Getting a 40% Voice Mail Response Rate, Part 2

Experts estimate that as much as 75% of business calls end up in voice mail. Learning good voice mail techniques is a must if your small business is to succeed.

This is the second in a series of articles concerning proven voice mail techniques. The goal is to make your voice mail messages into a powerful business tool. Click here to read Part 1.

WIN THE WAR. The National Sales Executive Association has conducted a survey on how many sales you can get depending on how many times you contact your prospects. Their statistics show that most sales are made from the 5th contact through the 12th contact. Here is the data they have compiled about on which prospect contact the sale is made:


2% of sales are made on the 1st contact


3% of sales are made on the 2nd contact


5% of sales are made on the 3rd contact


10% of sales are made on the 4th contact


80% of sales are made on the 5th-12th contact


With these statistics in mind, structure the mix of your calls to maximize success. The first calls require 50 attempts to succeed while fourth contact calls require only 10 attempts to succeed. Follow-through drives results

CALL ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE OR PAYROLL. Employees in these departments are taught to answer telephones and return messages. Customer service is important to their job function. They will talk with anyone. Ask some questions and get a lot of useful information before asking to transfer to another extension.

E-MAIL A FOLLOW-THROUGH. An e-mail follow-through to your listener greatly increases the chance of a return call. I encourage you to turn on the return receipt requested feature in your e-mail software. Knowing that the listener opened your e-mail is very valuable when making the next telephone call. The subject line should reference the voice mail and have a date stamp: “Follow-through on Tuesday’s voice mail” or “My xx/xx/xxxx voice mail”. An e-mail follow-through builds recognition with your listener.

PLUS OR MINUS 1 EXTENSION. At whose desk will one extension difference land? The answer is a co-worker likely within close proximity. If a real person answers, ask to be transferred. Alternatively ask if the person can put a message on their desk, most people will do it and often even remind the person to call you back. If you get voice mail, begin your message with “This message is for.”

CALL YOURSELF. Most people do not like to hear themselves on tape. The reason is because few people are polished speakers. Voice mail is the simplest version of public speaking. A poor voice mail on the initial contact leaves the other person with a negative impression. Practice, practice and more practice are the keys to a professional voice mail presentation. Experiment with different messages and techniques on yourself before you try them on others. Listen to yourself honestly and make needed changes. Ask yourself one question, “would I return this voice mail?” experimenting until the answer is “yes”.

THE BIG $$ HABIT. High producers will block out dialing time to leave voice mails. Review the “win the war” statistics above. What would happen if you left 100 third or fourth contact voice mails while working during off-hours? Nothing bad except filling your schedule with revenue opportunities. This block dialing time is planned with the goal being approximately 30 messages left per hour. The big money is made by closing transactions during normal business hours. You need to plan your dialing so that you are available to receive calls during prime business hours.

Click here to read Part 3.

Thomas N. Hand is the CEO on Infrastructure Support Services Inc. a software vendor and consulting practice focusing upon raising individual, sales team and corporate productivity and profitability using behavior modification, performance monitoring and quality metrics. One client said it nicely, “Your products are like a good diet, and I hate admitting the truth about the current situation, bad habits change slowly, but with diligence the results are worth it”.

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