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Do cold calls work? How can you find more success with cold calling? We often discuss how to make a cold call, but rarely the next step after your cold call fails to get picked up.

How many emails hit your inbox every day? A lot, right? 

You might be the type of person who likes to keep a fairly clean inbox. You see that clutter builds up, and inevitably something falls through the cracks. How many emails do you get that pair up with a voicemail?

Probably very few.

Most other sales development representatives could say something similar.

Sales Voicemail Statistics

Today’s sales professionals have more ways than ever to get in touch with prospects. And yet, sales reps can’t escape the most common and frustrating method of sales prospecting communication — voicemail.  

There’s no way around it, sales reps spend a lot of time leaving voicemails. And unfortunately, most go unanswered. Consider these statistics (source):

  • 80% of calls go to voicemail
  • Recipients don’t return 90% of first time voicemails
  • Sales reps spend 15% of their time leaving voicemails
  • The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%.

Don’t blame yourself if those statistics make you want to give up on voicemail altogether. But here’s the good news — making a few changes to your voicemail strategy can create a big impact. In fact, certain studies show that well-crafted voicemails can improve response rates anywhere from 3% to 22% (source).

Today’s blog post offers some valuable tips to optimize your sales voicemail strategy and improve response rates. Let’s get into it!

First, do Cold Sales Voicemails Work?

The short answer: Yes.

When used correctly, cold call sales voicemails can be one of the quickest ways for a team to boost response rates and get the attention from their prospects.

But keep your cold call sales voicemails short!

As a general rule, each voicemail should not exceed 30 seconds in length. Going on any longer will annoy the prospect by wasting their time or overwhelm them with too much information at once.

While voicemail alone does not yield callbacks, when paired with targeted emails it has the ability to increase response rates. For something that takes less than 30 seconds, it seems like a no brainer, right?

But keep in mind, shortening your voicemails does not mean talking faster. If you try to fit 60 seconds of information into a 30-second voicemail, you’ll end up sounding frantic and fumbling over important details.

Your goal isn’t to sell to the prospect you’re calling, it’s to secure a callback or follow-up. Keep your voicemails concise by only including the details that spark your prospect’s interest and provide them with clear instructions as to how they should respond.

Tips for Sales Voicemail Scripts

1. Use a personable and relaxed tone.

You may possess the perfect voicemail script that hits on all your key information in a short amount of time. But if your delivery is stiff and robotic, the prospect will check out the moment you start speaking. 

A phony, overenthusiastic tone is even worse. You’ll sound like every other generic B2B sales representative trying to win the prospect’s attention.

Be mindful of your tone and speak as if the prospect sat right in front of you. Avoid being too monotone, but don’t go overboard with unnatural excitement either. The more natural and human you sound, the more the prospect believes that you genuinely want to start a meaningful business relationship

Your voicemails should sound like you’re talking to an old acquaintance or relative — respectful and helpful without being too loud or obnoxious.

Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Leave voicemails that are less than 23 seconds.
  • Do not add in a pitch.
  • Refer to the email in the call-to-action (CTA).

Keep these tips in mind if you struggle to get your demo numbers up. Or if you simply have a difficult time getting a foot in the door with a prospect.

2. Provide context to personalize your message.

When you leave a voicemail, your message is one of many other messages in a prospect’s mailbox. So it’s important to stand out — and if your voicemail sounds just like the others, don’t expect a call back.

Make your voicemail unique by providing context at the beginning of your message. Tell the prospect how you discovered them, or mention a specific detail about their business. Of course, this tactic isn’t possible without conducting research before the call. 

Study the prospect’s business website and social media profiles, then select one or two details to reference in your voicemail. This step may seem inconsequential, but it has several benefits. Not only will your voicemail stand out, but you’ll also show the prospect that you’ve done your research to understand who they are and what they need.

Sales Voicemail Example: Researching for Company Details

Your voicemail should point towards an email that you send to the prospect immediately after the call. The best way to get the prospect to open your email, and ultimately engage with you is to give them a reason to look for your email in the first place. 

This doesn’t happen by pitching them in a voicemail. Instead, do a bit of research on the prospect and send them something that resonates with them specifically. For example:

“Hey Jeff, this is Dave, with ZoomInfo. I saw that you manage the team that hunts down ERP projects on the East Coast. I came across a company right in your backyard who is looking to migrate their ERP system – and it looks like a home run for what you guys are doing there. Grace Taylor is their VP of Network Infrastructure and the person you should be talking to.

I’m shooting you over an email right now with some of the details. Feel free to reply there if it hits the mark. Thanks, Jeff.”

This voicemail can help land a meeting with a hard-to-reach sales leader who has possibly ignored emails prior to the example message.

In this instance, a quick glance at the LinkedIn profile of this prospect, Jeff, revealed his territory and job description. This is an ideal amount of information to leave a targeted voicemail, which includes a real, specific project that could result in a valuable opportunity for Jeff.

When you take the time to understand the prospect’s individual responsibilities and job functions, your message is less likely to fall on deaf ears.

3. Offer a clear value proposition.

Your initial reason for calling is, of course, to initiate a sale. But these brief messages aren’t the time to sell your product. What you’re really trying to do is secure a follow-up conversation.

Instead of delving into product specifics, provide a clear set of value propositions that demonstrates the ways in which you can help the prospect. Consider these two examples and think about which you’d rather hear from a salesperson:

  • “We offer the #1 marketing automation software in the industry, and believe our tool is a perfect fit for your business.”
  • “Based on the work we’ve done with similar companies, our service can improve your click-through rates by 150%, generate 200% more qualified leads, and boost your overall revenue by 10% within 6 months.”

See the difference? One statement tells the prospect how great your product is, while the other provides specific business applications and success metrics. This value statement is the hook that catches a prospect’s interest and makes them eager to learn more.

Voicemail Script Example #1: Using Known Company Details

Here’s an example using a recent, real-time scoop. 

“Hey Gabe – this is Dave with ZoomInfo. We’ve been working with companies like {Competitor 1} and {Competitor 2} to drive pipeline growth and help make sure the team is in front of decision-makers.”

It looks like Arconic is doing some work around Cyber Security and Threat Detection. Shannon Smith is the manager of Global security, so she’s the person to talk to.

“Sending you an email too. Feel free to reply there if you want Shannon’s contact info. Again, Dave with ZoomInfo, look forward to your reply.”

Voicemail Script Example #2: Applying Researched Company Details

Here’s another example in which a customer from the target company website is identified and a similar company is name-dropped.

“Hey John, this is Dave with ZoomInfo. Hey, I was on the website for Hortonworks and it looks they have T-Mobile listed as a customer. I would think MapR plays in the same space.

In case you’d want to take a crack at T-Mobile too – I’ll drop you an email with part of an org chart where I can show you who’s in charge of Big Data – with a direct-dial phone number, an email address, and what other technologies they have installed.

I’ll use the subject line ‘T-Mobile Org Chart.’ Feel free to respond to my email and I can shed some more light, or get some other company profiles in your hands, too.

Again, Dave with ZoomInfo. I look forward to your reply.”

It’s okay to leave a callback number in your message if you think it best. However, your call to action should always point the prospect towards your email (containing your phone number anyway).

4. Identify and reference competitors 

When it comes to voicemail response rates, the smallest details can make a big impact. That includes everything from the length of your voicemail, to the time and day you leave it, to the number of times you say a prospect’s name. There are many competing opinions and best practices, but the fact is—you must determine what works best for you and your prospects.

Voicemail Script Example #1: Uncovering Competitor Details 

If you are unable to uncover something specific about the prospect to use in your voicemail (and you’re feeling brave), you can still rely on the specifics found on the prospect’s competitors.

This one does the trick for companies in competitive markets or who compete heavily against another organization:

“Hey Brad – this is Dave with ZoomInfo. I was on the website for {major competitor} and it looks they have T-Mobile as a customer, and I imagine that you guys play in the same space. In case you want to take a shot at T-Mobile as well, I’m going to drop you an email with part of an org chart where I can unveil to you who’s in charge of big data over there, complete with a direct-dial phone number, an email address, and the other technologies they’re utilizing.

I’ll use the subject line ‘T-Mobile Org Chart.’ Feel free to respond there and I can shed some more light.

Again, Dave with ZoomInfo, looking forward to your reply.”

Voicemail Script Example #2: Finding Similar Details

If there are no standout competitors, you can easily modify this approach by swapping out a few words and phrases:

“Hey Sara – this is Dave with ZoomInfo. Hey, I was on your {Company} website and saw that you guys are working with AWS and RackSpace.

Coincidentally, they are both clients of ours and we help them connect with decision-makers at their target accounts by providing them with direct contact information. I am going to shoot you over an email with some data on CIOs right in your backyard there in Houston – so keep an eye out for my email titled “CIOs in Houston” and get back to me there if it hits the mark.

Again, Dave with ZoomInfo – looking forward to hearing back from you.”

Sara was a territory sales rep who did not have the authority to make a decision on our product. But after seeing the sort of sales intelligence we offer, she forwarded the email to her boss, who called me to learn more.

5. Create a sense of urgency.

Sometimes a prospect plans to follow up but forgets to do so as soon as other, more critical tasks get in the way. You can’t avoid this problem altogether. But you can make it less likely to occur by adding some urgency to your voicemails.

We recommend you mention a timeframe when you ask the prospect to follow up. Vague, noncommittal directions like, “call me back when you get the chance” make your offer sound unimportant. Instead, tell them that they should call you back by a specific date or time. 

If the prospect shows interest in your services, they’ll make a point to follow up within the time constraint you’ve created. Or, try presenting the prospect with a time-sensitive offer

Think, “I can provide you with a significant discount or free trial if we get the ball rolling by a certain date.” Although this tactic isn’t a good fit for every business or product, it is something to consider.

Tip: Repeat your contact information.

The point of leaving a voicemail is to get a response, so be sure to make it easy for prospects to follow up. Repeat important business contact information, like your phone number and company name, so the person you’re calling has time to write down any pertinent details.

Key Takeaways for Better Sales Voicemails

We get it — in today’s era of cutting-edge technology, optimizing your sales voicemails might be low on your list of priorities. But despite the emergence of modern sales channels, voicemails remain a major part of the average B2B sales strategy.

It’s not hard to leave a good voicemail — just arm yourself with some specifics. It takes one or two minutes of research, and in some cases a 20-second glance at the prospect’s LinkedIn or company website.

Keep it short, provide value – and show them you know what you are talking about!

About the author

ZoomInfo

ZoomInfo combines the leading business contact database with best-in-class technology to pinpoint, process, and deliver the marketing and sales intelligence you need— exactly when and how you need it, to always hit your number.

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