Getting a 40% Voice Mail Response Rate, Part 3

by Thomas N. Hand

Experts estimate that as much as 75% of business calls end up in voice mail. Learning good voice mail techniques is a must if your small business is to succeed.

This is the third in a series of articles concerning proven voice mail techniques.  The goal is to make your voice mail messages into a powerful business tool. Click here to read Part 1 and Part 2.

We're the people that...  Nothing happens until a telephone call is made.  A voice mail is no frills, brute force marketing.  The brief duration eliminates commercials.  Build credibility fast and in one sentence because the clock is ticking.  Answer one question for the listener: What's in it for me?

Typical:     We're a premium provider of __________.

Better:       We're the people currently assisting _________ with their _________ needs.

                Example: We're the people assisting Microsoft and Nextel with their call center management needs.

State only a truth about a client relationship.  The purpose here is to quickly establish credibility and expertise in the listener's mind.  A client and service appropriate to your listener will differentiate your message from the generic.



Force a decision and a call back... All of us receive hundreds or thousands of voice mails each year.  What messages do we return?   The ones that require a decision are returned and most the rest die a well-deserved death via the delete button.  Make the listener accountable for a decision.

Typical:     I would like to discuss the order we talked about last week.

Better:       I have the final pricing on the order we discussed last week.

Best:         I would like your approval of the final order pricing I faxed to you Monday prior to processing your order tomorrow. 

A voice mail requiring no decision requires no action by the listener.  The "best" also inserts a subtle closing technique implying a sale. 

Take a stand...  Your voice is not as vibrant when sitting because your breathing is more constricted.  Try standing while making calls.  The advantages are many:  a better telephone voice, it is easier to relax and be comfortable, it helps break the mental block  when making groups of calls, the calls go quicker and it is a whole lot less boring than sitting in a chair looking at a monitor and a telephone. 

Six-Count and Off...  The purpose of dialing the telephone is to talk with another human being with the primary objective being to conduct a business transaction.  A voice mail is the fallback position but do not forget that nothing happens until the two people talk.  My pet peeve (and their low paychecks) with sales people is that they have their own voice mails set to automatic voice mail or two rings before getting voice mail.  Are you a lot more accessible by telephone than your listener? If not, expect to play a lot of self-inflicted telephone tag.  Most good telephone systems allow the user to set the ring count.  A ring count of six avoids many inbound callers being sent to voice mail.  Many smart business people are turning off voice mail in their offices and cell phones.

Headset and Hands free...  A hands free speakerphone voice does not record well and leaves a poor impression.  The sore neck, headaches and body tension associated with using a traditional handset for extended periods is a significant.  Invest in a good commercial quality headset and have both hands free.  

Voice mail equals dollars...  Why are you reading this voice mail articles series?  The answer is to make more money by having more business conversations.  Very few business transactions occur without at least some telephone interaction.  Telephone calls are a business catalyst causing the financial results.  You will talk to more voice mails than real people this year.  The only competitor in voice mail is the delete button.  A good voice mail is a powerful marketing message and money in the bank.

Success metrics can be very simple and effective...   Sales trainers and management have abused the term and intent of performance metrics. The goal is more completed transactions and greater earnings.  Success metrics is a better concept.  Simple success metrics help people self-manage the work days, weeks and months.  The primary difference between superstars and the average is not closing skills, education or talent.  Superstars focus upon the number of opportunities.  Who is the superstar?  The person with a close ratio of 50% meeting with two prospects a week or the person with a 25% close ratio meeting with two prospects a day.  The answer is the second person.  The superstar relates their daily activities to the end financial results while the average performer just goes about their day.  Effective success metrics simply measure cause and effect. Voice mail helps start it all!

Some sample success metrics for different job titles:

General

Salesperson

Staffing

Recruiter

Real Estate

Salesperson

Insurance

Salesperson

Human Resource

Department

...Success Actions...

Outbound Calls

Outbound Calls

Cold Calls

Cold Calls

Outbound Calls

Actual Conversations

Candidate

Conversations

Actual

Conversations

Actual

Conversations

Candidate

Conversations

New Prospects

Added

Telephone

Screens

New Prospects

Added

New Prospects

Added

Telephone

Screens

New prospect

Visits

New candidate

Added

House

Showings

New prospect

Visits

New candidate

Added

Existing

Client Visits

Submittals

To client

Open

Houses

Existing

Client Visits

Submittals

To Departments

New Orders

Generated

Interviews

With client

New

Listings

Policies

Written

Interviews

With Departments

...Financial Results...

Units

Sold

Contract

Sales

Commission

Earned

Commission

Earned

Internal

Hires

Sales

Dollars

Perm

Sales

Sales

Dollars

Premiums

Billed

Cost per

Hire

Success Metrics made simple.  Pick two inter-related variables and divide one by the other.

For example:

Outbound calls per actual conversation  (A telephone effectiveness ratio)

Submittals to client per interview (A quality ratio)

New prospect visits per policy written (A closing ratio)

I encourage you to choose success activities and financial results appropriate to your job title.  The key is daily monitoring of success actions.  Changing the voice mail response rate will change the metrics and your income.  Suppose you make 100 outbound calls per week and talk with 8 people and get 5 return calls (about the national average).  You actually talked with 13 people and might get 3 appointments.  What if your response rate went to 20%?  You would now be talking with 28 people per week.  What would happen to your financial results?  Monitoring success metrics is about constructively adjusting your weekday to make more money!

Click here to read Part 1
Click here to read Part 2


Thomas N. Hand is the CEO on Infrastructure Support Services Inc. a software vendor and consulting practice focusing upon raising individual, sales team and corporate productivity and profitability using behavior modification, performance monitoring and quality metrics. One client said it nicely, "Your products are like a good diet, and I hate admitting the truth about the current situation, bad habits change slowly, but with diligence the results are worth it".

 
Free small business newsletter
 
Get great business ideas and advice like this sent to you in email twice a week.
 
Subscribe to the free Business Know-How newsletter. 
 
Enter your primary email address below

 

Follow Us and Share