Don’t Phone It In

Features - Sales & Marketing

When leaving a voicemail for a potential client, make sure it’s concise and creative enough to warrant a call back.

August 27, 2021

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What’s keeping customers from calling you back? It could be that the sales message you’re leaving on their voicemail isn’t dynamic enough to pique their interest.

Learning how to draft an engaging, informative voicemail can help bring in more work to your winter snow and ice management operation.

Gary Ross, of Allies in Leadership, led a presentation on how to create a better sales message during the first-ever virtual Hardscape North America event earlier this year.

“AT&T research found that 80 percent of phone calls made today go to voicemail. That’s why it’s extremely important to spend time and develop a voicemail message that will inspire your prospect to pick up the phone and return your call,” says Ross, who has more than 35 years of professional experience in the sales industry.


Just “winging it” isn’t enough, Ross says, and improvised messages may come off sounding boastful, or worse, confusing and rambling. Instead, voicemails should sound clear, concise and compelling. They should also answer two questions – what and why?

“By ‘what,’ I don’t mean what you do, or what you sell,” Ross says. “What we’re talking about here is ‘what’s the problem you solve?’ And the ‘why’ is ‘why should your prospect care?’”

The best way to accomplish this is to keep it specific, relevant and making sure your message has a great level of curiosity.

Ross says suggests introducing yourself right away, and he even says it’s OK to admit if you’ve never met the person you’re calling. Then, mention something specific – like “I recently visited your website” – that gives the person an idea about why you are calling. Finally, it’s time to reel them in.

Ross uses an example of a voicemail he received recently that said, “I have two ideas we’ve used with other sales trainers to grow their opt-ins by over 20 percent.” He admits it made him curious and was a great way to get him to return that call.

“You want to know what those two ideas are, who are these other sales trainers and how did he increase their opt-ins by over 20 percent,” Ross says. “This message hit on all three of those points that made me want to call him back.”

Set Up Your Script

In addition to pointing out what makes a great message, Ross says there is a step-by-step approach to scripting a better message.

“I know a lot of salespeople who think they don’t like scripted messages. Well, you probably don’t like scripted messages because you didn’t practice enough to make it sound like it wasn’t scripted,” he says.

Once you craft your script, it’s time to make the call. And Ross recommends getting up out of your seat to do it.

“When you deliver your message, you need to be standing up and you need to speak slowly,” he says. “The reason you need to be standing up is because you don’t want to run the risk of sitting in a chair and starting to slouch and having your voice start to sound monotone. When you stand up, you prevent that from happening. Your tone of voice is much stronger and more confident.”

Research shows 38 percent of the message you convey to people is delivered through tone rather than the words you’re using, Ross says.

Additionally, it is OK to mention other companies by name when leaving a voicemail. Ross has gotten pushback for this from salespeople he’s trained in the past, but he still thinks it’s an important tool to utilize.

“People say they don’t want to put in the people they’ve talked to or who they’re selling,” he says. “But I encourage you to put in two or three companies that you’re already working with who find what you’re offering very beneficial to them.”

To close the message, Ross says it’s vital to give your phone number at least two times.“Say it slowly and say it twice,” he says.

Make A Connection

Ross says that when people meet for the first time – whether that’s in person, over Zoom or on the phone – there are three questions that pop up in the back of their minds.

“The first question is, ‘can I trust you?’” Ross says. “Trust is extremely important in order to develop a solid relationship, whether it is a business relationship or personal relationship. And how do you build trust? You just do what you say you’re going to do.”

The second question is, “are you committed to excellence?” And by that, he means you should be making yourself more valuable to your customers. This includes developing yourself and learning more about the industry you serve.

And, according to Ross, the final question people ask themselves is, “Do you really care about me?”

“People can tell when you genuinely care,” he says. “Show people you genuinely care. And remember, people don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.”

By being mindful of these questions, you can better connect with potential customers through the voicemail and once they return your call.

Kim Lux is an assistant editor at sister publication Lawn & Landscape Magazine.