How To Leave A Voicemail That Gets Returned

Written by Sean McPheat | Linkedin thumb

Leave voicemail message
How do you get prospects to return your sales voicemails? Of course, it seems impossible to get a return call from leaving a voicemail message.

However, salespeople also have problems getting calls returned from warm calls, or referrals given by satisfied customers.

It’s one of the biggest complaints we hear on our Telesales Training programmes.

“My prospect won’t return my voicemail”

Of course, it’s the prospect who’s missing out, isn’t it? It’s the prospect who should be doing the work isn’t it? It’s the prospect who should be picking up the phone after you’ve left your message and begging you to come and see him, isn’t it?

The slight sense of sarcasm is deliberate, because when we ask salespeople what they said that would cause the prospect to return their call, much of it is based around the salesperson’s products or services, and how good they are, and if only the prospect would get in touch, their whole world would change for the better.

How To Leave A Voicemail

So, what is it that you have to do in a voicemail to get people to call you back?

Or should you even LEAVE a message in the first place?

Let’s take a close look.

The Objective Of The Voicemail

Just like any cold call, you have to have a clear objective.

When calling to set an appointment, you have to SELL the appointment.

When you call and get the dreaded voice mail, the objective becomes to get the prospect to return your call.

Then SELL the return call, and ONLY the return call.

I would say that the biggest mistake salespeople make with voicemail is having too many objectives for that short message.

Often the sales person is trying to:

  • Distinguish his or her company from the competition
  • Distinguish him or herself from the competition
  • Sell the product or service
  • Get the prospect to return the call
  • Impart valuable information

This is simply too much. Choose ONE and only one goal and accomplish it.

Sell The Return Call Not Your Product or Service

Once you have established what the goal of the message is, then SELL it. If for instance, the goal is to get a return call, then sell the reason for the call back. Do not sell the reason that you have a great product, or why you are better than the competition. Sell the reason why the buyer should call you back.

You must remember to sell and concentrate only on getting the prospect to call back and nothing else.

I know this sounds simple.

However, while most sales people have think objective in mind, they do exactly the opposite in the call.

Look at this example of a voice message:

“Hi Ethan, my name is Sean Colby and I am with ABC Widgets. Your friend, Sarah Edmonds suggested that I give you a call. ABC Widgets sells the best widgets in town and they can really help you. In fact, Sarah bought some of our widgets and she was so impressed that she thought you might want some too. So, I am calling to see when I might set up a time to meet with you so I can show you the widgets and see if we can be of service to you. Our widgets are the best in the industry and Sarah agrees. So, please give me a call at 0333 320 2883 or you can send me an email at [email protected] You can also stop by our web site at I will be in your area next week, so anytime then would be a good time to meet or anytime at your convenience. Thank you”

This may sound like it makes sense, but actually our hypothetical sales person tried to sell too many things at once. He tried to sell:

1. His company, ABC Widgets
2. His products
3. The appointment
4. The email return
5. The value of the referral
6. The time for the appointment
7. Justification of the product
8. Industry recognition of his product and service
9. Their web site
10. His reputation and more

The last thing he sold was the return phone call, and guess what?

No call back!

Do not make the mistake of forcing the prospect to make the big, hard decision of buying your product or service in advance.

Instead, help them make the little, easy decision just to call you.

Let”s look at this same scenario, but this time with a sales person who understands that she should sell only one thing:

Leaving The Sales Voicemail:

“Hi Ethan, Sean Colby with ABC Widgets. A mutual acquaintance of ours, Sarah Edmonds, suggested that we speak with each other for a brief moment about your XYZ product, she said we have a lot in common!  Please can you call me back at your convenience, my number is 0333 320 2883. Once again, that’s Sean Colby at ABC on 0333 320 2883, and I look forward to talking with you. Thanks Ethan”

This sales person sold ONLY the return call by leaving some intrigue.

He did not try to get the prospect to make a buying decision in a 30-second voice mail message.

He just sold the intrigue of the returned call.

Don’t Leave Too Much Information

In addition to picking one central objective and selling it, do not leave too much information in the message. Unless you are thinking of having the receiver sit down with a piece of paper and pen and write a small dossier on the call, limit the information that you leave.

Usually, all you really need is your name, company name and telephone number, in practically if looking for a return call. In which case, your web address, email address, blog address, company location, the number of years you been in business, customer references and the name of your grandchildren are just not necessary.

Repeat Your Name & Number Twice

Ok, I think you can really understand this one.

Someone leaves you a message and you want to respond, but you can hardly understand the caller’s phone number or web address. Now you have to replay the message again. Then again. SLOW DOWN and REPEAT important contact information several times.

It’s great if they call your mobile with caller line ID but if it’s on your work number then sometimes this can be hard.

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Should You Actually Leave A Voicemail?

Leaving voicemails and not getting them returned can be very frustrating can’t it?

And when you have dozens of them in your weekly call cycle, it can be demoralising and make you wonder if it’s all worth it.

There is a train of thought that asks whether you should leave a voicemail message or not.

Opinions differ as to whether you should leave a message when you get the prospect’s voicemail.

There isn’t a hard and fast answer as it depends a lot on the type of message you are leaving and also what the receiver’s voicemail has said.

But here are a few guidelines to help you decide:

Avoid Leaving Voicemails By Catching “Them Available”

If you get through to a high number of voicemails, try calling before 9am and after 5pm.

This will ensure you get hold of those decision-makers before they start their day’s work or after they have finished them.

The decision-maker may be dealing with their emails at those times, so they may be at their desks.

Listen To The Type Of Voicemail Message They Have Left

Does it sound like a permanent message, that is, does it sound generic with no times or dates mentioned?

Or has it been recently recorded saying, for example, that they are out of the office on Friday and will be back on Monday?

If the message has been recently left, it’s possible that they will re-record it again soon, and also will be listening to all messages that come through. If it’s a generic message, it’s possible that they won’t be listening to their messages every day.

Need To Leave A Message?

Don’t forget, your prospect is time-poor, so a sales message has to recognise that fact. As soon as they get bored, they will delete it.

There are specific questions the prospect will be subliminally asking themselves:

  • Who are you and from where?
  • Why are you calling me?
  • What benefit is there in me listening to you?

They don’t want to know about your product or service. They want to know why they should listen to you and have another discussion with you.

So, the big question is, should you leave a message or not?

The best answer is, if you can ensure the receiver will have a reason for calling you and your message is compelling enough, then, yes, a message should be left.

If all you’re going to do is leave a name, number and product pitch, I would suggest you try another way of getting through to the decision-maker.

If you’re getting poor results from your voicemail messages, think of how you can make them more compelling.

Identify what the biggest problems your chosen target market are experiencing and say in your message that you have been helping clients who have these specific challenges.

Quickly get to the point that you would like to share ideas with the decision-maker.

Leave your contact details and also mention you’ll try to contact them again soon.

Remember the decision-maker will be busy and there is no guarantee that they will return your call.

If you make your message important to them without detailing what your products are, you will pique their interest and increase the chances of having your calls returned.

If you sell only the return phone call, you will get few more return calls and in turn, you will contact a few more customer and close a few more sales!

Here are a few more useful articles to help you.

I hope this article and the resources above will help you. There’s also a specific module on the topic on our Professional Selling Skills online course.

Happy Selling!


Sean McPheat

Sean McPheat
Managing Director

MTD Sales Training

450 sales questions free report

Originally published: 16 May, 2020

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