Voicemail is an outstanding tool, when used professionally. Use these top tips to evaluate and polish up your current behaviours and leverage the results you get from your voicemail management. Although primarily focused on sales activities (at all stages of the sales cycle) , it will also be useful in non-sales situations.

1 Deliberately speak clearer and slower than in normal conversation

Your message may be picked up in a noisy environment – in the street, in transport or a public space. I aim to speak at 80% of my normal speed, deliberately emphasising important elements.

2 Headline the purpose of your call right up front, even before your name.

Voicemail can be a great tool for grabbing attention and managing focus, don’t waste the opportunity, especially in a sales situation. A well crafted VM delivered with the appropriate energy and professionalism will elicit a response and, at worst, can be a great blipvert. If you can connect your opening statement to the known current situation that you and the receiver are working on, so much the better!

3 State your name and number (slowly) and time of call if calling people outside your organisation.

Your colleagues will probably have you coded into their address book, others may not. Never assume that people, even good clients and customers, will automatically know that phone number ‘07xxxxxxxx’ is you!! I always use a phrase like ‘Here comes my phone number’ before I state it. How many times have you had to replay a message to get the number right? How did that make you feel?

4 One message for one subject

The person receiving your message is busy and will probably thank you for your focus. A message with multiple information streams and multiple calls to action will probably frustrate more than delight!

5 Define the next step

What outcome and deliberate action do you want from your message? Who calls who? When? Who does what? When? Be explicit. If possible be specific – especially with call back times to reduce the frustration of telephone tag.

6 Tailor your messages to your recipient when you know them.

Ask them how they would prefer to be contacted. Get to know when they are more generally available. Do they have ‘admin time’ or work from home on a specific day? Tailor your approaches to their preferences.

7 Keep your own welcome message up to date.

An outdated message speaks volumes about you. It creates negative impressions easier than it creates empathy for your hectic schedule. It says ‘I don’t care’ more than it says ‘I’m so busy I can’t invest 30 seconds in updating my welcome to you’. If appropriate, give a callback commitment in your welcome message: ‘I’m in meetings all day today but will get back to you within 3 hours of your call……’

8 Set your expectation for the caller in your welcome message. 

If you want detail ask for it. Give preferred alternative contact options.

9 Manage your voicemail box professionally.

Check your voicemail box at regular times, not ad-hoc. Don’t check it every time there is a message – unless you want to deliberately destroy the focus and energy you are currently investing in the task at hand. Your priorities matter -don’t be a productivity pirate to yourself – there are plenty of other people out there doing that for you!

10 Transfer all actions from your messages that you can not execute immediately, into your primary priority management system.

Follow our mantra of using fewer tools and integrating them better. Don’t force yourself to interrogate your voicemail inbox AND your calendar AND your email AND your memory to know what is the most important thing to do next.

Of course, you can always contact us directly to tailor a support programme to your needs.