On creating a voicemail strategy
One of the greatest challenges that telemarketers face is not, as you may suspect, getting past gate-keepers (although this is a significant challenge – and one for another day). It’s about getting more out of those voicemail messages that we inevitably have to leave, and developing a strategy that increases the number of call-backs.
Yes, people do call telemarketers back, and not always to shout at them for having had the audacity to leave a message. If the message is right, then you may just get that call.
As telemarketers, we probably make 100 dials a day, in order to have ten conversations. Those are just the baseline stats, and they vary for each industry (and each data set), but it’s a good indication of where you start from a B2B telemarketing viewpoint. Of the 90 unsuccessful dials, how many went to voicemail? Anything between 40 and 60, on average.
Even when you get past a gate-keeper, you can often find yourself talking to voicemail. This is why a voicemail strategy is so important.
The essentials of a voicemail
Remember, you have a very short amount of time to make your pitch. You have, in essence, a 30-second window in someone’s working day to make an impact, and at any point, they can simply hit the delete key and move on to the next message. Therefore, your voicemail script is just as important as your call script!
First of all, get the basics right. Name, company, job role – know who you’re (not) talking to, but most of all, understand the particular pain points that your prospect is experiencing. If you have any background on the organisation specifically, great. However, the telemarketer should understand the industry and what’s keeping your prospects up at night.
So, start by establishing that you know what their problems are, and quickly establish how you’ve helped similar clients or competitors. Any evidence, any statistics, would be hugely supportive.
For example, if you’re talking to HR Directors, you could say:
"Hi Karen, this is Mike from A. Hr. Company. I wanted to catch up with you regarding your talent management strategies over the coming 12 months, given restricted budgets. We’ve helped Company X and Company Y increase internal promotions by 25% over the last year…"
Finally, get that call to action in. Most voicemail systems allow direct call-back, but get your angles covered:
"I’ll give you a call later in the day, but if you want to discuss further, please do give me a call on 01234 123456."
Some telemarketers prefer a more back-door approach, such as this author, who suggests charming voicemail-ees and asking them to call back on the basis of a message such as “I was wondering what your company does”. This may work for getting callbacks, but the conversion rate will be dramatically reduced, as the message is not established. The only reason for calling back is to talk about your own business – not to find a solution to a problem.
Advanced voicemail marketing
So the voicemail has been left, but how do we start measuring success? First of all, ensure that everything is being tracked correctly. There is a risk that callbacks go unmeasured, as they’re out of the system loop. Get them into the system loop, and mark the callback against the contact.
Use that voicemail as part of a contact strategy. If a voicemail has been left, it’s a good idea to send an e-mail to the contact, informing them that you have been unsuccessful in contact them directly, and to re-establish some of the key information in the voicemail. It is always more likely that they will pick up e-mail before they pick up voicemail, so this helps strengthen the key messaging, and increases the likelihood they’ll listen to the voicemail the whole way through.
And finally, be consistent – and measure. Remember, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it. So if you’re not getting callbacks, change your message until you do. Keep going, and let the data drive your decisions.