Sean McPheat on leaving sales voicemail

September 2020

“Don’t you just hate it when you get the dreaded voicemail, you leave what you think is a really decent message and then ... nothing!”

It seems an impossible task to get a return call from leaving a voicemail message.
However, you also probably have problems getting calls returned from warm calls, or referrals given by satisfied customers!

So, what do you have to do to get people to call you back?  Should you even leave a message in the first place?

Just like any telephone sales call, you have to have a clear objective. When calling to set an appointment, you have to sell the appointment. When you call and get the voice mail, the objective becomes to get the prospect to return your call.  So sell the return call, and only the return call.

I would say that the biggest mistake sales people make with voicemail is having too many objectives for that short message.

Often the sales person is trying to:

  • Distinguish his or her company from the competition
  • Distinguish him or herself from the competition
  • Sell the product or service
  • Get the prospect to return the call
  • Impart valuable information

This is simply too much.  Choose one and only one goal and accomplish it.  Sell the Return Call not your product or service.  I know this sounds simple.  However, while most sales people have think objective in mind, they do exactly the opposite in the call.

So, do not make the mistake of forcing the prospect to make the big, hard decision of buying your product or service in advance.  Instead, help them make the little, easy decision just to call you.

In addition to picking one central objective and selling it, do not leave too much information in the message.  Unless you are thinking of having the receiver sit down with a piece of paper and pen and write a small dossier on the call, limit the information that you leave.

Usually, all you really need is your name, company name and telephone number, if looking for a return call.  In which case, your web address, email address, blog address, company location, the number of years you been in business, customer references and the name of your grandchildren are just not necessary.

Repeat Your Name and Number Twice.  I think you can really understand this one.  Don’t make the prospect have to replay the message again.  Slow down and repeat your important contact information.

On the question of whether to leave a message or not, the best answer is, if you can ensure the receiver will have a reason for calling you and your message is compelling enough, then, yes, a message should be left.  If all you’re going to do is leave a name, number and product pitch, try another way of getting through to the decision-maker.

If you’re getting poor results from your voicemail messages, think of how you can make them more compelling. If you make your message important to them without detailing what your products are, you will pique their interest and increase the chances of a call back.

If you sell only the return phone call, you will get a few more return calls and in turn, you will contact more customers and close a more sales!

Sean McPheat is Managing Director of MTD Training.  
For information please call 0800 849 6732 or visit

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