Do Your Prospects Hate You? Why they don’t call you back!
Over the years, I have heard many different theories on whether or not you should leave a message when you receive a prospect's voice mail. Many sales people feel that this is an exercise in futility because most of the time their prospect does not call them back. If you have found yourself in this situation, like anyone in sales has, here are nine reasons why your prospects don't return your calls:
- Your voice mail message is too long.
The majority of voice mail messages decision-makers receive are far too long. I can still remember working with one salesperson, we nicked-named the "Mail Man" when I was working at Acend. The Mail Man would reliably leave every little point he could on the voicemail, thinking that at least one of the points has to resonate with his prospects. Often I would hear him leaving messages and swear that he must be talking to someone live, because his message was so long and went on and on. Decision makers are too busy to listen to a long, rambling and disjointed message. That means you need to get your message across in 30 seconds or less. As for the Mail Man, we showed him that as part of our multi touch point system he only needed to leave a quick 20 second message that was consistent with the other touches in the system to achieve substantial results.
- Your voice mail message is too cryptic.
On the other hand, a short, vague voice mail with no details will not likely motivate someone to call you back. You MUST give a prospect enough information to capture their attention and say, "I need to talk to this person." I have often checked my voicemail and heard messages like "Andrew, want to improve your bottom line? You need to call me back." Yeah, they have caught my attention but have not given me any reason to why I should call them back. They need to add a quick one-line sentence about how they will help me.
- You leave the same voice mail message.
Often, in order to connect with your prospects you will have to call multiple times. However, if you want someone to call you back you need to leave a different message every time you call. If the message did not work the first time, what makes you think it will work the second, third etc. time? At best you are going to further deter your prospects from calling you. Plus it must be compelling (see the next point).
- Your message is not compelling.
A compelling message MUST demonstrate that you understand your prospect's industry, situation, or circumstances and portray that you might have a solution. A monotonous message about how you are an industry leader in this and that means nothing to your prospect. Tell them about how you have help similar people like them solve their problems. If you cannot solve their problems why would they want to talk to you? They already have friends and co-workers to socialize with.
- You have not developed a relationship.
In today's competitive landscape, people want to do business with suppliers and vendors they know and trust. A call from a salesperson from an unknown company is not likely going to be returned. That is why you need to develop a strategy that involves multiple touch points to establish awareness before you can expect to just leave a voice message and get a call back. It takes 7-8 touches to establish any form of recognition with a prospect. What makes you think you can achieve this with just one phone call?
- You sound like every other sales person.
The average executive receives dozens of sales calls a day, so if you want a busy executive to call you back, your message MUST stand out from every other call he or she receives. Having had the opportunity to hold positions as Vice-President and President, I cannot tell you how many messages I received that sounded exactly the same. "Hello Mr. Hunt this is Tom from XYZ company". DIAL TONE. I hit delete before even hearing more, knowing that it was just another sales call. If you have never called someone before, start with what's in it for them, there is plenty of time at the end of the message to say who and where you are from. Most sales people do it at the end anyways, so what is the point in doing twice when time is of the essence?
- You have not done any research.
It is pure laziness to have not done some research on your prospect and their company before you call them. Top sales performers know that the biggest difference you can make is in the preparation and homework you do before you pick up the phone. When you leave a voice mail message that clearly demonstrates that you know nothing about your prospect's business, there is no chance they will return your call. At the very least, do some basic research and make sure that your message reflects that homework. It will improve your chances of a return call.
- Your product or service does not interest them.
Now sit down and take a deep breath. I am going to tell you something that is going to shake your world. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone needs your solution, and when you call companies that are not the right fit for your product, service or offering, you are simply wasting your time and that of your prospects. Improve your results by more closely targeting your prospecting calls to companies who can actually use your product or service (see point 7 above).
- Your prospect is simply too busy.
Most sales people fail to realize exactly how busy executives are. They are not just sitting there saying to themselves "Oh, I wish some salesperson will call me because I need something to do". Their sheer volume of work often prevents decision makers from returning your call because they don't have the time to talk to you and because they can't fit another project into their schedule. Often I have found that if they have any level of interest, they will forward your email or voicemail to someone on their team to do some homework and bring back a report.
It really is simple: do your homework, have a strategy, and keep your message short. Take that time to prepare and you will save yourself even more time, from leaving messages that are worthless. As the old saying goes "those who fail to prepare, prepare to fail".