About a week ago I came across this insightful piece of information from my Facebook account that could have a major impact on how sales people approach cold calling and leaving voicemail messages.

I was reviewing some of the accounts that I’m following when I pulled up the Google Voice page. That’s where I discovered two interesting developments that all sales people need to be aware of.

The first development was that Google Voice now allows you to port your current cell phone number over to their service.

It’s no secret that Google has been slowly but steadily stepping into the telecom space with a number of new acquisitions and technologies. I’ve been using Google Voice for over a year now and in that time I’ve been able to:

  • Redirect incoming calls to ring my cell phones and landlines in any combination I choose.
  • Ask for identification from unknown incoming callers before I respond. Get enough calls from people with “fat finger” syndrome calling to find the next party and you’ll think this feature is the best thing since sliced bread.
  • Hold and manage all voicemail online.
  • Tie Google Voice to my Gmail account and make outbound calls from Gmail, right from my laptop… for free for the rest of 2011.

With their latest announcement of porting phone numbers, Google moves Google Voice even deeper into the realm of traditional telecom providers, giving the citizens of the social web even more choices on how we ring each other up.

Normally, this would have been yet another interesting data point in the Google acquisition plan.

That’s when I saw the entry underneath it – where using the Google Voice interface, I can completely block incoming calls of my choosing.

Personally, I think that this is a significant development. It’s something I’ve always wondered if the cell phone companies would ever allow individuals to do on their own. If you’ve ever had some drunken fellow calling your number night after night asking for “Bob”, you had to call your cell carrier and make a major case for having the number blocked. Even then there had to be a major issue on the table—like a harassing boyfriend, or an obsessed stalker. It was not a request that you made lightly.

Well now, you can perform this operation on your own with a click of your mouse.

Simply follow the instructions in Google’s video below:

Google Voice’s Impact on Cold Calling and Voicemail

So how does this impact the way sales people approach telephone sales and cold calling?

Well, now, any small business owner, manager, director, or executive that has a phone system based on VoIP technology, or using Google Voice to handle their incoming calls, can take direct control over how those incoming calls are handled. See where this is going?

Intelligent routing allows them to take direct command of phone distractions and to better manage their time. Incoming callers with unknown numbers are asked to provide a name before the call is put through or sent to voicemail. Incoming callers that are recognized as irrelevant or time wasters can be blocked, sent directly to voicemail, or forwarded to another number. See it now?

If you, the sales rep, make a cold call to a contact, prospect, or decision-maker and they don’t like how you opened the call or the message you left, they can now block your incoming call with a simple mouse click. If they don’t want to resort to such drastic measures, they can simply route you directly into voicemail or they can redirect your call to someone else in the company.

Interruption marketing and cold calling are going to be severely impacted. The fine art of the phone interruption has been placed in the hands of your prospect. And some of those contacts won’t be so forgiving.

In short, you don’t want to be “Bob” the sales rep calling in repeatedly with nothing more than your hat in your hand asking for their time. You will need to make a real offer, and make a real effort to engage them.

The Terminator is now running interference.

This is not a hypothetical musing. Incoming call management is something we’ve been teaching managers and small business owners in our management training programs for a while now as a way for them to gain better control over their time.

And VoIP technology, technology like Google Voice, makes incoming call management exceptionally easy.

Which means, as a sale person, I’m going to end up getting routed to voicemail a lot more.

Or, if I come across a constant irritation, I’m going to start getting a “This number is no longer in service” message.

4 Ideas to Improve Your Cold Calling Campaigns

So, as a sales person, I’m gonna have to do a few things to improve my chances of getting an audience with the right person during my cold calling and lead generation campaigns.

  1. Employ tactics that get my target prospects’ attention before I make my cold calls. Email, direct mail, and social networks are good for this.
  2. Leave a voicemail message with a compelling reason for my target prospect to listen and take interest. It has to be engaging, entertaining and educational.
  3. Since I’m probably going to talk to a machine more often during my cold calling campaigns, create a strategy that involves multiple compelling voicemail messages.
  4. Determine how to be valuable to my target prospect so that they see me as a goose that lays golden eggs for them, as opposed to a vulture, circling overhead waiting to turn them into my next meal.