I’ll bet you have chances to leave voicemail messages to customers and prospects every business day. And although responses to prospecting voicemails may be low, responses that are received tend to be better in quality than those from email or other channels.

If you don’t leave a well-planned and well-crafted voicemail, well, you can count on not getting any response at all. Here are some tips for leaving a good voicemail:


1. Make sure to leave a message.

If you’re going to place the call, you must leave a message. If you don’t, you’re 100 percent guaranteed to not get a response. You miss every shot you don’t take.

You’re also going to defeat yourself. Caller ID lets your prospect know who called. Didn’t leave a message? Must not be that important.

Do this several times in a row and you really shoot yourself in the foot. Since they’ve seen your number come up a couple of times with no message, you can bet your call is one they won’t take. If it’s not important enough for you to leave a message, it’s not important enough to your prospect to take your call. Always leave a message.


2. Use your normal voice.

Salespeople often sound like a 10-year-old on their first trip to Disney World when leaving a prospecting voicemail. To sound excited and enthusiastic, they overflow with glee, bringing their voice to unnatural tones. It says to the listener that this is not a natural call and pretty generic in nature.

Always start your voicemails in your normal tone of voice. This shows you are at ease making the call. The lack of this fake tone of voice lets the listener know your call is as meaningful to you as it should be to them. It’s also more likely to get them to respond, as they feel more like the message is especially for them.

Finally, start at your normal cadence and then slow down. Don’t speak so fast that you sound like a disclaimer at the end of a car ad.


3. Keep it short and concise.

No more than 30 seconds, but don’t be afraid to go the full 30 if necessary. If you go too long, you’re sure to be deleted. No one has time or is inclined to listen to rambling.

Don’t be too short either. Most phones show the caller number and message duration for a missed call. A few second message from an unknown number just screams to be ignored by the recipient.

Shoot for 15-30 seconds. That message length is ideal.


4. Start with a precise question.

Start your message by asking a question so relevant that it couldn’t be answered by another listener.

I know, that’s counter-intuitive. Sales trainers teach you to always leave a voicemail that starts with your name and company name. I say hogwash to that. Buyers recognize that type of introduction as a prospecting pitch and delete the call. However, if I start with a specific question relevant to them, the recipient is more likely to respond.

Here’s how I might leave a message: “Jim, how much money do you lose to employee theft? I know a lot of taverns have that problem. Do you have a system in place to stop employee theft?”

Then I hang up. Read on for my reasoning.


5. Split the prospecting voicemail into two parts.

Did you notice how I did not leave my name and phone number in the sample above? That’s because I want to intentionally call back with a second message. It makes you more memorable. It makes you seem less rehearsed. Say something like, “Jim, forgot to leave my name and number. It’s Brian Offenberger and I represent XYZ Security. You can reach me at 602-412-3168.”

Avoid telling a prospect what to do. Don’t be pushy. And don’t act like you are pleading for an appointment. They know you’d love to talk to them. That’s why you called.

Make sure to tell your prospect that you’ll follow up with an email. Send one immediately.

Salespeople who know how to leave a great voicemail sell more than those that don’t. Make these tips a part of your routine and I’m confident you'll receive more returned messages.