“Look, hey if all of these nuts could just make phone calls, they could spread insanity! Oozing through telephone cables! Oozing into the ears of all these poor sane people! Infecting them. Wackos everywhere! Plague of madness!”  -Jeffrey Goines, Twelve Monkeys

What Executives Expect in a Voicemail Message

In 2006, I attended a regional Dale Carnegie Training sales conference in Pittsburgh, PA.  In one session on selling to the C suite, there were a number of high-level executives from several large corporations participating in a panel discussion. The purpose of the discussion was to give our people insights into the kind of experience top level executives expected from sales reps calling on them.

After 30 minutes of discussion between these executives and the audience, a panelist from a data storage company provided several suggestions that were particularly telling.

He said that as an executive, he wanted a sales person to be clear, direct, and results oriented.  He said the sales person had to have done their research and that they had to be offering a solution that addressed a problem.  As he was making his final points, he said, “ …and no lengthy voicemail messages.  Twenty seconds is long enough to make your point.”

7 Tips for Designing Your Voicemail Messages

Here are a few suggestions on leaving voicemails based on the executive’s comments:

  1. Be clear about the why you are calling.
  2. Be authoritative yet upbeat in your tone:  No one wants to hear you whine about your problems or how they owe you something.
  3. Find a bridge to the person you’re calling:  This goes back to the reason you are calling, being clear about your  goal, and research your target.
  4. Be brief: People are busy.  Respect their time. Don’t waste it with messages that drag on for 2 minutes.
  5. Be specific in your request:  Again, this goes back to knowing your goal or outcome.
  6. Leave your contact information at the end: Do it slowly and clearly.
  7. Get your prospect’s attention immediately: Your prospect is always thinking of something that’s important to them. Use this fact to get their attention at the start. Every second they aren’t engage is a second they are saying “So what” in their head.

If you are calling on executives, remember that they don’t have a lot of time and are rarely patient.  Show respect for their time by being quick, brief, and specific.

Every person listens to their favorite radio station, WII FM (or What’s In It For Me).  If you can’t leave a voicemail that operates on this frequency, expect poor reception.