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It’s estimated that 97% of all business calls go to voicemail. With such a low answer rate, should you even bother with making phone calls?


And even though the typical voicemail response rate hovers between 4-6%, your odds of getting a response are higher than direct mail and web banner advertising combined.

So while it may be frustrating to leave voicemails all day long, a good sales pro knows sales calls are critical to managing their pipeline. Here are 11 pro tips to help you leave quality voicemails that get responses and boost conversions.

Keep it short

The sales experts at Ring Lead recommend keeping messages shorter than 30 seconds. This serves two purposes: it shows prospects that you value their time, and it enables you to make the most of your workday, so you can make more calls.

Timing is everything

Your goal as a sales pro is to connect with the right people with the right message at the right time. While you can’t control who will or won’t answer the phone, make your calls at the beginning or end of the day. 

Humans have a tendency to remember the first and last items (in a list) the most. This psychological concept, called Serial-Position Effect, can work to your advantage. Because most people listen to several voicemails at a time, being the first or last message in their inbox can give you a leg up on getting a response.

Make it mysterious

Building suspense is a great way to get callbacks. Simply leave your name, company name and phone number. This creates a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) that prospects simply can’t resist.

Watch your tone

Keep your tone enthusiastic and energetic. People love to work with the best, and nothing conveys it better than a friendly and positive tone.

Have a legitimate reason for calling

Don’t leave a voicemail if you don’t have a reason to. Your prospects are busy people and calling to see how things are going makes you sound too pushy. If you’re not sure who you need to speak to at a particular company, send an email instead.

Create a (true) sense of urgency

We live in a deadline-driven world. If your company is running a promo that’s about to expire, include the deadline in the message. This works best when the deadline is sooner than later. That said, don’t make one up to hit your quota. If your prospect can’t make the imaginary deadline cited in the voicemail, you may lose the sale for good.

Use a script

The easiest way to get your calls done faster is to work from a script. While you can find a lot of great ones for free online, rewrite it so it sounds like the way you speak. Otherwise, you’ll sound stiff and forced. Practice makes perfect. Once you get a script that suits you, say it out loud a couple of times before you start your calls for the day.

Keep it casual

At the end of the day, people buy from people. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the B2B field making million-dollar deals or selling five-dollar widgets. Don’t fill your voicemails with stuffy language or corporate jargon. Pretend you’re talking to a friend.

Don’t try to sell them anything

Nothing makes people hit delete faster than someone trying to sell you something over voicemail. Sales is a process. Save your persuasion for when you get someone on the phone or in-person meetings. 

Practice SWIFT™

We know you want the sale. But the most effective sales happen when a prospect sees the benefit to them. There’s a great sales tactic called SWIFT™, which stands for: So, what’s in it for them? Communicate the benefits without pushing for the sale, and you’ll get a callback in no time.

Promise to follow-up

Any seasoned sales pro will tell you the money’s in the follow-up. Even though 80% of sales happen after five follow-ups to a meeting, 44% of reps give up after just one follow-up. That’s a lot of money left on the table. Persistence pays off. Tell your prospect when you’ll follow up in your voicemail.

How to Measure Success

Like everything else in sales, knowing your numbers is crucial to make sure you’re on track. Here’s how it breaks down with voicemails:

  • Expect a 4-6% response rate on the first message. For every 100 calls, you should get between four and six callbacks. Anything above that means you’re doing something extraordinary — keep it up!
  • The more you follow-up, the higher your response rate will be. Sales Hacker reports a higher callback rate than the industry standard (11% instead of 4-6%). However, they also did some digging and found that the more follow-up messages you leave, the higher your callback rate will be. Their numbers indicate that callback rates jump by 11% for each message you leave. So, first messages can expect 11% callbacks, second messages can expect 22%, and so on.
  • You should be able to reach a live person in 8 attempts or less. It takes an average of eight touches to get a prospect to even talk to you. These touches include voicemail, email, social media, and more. If you’re able to get someone on the phone in less than five tries, you’re on fire!
  • It’s all about the conversion rate. Since you’re not going to get many callbacks, the people who do call are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer. This means that your conversion rate will be pretty high. 

Key takeaways

In summary, here are the most important facts about leaving voicemails:

  • The more messages you leave, the more likely you are to get a callback.
  • Don’t try to sell on the voicemail itself.
  • Keep your messages short (less than 30 seconds) and to the point.
  • Always mention that you’ll follow-up (and do it).

Now that you know the ins and outs of how to leave quality voicemails, what are you waiting for? Pick up that phone!

Author Bio

Sharon McElwee is a freelance B2B writer who specializes in writing about sales, graphic design and freelancing. You can connect with Sharon on LinkedIn.