Should You Leave A Message If You Receive a Prospect’s Voice Mail?

You are calling a prospect for the first time, and instead of the person answering her telephone, you reach her voicemail.  “This is Anne xxx, I am not available now.  Please leave a message.” What should you do?  Should you leave a voice message? What should you say in the message? Should you give a shortened version of your 30-second “elevator pitch?” Or a different speech? What should the different message emphasize?

What if you have already spoken with the prospect, and this is a follow-up call? Does that make a difference? Should you leave a voice message or not?

It is essential to understand the objective of your call. Is it to receive a call back from her or to let her know that you called? I hope to contact her on your next call.

I have gone back and forth on whether it is the optimal sales tactic to leave a voicemail when the person you call does not answer. Many purposely never answer their telephone and use voicemail to screen their calls.  Initially, for many years, I was opposed to leaving voice messages, believing that whatever I wanted to say to her should be done when the prospect and I had a live conversation.  Now, I have changed my mind based on results from a test that I conducted using leaving voice messages and not doing so.

My conclusion is that the benefits of possibly receiving a call back from the prospect outweigh the negative result of leaving one that is not returned.

I advise leaving a brief voice message regarding why you are calling, such as “Peggy, this is Steve Weinberg of Acme Chemicals. I am calling on Monday, January 11th at 10:35 a.m. to discuss how we can help you reduce the amount of your inventory while not negatively impacting your manufacturing operations. Please call me at 312-XXX-XXXX to discuss this further.” I have told Peggy who I am, when, why, and how she can reach me. It is unlikely that Peggy will return the call, but it could happen. I will often wait about one week to ten days before calling again.  I will call her again at that point. And I will leave another short message. I will try to reach her on the telephone at least five more times, with intervals of five to seven days between each call, so I am considered a “pest” or a stalker before I relegate Peggy to the bottom of my pile to call after I have called all the uncalled leads.

I am very interested in other sales pros’ successes or failures regarding leaving messages. What is your experience or opinion?