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TJ Tedesco

View from Mount Olympus

By TJ Tedesco

About TJ

T.J. is team leader of Grow Sales, Inc., a marketing and social media services company operating at the intersection of compelling content, clear vision and quality communication practices. In this blog, fire is a metaphor for print. Hang on, this ride will be weird...

Prometheus crept into Mt. Olympus, stole fire, returned to the lowlands, ran from house to house distributing it, got caught, was chained to a rock, lost his liver to a huge ugly bird and was rescued by Hercules. Leveraging his fame, Prometheus started Fire Enterprises Inc.  (FEI). Since fire was the hottest technology of the time, company success came fast and furious. Two generations later, fire isn't such an easy sale. Now led by Prometheus' grandson Org, FEI's growth is non-existent, competitors are pounding and prices are in the toilet.

Turn Voice-Mail Messages into Sales Opportunities – Part II

Last time, FEI sales leader Zoot educated young salesperson Demeter on how effective use of voice mail can lead to sales opportunities. This week, Zoot gives the sales apprentice another tip for leaving a voice-mail message that will get returned. Remember, fire = print.

Zoot walked in to Demeter’s office to find him talking on the O-phone.

“FEI has a fire solution for nearly every restaurant need. Our torches will illuminate your dining areas, our custom fire-lit ovens will cook your food, and our matches will supply you and your staff with quick and easy access to fire wherever you go. Our fire products have so many uses...”

“You’re talking too much,” Zoot suggested. “Listen more.”

Demeter put his hand over the receiver. “I can’t. I’m leaving a voice message.”

Zoot slapped his hand to his forehead. “Good grapes! You’ll be lucky if your prospect even listens to a message that long, let alone returns it. Short and sweet voice-mail messages are much more likely to get callbacks.”

Demeter put down his O-phone. “I’m all ears.”

“Put yourself in your prospect’s shoes,” Zoot said. “How do you feel when you have to slog through dozens of long, rambling voice messages?”

“I’d rather go wading in the river Styx,” Demeter said. “I usually just end up deleting those.”

“Exactly! We appreciate people who don’t waste our time, so we’re more likely to notice and respond to brief voice-mail messages. That’s why you should keep them to less than 20 seconds and focus on communicating a single idea. Any longer, and you risk losing the listener’s interest.”

“I’m with you so far,” Demeter said. “But I’m naturally long-winded. How can I keep this impulse in check when get voice mail?”

“I suggest drafting and rehearsing a concise message before calling,” Zoot said. “This will help you prepare for either leaving a memorable voicemail or having a strong conversation with the prospect.”

Demeter cleared his throat. “How about this: ‘Hello, this is Demeter from FEI. I’d like to tell you how our custom fire ovens can increase your restaurant’s food preparation efficiency by 25 percent. Please call me back at 1-800-FEI-OLYMPUS.’”

“Not bad, but it’s usually better to end a voice-mail message by promising to follow up appropriately, rather than putting the ball in the prospect’s court by leaving your number,” Zoot explained. “Instead, say ‘If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll call you again next Tuesday at 10 a.m.’”

“Got it!’ Demeter said cheerily.

“Now replace the drawn-out messages you’ve been leaving for restaurant prospects with that one, and see where it gets you,” Zoot suggested.

Three weeks later, Zoot dropped in on Demeter again. “Never have so many prospects returned my voice messages!” Demeter exclaimed. “Leaving a concise, purposeful message makes it easy for prospects to understand why I’m calling and call me back. In fact, Dionysus from Dionysus Café, who hadn’t responded to any the messages I left in the past six months, just called back and placed his first order!”

“Fantastic!” Zoot said. “Never underestimate the power of a voice-mail message that gets right to the point and doesn’t waste the listener’s time.”

“Speaking of which, I think you owe me a returned call,” Dionysus said with a grin. “Golf season’s starting soon, and you’ve had my putter for almost six months!”

Zoot winked. “Getting that baby back will require more than a good voice message.”

Today’s FIRE! Point
Slogging through dozens of voice-mail messages gets unbearable when every caller seems to ramble on with no end. Instead use brevity to stand out. Keep messages to less than 20 seconds and communicate a single point—any longer, and you risk losing the recipient's interest. Drafting and rehearsing a concise, pre-planned message can prepare you for either having a strong conversation or leaving an effective voice-mail message.

FIRE! in Action: HelmsBriscoe Switches Up Voicemail Strategy, Sees Instant Success
A salesperson at the meeting procurement company implemented a new technique for leaving voice messages and immediately experienced results in the form of a callback and meeting appointment from several prospects who had never returned her calls before.

Next week: Zoot informs Demeter why and how to always ask for the order.

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