Please Call Your Voice Mail. Now.

Yes, Your Own Voice Mail

Here are three salespeoples’ outgoing voice mail greetings I encountered on Tuesday, June 13. Names and numbers have been changed to protect people who should know better:

salespeople should fix their phone greetings

Photo by Drobot Dean

  • “The person you are trying to reach is not available. Please leave a message after the tone.” Delivered by an automated voice. 
  • “You have reached five, oh, three, four, seven, seven, four, nine, three, three. Please leave a message after the tone.” Delivered by an automated voice. When I tried to leave a message, the attendant informed me that the mail box was full and I would have to call back later.
  • “Hi, this is Bill. Our offices are closed for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Please leave your name and number and I’ll call you when we reopen on Tuesday, May 30.” I was calling on June 13.

In the first two examples, I had no idea if I had called the right number. For the last one, at least I knew I’d reached good old Bill — but I was calling two weeks after Memorial Day and there was no way of knowing if he was in or out of the office.

I alerted all three of them to the problem (it was a surprise in each case) and strongly urged them to fix their greetings.

Today I strongly urge you to get on your cell phone and call your desk phone. Let it go to voice mail and listen. Try to leave a message.

Then get on your desk phone and call your cell phone. Let it go to voice mail and listen. Try to leave a message.

What did you hear? If you were a client or prospect and heard that greeting, what would you think?

Here’s what Seattle Job Recruiter Lora Poepping thinks:

I will hang up when your voicemail doesn’t give your name.

Please, please have your name mentioned in your outgoing message. Why? Because I don’t want to leave a message about wanting to speak with you about a potential new job if I don’t even know if I’ve reached the right person. If you don’t want to record something, just default to using your name. You may have missed your chance to be considered for a position.

A robotic voice mail message will send your prospects to a competitor. 

Indulge me, longtime readers. I’ve written on this subject before. Experience tells me the problem hasn’t gotten any better — and some of the people I’ve alerted in the past have never bothered to fix the problem.

My advice? Fix it. Now.

  • Record a greeting in your voice, giving your name. Don’t make your customers guess whether they got the right number.  Nothing fancy — just invite callers to leave a message and promise to call them back.
  • If you’re feeling adventurous, you can include a short positioning statement on the greeting. Example: A floor store owner did a great job selling on his voice mail.
  • If you’re going to be out of the office and unavailable, change the greeting to reflect that. But don’t forget to change it back as soon as you return.
  • If you’re one of those people who doesn’t listen to your voice mail messages and prefers to be contacted another way, your greeting should say that clearly.
  • Empty your mailbox. If callers can’t leave a message, they’ll call someone else.

A bad voice mail greeting is a big hole in your sales funnel. Fix the hole, and the money is much more likely to flow to you.

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2 thoughts on “Please Call Your Voice Mail. Now.

  1. If you leave a custom greeting when you’re on vacation, etc., simply put a reminder in your daytimer (yeah, I’m old school!) to change it back on the appropriate day. Another suggestion: Don’t use the automated reply feature on email. It lets “pfishers” know your address is legitimate and invites endless spam. I don’t expect instantaneous email responses anyway, and I dare say most others don’t either. I get around that by checking emails when I’m on vacation. Good way to put out immediate fires, plus avoids 500 messages in your inbox when you return.

    • Thanks for the tips — yes, a daytimer or electronic calendar reminder is a good idea when you’ve got an “I’m out” voice mail greeting.

      As for email, it depends. In 2017, even those who don’t expect an instant response do expect one within a few hours to a day. If you don’t check emails on vacation, either forwarding them automatically to someone who is covering, or an automated message with instructions is is a must. Customers who need help deserve, at a minimum, instructions on who they should contact in your absence.

      Could it attract spammers? Perhaps. But if the alternative is neglected clients taking their business to a competitor, I’d prefer a little spam.