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How to solve the great voice-mail dilemma

September 28, 2001 

Has voice-mail ever been a problem?

You call somebody on the phone and get their voice-mail. You're thinking, should I leave a message or not?

That's a big question isn't it? Because sometimes you leave a message and they won't call you back.

That defeat tends to make you not want to leave a message more often than not. Isn't that true?

Why is that true is a better question.

The reason? Whatever you do or whatever you want is not very important to whomever you are calling.

What do you think keeps your customers up at night? What do you think is the biggest thing on their mind? What makes them lose sleep?

Is it losing or making money? That might be one. Profit. What's another one?

Keeping customers loyal? Sure.

Do you think sometimes their family might keep them up at night? What about their business? If they are in business for themselves, do you think they are concerned about making more sales of their stuff? Competition?

Productivity. Do you think that may be a concern? Keeping good people? Rising costs to operate? Income tax?

Understand this. The things that keep your customers up at night have little or nothing to do with you. Your job is to try to figure out some answers to what keeps your customers up at night. Your job is to be an expert at what keeps your customer up at night.

Your customers and prospects want to sell their stuff. They want to make a profit. They want to keep their customers and employees loyal, and they want to have no problems. If you are not an expert at those things, you're in trouble. And usually, those things have nothing to do with what you are selling at the moment.

Here's the point. What concerns your customers and prospects is also the key to leaving a voice-mail message and getting your call returned.

If you leave a message about who you are and what you do, they don't care and won't return your call. And there are five other salespeople who called them in the past week and you're just one of the five.

They've heard it before, and prospects are certainly doing other important things with their day so they don't want to hear it again.

If you are going to leave messages, you have to be able to give enough reason to get your voice-mail returned. That is the whole key to response success.

A message about profit, loyalty, productivity, sales, morale, family, kids -- something in terms of the prospect, something that says, "I have earned a return call." And something that separates you from the other five messages about the same thing you sell.

Suppose you called them and left a sales lead as a message. Would they call you back if you said, " I was talking to someone yesterday about your services. The guy's name is Harvey Zilch and he sounded pretty interested. Call me, and I'll give you his number and a few details."

You'll get 100% returned calls.

This requires work on the part of the salesperson and it's work that separates the great ones from the mediocre ones. Which are you?

If you spent the same amount of time preparing for your sales calls as you do whining that someone didn't return one, you'd be the No. 1 salesperson on your team. Maybe the company. Maybe the world.

Free GitBit: Want to test your phone skills and savvy? Want to rate your phone ability? Go to and enter the words PHONE TEST.

by Jeffrey Gitomer, Copyright © 2001 American City Business Journals Inc.

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