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Voicemail Etiquette

Voicemail tips to help you get a return phone call

Sales gurus can be somewhat divided on whether or not to leave a voicemail when you reach a prospect or client by telephone.  I believe a voicemail can be very effective in soliciting a return phone call to further a project, when done correctly.

Below are some tips that may help you receive more return phone calls from your prospects and clients.

    1. Length – keep your voicemail under 1 minute in length – being respectful of your client’s time will position you as someone they want to do business with.
    2. Don’t ask open-ended questions – similar to not starting an email with “how are you?”, a voicemail is not a 2-way dialogue, so refrain from asking your client open-ended questions.

  1. Start with (full) name and your organization name – It can be very frustrating for prospects or clients who work with multiple people on multiple projects to try to decipher “Hey, its Jennifer calling.”. Unless you have a very close relationship with the client, where you trust they will know the sound of your voice, please include your last name and organization.
  2. Reference the project name – as with #4, chance are your prospect/client works on a multitude of priorities throughout the day. Keep things simple for them and referencing the project you are working on together.
  3. Leave your phone number, at the beginning of the call – Equally frustrating as spending 2 minutes listening to a voicemail, is waiting… and waiting… and waiting for your phone number. Give your client your number at the beginning of the call, and again at the end of the message.  This gives them 2 opportunities to jot it down without having to listen to the entire message all over again.
  4. Have an action-statement – make it clear to the prospect/client what the next steps are and what you’d like the client to do. Without an action statement, there is no need for the client to call you back.
  5. Can it be solved by a simple email? I’m a firm believer that some conversations are best for the phone, but for simple items that are best solved with email, send your recipient a short, clear, action-driven email instead.  Most laptop worker bees prefer to process information via email, and it creates a paper-trail if required later on.
  6. Will this benefit our relationship? Often voicemails and phone calls are made to start or further a client/prospect relationship.  However if your call or voicemail is not well-received, you may be doing more harm than good in leaving a voicemail.  Ensure your voicemail is compelling and will draw your prospect to return the call versus create animosity in their busy day.

Lets say you’ve now included a number of these strategies in your voicemail, and you still are not getting a return call from your client… now what?  The below strategies may help:

  1. Change up the format – try sending an email out in lieu of leaving yet another voicemail, some clients prefer email as a way of communicating.
    1. Email with a list of options, multiple choice – you may have caught your client at an extremely busy time. Sometimes giving them a simple multiple choice of answers in an email allows them to respond quickly, and then you can move forward on your part of the project as well.
    2. Try scheduling a call with them; promise them the call will be 10 minutes or less. This way they can focus on your call and the information required to push the project forward.
  2. Change up the tone – if your uber-professional tone did not solicit a response, using a more casual and easy-going tone may put your client at ease and solicit a stronger response

Leaving a voicemail is never ideal, however by following the above guidelines, you may be on your way to receiving more timely responses to your voicemails, and keeping your professional relationship as one of productivity and mutual respect.

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