Using Voice Mail Effectively and Efficiently

Voice mail is a common addition to modern phone systems, although the individual features and abilities of advanced mail systems vary greatly. Both businesses and private voice messaging services can be used very effectively, but this requires a basic understanding of the system’s function and some good habits.

Voice mail should be dealt with and answered very quickly. This is absolutely crucial, particularly in the world of business, as it allows the system to be easily managed; a voice mail system that’s ignored for a few days will become overloaded with messages, and it may become difficult to effectively answer each one. Answering a message quickly makes it much easier to accurately respond to each caller’s needs, which is important from a business standpoint. The old adage “strike while the iron’s hot” is very important in any form of communication. One of the best features of modern voice mail systems is their ability to help an individual stay organized, but this starts with a quick response time on the part of the voice system’s owner.

The voice message greeting your callers should be upbeat, professional, and interesting, as this will encourage callers to use the system rather than hanging up and calling back at a later point. Modern callers are aware of how voice mail systems work, so it’s best to make a concise message that gives alternate contact information in case of emergencies if necessary and a brief greeting. The best messages encourage a direct action, and use professional language with a bright tone to keep the caller’s interest.

In order to organize messages more effectively, phone users should choose a service that will send each message to your email account, or a service that lets you elect when to receive messages via email. This can make it easier to listen to messages without wading through phone menus, and one can easily decide which messages will require a call back and which will require a simple email or other form of contact. Many modern voice messaging systems offer this feature, and it’s quickly becoming a standard.

Look into the other features of the system that you’re using. In particular, phone users should try to find a system that can automatically translate voice messages into text emails. These services are no more expensive than other services, but provide a valuable tool for when picking up a phone isn’t an option. With a modern smart phone, voice to text makes it possible to check voice mail messages silently from almost any location. The potential advantages of this service are quite notable. Voice to text effectively improves the mobility of voice mail services to an even greater degree than voice to email, and modern voice recognition software provides tremendous accuracy for each translated message.

Voice Mail As a TeleSales Tool

Does it seem like voice mail is the bane of your inside sales existence? As inside sales people, we want to be able to directly speak with our decision makers. When we get voice mail after voice mail, it can seem as though we are wasting our calling efforts. Voice mail, however, presents us with some unique opportunities.

For some telesales personnel, the opportunity to say something – anything – to a live person is all that counts. This can be an unwise and wasteful attitude. Used effectively, voice mail is a powerful addition to our telesales toolkit.

The subject of how to handle voice mail effectively is a particular favorite in my training classes. One of my favorite questions to ask a group of people about voice mail is “How many people have received unintelligible or incoherent voice mail messages?” Without hesitation, every hand in the room will shoot up. Here’s the rub: it stands to reason that if we all get unintelligible voice mail messages, we are all leaving unintelligible voice messages.

Let’s take a look at what make a voice message unintelligible. Many voice mail messages are spoken too quickly, leave no return telephone number and consist of a rambling message. Prepared for properly, there is no reason to be incoherent or inarticulate.

There are steps to take which can help ensure a greater return on your telesales time investment.

Slow down. Probably the biggest offender of poor messaging is speaking too fast. You want people to be able to comprehend your message – and in some cases write it out while listening – the first time they listen to it.

Make sure you leave your first and last name as well as your telephone number twice during the voice mail message. Give your name up front, leave your message, give your telephone number, repeat your telephone number. This allows people to get the pertinent information without having to listen to the message a second time.

To message or not to message. There are two schools of thought. One is just leave your name and number, the other is to leave a detailed message so the person will have enough information and/or reason to call you back. Both have their pluses and minuses. I felt that both techniques can be used, but you must be careful how you use them. Avoid leaving a voice mail message the first 2-3 times you call. Really, your goal is to speak with a live person. If you’ve tried at different times over a few days and can’t reach someone, then it’s time to leave a message. The pitfall of just leaving a name and number is when you are called back the decision maker will be turned off when realizing this is a sales call.

Be prepared to call back. Do not expect a call back from leaving a message. Instead, think about building a campaign of messages. Over time, you will have made a great sales case for yourself. Voice mail messaging should be thought of as a radio advertising campaign. You have 30 seconds with your target market to convincingly get your point across.

If you are given a choice by a receptionist, ask for voice mail. Remember messages aren’t always passed on. Make your calls in a relatively quiet place. Whether you’re actually reaching decision makers or leaving lots of messages, you want to be able to concentrate on your activities.

Create a message outline that includes your name, company name, an interest generating statement and call to action. Finish your message by leaving your telephone number, repeat your number again slowly and thank them for listening.

You should develop several interest gathering statements that you can use sequentially over a period of 3 to 4 calls. Each statement while being short, informative 1 or 2 sentences that give people a reason to call you back, should build on each other. Give people a chance to get to know you.

Remember these basic points: Always use your first and last names. It shows accountability and professionalism. Use area codes with your phone numbers – not everyone is using a phone with an incoming call display feature. Messages should be brief. Message should give reason to call back. Make message an opportunity for a 30 second commercial. Finally, before you even dial the phone: rehearse, rehearse.

Voice mail shouldn’t be considered the bane of an inside sales person’s job. Used properly, voice mail messaging can be an effective telesales tool.