Are you frustrated by the lack of response to your voice mails and the impact it has on your cold calling efforts?
You can increase your odds of getting a return call by integrating e-mails with your voicemails. Here is a simple, easy to use 3-step combination that you can adapt and use in virtually any industry. It combines polite persistence with a touch of humour to compel the prospect respond.
Step #1: 10 Minutes of Your Time Voicemail and E-mail Combo
Assuming that you have made several attempts to reach your prospect live, the first step in the process is to leave a simple voicemail message using the template below. The key to the message is the request for a 10 minute chat:
"Hey Dan, This is Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers. We work with freight handlers who are frustrated with late and delayed shipments. Dan, the reason for my call is to arrange a brief, 10-minute chat to learn more about your situation and to see if we can reduce some of the hassle associated with shipping delays. Please call me at ____. In the meantime, I'll send you a brief e-mail."
The subsequent e-mail you send echoes the voice mail message by providing a visual message to the audio message you left. It begins with a good subject line,
Re: Dan, request for 10 minutes of your time
The subject line contains the prospect's name and references a 'request' for 10 minutes of time. It not only echoes the voicemail message it creates a degree of curiosity especially if the prospect has not yet heard of the voice mail e.g., 'what request?' 'Did I miss something?'
The body of your e-mail should contain elements of your voicemail:
"Dan, as I mentioned in my voicemail, we work with freight handlers who are frustrated with the hassle that delayed shipments can cause. We have a simple solution that virtually eliminates these headaches.
Could we chat for about 10 minutes so that I can better understand your situation and needs, and to see if we might be able to make your job a heck of a lot easier?"
The e-mail provides a lot of 'teasing copy.' It references both the 'pain motivator' (frustrated and hassle) and the 'gain' motivator (a heck of a lot easier) without belaboring either.
Step #2: 8 Minutes of Your Time Voicemail E-Mail Combo
Persistence is the key to make this process work. Wait three days for a response before leaving your second voicemail/e-mail combo. Three days courteously gives the prospect enough time to reply and helps avoid the "stalking syndrome" that typically occurs if you follow-up too soon.
"Hi Dan, Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers. Dan, I am following up on the e-mail left about setting up a telephone appointment to review your freight handling needs. I asked for 10 minutes of your time but I suspect you're busy - perhaps dealing with a late shipment or two. Kidding aside, how about 8 minutes of your time?
I'll send you a quick e-mail with some additional information. In the meantime, my number is..."
It is vital that the tone of your voice is light and easy. Notice the request for time has diminished to 8 minutes. It's a light hearted message that acknowledges the importance of the client's time. Also notice the fun little jest, "dealing with a late shipment or two.' This is a brief reminder of a possible motivator.
The e-mail follow up continues the theme in the subject line:
"Dan, how about just 8 minutes of your time?"
As you can see, reduced time request is emphasized once again. This is deliberate. It's what makes the message unique and catches the eye. It also has a playful ring to it. The body of the e-mail looks like this:
"Dan, I know how busy things are in the freight business. I deal with handlers every day...so I'll only ask for 8 minutes of your time instead of ten.
In that time, perhaps we might be able to explore some ways to help streamline freight tracking and delivery.
In the meantime, my number is _____ or simply reply to this message."
The message is very brief and colloquial in nature. "Sound reasonable?" is an incomplete sentence but it gives it that 'off the cuff and no big deal' flavor to the message.
Step # 3: 5 Minutes of Your Time Voicemail/E-Mail Combo
The final step in the strategy is to wait another 3 business days and give the prospect time to respond. If that doesn't happen your third voicemail/e-mail combo should follow the same pattern as the first two messages by making an easy quip about the time required.
"Hi Dan, it's Mike Wray calling from Logistical Shippers.
Okay, it sounds like you're super busy so here's my one last shot. How about 5 just minutes of your time AND I promise you it will be the best 5 minutes you spend this month. My number is..."
There are a three things at work here. First, is your persistence. You have made two sets of five follow up contacts spaced about six business days apart. By now the prospect will realize you are tenacious.
Second, you create ongoing interest - and maybe even amusement- by whittling away the time that you're requesting.
Third, is the sincere promise of the chat being "the best 5 minutes you'll spend this month." Delivered with conviction, this is a bold and confident statement. Let the prospect hear it.
The follow up e-mail has the following as a subject line:
Re: Okay Dan, here's my last shot: only 5 minutes of your time?"
If your prospect reads nothing else, he'll read the subject line and remember you. But your subject line also reveals a graceful way of saying you won't pursue him beyond this message. This can help buy some good will and perhaps urge the prospect to respond.
The body of the message does not have to be elaborate but it should maintain the easy nature of your earlier messages.
"Dan, here's my last kick at the can: 5 minutes of your time.
But kidding aside, if you can spare just 5 minutes of your time there is a very good chance that we can help reduce or eliminate the hassle and headaches of delayed shipments.
Using a simple process, we take the checking and verifying out of your hands and put it into ours. It's all we do. And that gives you time to work on other more significant matters.
Please give me a call at ________ or simply reply to this e-mail. Otherwise I will call you next quarter.
Note the layout of the message. Short sentences. Lots of white space. Easy to quickly read and understand. The 'look' of your e-mail reflects what a quick 5-minute look might feel like. Also take note that there is a reference to the solution you offer. It's not a pitch but just a broad overview. And finally, the message points out that if there is no reply, you'll call next quarter. In effect, you are saying this is the last chance they have to respond.
This process works. It's been 'borrowed' from IT specialist Brian Borrows who explains that he gets a 30 per cent response rate. This is not surprising. The process combines persistence with creativity. It's easy going, amusing, and gentle. It creates a one-two punch by marrying the power of audio messages with the power of visual message. Because it is a process, you can use it repeatedly with virtually every prospect as long as you change the name. This saves you time and effort.
Take the time to adapt this process to your situation. It requires a little thought and effort but the return can be significant.
About the Author:
Jim Domanski is president of Teleconcepts Consulting and works with companies and individuals who struggle to use the telephone more effectively. Author of four highly regarded books on tele-selling, Jim also writes two e-newsletters for tele-sales reps and tele-sales managers. He has also provided training and consulting to audiences, universities, and clients through the US, Canada and Europe.