Imagine your phone rings.
Great. A number you don’t recognize. Do you answer it?
If you are like the majority of Americans, the answer is unequivocally “no”. Aside from the lone grandmother who hasn’t seen her family in months and is lonely for human interaction, almost no one does.
So you slide the red button and wait to see if they leave a voicemail. No? Great… spam caller. Moving on.
A few hours later, the number calls back. Your eyes roll, decline it again, and you see if they leave a voicemail.
No voicemail. Now this is getting annoying.
A few hours later, the same number begins to ring on your phone. You are certain that it is someone claiming to be from the IRS trying to scam you for Walmart gift cards or some auto warranty nonsense and decline it.
But then you see a voicemail. Curiosity gets the best of you, and you listen. Of course, it is a sales call, and already you are annoyed with this person who continues to call you incessantly when you have other things on your mind.
“I’ll call them back later,” you say to yourself and move on with your day.
The next day, the calls begin again. Same as before, but you now know who it is. Not really in the headspace to answer, you decline and carry on.
Eventually, one of three things will happen:
- The caller will burn out and move on to other people to harass
- You will answer the call
- You will get so annoyed with the pressure this person calling is putting on you that you avoid the calls entirely or block the number
Being in sales for as long as I have, I find it downright amusing when people I work with advocate for this type of abusive sales call tactics as part of their appointment setting practices yet get angry when others use it on them. I even called out an old boss I had years ago on it during my tenure at AllStateFarmersMutualLiberty Insurance (you know, one of those insurance franchise owners).
The conversation went something like this:
Me: “Why are you pushing this strategy?”
Him: “Because corporate says it works.”
Me: “Oh… then why do you get annoyed when someone cold calls your phone?”
Him: “Because I am busy and have a business to run. I don’t have time for that…”
Me: “…and the people we are calling also have better things to do as well, right? How is harassing them with a cold call and not leaving voicemails going to make them want to talk to us? Do you ever call the numbers back who cold call you?”
My time thereafter was limited. Mainly due to my stance that customers deserve a little more respect than what they are given by these types of outfits more than anything else.
You cannot expect customers, especially in this new era of technology, to have the same type of responses to schemes that worked five years ago, let alone 20 years ago. It is just illogical and borderline sketchy.
Some points to remember:
Calling And Not Leaving A Voicemail Is Skeezy
Seriously, it is. If you take into account all the different scams currently running right now as this article is written, people simply do not trust numbers that they don’t know. Combine that with all the autodialers in play by other sales teams that ring three numbers at once and connect the person who answers first, dropping the other lines it just rang. The current state of telecommunication affairs has to be taken into account before you put a calling plan into action.
You can’t get upset if your contact rates go down if you implement this plan. If you can’t take the time to extend the courtesy of a simple voicemail, you can’t expect the simple courtesy of them wanting to engage with you.
Calling And Not Leaving A Voicemail Is Like Playing Ding Dong Ditch
Remember that old game where you ran over to old man Flenderson’s house, rang the doorbell, and ran. The same thing applies here. Basically, you are knocking on someone’s door and running away without even a tad bit of respect to let you know why you were calling.
The phone has become a personal thing, primarily due to the overabundance of impersonal ways to engage in communication with others. In essence, it has become their digital doorstep. If you don’t appreciate being harassed and bothered by others, logic will dictate the bulk of the people out there probably feel the same way.
It Devalues The Customer And It Devalues You As A Professional
If you can’t extend the courtesy of valuing the person on the other end of the line, you are ultimately devaluing yourself and what you bring to the table.
If you stand by your reputation that you bring the best solution to meet the needs of the customer, they aren’t going to care what you do if they don’t feel respected first and foremost.
People Will Contact You When They Are Ready
Welcome to the world of technology and inbound marketing, old-timer. The old methods simply do not work (from a B2C standpoint. B2B? I don’t know… not my area of expertise.). Forcing your timeline on the customer buying journey will get you nothing but throw away leads. People respond when they are ready and your marketing and sales strategies need to reflect this. Thinking that someone is going to bend to your will because you want them to will only chase them into the arms of your competition where they don’t have to worry about the confrontation or the pressure.
The Best Solution Is A Simple One
By all means, call them. Instead of skipping the voicemail, leave them one that is devoid of sales pitches and scripted conversation. Pretend you are calling a long lost friend and wanting to catch up. Keep the message short and sweet, providing ways for them to contact you back. No expectations. No commitment. Let them know you will follow up in X number of days if you don’t hear back from them.
Then, send a follow-up email that lets them know you called (so they can place a name with the random number they just saw) and summarizes what you just said on the voicemail. Don’t attach anything. No sales scripts or corporate marketing nonsense. Just a solid, respectful follow up.
If you have the opt-in (and I can’t stress this enough) signed, permitting you to use SMS to contact the person for marketing or sales reasons, send a follow-up text as well. I don’t lean too heavily on this as a solution for making contact, given the severity of the punishment by state and federal regulators for unsolicited marketing texts.
A call, a voice mail, an email, and a text. From there, leave it alone for a day or so and see if they respond. If they do respond, make a note of how they respond. The medium they use to respond is their preferred avenue of communication. If they do not respond, repeat after allowing two or three days to pass. Repeat one last time if no response. If they don’t respond after the third attempt, leave them alone and add them to a passive marketing list.
Modern technology and new regulatory practices have empowered consumers to take more aggressive action against those who used to get away with harassing and sleazy sales techniques. Those who adapt and overcome become successful. Those who do not end up losing sales and money they spend on acquiring new leads and prospects. You can’t force the lead to talk to you, but you can create a respectful and desirable environment where they are more likely to want to, based solely on how you address them and the manner in which you do.