6 Simple Tips to Get Your Calls Returned

bored-woman-with-cell-phone-tnThere is good news and bad news.

First, the bad news:

Recent marketing research has found that up to 40% of outbound calls made by salespeople end up in voice mail : (

After talking with hundreds of  my clients, I have learned that number is actually closer to 50% or 60%.

And . . . most voice mail messages left by sales reps are not returned.
(Very discouraging for salespeople.)


Now the good news – yes there is good news!

We may need to dial more numbers, but we CAN get our calls returned.

Read what Steve Sheffield in Vancouver, Washington wrote:

“I jotted down a short voice mail message to leave for a customer
I have called 4 times in the last 2 weeks with no reply and she
called me back the next day!”

More about Steve’s voice mail success later.

Think about this:

The first goal of a voice mail message is to get the call returned or, ultimately to result in a live conversation, so . . .

. . . Get Rid of Wimpy Words!

Forget about leaving those wishy-washy messages like “please call me back if you have any questions.” Wimpy words with no call to action do not get results.

6 Simple Tips to Get Your Calls Returned

taking-notes-checklist-notepadWhat action do you want them to take?

1.) Know what you want as a result of your voice mail message.

Write down in one sentence what action you want the listener to take.

2.) Organize your message so that you state the most important and attention-getting information first, since you may be cut off at any time. Include BENEFITS for the listener.

3.) Speak clearly and not too quickly. Pronounce your first and last name clearly, spelling your name if people may not recognize your name. The person you are calling could become annoyed if they have to spend time replaying the message because they could not understand it.

4.) State your telephone number twice: once at the beginning of your message – after your name and company name – and again at the end of the message. This makes it easier for the prospect to return your call.

5.)  Be a name dropper
.  (This great tip is from urbachletter.com)

If somebody referred you, that person’s name should be one of the first things out of your mouth, even before you fully ID yourself: “Jane, I was referred to you by Barney Rubble. This is Fred…” Starting off this way will ensure your entire message will get listened to. If you don’t have a known person’s name to use, the next best thing is to reference an organization you have in common: “I’m also a member of the Bedrock Chamber of Commerce…”

6.) Prepare and rehearse your voice mail message. 

Reason:  If you leave a bad message, you’re stuck with it, and . . . your voice message is being recorded and can be forwarded to others.

If these tips were helpful to you, see more tips at AnnBarr.com


As promised, more about Steve Sheffield’s voice mail success:

“Ann, thank you for what I would consider the best ROI percentage that I have ever
experienced in 18 years. I downloaded your books and read just 3 pages in your Voicemail Tips,
jotted down a short message to leave for a customer I have called 4 times in the last 2 weeks
with no reply and she called me back the next day!”

                                                                                          – Steve Sheffield, Southwest Office Systems,
Vancouver, Washington

Want more voice mail tips?  Buy my Voice Mail Tips e-book!

Or better yet:  Join my e-course !

How to Avoid the 6 Worst Voice Mail Mistakes

Some voice mail messages are almost unbelievable.

You may have received some of these unbelievable messages; like the person who is eating while leaving the message. Or someone who is chewing gum.  Not sure which is worse.

Then, one of the worst: A sales rep making a cold call who actually yawned while reading (yes, reading) his voice mail message.  True.

This voice mail message was so unbelievable I played it over and over again to make sure he really was yawning. He was.

Six more voice mail mistakes.

  1. Leaving only a name and number for a call back. Some may think that not leaving a company name is an attention getter. But if the prospect returns the call and realizes it is a salesperson trying to sell something, this tactic will leave a negative impression. There goes that first impression :( When leaving a message on voice mail, be sure it offers a hint of a benefit/result that sparks curiosity, but does not talk about your products or services.
  2. Saying “I’m calling to introduce myself.” They don’t care and don’t have time to be introduced to every Mary, Kevin and George who calls.
  3. Making the call all about YOUR products and services. Self-serving voice mail messages do not work.  Prospects want to hear how they may benefit by calling you back.
  4. Leaving a message lasting longer than 30 seconds. Most busy executives will listen only to the first two sentences before they erase you. They have their finger hovering over the delete key as they listen to voice mail messages.
  5. Using filler words like “um” and “uh.” In addition to sounding unprofessional, filler words detract from your message.
  6. Making a call without a written plan for what you will say if you reach voice mail.  A little preparation can lead to being heard and getting results. You dramatically increase the likelihood that your calls will get returned when you leave a concise, rehearsed message with a bright and energetic voice. Think about the point you want to make and write a few key words. Limit the points to one or two per message.

Don’t Get Deleted

The best way to actually get a call back (and not annoy the person you are calling) is to clearly state your telephone number right after your name and company name at the beginning of your message. Then leave a brief message and at the end of your message, state your telephone number and extension number again – clearly. Most busy executives will listen only to the first two sentences before they delete you.

Did you know there are four compelling ways to motivate prospects to return your calls? You will learn how in my e-book Voice Mail Tips and Scripts.

Phone Rage or . . . Customer Delight?

In July a few years ago, I received an email that caught my attention.

“For a limited time, reserve your official Commemorative Jacket for the Chicago Marathon. Pre-ordered jackets will be shipped in September. Why wait until October—reserve yours today.”  (The power of email marketing!)

Dan-marathon-tnSince my son Dan ran in the Chicago Marathon for four years in a row, I decided to order a jacket.  (In the photo to the left, Dan is the guy in the blue hat running in the Grand Rapids Marathon.)

I began to order on the website, but had a question about the jacket. I called the customer service number listed on the website and was surprised when someone (a live human—NOT an automated message) answered after the second ring. The customer service person was knowledgeable, helpful and friendly.  This person,  and this company’s service resulted in a sale and Customer Delight.

I began to think about how rare it is that when we call a business—any type of business—we can speak with someone immediately, without first listening to recorded voice prompts.

More and more companies use automated systems that take the caller through several—sometimes many—automated voice prompts. It can be frustrating. Like the bank: “Touch two for checking information, touch three for savings information, touch four for money market accounts,” and on and on.

Phone Rage

Customers can become angry and even desperate, after listening to a dozen or so automated messages. You have heard about “road rage” and “air rage,”  but phone rage really does exist.

Last summer, the Future Foundation announced the result of its astonishing research: centralized call centers now rate above rush-hour traffic and delayed trains as the UK’s most stressful daily experience.

Any Live Humans There?

If your company is one of the few left where a customer’s call can be answered by a real, live human being immediately, that is a big benefit for your customers. If this is the case (lucky you!), be sure to use this fact among your list of benefits in your advertising campaigns, direct-mail letters and conversations with prospects.

Now, large corporations are beginning to realize they need to get the word out to customers to help them bypass automated voice prompts.  Recently I saw a CitiCard television commercial with the message: “When you call our Customer Service Department, just touch zero to speak to someone.”

If your clients do need to listen to an automated message when they call your company before speaking with someone, how can you make their calling experience easier?

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: Do you really want them to have to listen to a long, automated message before speaking with a person?  Especially if they have questions that need to be answered?  Or an order that needs to be placed?

I do have an online coaching and sales training course, but for now I want to share these tips with you:

Three Tips to Make Your Clients’ Calling Experience Easier

If callers to your company hear a recorded message when they call, be sure to let them know in advance that they will reach an automated message first. Then:

1. If your company uses a series of three or more automated voice prompts and choices, let customers know how they can bypass the messages. In many cases, when a caller touches zero (0), they will be connected to a receptionist.

2. Always give customers your extension number. If you have a direct line, that will make life easier for buyers.

3. If you are going to give your cell phone number to customers, be sure to check frequently for voice mail messages and return calls as soon as possible.

If you follow these tips, you won’t have angry customers who may turn to your competition for help.

Instead of angry customers you will have delighted customers, who will probably tell friends and associates about their good experience with your company.

Get useful and creative marketing tips here.