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"...Can I Take A Message?"

Oct 24, 2007
In the day to day of any selling career, we all make phone calls, many of which do not end up reaching the intended party. We're often confronted with the option of "can I take a message?". This often comes from either a a live voice (administrative assistant, secretary), or an electronic "gate keeper", some form of voice messaging system. The dilemma, "should I leave a message or not...?", is a question I frequently get from our clients. It's a question that deserves some thought, one that requires a strategy that will help us to be both efficient and effective, upping our odds to succeed while helping us to effectively manage time.

First, with people that you don't have an existing relationship with, you have two choices; leave a message, or leave no message. Sometimes it is appropriate and expeditious to just hang up, particularly when put into voice mail. Also, if you are working hard to contact them it may require multiple calls in a short period of time and we don't want to be arrested for "stalking"!

Your other option, leave a message, presents some other problems. When leaving a message in voice mail, most of us give out to much information, pre-warning the prospect of who we are and what we are trying to sell them. If you decide to leave a message it needs to be customer centric and compelling. It needs to focus on how talking with you will make their life easier or business better. You need to develop a short, concise and compelling message that is more likely to create the right impression ( Our "Dealing with voice mail" clinic will help you with this.).

When I say "create the right impression", it doesn't necessarily mean that I would expect them to call you back (although more likely than a typical message like "we have great quality"). Rather, with a compelling message, they might be more inclined to accept your call the next time you try to connect with them. Leaving several compelling and concise customer focused voice messages can actually work like advertising and helps to "soften the beach-head". This is part of building your voice mail "campaign".

I would strongly suggest, in the event that you are confronted with a live person that you not leave a message. First, they rarely write it down completely or correctly and second you lose the advantage of communicating with pace and tone in a written message. Always ask to go to voice mail where you can leave a message that is well thought out and delivered in a tone and pace that makes you sound like someone they would enjoy talking to (tough for you "mogul's of mono-tone!").

On the other hand, when leaving a message with someone you know, be specific (again, always ask for voice mail, much preferred over a hand written note), tell them exactly what you want and help them respond to you in a way that answers a question, rather than just asking them to call you back. I can't tell you how frustrating it is when people call me and just ask for me to call them back, without some explicit instructions as to what they want me to call them back for! My time is more valuable than that and so is the time of your customers/prospects.

Oh, and by the way, stop asking people to "please call me back.". First, it sounds like begging, and second, I think it is a little presumptuous for you to think they should call you back! Instead, I would suggest you say "if this has interest to you I can be reached at 800-123-4567". It keeps you from sounding like everyone else and gives the impression that you are already successful and busy!

Following these simple strategies will save you time and make you more productive. They will also leave a much better impression on whoever you might be calling!
About the Author
John E. Hirth, is President and founding principal of Selling Dynamics, a sales force development, sales training and sales process consulting firm dedicated to increasing sales revenue and corporate profits. Email: jeh@sellingdynamics.com Website: http://www.johnhirth.com
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