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By Rhoberta Shaler, PhD

Are You Leaving Effective Voice Mail?

How can your message avoid the delete button? What is missing in your message that might get the call returned?

Voice mail is your friend. Do you believe that? Most folks don't. They are frustrated, annoyed and discouraged when they are met with an 'automated assistant'. Don't be. Voice mail IS your friend.

Sure, there are varying opinions, two schools of thought: To leave or not to leave, that is the question. Some believe that any contact is a good contact. They always leave voice mail. Others hang up because they don't want to 'waste' the contact. What's your opinion? And, what do you do?

Different calls, different answer? Remember, people are busy, overwhelmed, in fact. Research suggests that an average business executive gets 350 communiqués each day—voice mail, email, faxes, pagers and letters. With that much 'noise', any excuse to delete seems a valid one. If your voice mail rambles, or if it begins without a clear point, gone!

'Cold calling' may be going the way of the do-do bird! It has been ruined by telemarketers. Even if you have a terrific offer, consumers are so sensitive to sales calls—even if you don't seem to be reading a script—that hanging up has become easier and easier for them.

You might remember a day when hanging up on someone was the height of rudeness. Well, that was in the same day, when talking over, through, around and under someone was also considered crass. The persistence and insistence of some telemarketers has made hanging up a more viable alternative than letting loose with what you really think! Folks are hyper-vigilant to unsolicited connections.

So, if voice mail is your friend, how do you use it to your advantage?

Voice mail can be straight-forward, full-on marketing. You have only a few moments to build credibility, leave a clear message and a call for action or decision. Of course, there are degrees of effectiveness. Make your messages so compelling folks have to call you back.

If you're thinking that an effective voice mail is a predictable one, you're on the wrong track. We live in a 'sound bite, video clip' world. If the message is predictable, the listener has tuned out. If the message is all about you, you're toast! Even in the voice mail world, that old radio station, WIIFM, is still the most popular. That's "What's In It For Me?" The answer is "whatever the listener wants/needs to know".

"Sell the benefits." You know that is the key to sales & marketing. It's the key to effective voice mail as well. What can you say that will lead the listener to know and believe that you have something of value for them? Prospects return calls if you convince them you may have something they want . . . and soon.

Leaving messages for friends and family is a spontaneous act. Not so at work. You need to prepare your message. Be ready before you dial.

I know you've received messages that sound as though the caller was bored to tears. Make sure your messages are fresh, enthusiastic and energetic. When I am recording promos or doing voice-overs, I make it a point to stand up during the taping. Why? My voice is more animated. I even hold my hands up above my shoulders to increase the projected energy. Do the same if you have several calls to make. It will make your message stand out.

Leave short, succinct messages. Arouse their curiosity. That means not giving them the whole message. It gives then an enticing reason to return your call.

Step up! Confidently TELL people to call you back rather than asking them to do so. If that is a big stretch for you, practice on your friends first. But, do it! It makes a significant difference in your return rate.

Just a few ideas for making voice mail your friend. Get a higher return on your time and energy investment.

...............

Expert facilitator, Dr. Rhoberta Shaler, makes it easier to talk about difficult things. She trains & coaches organizations & entrepreneurs who want to master the 'people skills' that grease the wheels of business & life. Visit her website for a half-hour free coaching consultation. www.OptimizeInstitute.com

 

 

 

 

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Last Updated 02/11/2004