The 5 Deadly Sins of Voice Mail

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telephoneAs a marketing or even simple communication tool voice mail is pretty dead. The telephone, a form of communication that has received only minor tweaks in the last 100 years, just doesn’t provide much to like these days. My perfect telephone would have a status feature, like IM, and transcribe all calls and responses and store them via email.

If you ever call me you’ll notice that I suggest in my voice mail message that you send me an email, so there’s a pretty good bet that if you leave a message the barrier to a call back might be high. It’s not that you’re not important enough, it’s just not how I work. If you’re calling someone because you have something you would like to sell them, then you better not commit one of the following sins or you can forget about a call back.

No reason for call

This is one of the worst. You call someone and say, “hey Bob, this is Sandy, give me a call.” Even if Bob and Sandy are best buds this one is a crime. There’s a good chance that Sandy just needed to know what time the meeting is today and should leave that info for one of a dozens possible ways that Bob can respond. If Sandy really wants a call back because she wants to sell Bob something, then this borders on silliness.

No value presented

When you leave a message in a prospecting mode you better get the recipients attention by mentioning something of value. Point them to an event, a free resource, or information that demonstrates you understand a vast amount about what they do and what their challenges are. I got a call the other day when the salesperson suggested, “I don’t really know what you guys do down there but I would love to come over and spend half an hour to see if there’s anything we could do together.” Seriously?

No reference for call

Cold calling in any way, shape, or form is abusive to both parties, a cold call voice message isn’t much better, it’s just easier to delete. Spend some time getting to know who knows the person you’re calling. Use the vast data available in your social networks and find virtual connections. At the very least find a way to strike some common ground and suggest so and so thought you should call. It’s much harder to ignore a referral.

No suggested call back plan

Phone tag is a cruel form of voice mail torture and can be minimized by suggesting when you are going to try to call back or suggesting when the recipient can catch you. You can also suggest all the better ways, such as email, that you might be reached. This is particularly helpful when trying to move something forward without the ability to meet on the same clock. This is a place where the use of shared calendars like Skedgeme make a bunch of sense.

Rapid fire phone number

This one probably just comes in as a pet peeve, but have you ever noticed how often people will leave long thoughtful messages and then get to the phone number part and speed up like they’re all of a sudden out of time. So now the person trying to call them back has to replay the message three times in order to jot down the number. Slow down when leaving your number and say it twice.

As an aside, here are some services that turn voice mail into text and email.
Jott Voicemail
Google Voice

and virtual phone systems that do many things


Google Voice, Grasshopper, Jott, Ring Central, SkedgeMe, tungleme, Voice mail

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