Should you leave a voicemail?

Something I get asked a couple of times a week and usually has a lot of engagement when I share it on social, is the topic of voicemails.

Something I get asked a couple of times a week and usually has a lot of engagement when I share it on social, is the topic of voicemails. There is always a debate if leaving voicemails still makes sense in 2018. The answer, for a number of reasons, is yes.

Why you should leave a voicemail

Look, I get it, no one calls anyone back anymore. Many people don’t even have desk phones at this point, so why should you even bother leaving voicemails? There is one main reason I still leave voicemails and it’s not because I expect a callback. It’s because my e-mail response rates go up when I leave voicemails. Here are some other reasons to consider:


Voicemail can be a great opportunity to practice your “pitch” or value statements and getting them down to a short, concise message that gets people’s attention. The more you practice the more confident you become in your approach, so when you get someone on the phone and only have a few seconds (less than you even have on a voicemail) you have a chance at getting them engaged.

It’s a good idea to cold call yourself every once in a while as well so you can hear what you sound like. I used to cold call myself and leave a message for the last call of the day, so when I got into the office in the morning it was the first message I heard and I could evaluate whether I liked it or not and make adjustments as needed. I also recommend cold calling your boss every once in a while, leave a message and then ask for feedback. Not only will you hopefully get some good coaching, but it’s a great way to win some brownie points if you’re looking for some.

I also wrote a few months back about how the reps who have been leaving voicemail are going to crush video.

Maybe your prospects like voicemail

I keep seeing this commercial with this guy who really likes when people notice his new haircut talking about people who like things and he says “Maybe you like when you get a voicemail, I know I do.” You never know what a prospect likes, and they may value that you took the time to leave them a message over someone who doesn’t. For example, as a GenXer I grew up on the phone and so I don’t mind talking to people.

Also, different people like communicating in different ways. There is a study on Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that talks about how there are three types of communication types: Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic. Each type of communication style has a preferred communication method. For example, Visuals talk fast and use their hands to communicate. They use words like aim, blind, blush, and show. Auditories are slightly slower paced and use words like rave, resonate, and articulate. These are people who will talk to you all day long but their emails are only one or two lines. The best way to sell to them is over the phone. Kinesthetics are much slower paced and really think through their answers before they give them to you. They use words like cut, tackle, and concrete. The best way to sell to a Kinesthetic is face to face. The second best way is email because they can touch it and take their time. The worst way is over the phone. These are the people who will write well thought out, very detailed emails but almost never want to talk to you.

The impact of NLP is why you need to mix up your contact strategy between emails, calls, social media presence, and even sending something in the mail every once in a while. If you send multiple emails to an Auditory your chances of them responding drop. If you make multiple phone calls to a Kinesthetic your chances of them responding drop. Mix up your communication methods; it increases your chances of making an impression.

Little additional effort

Good voicemails should be no longer than 20-30 seconds and focus on getting someone’s attention, not trying to sell them on your solution. If you make 200 dials a week (which is over 10,000 a year!) and you leave a voicemail for everyone (which would never be the case) leaving voicemail takes a maximum of an additional 100 minutes a week, that’s less than 20 minutes a day. In my opinion, we all have 20 minutes throughout the day.


Here’s an example my old boss gave me to help hammer home why voicemails were important. Let’s say we have two different reps – Rep A and Rep B. Rep A makes 20 phone calls and leaves 20 voicemails. Rep B makes 20 calls and leaves zero voicemails. What can I absolutely guarantee tomorrow? I can’t guarantee Rep A will get a callback, but I can 100% guarantee Rep B won’t.

Qualities of a good voicemail

A good voicemail is long enough to cover why you’re calling, and your contact information. One of the most common mistakes that reps make while leaving a voicemail is making them too long. There is no reason a voicemail needs to be longer than 20-30 seconds.

Not trying to sell

The reason voicemails get too long is that many reps are trying to sell the client on their solution, which you fundamentally can’t (and shouldn’t) do on a voicemail. What you CAN sell is time or a callback. Your voicemail needs to get their attention and then peak their interest with something that they can see value in as well as be relevant to them or their business. Time is the most valuable asset any of us have. If you want someone’s time, it better be pretty clear that I’m going to get something of value out of calling back. “Understanding my 2018 priorities and how you can help me achieve my goals” is not adding value to my life. At least add the word “share” to your message and say something like …” and share with you some of the work and results we’re driving for other companies like yours.”

Have a Reason

Don’t just call to “touch base” or “check in.” That actually does far more harm than good. It means there is no reason for your call, so therefore there is no reason for me to listen or call you back. One of my favorite nuggets is to start all your calls or voicemails with the phrase “The reason for my call is…” because if you cannot finish that sentence you should not be making the phone call. It also gives you a lot more confidence when making calls if you have a reason.

Contact information at the End

This is one of my favorite nuggets, leave your contact information at the end. If you leave it at the start, it’s more likely the person will hang up or delete the message when they realize it’s a sales call and never listen to the rest of the message. If you have a strong attention grabber, and THEN leave your contact information, it will keep your prospect’s attention until you tell them who you are. Here’s an example of how I leave a voicemail:

Hi Bill, the reason for my call is one of my clients similar to you used our prospecting techniques during one of their call blitzes to drive 25 net new meetings with target prospects in less than an hour and I wanted to see if you’d be open to a discussion to see if we can do the same for you. Could you call me back at 555-555-5555? By the way, this is John Barrows with JBarrows Consulting. 555-555-5555.

This is not an easy technique to master since it is so ingrained in us to start our voicemails with “Hi, this is John Barrows from…” but I promise if you can figure this approach out it will make a difference.

Easy to transcribe

Be aware that not all voicemails are listened to. Many are transcribed to text or email. Keep this in mind as you leave your voicemail that they may be read instead of listened to.


Leaving voicemails isn’t a game changer, but if done right it gives you a better chance at success and helps you become a more well-rounded sales rep.

Make It Happen!