voice? Could it use updating?


When someone calls your desk number (if you have one) - is it forwarded to your cell phone? What happens if they hit "0" or some other key as instructed? Is it easy for someone to get to a human being, even if calling your office and you are primarily or exclusively working remotely during the pandemic?


What persona would you like to project with your personal and professional brand? Can you use your recorded voice to help achieve your goals?


Outbound Calling


I have really strong opinions about how ineffective voicemails can ben when calling people you've never met.


Data suggests voicemail response rates for sales professionals is less than 5%; and yet, I field a ton of questions about voicemail scripts, voicemail etiquette and voicemail best practices.


Maybe we should be shifting the conversation.


For business to business sales professionals, some questions to ponder:


  • If you already know the person you are calling - do you know the person well enough to know if email, text, or phone is preferred?

  • If you don't already know the person you are calling - is there anyone in your network who could personally introduce you before you call cold?

  • Have you researched the person you are trying to reach on LinkedIn or data contact information sites to find an accurate email address and phone number?

  • If you call someone cold (not something I often advise as a first option), how will you determine if you will leave a voicemail message or not?

  • Have you practiced leaving voicemail messages?

  • Do you enunciate your own name and phone number slowly enough and clearly enough for someone listening to write down your number the first time it's heard?

  • What if someone relies heavily on voicemail to text translation services on a smartphone? Would your message translate well? Have you practiced?

  • How many times will you attempt to connect with someone before you leave a voicemail?

  • How many voicemails will you leave for someone you've never met?


There are no right or wrong answers here.


It's more important to be thinking through the questions and figuring out what's important to you, and what you can plan and practice instead of leaving to chance.


No matter what you choose - on both incoming and outgoing messages - be professional, be personable, be persistent (without being annoying!), and be patient.


Just my two cents.




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