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Using old school voicemail to sell our technology is a lost art. How many of us dread the voice mail prompt?! While closing a deal may be a stretch for beginners, plodding forward with good outbound messages can, and will, close deals. Before I graduated on […]

photo-1.jpg Using old school voicemail to sell our technology is a lost art. How many of us dread the voice mail prompt?! While closing a deal may be a stretch for beginners, plodding forward with good outbound messages can, and will, close deals.

Before I graduated on the Dean’s List from engineering school, I sold ads for the Daily Illini and sold cars in the summers. Helping my sales team is 10X as powerful when I help them hack “The Art of the Voicemail Routine.” Founders, here are my 9 techniques for pushing deals via voicemail.

1) Get them to put pen to paper. At the outset, this is your only goal. If they start taking notes, you’ve got a prayer. If they don’t, you’ve got nothing but air. So every tip that follows is geared towards motivating the listener to put pen to paper.

2) Avoid 3-3-7. (This is shorthand for voicemail deletion: Fast forward is “3” and delete
is “7”). How? By focusing on the listener’s train-of-thought. How do you do this? You must first be 110% comfortable with what you’re saying into their vm, so that you can focus on your tonality and physiology — not your words. Did you know: words are only 7% of communication. Tonality is 38%. Physiology is 55%? Check out Richard Bandler’s books on language and Gestalt therapy (Frogs into Princes, Using Your Brain for a Change: Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Persuasion Engineering.) I read one of them 17 years ago and haven’t forgotten it since ‘cuz his points are sooo true.

2a) And speaking of the words: avoid 3-3-7 phrases like “I hear you’re in charge of buying software”. (See my contest below for phrases that lead to voice mail deletion.)

3) Use your body to talk into the vm.
photo1.jpg Pysiologically emote a message through the phone lines. And Because language is 55% physiological, get outta the seated fetal position and project. Stand and deliver your vm. Or if you’re Vin Diesel in the movie Boiler Room, you work the room while you work the phone.

4) Get a mirror. Study what you look like. Your facial expression come through via the phone line.

5) Pause and re-start after the area code pre-fix when delivering your phone number.
For example, I say, “call me back at 6-5-0… 2-8-3… hey grab a pen!!… it is Larry Chiang @ 6-5-0… 2-8-3… 8-0-0-8.”

6) Set aside your need to sell something.
Instead, help them do their job. “I am calling to tell you about three new developments within credit marketing: one is use of a FICO score prep, two is the use of…” I cut out after two ideas and go into my phone number. The likelihood of a callback rises because #3 was left off. Closing a deal via voicemail means deliberately not selling in the voicemail. This is like backfiring forward and is example of what I call the ssg, a.k.a. the “second supplier gambit” where you set aside your need to sell something in lieu of fulfilling your prospects’ needs. Love them, meet their needs, and turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes.’ (See point #1 in Wooing People to ‘Yes!’)

7) Mentor your prospect via voicemail. To increase your likelihood of a callback, offer up some education in your message. “Mentor” your prospect by hitting them between the eyes with new information about your shared industry. For example: “I wanted to talk to you about a new report I’ve read on FICO score trends and how they’re impacting our respective businesses.” (In your case, such new info might be web traffic trends or ad conversion rates, but you get the point.) You’ll get extra credit if you can add charm to it. Not sure how to be charming? Try smiling while you’re talking. It will make its way through the phone.

8) Get in late and get out early.
Film directors know this. Enter a scene late and exit early. The audience puts the pieces together themselves. This applies to leaving voicemail messages too. For example, I say into their voicemail, “this is Larry Chiang. Wanted to connect with you about FICO leads. This helps you guys generate new business. These ideas can be used with or without us.” I go right into their needs vs. fully introducing myself by hitting on two guestimates of what would peak their interest ( a) FICO leads; b) new business) and a call-back. Saying, “you can use these ideas with or without us” is another example of prioritizing their needs over your need to sell, the ssg second supplier gambit.

9) Call the admin to network, too.
Say I’m reaching out to hitter boss. I call his/her admin to network, too and say: “I’m trying to reach your boss, so I can share with him a few things I learned at iMedia’s Financial Services Marketing and save him 2 days time? This is similar to Tip #7 but instead of “mentoring your prospect” via voicemail, we are summarizing a work event that the prospect didn’t attend. This is value added, and will increase your likelihood of a callback.

Contest:
In the comments field, send me your submissions for the top 5 phrases that compel prospects to “3-3-7″ (delete!) your message. I’ll offer one:
“You’re a hard person to reach…” Never, ever say this. We’ll make a list so that none of us ever uses these!

Larry Chiang is the founder of duck9, which educates student borrowers on how to establish and maintain a FICO score over 750. He is a frequent contributor to Found|READ. His earlier posts include: How to Work The Room; 8 Tips On How to Get Mentored ; and 9 VCs You’re Gonna Want To Avoid, and 9 Things Stanford B-School Won’t Teach You.

  1. This is actually pretty good. Thanks Larry.

  2. The statement made in this post, “Did you know: words are only 7% of communication. Tonality is 38%. Physiology is 55%?” is incorrect. If you read the one paper that makes this claim, you will see that it is ONLY true if the person speaking has said two things that are factually opposed to each other. In other words, I’ll use tonality and physiology to determine which statement is true if I can’t trust your words.

    Please know that words — written and spoken — are VERY important. Spend time with them to make your communications clear and compelling.

  3. How to Turn Your Revenues Up As Economy Goes Down « FoundRead Thursday, March 6, 2008

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  4. How to Build Good Credit for Your Business « FoundRead Wednesday, April 16, 2008

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  5. 9 People You Meet at Y Combinator (and what you can learn from them). « FoundRead Tuesday, April 22, 2008

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  6. Awesome post. My contest submission is this…

    “Hey there Mr. ____, your secretary said you weren’t available so I knew you’d be the right person to talk to.”

  7. My second effort to link to a TechCrunch article
    http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/07/05/think-before-you-voicemail/

    George Clooney does it. Jimmy Kimmel does it.

    I’m talking about leaving a killer voicemail message.

    Technology allows for new forms of messaging in the same way that admirals communicated with subs, ships and sonar during the cold war…

    In today’s techie world, there are subtleties in
    – missed call with no voicemail
    – missed call with a text message follow-up
    – missed call with a ONE-way voicemail
    – internal voicemail left without a phone call (two people on the same carrier)
    – no voicemail just a text message
    – missed call with a voicemail previewing an email
    And finally the dreaded
    – one-ring-only missed call (made popular by Sports Illustrated writer OReilly) as a way of talking sports smack without having to talk

    Voicemail feels super intimate and in LA, producers are taught to give good ‘phone’.

    The voicemail works great when you’re using man-charm http://gigaom.com/2008/02/21/howtoworktheroom/ because older men hate new fangled technology (half of NFL owners have an AOL email VS steve@NYgiants.com or LarryChiang9@ChicagoBears.com).

    Another voicemail problem is that people listen to them while they’re multitasking. Simultaneous Communication Attention (SCA) of voicemail + computer + TV is better than
    Reading an Email + computer + TV

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    [...] -1- Ping Via Email.  Close via Voicemail.  Confirm the email addresses in that stack of business cards.  One ping only.  After it, you can “Close a Deal Via VoiceMail” [...]

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    [...] -6-  Close for a VC Meeting Via Voicemail It is similar to closing a new customer where I outline nine tools in a GigaOm post. [...]

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