The Ultimate Sales Resource

This single volume contains the information you need to convert…

Leads into appointments!

Presentations into sales!

Sales into customers for life!


Oh, no!…not voice mail-AHHHHHHHHH!!!


Press one…if you want to leave a message.

Press two… if you don’t think your call will ever be returned.

Press three…if you’ve already left three messages, haven’t had your call returned, and want to send a bolt of lightning directly through the phone and strike the butt o the person who won’t return your call.

Press four…if you want to shoot the person who installed this voice mail.


Voice mail can be the scourge of the salesperson, but it doesn’t have to be. Voice mail is a tool used to establish contact. It is not used to make a sale. Your objective is to leave a message that will elicit a return call.


Your option is to ignore voice mail and use your resourcefulness to get in direct contact with your prospect.


Here are five guidelines that define the sales perspective of voice mail:

  1. It’s a game – play to win
  2. It’s here to stay – know how to get around it
  3. Know when to leave a message (and when not to)
  4. Know how to leave a message that will get a response
  5. Be resourceful. Be creative. Be memorable.


The big question is: DO YOU LEAVE A MESSAGE OR NOT?

The big answer is: IT DEPENDS!


Since there is no cut-and-dried answer, why not develop a method that works for you? Don’t listen to what everyone else says. There is always a way around it and there is always a way to get your call returned. Figure out a way to make voice mail work for you.


Do leave a message if…

  • You’ve spoken with them before and gotten positive feedback
  • You’re following up a good (interested) lead
  • You have valuable information the prospect really needs to know
  • You have a prepared message that has enough impact to get the prospect to respond


Don’t leave a message if…

  • It’s a cold or exploratory call
  • It’s likely you’re selling  something the prospect already has
  • It’s likely you’re up against an existing relationship
  • You’re trying to raise funds for a charity
  • You’re selling insurance, stocks, or financial planning services


Getting around voice mail and getting directly to the prospect…

  • Press “0” to get live to an operator or secretary. Ask if they can page your prospect
  • Tell the operator you don’t want voice mail and ask how you can reach your prospect live
  • Tell an administrative person you got lost in the voice mail options, you’re not a college graduate, and can they please help you. If you nicely act exasperated, you can get someplace-especially at the CEO executive administrative level
  • Find the administrative person and get the prospect’s schedule of normal arrival and departure
  • Get someone else to book a tentative appointment
  • Call before the gatekeeper arrives (7:45-8:30 AM)
  • Call after the gatekeeper leaves (5:15-6:30 PM)
  • Call the sales department – they’ll tell you everything if they think you can help. Plus they’re more fun to deal with than administrative types
  • In a larger company call the publicity or public relations department – it’s their job to give out information
  • Find a champion or comrade – someone within the company who likes you, or believes in what you do


Use your fax machine as an alternate way to get through…

  • Fax pages from your appointment book with open dates and times circled (show an appointment listed with a competitor)
  • Fax a joke or cartoon
  • Fax a referral letter from a satisfied customer that relates to his business
  • Fax an urgent request to repair his/her voice mail. Tell the prospect to notify the company that sold the system to come fix it because you have left several messages and they’re evidently not getting through, so the only thing you can figure is, that is’ broken. (“Surely, Mr. Jones, you’re not ignoring my calls.”)


Voice mail is not all bad. It’s great when you’re in the middle of a sale and need to get important or timely information to a customer. Voice mail is helpful when you are trying to reach an existing customer. It’s just frustrating at the beginning of a sales cycle.


Your challenge is to be voice mail by using the one sales tool you always carry with you – your brain.


Just a note on hypocrisy.

Part of Total Quality is totally returning phone calls. If I had a dollar for every executive preaching “TQM” who doesn’t have the courtesy to return a call, I could buy my own voice-mail system and not return his call.




Leaving a message is a risk. If you do, create a message that will get response.


“Leave a message and I’ll be glad to return your call”…NOT!


“Press 1 if you’d like to leave a message. I’ll be glad to return your call as soon as I can.”…Right. And Santa will bring you a pony if you’re a good little boy.


“Press 2 if you’re selling something I don’t want.”…That’s a lot closer to the truth.


Why won’t they call you back? When you get someone’s voice mail and decide to leave a message, what steps can you take to ensure that your call will be returned? Lots.


If you leave a message, here is a collection of techniques that have gotten calls returned…

  • First name and number only (in a very businesslike manner) – It seems that calls are returned in inverse proportion to the amount of information left
  • Be funny – Clean wit will get response
  • Be indirect – “I was going to mail you important information, and I wanted to confirm your address.”
  • Offer fun – “I have two extra tickets to the Hornets game and I thought you might be interested. (Here’s the sure hot) Please call me if you can’t go, so I’m able to give the tickets to someone else.”
  • Remind the prospect where you met – if it was a positive first meeting
  • Dangle the carrot – leave just enough information to entice
  • Ask a provocative or thought-provoking question


Note: There is never a reason to give your sales pitch on voice mail. No one is there to say yes. Your objective is to make contact. Your objective is to provide enough information to create positive response.


An all-time classic technique was offered by Thomas J. Elijah, III, of Elijah & Co. Real Estate, at a SalesMasters meeting. Thomas said, “Leave a partial message that includes your name and phone number, the pretend to get cut off in mid-sentence, as you’re getting to the important part of the message. Cut it off in mid-word. It works like a charm because the prospect can’t stand not knowing the rest of the information, or thinks his voice email is broken.”


Here are a few examples of the Elijah Method. Leave your name, number, and then deliver half a sentence to peak interest:

  • “Your name came up in an important conversation today with Hugh…”
  • “They were talking about you and said…”
  • “I have a deal that could deliver you a hundred thou…”
  • “I’m interested in your…”
  • “I have your…”
  • “I have information about your…”
  • “Your competition said…”
  • “I’m calling about your inheritance…”
  • “Are you the (person’s full name) who…”
  • “We wanted to be sure you got your share of…”
  • “I’m calling about the money you left at…”
  • “Hello. I’m calling for Ed Mc…”

I had to call Elijah recently to get some information. I tried his technique on him, cutting off my message in mid-word. I said, “I’m going to quote you in my column this week and I need…” He called me back in under 3 minutes – laughing hysterically. This technique could revolutionize message leaving. I’ve been using it ever since, and it works. Be careful about how far you go on the humor with someone you don’t know.


If you’re making several calls, make sure you document your messages so you can be on top of it immediately if/when your call is returned. There’s nothing worse or more stupid than getting a returned call and having no idea who it’s from.


Voice-messaging companies say that voice mail helps companies route messages faster, and, the recording system offered by voice messaging reduces errors and allows complete messages to be left. True, but many of the people who have voice mail (especially the ones you’re trying to reach) use it as a dodge.


If you’re thinking about buying voice mail, don’t just look at the benefit of your convenience. Before you make a commitment to a specific system – CONSIDER THE IMPACT ON YOUR CUSTOMERS.


Will they be better served? Will you maintain friendly, human service in spite of the voice mail system?


Don’t confuse voice mail with automatic attendant systems. Automatic attendant, where the computer actually answers the phone, is the single worst business invention ever.


Here is the most customer-friendly type of voice mail system to use:

  1. Human answers
  2. Human determines if the person you’re calling is in by ringing their phone and monitoring the response
  3. If not in, human returns and says, “Mr. Jones is not in. Would you like me to help you personally, take your message personally or would you like to leave a detailed message on his or her voice mail?”
  4. You faint from the shock.


Press 1 if you hate voice mail. Press the hot button of the prospect if you want to get a call back and make the sale in spite of it. Press on.


If you do leave a message on someone’s voice mail, ask yourself “Would I return this call?”


If you hesitate to say yes, change your message.