Most of us, especially when we first start out phone prospecting, are so focused on our “hello” and the conversation that we anticipate will follow, that we completely forget that the person we dialed might not be home. When we get that answering machine and hear the final “beep,” we freeze; “Uhhh, Hi. I was calling because…well, I see you’re not there and…um…I’ll just call back later.” Click.
By preparing a couple of phone messages in advance, you’ll never be caught off guard by an answering machine!
Typically, you can separate your prospects into two types: warm market and cold market. A warm market prospect is someone you know and a cold market prospect is (surprise!) someone you don’t know.
When you’re leaving phone messages for a warm market prospect it’s generally alright to state the reason for your call, but be a little vague; leave a little to the imagination. The idea is that you want to pique their curiosity enough to motivate them to call you back, but not give them so much information that they no longer feel the need to speak with you about it. Here are some examples for leaving great warm market phone messages:
“Hi Mary, it’s Donna. How are you doing? I wanted to give you a buzz to talk a little business with you…”
“Hi Mary, It’s Donna. Call me back. I’ve got something I want to run past you…”
“Hi Mary, It’s Donna. We haven’t talked in a while and I wanted to touch base – see what you’ve been up to these days, and run something past you…”
The idea is to keep it short, upbeat, warm and let them know that you’ve got something to run past them. Don’t go into detail about what that is; leave it dangling.
Remember to be your authentic self. If the words I’ve used aren’t the words that you use (touch base, give you a buzz, etc.) then swap them out for language that’s more natural for you. But remember to keep it short and sweet.
Leaving great phone messages for cold market prospects is a little different. In this scenario, you want to set yourself up as an authority, albeit in a non-aggressive, non-assertive way:
“Hi, I’m calling for Mary White. Mary, you recently requested information indicating your interest in a business that you can work from home. I’m calling to chat with you, find out what you had in mind, and see whether or not it’s a fit with what I have. Let me give you my number….”
Again, keep it short, upbeat, warm and professional. Don’t give too much information; you want to let them know why you called, but that’s it. Don’t share with them what you do, the name of your company, etc. That’s too much information. Bait the hook, leave them wanting to know more.
Now, whether you’re leaving warm or cold market phone messages, the last part is always the same:
“Let me give you my number…it’s 888-123-4567. I’ll give that to you again: 888-123-4567. I’m looking forward to talking with you.”
Never assume that the person that you’re calling has your number, and never assume that they heard your number the first time. Instead, assume that they’re out and don’t have access to their address book, that there was static on the line and they didn’t hear the number clearly the first time, that they’re multi-tasking and trying to grab a pen to jot your number down…assume that gathering your number is difficult and make it easy for them. Leave your number twice, and speak slowly and clearly.
A few more tips for leaving great phone messages every time:
Don’t leave any information (aside from “looking forward to talking to you”) after you give your number. Most folks hang up once they’ve got the call back number and they’ll miss anything you say after that.
DO take time to practice before you start leaving phone messages for your prospects. Call yourself and leave phone messages that you can play back and listen to. It’s sometimes shocking to find that we don’t sound at all like we think we do! Usually, you’ll find that you have to “punch up” the excitement level in your voice to leave an engaging message. That’s ok! Practice makes perfect!
DO keep your messages written down on 3 x 5 cards and keep them near the phone for easy access while prospecting. It’s not unusual, in the heat of the moment, to forget what it was that we had planned to say. Having the information readily available on a card helps to make us bomb-proof!
And finally, you might consider using an autodialer to make your prospecting calls. One of my favorite things about using an autodialer to make my calls (www.callfire.com; www.voiceshot.com) is the ability to record the phone messages that I’ll leave in advance! When it’s time, I click a button and the dialer leaves the message that I’ve recorded while I move on to the next call.
What I like best about this option is that the phone messages that get left are always the best that I am capable of because I can record them again and again until I’m satisfied with the way they sound. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first dial of the day, or the last call after hours of phone prospecting, my phone messages are just as bright, just as upbeat, just as solid as they were at the time I made the recordings!