"Using Voice Mail To Your Advantage"
Part One

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By Joe Bonura, CSP


Are you suffering from technology overkill? When calling clients and business associates, do you hear recorded messages more often than live voices? Does it become more and more difficult to reach people by phone? This is Part One of a two-part message on using voice mail to your advantage.

Part one covers overcoming voice mail roadblocks while making warm calls. Warm calls are referrals and prospects that know of you, but do not know you, and business associates who know you, but do not return your calls.

Part Two will feature using voice mail efficiently when cold calling for prospects.


Take The Live Option

The first rule of voice mail: If you have the option of reaching a live person, take it! Usually dialing zero after the beep will send you to an assistant or receptionist. Ask for the assistant's name, and say, "Linda, I was just in Bob's voice mail. What is the best time to reach him in person?"

Call back at the suggested time, and if you are unable to reach him at that time, forward to the assistant again, asking for her by name, and say, "Linda, I was unable to reach Bob at the time you suggested. I would leave a message; however, I am difficult to reach, and we will probably play voice mail tag. How can I reach him now?" You will be amazed at how often you find your contact by having the resolution to ask this question.

Cutting Down On Voice Mail Tag

Do you want to eliminate voice mail tag? Since your callers know you, your contacts are likely to call you back. If there is a chance they will reach your voice mail, let them know how your system works when leaving a message on their voice mail. When I am on the phone, my voice mail kicks on, even though I am in the office. I tell my contacts the best time to reach me, and if they reach my voice mail, I am probably on the phone. Leave a message, and I will call back within 15 minutes.

Warm Calling - It Is All In The Message

Your key objective in warm calling is to reach your contact. Unlike cold calling, you will leave messages most of the time, and a good message is critical to your success. I will give you several suggestions for leaving a powerful voice mail message.

Always Prepare A Voice Mail Script Before You Make The Call

Yes, a script (as a prompter). Write your message in full prose, or simply list the main points that you wish to make. State your purpose clearly and ask for what you want.

Include A Benefit Statement

Begin by creating a desire in them to speak with you. Design your personal benefit statement by asking a question. For example: "How would you like to increase the return on your marketing investment? We may be able to show you how."

If your company has recently provided a new service, let the customer know by designing your question with that benefit in mind. For example: "I heard that you are forming a telemarketing department. Are you aware that Joe has a seminar series to help telemarketers overcome cold-call jitters? Call me to discuss the possibilities."

Referrals Are Gold

When my marketing manager has a referral, she states the contact's name at the beginning of her message. For example: "I promised Bob Quinn that I would contact you. Because Bob hired Joe to train his salespeople, Bob is experiencing phenomenal results. He felt you could benefit from Joe's expertise."

"Detail, Detail"

When recording, always deliver a detailed message, and think of it as a one-way conversation that your contact will eventually complete. An advantage to voice mail is that you can ask exactly what you wish and can be assured that it is communicated the way you want to say it. Secretaries and receptionists may interpret your message incorrectly to a prospect.

Create A Sense Of Urgency

Give the contact a pressing reason to call back. Give date deadlines, or let them know if you are running out of stock. For example: "Joe will be in Chicago for one day on January 19th conducting a seminar on negotiating long-term contracts. I thought you would be interested, so call by next week because space is limited." Never, never, never lie about your deadlines or stock availability to create urgency - it is not worth ruining your credibility.

Be Unique

Create a voice mail script that is distinguishable from others by adding your own personality, sound effects, singing, music, anything attention-grabbing. I have a colleague who uses dialects and impersonations to get callbacks. Exercise discretion and determine whether your unique factor is appropriate to the situation based on your level of familiarity with the contact.

Be Clear And Concise

Keep your message to 35 seconds or less. Preparation is the key to keeping your timing sharp. Unprepared callers tend to ramble, so practice your message before dialing.

Real People Still Exist

In the age of technology, you encounter voice mail so often that it is surprising when you reach a live contact. Be ready to turn your voice mail script into a human conversation.


Part Two

You now have many ways to improve your chances of making contacts. Read Part Two of my voice mail power tips that focuses on how to use voice mail to your advantage when cold calling for prospects. I cover topics like combining voice mail with other technologies, setting appointments, and evaluating prospects.


© 1997 Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

To see Joe and hear one of his favorite selling tips, follow this link to a video he created to share with folks who are interested in making more sales, or finding a job:



Joe Bonura would be pleased for you to reprint the article text free of charge (non-exclusively), but asks that you include his name and contact information:

Joe Bonura
Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.
Website: www.bonura.com
407 Landis Lakes Court
Louisville, KY  40245

(502) 553-1746 phone

E-mail: joe@bonura.com

About Joe Bonura

His background is unique. Joe owned and operated a highly successful advertising agency for 18 years. During that time, he found his advertising campaigns were more effective when he educated his clients in the areas of sales and service. He conducted training seminars for his clients as added value. Word spread that Joe was a quality speaker and more and more people asked him to speak. The demand became so high that he sold the agency to three of his associates to start his own speaking and consulting company, Joe Bonura & Associates, Inc.

Joe is past President of the Kentucky Speakers Association and a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), a prestigious designation earned by only 8% of the 3,600 member National Speakers Association. Joe presently serves on the board of directors of NSA.

He is author of the audio learning systems "Three-Dimensional Selling®" and "Turning Customer Satisfaction Into Customer Excitement®." He is author of the book Throw the Rabbit—The Ultimate Approach to Three-Dimensional Selling.




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