When your sellers cold call a prospect and get voice mail, do they leave a message? Many sellers don’t, because…

“Nobody listens to voice mail anymore.”

“I’m no good at leaving messages.”

“They never call back, so why bother?”

I always leave a message. It doesn’t cost any money, and somebody might listen to it. Hey … you never know.

“Always leave a message” recently paid off in a major way with the new HR Director of a big employer in my hometown.

On February 11, I left her a cold-call voice mail and followed up with an email. She didn’t respond.

The following Monday I called again and she picked up. “I’m in a meeting. Can I call you back?”

She didn’t call me back.

Friday, I left another message.

Next, I switched to leaving her phone messages every 7-10 days, with an occasional email in between. All were met with silence … until April 8.

That morning, she hit “Reply” to my very first email from two months before: “Hi, Phil — Do you have time to connect today on possibly doing an ad around hiring?”

When we connected, she said, “I got all of your messages. I just wasn’t ready to do anything. Now I am—I need to hire 50 entry-level workers by the end of May. What can we do?”

I’ll be presenting a $144,000 year-long broadcast and digital plan next Monday.

Your sellers may think nobody listens to voice mail. But some folks do. Every time a machine asks a seller to leave a message, it’s a chance to make an impression on a person who might buy something one day.

So, make those opportunities count. Here are some best practices:

Write out a message template and rehearse it. The more often your mouth says the same words, the better and more natural they sound. Sales trainer Paul Castain recommends leaving a message on your own voice mail from another phone and listening to it. Would you return that call?

  • Keep it to 45 seconds, max.
  • Speak slowly, in a clear and calm voice. Offer a good business reason for the prospect to want to talk with you.
  • Give your phone number twice—at the beginning and again at the end.

One other note: a combination of voice mail and email to the same prospect is often more effective than either medium alone.

Even if most prospects don’t call back, each message plants a seed. Now and then a business relationship sprouts.

Hey… you never know.

Margie Chilson is a Senior Marketing Consultant for JDA.media.

Her vast experience includes nearly three decades in broadcast television and digital sales marketing, working in and with multiple markets and affiliations including Dallas-Fort Worth at WFAA, Denver at KUSA-KTVD, KMGH, KWGN, and as a team manager at Millennium Television Sales.

Margie’s years as a local seller were award-winning and inspiration for her jump to JDA.media. She exceeded new business and digital goals on a consistent basis at Belo Corp., Scripps, Tribune, and TEGNA Inc. stations. A true innovator, Margie pioneered job-sharing positions in Dallas and Denver, balancing hectic work schedules and family, paving the way for working parents with careers in media sales.

Margie is well known and respected for her diligence, drive, and new business results. Due to her years in the business as an account executive and sales leader, she knows the station environment well and can easily relate to local sellers as well as the most senior managers.

An alum of Oklahoma State University who graduated with Honors in Journalism Advertising, Margie boasts an outstanding track record of helping business owners strategically grow their revenue through broadcast, streaming and digital solutions.

Margie and her husband Tim have been married for 23 years. The couple and their two children live in Littleton, CO, a suburb of Denver. Their son, Ryan, attends the University of Colorado Boulder, and their daughter, Mary, is in high school.  In their spare time, the Chilsons enjoy travel, hiking in the picturesque Rocky Mountains, cooking, watching movies, and cheering on their kids in various sporting events.