To Voicemail or Not to Voicemail, That is the Question

I'll never forget going to visit one of my branch recruiting offices and watching a rookie recruiter dial and hang up, over and over again. I walked over and asked her why she did not leave her client prospects or candidates a voicemail message and she told me, "I never leave messages because nobody ever calls me back."

So how do you get call backs? Why do some people get a ton of incoming calls to the office in response to their messages while others are forced to just make outbound or cold calls?

What are the secrets of a leaving good voice message that will get you a call back?

1. You have to Set the Hook
Leave a message with a breif message that leaves them wanting for more information along with your name and number. Curiosity can be a very powerful motivator. My recruiters often leave messages that state the purpose of their call is highly confidential so they do not want to leave the information on a voicemail...

2. Be Important
Never say "I was just calling to check in" or "I'm just following up on my last message"...Don't set yourself up to be rated as a low priority

3. You Can't Close a Deal with a Message so Stop Trying
Most people these days answer the phone and expect to be approcahed by someone selling something so they put up their guard. Relax and be yourself, give them a good reason to call you back and they will.

4. Slow Down
You often catch people out of the blue with your purpose for the call so speak clearly and slow down from your typical pace of conversation. If I can't understand you then I delete your message and figure you will just call me back if it was important. Also vary your speed and tonality to keep people interested in what you are saying like telling a story to a child. He huffed and he puffed and blew the house down!

5. Spell your Name and Repeat your Number Twice
Sometimes names of people or companies are hard to understand. Saying your name clearly and spelling it when you leave your message along with repeating your phone number (once at the beginning and once at the end) can help make certain the message is received properly .

6. People Gravitate Toward Winners
I like to stand up when I leave a message. This helps me to sound better and I try to leave powerful messages that others will want to call back. You should smile when you dial. People who sound confident and strong will get more call backs than those who sound meek or unsure. Use hand gestures and powerful body language. Listen to your message by using the playback option if possible before it goes out to make sure it sounds good!

7. Be a True Professional
You want to come off as as an expert who is sincere, honest, and hard working so don't leave a message that makes you sound tired, bored, defeated, or like you have a bad attitude. Start by writing a script. Writing it down can help you to say exactly what you want to say. Practice your message and leave it a few times on your own recording before before you go live with clients and candidates. Ask a friend or co-worker for their opinion of how you sound. Be proud of your message and expect a call back from every message you leave.

Views: 1335

Comment by Karla Porter on October 28, 2009 at 11:27pm
You're right Craig, give them a reason to call back and a great percentage will. I would also say (especially to new Recruiters) that every "no", hangup and unreturned call gets you that much closer to the "yes".

I enjoyed this - it's like a mini training!
Comment by HeidiB on October 29, 2009 at 12:08am
WOW Craig this is excellent advice! Thanks for sharing.

Karla, I like what you just shared as well. If I understand you correctly rejection only makes you stronger. But HOW when it so scary?.. I'm guessing here...

Many people fear rejection but, it seems that those who are not afraid of rejection are the one's who succeed because they do not let their fear get in the way.... They press pass their fear and reach out to their prospect any way. I would assume that those prospect who have been challenged with finding candidates may be relieved when a good recruiter contacts them and helps them solve their problem. Ultimately the key is to develop strategies to move pass the rejection and closer to "yes"


Comment by Charles Van Heerden on October 29, 2009 at 2:08am
Hi Craig, it often seems to me it is almost a surprise when a caller gets voice mail, so they leave a low priority message. Underlying all of this is the kind of relationship you have with a person. Cold calls is a different ball game.

Agree with your key points. Linked to 7 - is being prepared to leave a message, that is meaningful and encouraging to return your call. That said, I must be one of the few corporate people who try and return calls within 24 hours, as I often get a surprised response when I return calls, usually within the hour. That doesn't mean I am a soft sell, as I am pretty direct if it not a priority.
Comment by Hassan Rizwan on October 29, 2009 at 5:26am
Our organization recieves and make calls on voice mail messages, but i never though what is the science behind getting calls back or why we call back. The pick of the points for me was that we must create some question or curiosity in his mind to get a call back and being active and smiling. Truly useful content.
Comment by Douglas Fowler on October 29, 2009 at 10:50am
you almost need to be prepared to speak to an actal person thse days! many times, you expect to leave a VM and someone real actually picks up the phone! I've heard many people stumble, surprised at their luck, but blow it as they are not prepared to speak to someone!
Comment by Trevor Smith on October 29, 2009 at 12:23pm
Old School!!! I love it. Great points - things that we've probably all been told at some time (at least I hope so). Great reminder and purpose to this blog....the sharing of sound techniques is why I joined this network! Thanks for the good work.
Comment by Will Branning on October 29, 2009 at 12:23pm
I get some call backs from VM messages, but would like to improve on the %. Thanks for the reminder about creating curiosity and a sense of urgency. Now, I'll venture back out into the calling world with greater vigor - thanks!
Comment by Lesa Caskey on October 29, 2009 at 1:07pm
Great post, Craig! I wish I had as much confidence with clients as I do with candidates. My call back ratios are off the hook (pun!) at about 90% for candidates, yet I am still quite timid on the other side with clients. And to Douglas's point, that is exactly where I'm at! With candidates, my voice mail messages and my conversations start the same exact way, so I'm never off guard. I know I need to just jump in and immerse myself in calling clients the way I used to do with candidates to build up my confidence and stamina, but eeek! I'm getting there, slowly.
Comment by BolandGroup on October 29, 2009 at 1:19pm
Doug -- Guilty as charged!
Comment by Vineet Wadhwa on October 29, 2009 at 4:40pm
Having been on both sides of the phone line, I can relate to these points quite well. Craig - you have done a great job of capturing them very succinctly.

There were days earlier this year when I was getting 10-15 cold calls a day from agency recruiters alone. It was tiring but at the same time I did listen to most of them completely so I could connect with the ones I liked later.

The ones that caught my attention were:

a) One who gave a reference of someone I knew or am connected to or showed they had done some research on our company or jobs or read my social networking updates.

b) Ones that mentioned that they understand I may be getting a lot of calls and its difficult for me to return every one of them and presented their USP.

c) Purpose of call was clear and yes some form of hook/ bait did work - but there still had to be meat in the message.

d) Said they will follow up via email and I could get back to them as convenient (It’s so much easy to acknowledge an email, not to mention the ease of organizing/ filing it in the right bucket)

e) Message was short, crisp; tone was warm, yet firm & confident.

f) Repeating name and number at the end really helped.

Even though I was not able to return their call, if the caller called me back and caught me live - the name familiarity from the voice message did help.

What is also critical is the day of the week & time of the day a call is made/ recd. Nothing better then the reception desk giving you a clue as to what is someone's usual working hours or best times to reach - else you may have to try different days/ times.

What Doug said about fumbling when you get someone live is so true - so I'd say, keep 2 pitches ready - a) if you get voice mail and b) if you get the person live. And if you get the person live, try to sense the tone and engagement on the other end of the line and work your closing pitch accordingly. I did appreciate the ones that sensed I had to rush for a meeting and gave them an alternate time to call.


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