The Workish Guide to Effective Voicemail Messages

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Like Western Union’s Telegraphs and Cables, the modern-day voicemail message has become a relic of the past: since phone communication has migrated to text and chat, the notion of calling someone and leaving a message can be like mailing a letter with delivery confirmation: roadside overkill. If they don’t pick-up, they’ll know you called.

But in the competitive world of sales and account management, voicemail messages can bridge interpersonal connection through tone of voice and one’s ability to persuade in 30 seconds or less. And with customer training focusing on inbound conversations, messages are left to the bots, stranding potential pre-planned voicemail detail on The Rambling Island of Dr. Moreau.

To edge-out your AI and under-rehearsed competitors, treat voicemail messages like professional acting gigs, but with less Brando and more Branding. Over-preparation is a vital ingredient when transforming those thumbs-down lost leads into thumbs-up key accounts.

Cast Yourself

For our purposes here, we’ll assume that you’re interested in the metaphorical role of a Person Leaving a Voicemail Message for a New Sales Prospect. Hold a mock audition and callback for the gig for an added level of mental preparation. Don’t forget to check your calendar for availability. Once you’ve self-booked the part, you’re ready to write and rehearse your 30-second opus.

Write What You Know

When composing your version of The Merchant of Voicemail, keep in mind that your potential client will have quick access to your personal brand via social media outlets like Snapchat. Be honest: tell the person exactly where you are, why you’re calling, and what you’re doing. Here’s a sample (feel free to tweak the date):

“Hi, this is Sandy Marshall, and I’m calling from BankTech. Today’s date is [INSERT DATE]. I specified the date to make sure you know that I keep a calendar, possess a sharp attention to detail, and aim for total transparency in business transactions. To that point: I’m currently hunched over my desk with the door shut, eating a foot-long Sub club with no tomatoes while scrolling through Market Data on Bloomberg. Looks like you can make some serious dough in trading coffee futures. You wouldn’t think that coffee futures would be lucrative but apparently 85% of the world’s coffee is traded in…oops, that ding was an incoming text from my Mom, turns out she did get the blue patio furniture annnnnnd there’s the 19 smiley faces. Speaking of which, I’m happy to report that our Q3 Path to Action Webinar is scheduled for THIS Thursday…”

Learn an Accent

As any movie villain named Jeremy Irons will tell you, accents deliver status. Study HBO’s Game of Thrones for a multitude of Sean Bean-based tones and timbres, and pick a favorite sound to give your voice a sense of levity and grandeur. For added prominence, speak in Klingon. Your sales prospect will likely appreciate the raw confidence to “walk the walk” with a memorable customer experience, and will at least will endorse you for “Failing Fast” on LinkedIn.

Rehearse the Message

Most rehearsal processes last anywhere from several weeks to a few months, so plan ahead for an all-staff table read, blocking, and notes from co-workers. Rehearsals are performances, and by the time you leave the actual voicemail, you’ll speak with elocution and dramatic pauses worthy of Marvel superheroes who’ve graced the stage at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Even though you won’t be able to send your voicemail message to a post-production studio, you can still play a dramatic soundtrack in the background. For excitement and confidence, try “The Raiders March” from Indiana Jones. To add a subtle hint of intrigue, experts suggest the music at the end of Inception. And if all else fails, say: “If you’re like me, you’re probably super busy…” with a canned television laugh track in the background.

Even Western Union had singing telegrams.