Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Leaving Voicemails -- A Question From The Manta.com Forum

Leaving effective voicemails increases your sales credibility.It's been an interesting year and we have had the good fortune of partnering with outstanding people working at some wonderful companies. One of those partnerships is with the good people at ECNext, the creative minds behind the business portal, Manta.com.

Amongst the Manta community, members have the ability to ask questions regarding sales, small business operations, and management. They can also review prospective companies and update information on their own corporate profiles.

Over the past few months we've seen a host of questions from the Manta community. There's a definite pattern of concern raised by sales peopele on how to increase sales effectiveness--no doubt a direct result from the current economic climate. Here is one of the questions from the community regarding effective use of voicemails:

Screen Name: Manta Member

Question: After leaving 25 voice mails and sending several emails, how do I get a reply from my sales prospect?

Manta Member,

It depends on the timeframe that you have sent these 25 voicemails. If you have made 25 different voicemails over the span of a year, then it’s time to become more aggressive. Increase your calls and mix in some direct mail (email or USPS) along with some personal appearances.

On the other hand, if you left 25 voicemails to the same person within the last week, then you’ve probably moved into the realm of being an annoyance. It’s time to scale back on quantity and focus on quality.

In both cases, knowing what the person wants is crucial. If you don’t know what they want, then your voicemails, as well as your overall sales and marketing effort, will be useless. It’s like shooting arrows at a target that you can’t see and have no idea where it is located.

Once you know what the person wants, then you can use a creative opening that will get their attention. I’ve seen people create out-of-the-box openings that grabbed a client’s attention and yielded a response. I’ve seen sales reps use the curiosity approach effectively and get responses. I’ve seen sales reps leave compelling complements and get responses. The key here is that they all know something about the prospect and they tailored the message to what they wanted. If you are leaving voicemails like I used to: “Hi, my name is Larry Prevost from ABC company. Call me at 408-555-1212”, I can guarantee you that you will not get a response. That’s not a voicemail, that’s a birth announcement. It does nothing for grabbing the client’s attention and there is no compelling reason for them to call you back.

On the other hand, something like, “Bob; 20% of car dealerships won’t weather the current economic crisis. Two of our clients, however, have taken steps that, in the last month, have put them in the top 10% producers nationwide. I’ll call you on Thursday to discuss what they did and see if this will work for you. Larry Prevost, ABC Company, 408-555-1212.” Now, if this is an owner of a car dealership and they have even remotely been following the news, you have their attention, you have their curiosity, and at the very least, they will be expecting your call. On the other end, they may just take it on themselves to call you.

Again, I emphasize that you need to know something about what your prospect wants.

One more point to emphasize. Contact multiple people within the company. If you have them, now is the time to work them. If you don’t have them, now is the time to get some. I can’t tell you how many times that I have had something going with a prospect and everything is going well. Suddenly, all contact with my prospect stops. After leaving 10 to 12 voicemails with my prospect, a call to the gatekeeper or the front desk reveals that my contact has had a stroke [or some other debilitating ailment] and no one knows when, or if, they will be back.

So to recap, make sure that you know something about what your prospect wants, and make sure that you are visible to multiple contacts within the company.

For more information on Manta.com or to become a member, go to Manta.com and create your online account today.

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