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Make Money on the Phone Part 2

Using Voice Mail Effectively

In 1998 seventy-five percent of all telephone calls terminated in voice-mail.  If you hang up when a call you place is answered by voice mail you've missed an opportunity to make a great first impression.

Whoa!  What was that?  A great first impression?  On voice mail?

Absolutely. Voice mail gives you an uninterrupted opportunity to say why you've called, proof your message to make sure it sounds professional, and build credibility by promising to do something, (call back at a certain time,) and then doing it.

Here are the steps:

1: Know what you want to say before you dial. Because your odds of getting voice mail are so great, prepare for it. Plan your message with the same structure that you would use for a letter: an opening reason for calling, specific information, and a closing call to action.

Use a conversational tone and begin with your full name. "Hello Lynn, this is Wendy Kinney calling."

If this is a first call, let your listener know - otherwise they'll be wondering where they met you instead of listening to your message. I use the script "We haven't met, Pat Smith gave me your name." Now your listener has a picture of Pat and a connection to you in their mind.

When you have met previously, let your listener know right away. You might say, "We exchanged cards Tuesday evening at the Business After Hours." Instantly your listener is expecting your call.

Next, give your specific reason for calling. When I meet someone who could be a GateOpener for me - someone who could send me repeated referrals - my first choice is to schedule lunch to get to know more about their business. I use the script "We talked a little about our businesses, and I'm sure you recognized, too, that we have a mutual opportunity to refer clients to each other. Are you free for lunch on Thursday? How is Houstons at 12:00?"

If the person I'm calling is a prospective client it is even more important to leave specific information. "You mentioned that your business is in fast growth mode. I'd like to speak with you about our database management and customized newsletter service for independent businesses in the health care industry." This is confident language, and confidence is always appealing.

Now comes the call to action. And here's the gem: always make the action yours. You are the person who wants action, so take the responsibility for it! I often say, "I'm going to be on the phone or away from my desk for the rest of the day, so you will probably get my voice mail when you return my call. I'll plan to give you a call again this afternoon about 4:30." With this script I'm setting myself up for a win, because when I call back at 4:30, even if I get their voice mail again, they have had an opportunity to see, first hand, that I do what I say I will. What a credibility builder.

2: Give your phone number at the end - speak it slowly. If you give your phone number before you tell why you are calling they may not write it down because they don't know, at the beginning of your message, why they need it. It can be irritating and time consuming to have to listen through your message again. If they are checking messages while they're in the car it's easy to remember and immediately dial you back when you end with your phone number. Try this script: "My number is 404-784-0699. I'll speak with you soon."

Resist the urge to rush through your number. You do want them to write it down or dial you back immediately. Speak distinctly, with brief pauses in the normal places, to make it easy for them.

3: Use the bells and whistles. Most voice mail systems allow you to listen to your message and re-record it if you didn't sound professional. Always do this. Always. Your goal is to make a great first impression, to get the lunch appointment, to win the new client. It's worth listening and re-recording.

If you are silent for about three seconds at the end of your message the voice mail computer will tell you how to access the review and re-record options for the system.

Last week I received this voice mail message. "Hello Wendy, this is Charlie. I know you have my number, so call me back when you get a chance."

A quick look at my database shows 34 people named Charles, Charlie or Chuck. He doesn't have a hope of getting a return call from me.

What kind of first impression would he have made if instead he had said: "Hello Wendy, this is Charlie Mitchell calling. Joe Noonan gave me your number. Joe said he had mentioned to you that I'm an illustrator. I do a lot of book and magazine covers. I have client appointments the rest of the afternoon, so I'll call you back about 5 o'clock. My number is 404-215-8223. I'm looking forward to speaking with you soon."

You can make that kind of first impression.

This is part two of a three part article.
Part 1: The Best Techniques to Use When Selling Over the Phone
Part 3: Presenting a Business Image on Your Home Phone

Ready. Set. Go Make Money!

Wendy L. Kinney, PowerGenerator at the referral marketing network PowerCore, is a speaker, trainer and author based in Atlanta. Known for her trademark seminar titled "Ready . . . Set . . . Go Make Money!" Kinney also covers such topics as "Fishing for Referrals in the River of Life," "Money is Chocolate: Get Off Your Diet," and "Networking Aerobics: Cardiovascular Activity for Your Wallet." She has produced an audiocassette tape pack titled "Exceptional Networking: Getting in Touch, Staying in Touch, and Making it Count in Dollars and Sense." Reach Wendy by e-mail at wendy@powercore.net.