Leaving Sales Voice Mail: The Debate Rages


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I recently ran across an extremely active discussion on LinkedIn. The topic was What’s the #1 Voice Mail Mistake Average Sales People Make?

At last tally, the thread had 65+ comments & I thought I’d do some analysis of the sentiments in this hot debate. The first debate point broke down around:

Which is the bigger mistake, leaving or not
leaving voice mail?

There were certainly strong opinions on both sides, but the vast majority favored using voicemail as a tool in the sales process.

The PRO VM Camp argued:
When I leave a VM, I’m not  expecting a call back. If I leave a short and compelling message, my hope is that they may take my call the next time I show up on caller id.

While the CON VM Camp countered:  
Your job is to work the phones, SPEAK to people, don’t leave them messages and expect them to do your work for you and call YOU back.

The second debate centered around:

What mistakes do Sales People make when leaving voicemails?

The comments broke down into 4 main categories:

  • Messages that aren’t sufficiently relevant to Buyers
  • Messages that are too long
  • Sounding scripted, rushed, nervous or overly casual
  • Leaving a single voicemail (the one-and-done approach) with no methodology for subsequent calls or emails

I wanted to share 3 comments that stuck out for me:

Make sure you prove to the prospect in the first 5 seconds of your voicemail that you have researched them, have something in common or were referred to them by a colleague or acquaintance. The goal of voicemail if you’re prospecting is not to have them call you back saying I want to buy – that’s not realistic (although that would be nice) but to acknowledge that there may be some potential for you to solve a business challenge they are currently facing and it’s worth additional exploration.
– Ray Carroll 

Leaving a message that says “we want to become your global partner for XX product” is much scarier than “Hi, I have a couple questions about how XX is purchased.” Scary questions don’t get returned (in my world).
– Mike Osterhaudt 

Not having a game plan for the message is mistake #1. Not listening to a few practice voice mail messages is mistake #2. 
Leave a few practice messages in your own VM box. We all love the sound of our own voice, but be honest, would you return your own voice mail? If not, change your plan, sharpen the message. Rinse and repeat. 
I learn a ton about what not to do from the voice mails I get from people soliciting me. At least 95% are too long and lack a compelling reason to do anything other than hit the delete button. The challenge is to make sure I don’t repeat those mistakes.
– Brad Hall 

I would love to hear your thoughts.

  • Should sales people be leaving voicemails? 
  • What mistakes do see you Reps making?

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Bertuzzi
Matt draws upon his experience in technology product management and direct sales to help Bridge Group clients better define their customer profiles and gain actionable feedback from their target market.


  1. Matt, good article. When I was VP of Mkt for a large software company I had my call center manager test the effectiveness of leaving a message vs. not leaving a message. Better overall results were achieved by leaving a message. Very few prospects called back, but of course the ones that did were highly qualified. The greater benefit was that leaving a concise and benefit-oriented message increased the receptivity of prospects to future calls and email offers.

  2. I love that you a/b tested the approaches. The more “science” applied to the selling “arts” the better. Cheers.


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