There’s no way around it – voicemails are not an enjoyable part of a salesperson’s job. Not only is it a tedious process, but it’s largely ineffective in terms of getting a response. Consider these statistics (source):
- 80% of calls go to voicemail, and 90% of first time voicemails are never returned.
- The average voicemail response rate is 4.8%.
- 15% of the average sales rep’s time is spent leaving voicemails.
As you can see, there’s a productivity problem – sales reps are spending a significant part of their day leaving voicemails, despite the fact that their voicemails are often ineffective.
Luckily, there are ways around this problem. You may not be able to get rid of voicemails completely – but with the right tactics, you can spend more time talking to prospects, and less time leaving voicemails. Keep reading!
Four Ways to Spend Less Time Leaving Voicemails
1. Use direct dial phone numbers.
Access to direct dials is a simple but huge way to improve your sales outreach. Rather than leaving the fate of your call in the hands of a switchboard operator, direct dial phone numbers give you immediate access to your prospect. Don’t believe us? Check out these statistics:
- When calling a direct dial number at the director level, a sales rep is 46% more likely to connect (source).
- When calling a direct dial number at the VP level, a rep is 147% more likely to connect (source).
- It takes 22 minutes to connect with a prospect using switchboard numbers, compared to only 5 minutes using direct dials (source).
For access to accurate direct dials, partner with a reputable corporate contact database. To learn more about what direct dials can do for you, check out the following blog post: The Impact of Direct Dials on Sales Productivity.
2. Perfect the timing of your calls.
It may sound trivial, but sometimes there’s a simple reason you’re not reaching a prospect – you’re calling at the wrong time.
Timing is everything when it comes to making a sales call. Remember, the prospect you’re trying to reach has a busy schedule just like you do, and on any given day they may have a dozen tasks that take precedent over speaking to you. Therefore, it’s important to call at the most optimal time.
Of course, not every prospect has the exact same schedule – but there is research to suggest that certain days and times are better than others (source):
- Wednesday and Thursday are the most optimal days to make a first call.
- Calling between 4 and 5 p.m. has a 164% better connection rate than at 1 to 2 p.m.
If you’re making the bulk of your sales calls at the beginning or end of the week, consider altering your schedule. On Mondays, people prepare for the week ahead and on Fridays they’re winding down – all the more reason for them to ignore your call and then forget about the voicemail you leave. Call in the middle of the week and you’ll increase the chance of connecting with your prospects.
Aside from the day of the week, it’s also important to consider the time of day. Although it may seem counter intuitive– reach out between 4 to 5 p.m. Your prospect has already wrapped up their most important tasks – and they’ll be more inclined to pick up the phone.
3. Email first.
So you’ve got access to a decision-maker’s direct line, but you still end up going to voicemail? Consider warming up your prospect before making your first cold call.
Sending a quick introductory email before your first call is helpful for the following reasons:
- Emails are less disruptive: While an email still interrupts the prospect’s day, it is far less intrusive than an unexpected call. If you call a prospect during a busy time, they’ll likely ignore your call and then forget about your voicemail after listening to it. Emails allow them to respond on their own time, and unless deleted, remain in their inbox as a visible reminder.
- You can perfect your messaging: First impressions are crucial, and calling a prospect can be stressful – a small slip-up can kill the call. An introductory email gives you the chance to carefully craft and proofread your message to make sure every word is perfect.
- Larger “ideal time” window: Research shows that the best time to email prospects is between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. (source). Unlike a phone call, you can email a prospect at almost any hour of the work day.
4. Switch to social selling.
The way we interact with prospects has changed dramatically over recent years – and social media has played a significant role in this transformation.
Not only will social selling give you more options to reach prospects, but it is proven to have a dramatic impact on your overall sales performance (source):
- Sales reps who use social selling are 50% more likely to meet or exceed their quota.
- 73% of salespeople who use social selling outperform their peers and exceed quota 23% more often.
If you’re tired of your calls going nowhere, consider taking your outreach to social media. Times are changing, and with social selling you can stay ahead of the curve. For a more in-depth guide to social selling, check out these articles:
- 4 Tips for Selling to the Social-Savvy Buyer
- The B2B Sales Rep’s Guide to LinkedIn
- The B2B Sales Rep’s Guide to Twitter
- The B2B Sales Rep’s Guide to Facebook
5. Be persistent.
The aforementioned tips will go a long way to help you get in touch with prospects, but that doesn’t mean you’ll never have to leave voicemails again. You must be willing to work to reach your prospects – and that means being persistent.
This is a problem many sales reps encounter. The pressure to meet quota often causes reps to get stuck in the same cycle. Call the prospect, leave a voicemail, move on. Studies suggest that the average sales rep gives up too soon, and that by making more call attempts they can increase their contact rates by 70% (source).
We know leaving voicemails is tiresome. Prospects dislike sifting through voicemails just as much as sales reps dislike leaving them. Fortunately, the sales process is evolving – new tools and tactics continue to emerge, giving sales reps more flexibility.
Voicemails will remain a big part of a sales rep’s job, so it’s important to be comfortable with the process. But with the right preparation, solid data, and proper timing, you can ensure that every call you make is successful. All it takes is a few small changes, and you’ll be connecting with more prospects in no time!