Sunday, July 03, 2011

I Got Your Voicemail.... And Called You Back

Yesterday's blog post was titled "I Got Your Voicemail... And Deleted It".  The world is full of noise and too many people simply ignore all incoming information.  They get a voicemail or an email from a sales person (or anyone for that matter) and instantly jump to conclusions about the value of the call.  Delete is a natural response to most phone voicemails and incoming emails.

We cannot expect other people to be interested in the products and services we offer if we do not communicate how we can make a difference to their needs. Too often our own goal of making a sales is all that is visible in our first impressions.

To make it worse, few people have "Follow Through DNA".  While they might be interested in you and your services, as soon as the next shiny object appears in their view they are distracted and never get back to calling you back. (I have discovered the general lack of "Follow Through DNA" to be a huge determent in many areas of business, not just in getting your calls returned).

Experimenting with my own call-back ratios, and that of those I am working with for individual consulting, have shown that there is never a "one size fits all" solution.  There is no turn key scripts that will work for every situation.  The following tips have been yielding better results and help make you more prepared for any potential encounter:

6 Tips To Get Your Cold-Call Voicemails / Emails Returned

1.  Sit in their chair.  Too often when we call someone we talk too much about ourselves.  It is natural to try to fit in all the features and benefits we offer into the conversation as fast as we can.  We know from experience that time is limited, so we jump into an "Elevator Pitch" that blurts out tons of information.  But the first time people hear from you they do not care that you exist.  They care about themselves. Make the call less of a commercial and more of a conversation.

2.  Know your purpose.  Selling them on the spot is most likely not what your expect from the call.  Most business sales do not take place on an initial cold-call, so keep in mind that your purpose is to get them to have an interest in talking with you further.  If your goal is not to close a sale, then do not be in "sales mode".  When you are clear on your purpose you will have a better success in moving the relationship along the path.

3.  Network and research first.  If you have been actively networking in your industry you most likely can find a meaningful connection into a company.  When you have met the person before and had a positive conversation, or a similar chat with someone inside their company, you will be more likely to get noticed.  If you have not had a personal connection to the person you are calling, at least be sure you have done your homework on them and their company.  If you have not read their LinkedIn profile, do not make the call.

4.  Keep it short.  Long voicemails get deleted before the person has reached the end.  Say your piece, but be concise.  Do not ramble.

5.  Give them a reason to call back.  This is hard to explain, but too many voicemails are simply information dumps followed by the caller says things like "call me back if you get a chance", etc...  There is nothing that motivates the prospect to return you call.   If you have something of value to them, they will call you back.  Yes, this is subjective.  You need to study the words you use and continue to tweak your approach.

6.  Call back often, but not too often.  You do not want to be a stalker, but a single call that gets deleted is forgotten.  Over time, your cold calling can be a marketing tool.  If you are professional and persistent many people will give you a chance.  Most people give up after just a few un-returned calls, but over time I find that it can be years before a prospect whom I have called, emailed, mailed fliers, etc... will eventually call back.  The weird part is they often act as if they know me, because they have heard from me for so long.  However, call too much and you are a pest.  I think one call every three to four weeks is plenty, but you have to be patient, as it can take seven to ten calls before the call back.  Can you wait nearly a year?

If you are seeing the call from through their eyes, know your purpose, have a connection and/or knowledge about them, and keep your message on point, give them a reason to call back, and if you are persistent, you will find success.


7. Make sure you are calling the right person.  I got a note via Twitter from Tom Singer (yes, TOM Singer, not Thom Singer) from London.  He complimented this post, but pointed out he gets calls from sales people all the time, and he does not control the decisions on the products and services they are trying to sell.  This is very important that you discover whom to call and do not waste your time (or that of the person you are calling).

Have A Great Day.

thom singer


Terence Eden said...

I'd like to add my own tips.

8) Speak slowly and clearly, especially if you're not speaking in your native tongue or you have a different accent to the person you're calling.
Too often I hear a rushed American accent that I just can't understand. This is doubly important if someone uses a voicemail transcription service.

9) Don't hide your number. If I get a call from "Number Withheld" how am I supposed to easily return it?

Adam Flagg said...

Terrific tips Tom! I go through this every day during my call sessions and I think putting yourself in their chair is highly important and also varying your approach with them can be useful if what you've been doing hasn't led to a callback in months.

Anonymous said...

More to your point in #1. People are not expecting your call or email and they are busy. You are an interruption. Remembering that and come from a humble spot. Knowing this will get you more than the arrogance of thinking you matter.

Brian Sparks said...

A lot of this advice is applicable (with a few adjustments) for those of us who are job-hunting, too. Submitting employment applications is a similar art. For example, how to grab someone's attention to make them remember you, but resisting my natural temptation to write a 10-page cover letter that I know they won't read. Or, how often (if at all) to politely, briefly, and unobtrusively follow up after submitting the resume. Definitely a lot of similar principles involved.