As a sales professional, you know how tough it can be to leave a well-crafted voicemail. It’s frustrating not knowing if prospects will return your call or even listen to your message in the first place. Still, Jeff Hoffman, a world-renowned sales trainer and entrepreneur, says it’s critical to leave a thoughtfully planned voicemail. We share his tips for leaving the perfect sales voicemail in this issue of Promotional Consultant Today.

Keep the length between 20-30 seconds. Hoffman says pushing past 30 seconds ensures the message will get deleted almost immediately. On the other hand, buyers are also unlikely to listen to an overly short message. Aim for 20-30 seconds to spark curiosity without demanding too much time.

Lead with relevant information. Hoffman advises against leading with your name and company because as soon as the prospect realizes it’s a sales pitch, they’ll likely delete the message. Instead of saying “My name is John Doe, and I work for Gadgets Inc,” lead with something relevant, such as a thought-provoking question.

Ask a question you wouldn’t pose in an email. If your voicemails and emails are identical, you lessen your chances of getting a response to either. So, make them different by reserving certain questions for voicemail instead of email. The more specific the question, the more responsibility the person feels to answer you.

Don’t use a traditional close. Instead of closing with “please call me back,” Hoffman recommends posing your question and ending the call there.

Don’t hang up without leaving a voicemail. If you’re going to call a prospect, you must leave a message. If you record a few messages with the same ultra-specific question, the prospect feels a twinge of guilt each time you call back because they feel they owe you an answer.

Use your normal tone of voice. Hoffman recommends salespeople start voicemails at their normal tone of voice and then go gradually lower. This implies that you’re at ease making the call, and also that the call is unusual. Without the fake tone of excitement in your voice, the listener understands that the specific question you’re posing is just as meaningful to you as it is to them.

Leave voicemails at the end of the day. Voicemail connect rates usually go up as the day advances, so you should schedule your phone activity toward the end of the day.

Split up your voicemails. Rather than leaving one 30-second message, record a 20-second voicemail — then immediately call back and leave a 10-second one. Your second voicemail should include information that was missing from your first. For instance, a rep using this technique might leave the following two messages:

Voicemail No.1: “Hi Jerry, I recently attended one of TrustPilot’s webinars. I didn’t receive any follow-up emails, which made me wonder if you have a marketing strategy in place for nurturing webinar leads. Folks who attend a live event are 30 percent more likely to convert, according to my team’s research. What strategy, if any, do you have in place today?”

Voicemail No. 2: “Jerry, I forgot to leave my name and number. This is Sarah Griffin from Acme Corp. You can reach me at 555-867-5309. Thanks.”

Slow down as you speak. Start your voicemail with a regular cadence but get slower and slower the longer you speak. Not only do you sound more articulate and confident when you’re not rushing to the finish line, but you also sound more authentic.

End with your phone number. Your phone number is the last thing you should say on a voicemail. Say it once, slowly, and make sure to repeat it again.

Don’t sound desperate. Hoffman says phrases like, “Please call me back when you get this,” and “Call me at your earliest convenience,” are pushy, aggressive and borderline desperate. Instead, try, “Talk to you soon,” “Thanks for your time,” or a good old-fashioned, “Have a great day.”

Source: Jeff Hoffman is a world-renowned sales trainer and entrepreneur. He consults with industry leaders throughout the world on the topics of sales, sales management and sales operations. Hoffman is the author of the Why You? Why You Now? sales program.