Should You Leave Voice Mail Messages

The most frequent question I get about voicemail is not about how to leave voice but Should I leave a voicemail? If you aren’t asking that question, you’re not human.

In my experience there are two camps on this. One that says you should never leave a voicemail and another that says you should always leave a voicemail. Both are wrong. 

If you never leave a voicemail you will never get a call back, you tell your prospect that you don’t you care enough to leave a message, you abdicate your responsibility to educate your prospect, and you hinder your efforts to build familiarity. Since getting a call back is a very good thing, it doesn’t make sense to never leave a voicemail. 

There are however, some circumstances where it might not make sense to leave a voicemail. For example, if you are dialing a completely cold list of prospects and your goal is to make as many dials as possible while connecting with as many prospects as possible in the shortest possible time leaving voicemail messages will slow you down. It can take from 30-60 seconds to leave a voicemail causing you to spend a significant amount of your phone block leaving voicemail messages for completely cold, unqualified prospects.

However, on most prospecting calls you should leave a voicemail. We’ve analyzed data on how many prospecting touches it takes to get a prospect to engage across a diverse set of sources and industries. The data tells us that prospecting is rarely a one and done activity. It takes persistence and many touches to get sales engagement. Consider these numbers. 

  • 1 to 3 touches to re-engage an inactive customer
  • 1 to 5 touches to engage a prospect who is in the buying window and is familiar with you and your brand
  • 3 to 10 touches to engage a prospect who has a high degree of familiarity with you or your brand but is not in the buying window
  • 5 to 12 touches to engage a warm inbound lead
  • 5 to 20 touches to engage a prospect who has some familiarity with you and your brand—buying window dependent
  • 20 to 50 touches to engage a cold prospect who does not know you or your brand

Keep in mind that these are averages across a wide statistical distribution. Depending on your brand recognition, geographic location, prospecting channel, product, service, sales cycle, and industry vertical, you may find that these numbers shift in or out of your favor.

The story these numbers tell us is that it takes multiple prospecting touches to get prospects to engage and that means that to be successful you will need to master multiple prospecting channels including phone, email, social media, face to face, and when using the phone, you will need to become proficient with leaving effective voicemail messages. 

Author and sales trainer Anthony Iannarino says it best: “Your commitment to persistence and multiple touches “establishes a couple things. First, it says that you are not going to go away, that you intend to keep calling. Second, it acknowledges that you believe it is your responsibility to call them, rather than waiting for them to call you. 

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