There are always conversations about phone sales or how important having an inbound/outbound phone strategy is, and debates on what is the “best” phone process but what surprises me is that I do NOT hear very much on voicemail. Voicemail strategy to me is just as important, if not even more important than the actual inbound/outbound phone call strategy. Why? Because you or your staff will be leaving way more voicemail messages than you ever will have phone conversations with prospects.
On average there is an 11% to 14% connection ratio for an outbound phone call to a prospect. To be specific, we train our clients (BDC reps, that are not doing product presentation and delivery etc.) to make a minimum of 120 outbound phone calls per day (NOT “maximum,” 120 calls is literally the MINIMUM to continue employment). The reason is that with only an 11-14% connection ratio from those 120 outbound calls, that will only yield 14-16.8 conversation in an eight-hour day. With a 33% “appointment-made” ratio, that is six appointments per day per rep (minimum). We have BDC reps that average 8-10 appointments per day across the month. But the reality is this is a numbers game.
My point is that if there is only an 11-14% connection ratio, that means there is an 86 – 89% non-connection ratio. Meaning, out of every 120 outbound calls, 103 – 107 people will NOT answer the phones! And that is per rep, per day. Before I get to my ultimate point, I want to give a major example. I built a centralized internet sales/BDC department for Rt.4 Cars in Paramus, N.J. and took them from 75 units per month online to 300 units per month online!
They have 10 full-time internet sales coordinators (BDC reps). This department had 950 carry-over leads (90 days or less active leads on day 1 of March), plus they received 1,600 fresh leads for the month of March. That is a total of 2,550 total opportunities from internet sales and phone ups for March. They made 28,717 outbound calls and had conversations with 3,386 customers/prospects, which means there was an 11.79% “connection ratio.” That means they did NOT connect to a live person for 25,331 outbound call attempts! They made 945 appointments, had 589 appointments show and delivered 298 units at $2,300 per copy and made $685,400 for the month out of the internet / BDC department. But let’s go back and discuss…
Out of the 25,331 calls that were not answered, there were definitely calls that were:
- Wrong number
- Disconnected number
- Voicemail box not set up
- Voicemail box that was full
But even with all of that, they actually left approximately 16,718 voicemail messages! That is 1,672 voicemail messages per rep and 76 voicemail messages per day (22 employee working days), per rep.
Now if you think about it, it makes sense. If a BDC rep makes 120 outbound calls and connects with approximately 14-17 conversations and leaves 76 voicemail messages. The remainder (27) are wrong numbers, disconnected, not interested, voicemail not set up, voicemail box full, etc….
So, you see “voicemails” are a major reality for internet sales, phone sales, showroom sales, etc. Voicemails are a massive activity, much more so than actually speaking to prospects or setting appointments, engaging in the “road to the sale” or selling a car!
Dealers must prepare their teams properly on the reality of voicemail and the necessity of having a powerful voicemail strategy. I spent so much time in this article on the “why” rather than the “how” because I want everyone to truly understand and respect the magnitude of the importance of voicemail.
You want to master voicemail so you can get more callbacks and get more people to take your calls the next time we call them! Bottom line is that you need an opportunity to do business in order to do business. Meaning, you can’t sell something to no one. You need a connection, you need a conversation, you need engagement. And that is what mastering voicemail will allow you to do. It will enable you to get more callbacks, more engagement with prospects and more opportunities to SELL APPOINTMENTS and sell more cars.
Here are some voicemail best practices and advice:
- It is all about tone and inflection. Sales is about the transference of energy. You need to sound excited and passionate.
- Have a reason for the voicemail. Have a strategy. Create urgency. Tell them you have “great news,” Tell them: the vehicle they were inquiring about is available, you have that bottom-line price they were looking for, there is a huge sale going on, etc.
- Create urgency. You want them to act now, act today, call you back right away. Let them know there is a sale currently, or that the sale is about to start, or the sale is about to end. Let them know what they are looking for might be available but it is in hot demand etc.
- Link other forms of communication. For example, “Mr. Customer, I just sent you an email with important information,” or “Mrs. Customer, I was calling you to make sure you received my Facebook DM with the pricing you requested on the 2018 Honda Accord.”
- Create a library of voicemail templates. Just as you should have a library of email templates in your CRM. I highly suggest that you have a library of voicemail templates! You want to have a diversifies strategy over 30, 60, 90 days of follow up calls and voicemail messages. Be creative with your voicemail messages. Experiment with them. Test them and the ones that work, you keep. The ones that don’t get callbacks or traction you get rid of and in a short amount of time, you will have a powerful library of diversified voicemail templates.
- Use call tracking numbers(or 800 call tracking numbers). You can literally attach a unique call tracking number to each individual voicemail script and track daily, weekly monthly “What voicemail messages” received the most traction, the most callbacks. What day of the week, what time of the day etc.
- Map out your diversified voicemail templates in your CRM action plan. Again, just like you create an automated CRM action plan (business rules, work plan, etc.) You should do the same with your voicemail strategy. Example: “Day 1 voicemail message #1, Day 2 voicemail message #2, Day 3 voicemail message #3, etc.
- Keep voicemail messages to 30-60 seconds at the most. The longer the voicemail, the higher probability that the prospect will not listen to it.
- Remember that a lot of people have smartphones with “visual voicemail.” That means, speak clearly while leaving the voicemail and keep it short and to the point and try to imagine that some people will NEVER “hear” your voicemail… they might only “READ” your voicemail.
- Be creative! Don’t leave the same boring voicemail after voicemail after voicemail. I have an advanced strategy I utilize with profound success with my clients, but again this is an advanced strategy… We use “soundboards” or “YouTube” for audio, music, voice clips, etc….
For example, during the holidays we would go to YouTube.com and search for “Happy Holidays” by Bing Crosby and then queue it up and then we dial the phone, put the headset to the computer speaker as Bing sings “Happy Holidays… Happy Holidays” and then the rep jumps in and says “Hi Mr. Customer, this is Sean Bradley here at ABC Motors and we wanted to wish YOU a very “HAPPY HOLIDAY” and then the voicemail message! No, I am NOT kidding! I cannot tell you how much response that gets! But again, that is an advanced tactic by an experienced rep that has prepared and practiced this strategy and it is not for the first voicemail message on day one of follow up. The point is to be creative and to be different all the while remaining professional. Bottom line is that you want a callback! So, do whatever you have to do legally, ethically, and morally to make an impression, to stand out, and get that callback or at least get the prospect to accept your next call.
I have only scratched the surface of voicemail strategies. There is only so much you can articulate in an article. If you have any questions at all or if you would like a FREE strategy session, please email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Sean V. Bradley, CSP
Sean V. Bradley, CSP is an entrepreneur, published author, speaker, and award-winning international trainer. He is an eight-time NADA/ATD convention speaker and a FranklinCovey Certified Facilitator. He has earned the coveted “CSP” designation in the National Speakers Association. Sean is also a member of the elite “Million Dollar Speakers Group” in the NSA, as well as a State Association Speaker and Trainer. He has spoken at over 217 NCM and NADA 20 Groups. Sean has personally trained over 25,000 automotive sales professionals in 1,100 unique roof tops.