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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

Last week, Marka and the FEI tribe discussed how on-hold messages can teach customers and prospects about your business while they wait. This week, Zoot takes the lead and educates young salesperson Demeter on how voice mail—the scourge of salespeople across Olympus—can lead to sales opportunities. Remember, fire = print.

One day, Zoot walked into the office of Demeter, one of his newest salespeople, to find him leaving a voice-mail message for a prospect. Demeter sounded rushed and ragged, as if he’d been getting voice mail all day and was anxious to talk to someone on the phone.

“Again, Artemis, it was great meeting you last Thursday. I really did enjoy getting acquainted. I thought you did the funniest impression of the Cyclops I’ve ever seen. Please return my call at your earliest convenience. Again, this is Demeter with FEI Enterprises.”

Zoot sidled up to the young salesperson. “Leaving a lot of voice-mail messages today?”

Demeter nodded. “The closer we get to Olympians Day, the more likely that important fire buyers are out of the office, and the less likely I am to get a hold of them. How can I use voice mail to my advantage during this hectic season?”

“That’s a good question,” Zoot said. “Hate to break it to you, but Artemis isn’t going to call you back.”

“How do you know?” Demeter asked indignantly.

“It’s December 21,” Zoot explained. “Every year, Artemis vacations on the isle of Crete from the week before Olympian’s Day—is in this week—until after the new year. He won’t be back in the office until Jan. 4, at which point your voice message will be buried under dozens, maybe hundreds of others. And many of your prospects probably have vacation schedules similar to his.”

“You’re probably right,” Demeter admitted.

“Instead, you should promise a specific action on your part,” Zoot continued. “For example, conclude your message with, ‘It sounds like you're out until after the holidays. I'll call you again at 1 p.m. on Jan. 3.’”

Demeter started taking notes. “Ah! That’s a great idea.”

“This means nothing, however, if you don't actually follow-up,” Zoot added. “Keeping the promise you just made will differentiate you from other salespeople calling on Artemis.”

“You can also take this idea one step further and use voice mail to set up meetings with prospects using ‘negative check-offs,’” Zoot continued.

“What do you mean?”

Zoot put a fake phone to his ear. “‘Hello Artemis, this is Demeter from FEI. I’d like to talk to you about how FEI can reduce your next year’s heating bill by 15 percent. I’m planning to stop by your office Jan. 3 at 10 a.m. to meet with you unless you let me know otherwise.’ If he doesn’t call back, then walk into Artemis Industries at 10 a.m. on Jan. 3rd and tell the receptionist, truthfully, that Mr. Artemis should be expecting you.”

“Even if he calls back to say that time doesn’t work, at least I’ve got him on the phone!” Demeter noted with excitement.

“That tactic isn’t going to work every time,” Zoot said, “but I guarantee it will some of the time. Saying what you do and doing what you say is the differentiator. Early in the sales process, make small promises...and keep them.”

Demeter left 10 more voice mesages that day, and made his follow-ups the first week of January.

“How’d it go?” Zoot asked at the week’s end.

“Fantastic!” Demeter raved. “I showed up to meet with Hurly of Hurly Burly’s Chariots at the time I’d promised. He was pleasantly surprised I’d kept the appointment and happened to have a few free minutes, so he gave me a brief tour of headquarters and we talked about his fire-buying needs. He just called today to place his first order: 5,000 torches.”

“Nicely done!” Zoot said.

“You must have more tips for leaving effective voice-mail messages,” Demeter prodded.

“You bet,” Zoot said.

Today’s FIRE! Point
For salespeople, the holidays can mean leaving an endless string of voice-mail messages for prospects. Your request for a call back—especially during the holidays—is likely to be ignored. Instead, promise a specific action on your part. For example, conclude your message with, “It sounds like you’re out until after the holidays. I’ll call you again on the afternoon of the third.” This means nothing, however, if you don’t actually follow-up. Keeping the promise you just made is a crucial differentiator.

FIRE! In Action: OnConference Changes Up Its Voicemail Strategy, Grows Sales
The conference-call service company had its sales staff implement a new voice mail sales strategy and subsequently increased the team’s call success rate by 80 percent.

Next week: More tips on leaving a voicemail that will get results.

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