by Certified Life Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA
It was day two of the Unleash Your Practice retreat. Participants took turns sitting in the “hot seat” in my living room facing me for coaching with their live dials. Sitting next to me focusing a video camera on each victim…er…participant, was our newest team member Turquoise Neal. Each person phoning from the hot seat held their phone in one hand and their phoning list in the other. They were surrounded by seven other retreat participants nervously watching and waiting for their turns.
We could all hear the phoning ringing as we waited to see if someone would pick up—ring, ring, ring, ring. By the fourth ring, most participants would start to roll their eyes, look annoyed, squirm around in their chairs exasperated and give me a knowing look that this is only going to be a practice voicemail. Translation: a throwaway, wasted call that is an utterly useless action that will result in nothing but a message sent into a black hole.
But that is not the truth.
If you believe that voicemails do not work then they will not work. People will not return a call from you when you leave a message that sounds like you’re talking to a machine. Think about it: are you talking to a machine or a human being? For the short term, yes, you are talking to a machine. But when your message is received the person who is listening is very much a human being. If someone left you a careless, robotic, “throwaway” voicemail would you respond? I’m guessing no!
I have good news. When you leave heartfelt, genuine voicemails that are similar in tone to the way you talk to people in person or to voicemails you may leave for friends, family members and people who you care about you will get a new response. Your clients, prospects and Qualified Suspects (QSs) will call you back! Let me say that again….will call you back! And what could be easier to set then a returned call?!
It’s time to give voicemail the respect that it deserves. Here are some simple steps you can try:
1) Evaluate your own belief system about voicemail. Do you think of it as a problem? A pesky hindrance? If that's what you believe, why would anyone call you back?! What belief would better serve you? How about: voicemail allows me to efficiently deliver a carefully crafted message to another person with a call to action.
2) Humanize voicemail. Voicemail is simply a conduit to the human. Treat it just as you treat talking to a live human being and watch some very new results start happening—people will call you back, email you, text you and respond! Look into another person’s eyes in your office (find a volunteer), gaze a photograph of your loved one, find the person you’re calling on Facebook and look at them. Talk to the person not the machine.
3) Imagine you can connect through the voicemail right to the person’s ear. Be genuine, real, thoughtful. Tell the person why you’re calling and what you want them to do.
4) Don’t use any language you wouldn’t use in person. People are often tempted to tack on all kinds of extraneous thoughts and well wishes in voicemail. Why do you do that?
5) When asking the recipient of your message to call you back, make it easy. Tell them specific days and times when they can reach you instead of a vague “call me back.”
Once you harness the power of voicemail, you will find that your phoning sessions become far more productive. There is more engagement with the people you’re calling. When people call you back it is with the intention to follow through with some type of action.
The participants in the retreat have already received phone calls, texts and emails back from voicemails left last week. Most of them have never experienced this before, even after more than five years in the business.
Here is my message for you: “Hello, this is Alissa Gauger calling from Unleash Your Practice. I am calling to let you know that voicemails work! I am genuinely interested in helping you improve your practice. Please try this technique and post your results on this page, Facebook or LinkedIn. Let me know how it goes by the end of the week. You can reach me anytime online 24/7.”
Coaching Tip Many people increase the rate of speed they talk, speak in a disconnected way and sound very fake when they leave voicemails. If you leave voicemails in this way, they will not get returned. Try imagining that the person is on the other end of the line (after all, they will be when they listen to your voicemail!) and be genuine. Speak slowly and deliberately. Let them know who you are, where you are calling from and what you want them to do. Try it and watch the magic happen!