How to Leave the Perfect Sales Voicemail

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Author photo: Grace Sweeney

Grace Sweeney


Let’s face it, most sales voicemails suck.

Mega-corporations like JP Morgan Chase and Coca-Cola have sworn off the stuff for years.

And, like Buffalo Wild Wings, motorcycles, and Costco, voicemail holds a firm place on the growing list of things “millennials have killed.”


According to sales strategist Jill Konrath, an estimated 97% of all business calls head to the dreaded voice mailbox.

As you might imagine, sales reps hear “leave a message after the beep” more often than they catch a prospect on the line.

While most people prefer to communicate with a company through email, leaving a voicemail is actually still a relevant—and recommended—sales tactic. A Velocify study found leads were 34% more likely to convert when they received two voicemail messages on six missed calls than those who received no voicemails at all.

But, leaving a good voicemail is hard, and, often you won’t hear back. So, why bother?

For one, if a prospect returns your call, they’re interested in something you said. So, you’re going into the sales cycle with a leg up.

Second, you’re giving the prospect an additional way to get in touch. They can call, email, or reach out on social, it’s up to them.

The point is, brushing up on your voicemail skills can boost that commission check. Here are some tips for leaving sales voicemails that get a callback.

1. In the world of voicemail, shorter is sweeter.

A perfect sales voicemail is not some long-winded exercise in spoken word. Instead, the sweet spot is between 20-30 seconds.

Here’s why:

Prospects, of course, won’t listen to a long message because it takes up their time. So, blowing past the 30-second mark in a stranger’s mailbox is... not great.

On the flip side, if a buyer sees a message that's too short, they might assume there’s nothing there and hit the delete button without thinking twice.

Getting the timing right is crucial, which means you need to practice your pitch and nail it before hopping on the phone.

Write a voicemail script.

Scripts have a bad rap because, well, it sounds like you’re reading your lines.

But don't write off the benefit of writing it all down. Make like an actor and write yourself the script of a lifetime.

After you’ve spent some time crafting that perfect message, it’s critical to learn your lines. Once you’ve nailed the basics, you can improvise on the fly.

Here’s an example of a sales voicemail script. It covers all the bases and leaves some room for the personalization needed to make this message sing.

Hello [Name], this is [You] from [Company Name].

I’m calling because [reason for calling]. I’d love to talk to you about [thing that benefits them].

My number is [phone number] and I’ll follow up tomorrow via email as well. Look forward to hearing your thoughts. Enjoy the rest of your day! Goodbye.

Your sales voicemail should establish the following:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re calling
  • What's in it for them
  • How to get in touch
  • The promise of a follow-up email

So… where do you start? The first step is to gather some intel to add a few personal touches to each message.

Know your audience.

Before you pick up that phone, spend some time channeling your inner Harriet the Spy. That’s right, we’re going on a little dig. This way, you can gain a better understanding of who you're calling and what they do.

The difference between a stilted voicemail loaded with “ums” and “ahs” and one that gets a callback? Research.

Let’s start by heading over to the company’s website. Look around and make note of some things to bring up.

Consider the following:

  • How does that company’s internal structure work?
  • What’s going on in the industry?
  • Has the organization made any big announcements?

Don't go generic and say, "I looked at your website, and you're, um, doing some interesting stuff."

Everyone says that.

What it says to the buyer is, “I literally can’t think of anything to say about your brand.”

Instead, try something like: "I noticed that your company [launched a new product, hired a new COO, or locked down some seed funding]”

That serves as a jumping off point to showcase how your solution provides value.

The second step is to understand a bit more about the individual you’re calling.

So, look at their social profiles and scan for common interests or connections. Throughout the process, record these nuggets in your CRM.

This way, if your call goes to voicemail, you can reference an item from that list. Even better: next time you chat, you’ll have more conversation pieces at the ready.

Some places to start your search:

  • LinkedIn: Look for career history, experience, connections, and recent activity.
  • Twitter: Get a sense of the type of content both the prospect and their company are sharing. Here, you can identify trends and interests, and gain a better understanding of the space.
  • Facebook: Most people have a Facebook account and it’s more of a personal network. Here, you’ll find the personal details that paint a clearer picture of who your buyer is.
  • Glassdoor: Glassdoor can show you which areas a company is investing in. For example, if the company is looking for a marketing director, they may also be interested in buying your marketing SaaS solution.
  • Yelp: Customer-facing companies rely on Yelp a ton. Browse through their profile to identify strengths and weaknesses that can inform your pitch.

Finally, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got a method for organizing all of these juicy details. Input this information into a spreadsheet or CRM so you and your team can view your research instead of fumbling around later.

2. Turn your research into helpful tips.

Good voicemails serve as a way to supplement your sales emails; it’s not just a live reading of your last attempt to get in touch.

Pro-tip: Salespeople should assume people receive all messages, even if they don’t respond. If you’re recycling too much, prospects will catch on fast.

Whereas your sales email might highlight your product’s features and benefits, a voicemail works a bit differently. Try leaving a quick tip to drum up interest without being aggressive.

Check out this sample voicemail:

“Hi John, it’s Nicole from XYZ. I noticed (organization) posts on Facebook at the same time every day. There are some things you can do to improve your social media strategy. If you’d like me to show you a few tips and tricks, I’d be happy to walk you through the process. My number is XXX-XXX-XXXX.”

The reason this message works is, Nicole has turned her focus to helping John improve his social media skills. She doesn’t say, “I have XYZ software,” and then attempt to squeeze in a pitch.

So, even if John doesn’t reach out right away, he may still keep Nicole in mind if he decides to look for a social media tool.

3. Establish a point of reference.

People are more likely to respond to a voicemail when they can place the caller in a relevant context. Mentioning details from social media or the company website is great, but you need a reason to be there.

An effective voicemail should explain why you decided to reach out and how you got their information.

Bob might have downloaded a sales sheet. Or maybe Jane gave you her business card at last month's trade show. In any case, that little refresher lets them know what prompted the call.

Hey Bob,

This is [Name, from Company name]. I’m calling because you downloaded our sales sheet and I have a case study that might also help you out. It’s about how X company tripled the number of leads collected by using [Company name].

If you’d like to learn more, my number is [XXX-XXX-XXXX]. I’ll email you a copy of the case study, as well. Look forward to chatting with you soon. Goodbye.

4. Master your tone and delivery for the perfect sales voicemail.

If you’re making a lot of calls, it might be time to consider how you sound.

Your voice is a tool that can help you get a callback—or put someone off.

But beyond your voice, things like energy, delivery, and inflection can make or break your ability to win a sale.

Tone can be a touchy subject for many of us. Our voices are personal, and sometimes feel impossible to change.

However, getting more familiar with your voice can help uncover—and unlearn—bad habits. And as terrible as it sounds, it's bound to help you leave better voicemails.

A few tips for improving your “sales voice”:

Get a sense of how you sound.

Do you sound nervous? Confident? Intelligent?

If you're not sure, enlist the help of a trusted friend or colleague. Listen to what they have to say and use their critique to work on your tone.

One way to do this is by leaving messages on a recording device and picking out areas for improvement. Look out for things like trailing off in spots or lengthening certain vowels.

You'll also want to make sure you're speaking at the right volume.

It may be hard to hear that your tone needs some help, but it’s a necessity if you want to perfect your sales voicemail.

Maintain positive energy.

We get it.

It’s hard to keep the momentum going after leaving voicemails for hours. But, if you’re feeling tired or frustrated, that translates into a low-energy message—which is probably going to get deleted.

Periodically, take a few minutes to grab a coffee. Or, pop your earbuds in and take a walk around the block.

That said, enthusiasm shouldn’t be over the top, either. Salespeople, of course, are trained to be upbeat. But within the context of a voicemail, the “sales personality” can feel a bit extra.

So, back to this idea of being useful.

Talk in your normal tone of voice, which suggests a certain level of comfort. Approaching the message conversationally helps you to avoid sounding like a sales robot rattling off the same script over and over. It also adds a personal element to the mix, so the listener feels that the call is about them, not number 56 on the call list.

5. Lighting round: A quick list of sales voicemail "don'ts."

  • Don't start with “Greetings, Mr./Ms. Smith”: Being respectful and being overly formal are vastly different things. Skip the salutations and go for a natural tone. Those weird intros make it seem like there’s an algorithm behind your voicemail.
  • Don’t overuse a prospect’s name: remembering names is Sales 101. A proven way to win friends and influence people, if you will. But, there's a limit to how much is too much. We recommend using your prospect’s name at the beginning and maybe the end of the call. That’s it.
  • Don’t be aggressive: Promising low, low prices while “circling back” will place you in the annoying salesperson category. While enthusiasm is a must, you should be helping your prospect understand how they can benefit from your knowledge. Focus on being cool, calm, and helpful.

It’s time to put an end to boring sales voicemails.

We hate to be grim, but prospects get a lot of calls and loads of emails. These days, voicemail is more of a complement to email and social media than a primary strategy.

The good news: brushing up on this business tactic can boost your sales. It just takes a little help from some (benign) internet stalking, a reliable CRM, and lots of practice.

So, what do you say? Let’s start leaving some voicemails. Just make sure you’re ready for the callback.

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