Who Answers Phones Anymore? 5 Voicemail Tips to Warrant a Return Call

Business moves at the speed of light in today’s business world. We are doing more with less, and electronic communication is a fact of life. But realistically, we cannot answer every telephone call that comes in, no matter how much we’d like to.

That’s where voicemail comes in. Whether you are a recruiter looking to connect with A-Team talent or a job hunter trying to get an interview, you can expect to end up in the voicemail box every once in a while.

How do you make that important connection while stuck in phone call purgatory? By keeping in mind that this is your first interaction. In every conversation, including voicemails, we are judged by what we say and how we say it. The listener does not have the advantage of seeing us in person or being able to read our body language; they only have a voice on a phone. Time is ticking and we have one shot to get it right.

Here are five ideas to transform your voicemails into incoming calls!

1. “It’s the people with follow-through who excel.” –Mary Kay Ash

If you decide to make the call, leave a message. People often screen their calls due to the high volume of work that they have, the phone robots asking you to pay the “IRS,” and the presence of constant pressing deadlines. A common time management tactic that business people take is to block out times to accept and return calls. Any calls that come in outside of that time block go to voicemail, so be sure to leave your contact information clearly within your message.

2. “Here’s a good idea — have a POINT!” –Neal Page

The easiest way to make sure you DON’T get a response is to leave a message with no purpose. Voicemails that merely say, “Call me back!” are not priorities. Make sure that you explain fully what’s in it for them.

People are strange that way – they want to answer the question, “Why is this important to me?” Don’t leave them hanging, give them the gist!

3. “Brevity is the soul of wit.” –William Shakespeare

Author Dennis Roth says, “If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.” Leaving a voicemail that rambles on and on is not effective. You have a maximum of 30 seconds to get your message across before you lose their interest—not to mention run out of time in their voicemail box. Remove all language that isn’t pertinent to your reason for leaving the voicemail. If you are not close friends with this person, don’t try to act like it! Be professional and succinct.

Use a script to keep it short. Don’t merely read it word-for-word, as that will be obvious and boring, but use it as a guide to stay on track.

4. “Powerful people speak slowly.” –Michael Cain

While brevity is important, we need to make sure to speak slowly so that the listener can understand the most important information in the message – our name, number, and requested action (more on the action part in a moment).

5. “Action speaks louder than words.” –Mark Twain

You are making the call because you want the listener to do something. That action could be a return call, an interview, a meeting, et cetera. If you want the action, you must ask for it! Don’t assume that the listener can or will read your mind. Let them know exactly what you are asking for and what it is that you want to happen.

No matter how you feel about it, voicemail is woven into the fabric of society, both in our business and personal lives. In many cases, the voicemail that you leave will create a lasting first impression of you and your company. Following these five steps won’t guarantee a return call, but it will give you a better chance for one.

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