“Ca… uh… all… me at…” (what did he just say?)
Voicemail is an important part of any business. Let’s face it, speaking with someone over the phone allows a more immediate response solicitation than most other forms of communication such as email or texting. However, it is not as good as an in-person where you can actually experience the interaction with all of your senses. Truth be told, there will be a time when you are not available to take a call and someone will be trying to reach you by phone, or vice versa. Therefore its imperative that you have a proper recorded greeting and can leave an appropriate voicemail message that works well.
Recording a Proper Voicemail Greeting
In many cases your voicemail will be your first impression with clients, vendors and other key business stakeholders. Making sure it represents you best, for the relationships you want to extend beyond that point, is business-critical important.
Here are a few tips on how to record a proper voicemail greeting:
- Establish a Clear Connection: Be sure your phone connection is clear (no static or distortion) and surroundings quiet. A poor reception and/or background distractions will make you sound unprofessional.
- Write a Script: Bullets and/or a full-on script in front of you will help keep you on point so you can focus on clarity, brevity (keep it simple) and engagement. What you should consider including in your voicemail greeting message comes down to basic journalism information, condensed: The Who (not the band): Your name, title or department, company name and extension. The when: I’m not a fan of changing messages often as that leaves the door open to forgetting or getting behind with a stale greeting, or one that has passed yet is still active. However, if you do, be sure to include the date, your status and when the caller can expect to hear back from you. The How: Include the best way to get in touch with you. This might include email, text, mobile and specific times during the day that you are most available. Consider 1-2 additional ways to reach you and no more. The What: Be clear with what information you require (so you can prioritize incoming messages). Consider something like “Please let me know how I can serve you,” as opposed to “Please leave a message.” You will be amazed at the difference in detail that is left. Ask for a “detailed message” to potentially avoid dreaded phone tag. The What If: Provide alternative action in case immediate assistance is required. Provide a name and extension to another person.
- Smile! Ivana Taylor in “How to Record a Professional Voice Mail Greeting That Attracts Customers,” writes “A first impression STILL starts with body language. And even though you can’t SEE someone’s body language over a voice mail greeting, you can HEAR it. So be happy, smile and literally pretend that it’s your most favorite person in the world at the other end of the line. This makes a HUGE difference.”
- Be Unique and Be You! Your voicemail greeting is a lot like your business card. Here you have a unique opportunity to represent yourself differently from anyone else (including the competition) and quickly establish why anyone would want to do business with you. Consider including your unique selling proposition or tagline. For example, “You’ve reached Joe Smith of XYZ Office,Your Corporate Solutions Partner.” Have your voicemail greeting be your voice (not someone else’s). Don’t be generic. And, be you.
- Don’t Listen to Yourself: Mostly everyone is not happy with the way they sound when recorded. Try not to listen to yourself when recording your voicemail greeting. Instead, have others listen and critique.
- End the Greeting on a Positive Note: One of my most optimistic and motivated friends always ended his voicemail message with “Have an outstanding day!” with enthusiasm and assertiveness. It said who he was and I know he was smiling with delight when he recorded it. Just that little word outstanding was contagious from his greeting. Business colleagues and friends wanted moreso to get ahold of him from that and get more of that outstanding vibe.
Leaving a Voicemail Message that Generates Response
Unlike recording a voicemail greeting, leaving a voicemail message, in most cases, leaves little time to prepare and/or rehearse. You need to think quickly and you only get one shot before it’s forever etched on tape (or hard disk). Leaving a proper voicemail message will generate response and ultimately help close sales cycles faster and improve your productivity and performance. Important stuff. Here are some tips to consider to get the most out of a voicemail message:
- Quickly Think Through and Write Down (when possible) What You’re Going to Say: Either before the call or during the recorded greeting, quickly summarize your points in your head (or write them down) in preparation for leaving your message. Remember the first 10 – 20 seconds are the most important (most will delete a message after this point). Be brief and clear with the content of your message: State Your Name, Position, Company, and the Time/Date of your call. Consider some common ground to further connect with your recipient: For example, “We met at the GoToNetwork social luncheon the other day and I enjoyed our conversation about…” Clearly state the purpose of your call with brevity: Is it a follow up to a meeting? An introduction? An update? A request for an action? Be brief and to the point. Respect the recipient’s time. Be sure to tee up the call to action (what you want the recipient of your call to do) and clearly leave your number for a return call: Some suggest leaving your number at the beginning and the end of the message. I prefer to leave that only to the end (the call to action) and usually pause before citing the digits. For example “Please call me at. (pause) 239. (pause) 963. (pause) 9396.”
- Speak Clearly and S L O W L Y: I usually pretend I’m speaking with my late 80 year old grandmother from Italy when leaving a message.
- Request a Response or Not: Let the recipient know that you are requesting they respond or perhaps you’re simply providing an update and will follow up at a later date or via another form of communication. Regarding a response, let the recipient know when is the best time to reach you live.
- Close on a Positive Note: “I look forward to hearing from you,” or “I look forward to the opportunity to work with you,” go a long way in a voicemail message. Let them know that you’re interested in doing business (assuming you are or wouldn’t have called in the first place). Then, “Have an outstanding day” (or some variation). That never gets old and illustrates you are smiling and excited to hear back from that person.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Like most forms of business communications, constant practice and trial & error will help you quickly improve and achieve better results. Furthermore, taking cues from what works for others (colleagues, competitors, experts, friends) is also helpful (“imitation is the best form of flattery” right?). Just like my friend’s use of the word “outstanding,” who has a great voicemail greeting or has left you a voicemail message that you could not wait to return? Feel free to share that with me abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) or be sure to call me at (pause) 239. (pause) 963. (pause) 9396.
About the Author
Angelo Biasi is General Manager of SMART Marketing Solutions, LLC, a leading full-service integrated marketing company in Florida and New York since 2001. He has helped create and execute marketing plans and integrated marketing solutions for companies such as Playtex, Bic, Rogaine, Tauck, and over 35 colleges and universities, to name a few. Angelo has an MBA in Marketing from the University of Connecticut and teaches Marketing at New York University where he has for over six years. He has been quoted and/or featured in USA Today, Mobile Marketer magazine, Mobile Commerce Daily, Luxury Marketing magazine, BNET TV and Business Currents magazine, to name a few. For more information or to learn more, email him at abiasismartmarketingllccom (abiasismartmarketingllccom) , visit www.smartmarketingllc.com, call him at 239.963.9396 and follow him on Twitter @angbiasi.