Voice Mail Marketing: You Don’t Have to Like it, But Just Don’t Ignore It

“Hello, Ruth. This is Susan Doe from Acme Widgets calling. I’d really like to speak with you. Would you please call me back? You can reach me at xxxx.”


This recent message on my voice mail got me thinking: What was it about the message that made me delete it? Probably because I didn’t know her. Plus, she gave me no reason why I should care.

But, on reflection, I often reply to voice mails from unknown people. Why do I respond to some and not others? A well-crafted voice mail message should be a potent opportunity to begin, or strengthen, a business relationship. So there ought to be ways to motivate a response better than did our hapless Susan Doe.

So what should business marketers do when confronted with a voice mail greeting during a phone call? In short, what are best practices in voice mail marketing?

I decided to look into this, and guess what: Voice mail marketing is nowhere, as a discipline. No one is talking about it. No one is researching it, setting up tests, and figuring out best practices—at least as far as I could determine.


I say this is a lost opportunity. Because outbound telemarketing is huge in B-to-B. But business marketers find that upwards of 85% of outbound business calls go to voice mail. So if you don’t have a clear strategy for how to manage voice mail as part of your campaign, you’ll be squandering a major chance to connect with customers and prospects.

Objectives Drive Strategy
The place to begin, naturally, is with your objective in making the call. A sales rep cranking through a series of cold phone calls will have a different strategy from a marketer using phone follow-up to direct mail, for example. Are you looking to gain awareness? Is the message intended to motivate a call-back? Is the message part of a series of touches, or does it need to pay off on its own? The answer to these questions will help identify the right approach to voice mail. When asked for his recommendation on voice mail, Mike Chaplo, VP of Revenue at LinkExperts, says firmly, “Don’t leave one. Hang up. Call back again, and keep trying. If after 5 or 6 attempts you still can’t get through, then send an email, asking when is the best time to call. Your objective in business is to have a conversation, not to leave an annoying message.” But voice mail does have its applications, in both sales and marketing. Let’s look at what’s working and what the experts recommend.

Strategic Options in Voice Mail Marketing
Depending on the strategy, the use of voice mail will differ widely. Experienced users recommend it as particularly useful for:

  • Event invitations or reminders
  • A follow-up to direct mail or email
  • Lead qualification and nurturing
  • A pre-campaign touch prior to direct mail or email
  • Announcements, such as regulatory compliance
  • Pricing or promotion updates

Live Telemarketing as Part of a Marketing Campaign
Phone follow up to mail or email, and phone softening prior to mail, are time-honored techniques for improving response and campaign ROI. So what do you do in the highly likely event that you reach a voice mailbox instead of a live person?

According to Rob Lail, founder and president of MarketMakers, a B-to-B teleservices firm in the Philadelphia area, voice mail has a powerful role to play in a campaign—if you plan for it. “The most important thing is to prepare a superb script,” says Lail. “It has to be professional, but not sound canned. We provide our reps with scripts, but they only use it as a guide. They need to know the material cold, and speak to it naturally, so they sound confident.”

Lail observes that a great voice mail script gets to the point fast. “You need to cover the who, what, where, when and how quickly. You need to use a conversational tone, and above all, the message has to be relevant to the target’s industry.”

Other than the script, the key is the application. According to Lail, the single most effective use of voice mail is in event marketing, for extending an invitation or reminding prospects to attend a seminar, conference, webcast or some other live appointment. “Reminder calls to seminar attendees who have agreed to come can improve their actual attendance by 40%,” says Lail.

The phone is also a big part of effective lead qualification and nurturing programs. In this situation, a well-defined voice mail strategy is equally important. John Hasbrouck is President and CEO of NewLeads., which provides trade show contact follow-up services. Hasbrouck encourages his reps to make the decision whether to leave a voice mail message based on their level of energy and enthusiasm at the moment.

“Enthusiasm is contagious,” says Hasbrouck. “If you don’t feel like leaving a message, just hang up. You need to be in the right frame of mind. If you don’t sound like someone they want to talk to, they won’t ever respond.”


Telephone as Part of Biz Dev or Sales
When using the phone as part of a sales effort, the voice mail option is a function of where you are in the process. Sherri Sklar, an experienced sales and marketing trainer and consultant, and president of Sherri Sklar Strategies, notes that it can take 7 to 9 touches to get through to business buyers today.

So Sklar recommends planning the touch sequence up front. “I might begin with an email, saying I will follow up with a phone call. If I get a voice mail on that call, I will have decided in advance whether I will leave a message or not. It depends on whether I want to use up one of my touches. Generally, a voice mail is less effective if the prospect doesn’t know me yet.”

But if she does decide to leave a voice mail at the early stages in the relationship, Sklar stresses the importance of mentioning, early in the message, the critical business issue that is likely to be on the mind of the recipient. “After I say my name and my company, and a few words about our competency, I get right to the point about how we can help the prospect. And I leave my phone number. But I don’t expect a call back. What I expect to happen is my next touch, whether it’s another call or an email.”

Sklar cautions that callers need to plan for any possible outcome. You need to have the scripts in mind if you get voice mail, if the prospect picks up, and if a gatekeeper picks up.

How to Structure a Voice Mail
John Hasbrouck recommends the following path for your voice message, to garner maximum attention and response:

PAIN. Start with their problem. Don’t start with yourself.
HOPE. State your offering: “We solve that problem.”
REFERENCES. Name a few customers who will be familiar and credible.
FEATURES. If you can squeeze in one or two supporting features, do so. But keep the total to 30 seconds.
RESPONSE. Tell them what to do and how. “If you want to know more, please give me a call.”

New Tools to Enhance Your Voice Mail Marketing
Voice mail has been around for a few decades, and while it’s not a hotbed of marketing innovation, a few enhancements have emerged.

Guided voice mail. BoxPilot pioneered the idea of pre-recording a message, and then using live operators to network around the target company and “guide” the message to the right person’s voice mail box. Kytell’s team has done a variety of tests to prove the concept’s effectiveness. One client using guided voice mail as follow up to a direct mail piece, for example, lifted response 145%, from 3.1% to 7.8%., doubling campaign ROI. James Pennington, VP of strategic marketing at The Kern Organization, the B-to-B direct marketing agency, has used BoxPilot successfully for its clients. “It’s more expensive per touch than direct mail, but cheaper than outbound telemarketing,” he notes. “BoxPilot turns the disadvantage of business people’s hiding behind their voice mail into an advantage. What we find is that what’s most important is sending a message that’s not stupid or pointless, but one that’s relevant.”

Automated voice mail. Used primarily in consumer marketing, automated delivery of pre-recorded messages via auto-dialing is making some contribution in B-to-B. GroupCast Messaging in St. Louis, for example, is producing results for financial services, like credit card processing offers to small businesses, or advising insurance brokers and financial planners on new products. GroupCast sets up unique toll-free numbers on each campaign, so responses come into their call center, backed up by automated voice response, which allows them to track results and do tests. Barry Chelist, director of sales, says that GroupCast regularly tests the effectiveness of such variables as male versus female voices, and sets up split tests of direct mail with voice-mail follow-up versus direct mail alone.

What’s Next?
As business marketers, we need to get more disciplined about voice mail as part of the marketing mix. Voice mail should be right up there with direct mail, email and telemarketing as a mainstream medium. Business marketers ought to be conducting split testing of offers and scripts, and looking for ways to improve response rates. Better yet, we need testing of multi-touch campaign sequencing, to see where voice mail best fits.

I hope this discussion will inspire some activity in this area. If you have any results to report, please share with me at ruth@ruthstevens.com. And let’s ask The DMA to include voice mail as a key B-to-B campaign medium when it researches response rates, creative strategies and other useful topics. If this is where 85% of our phone calls are going, we need to make the most of it.


Tips for B-to-B Voice Mail Success
The message must fit within fewer than 30 seconds, without sounding rushed. Beyond 30 seconds, the listen-to rate declines dramatically, says Barry Chelist, director of sales at GroupCast Messaging.

Sincerity is audible. As John Hasbrouck cautions, “Think about how much you believe what you are saying. If you don’t really believe it, don’t say it.”

Strive for natural-sounding speech. “Don’t go for a radio commercial,” says Mike Kytell, founder and CEO of BoxPilot, the guided voice mail service for B-to-B marketers. “You want to sound real, not canned.”
Expect the same kind of response rate you’d get with an outbound telemarketing campaign, says Mike Kytell. “If you picked up the phone and called 100 people, how many would call you back?”

If you are deliberately looking to go to voice mail, versus reaching a live human, the best times are during the business day between 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., when most people are in meetings or at lunch, according to Barry Chelist. Evening or late night has become a risky time slot, says Chelist, because so many people have their office numbers forwarded to home or mobile phones.


Source: http://www.ruthstevens.com/articles/voice-mail-marketing-you-dont-have-to-like-it-but-just-dont-ignore-it/


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How to generate lead using LinkedIn

7 Behavior Insights to Attract Small Business Customers


Small businesses practice distinct buying behaviors

For providers of value-added services or products who need to market to small business buyers, it’s critical to understand their needs and constraints. These seven proven behaviors summarize how, why and when buyers make their decisions and transactions.

1. Business owners have a distinct vendor selection process.

Based on information from a Gartner study, buyers generally divide prospect research into three blocks of time, usually around 20 minutes each.

In the research phase, prospects seek out potential partners. In the qualification phase, they engage with these potential partners to understand their capabilities. In the evaluation phase they move toward a decision.

It’s important to understand the phased approach, because it speaks to the need for marketers to have an integrated sales and marketing platform that touches prospects in all three phases. From case studies on your website to drip marketing campaigns, your entire marketing effort should be designed to touch prospects with information relevant to each phase.

2. Small businesses seek out particular data points about potential suppliers.

Smart marketers understand this selection process and deliver information that prospects are looking for. Often in the case of value-added services such as IT, buyers are looking for information about how things work and at what price. If you sell services to small businesses, make sure you convert the intangible into something tangible.

For example, ensure your white papers and case studies have clear visual models and illustrations that show how services are delivered, so you can advance from phase one to phase two.

3. Prospects are most likely to buy when they are in pain.

While marketers have long understood that they must identify pain and need, business owners often act based on particular events occurring in their business. In the example of outsourced IT, a prospect is more likely to seek out an IT partner directly following a cyber breach or similar event.

Marketing communication is like chocolate–you don’t want too much, or too little. Marketers need to find ways to be in front of prospects often without overwhelming them. Having an omnichannel communication approach provides opportunity for multiple touches without creating fatigue.

4. Provide proof.

Social proof has become game, set, and match in marketing today. Prospects will not only validate you on your website but will seek independent validation in the form of reviews on Angie’s List, Yelp and others. Make such validation easy to find or create your own social proof through testimonials and such.

5. Entrepreneurs want to grow.

Offers that focus on driving revenue are more meaningful than services that are categorized as a cost center. Business owners will pay a premium for outsourced services they view as accretive to building enterprise value.

In my consulting practice, I have consistently been able to up sell services when the service provided was directly related to improving the client’s service delivery or sales productivity.

6. Business owners care about value, not so much about price.

Business owners are trying to earn a profit themselves and understand there are costs associated with the benefits they buy. They want to see value from their suppliers.

While you may not need to be the cheapest, you do need to prove your value through total cost-of-ownership-type comparisons. Provide such data at the end of your interactions with them in phase three, after you’ve proven you are the supplier of choice.

7. Small business owners are firefighters.

They are time-starved with limited resources. They want their vendors to get to the point. Make sure your website navigation is clean, and ensure your white papers, testimonials and other marketing pieces are illustrative.

Knowing their time constraints, be maniacal about follow-up. As most suppliers have poor follow-through, providing personal attention and follow-up can separate you from the pack.

Source: https://www.inc.com/marc-emmer/want-to-attract-small-business-customers-use-these-behavior-insights-to-market-to-them-successfully.html?cid=search


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6 Ways to Make Sure Your Sales Emails Dont Go to Spam

From Fortune 500 companies to scrappy startups, sending sales emails on a regular basis is a reality, so a large amount of time, strategy and effort goes into the process of sending these emails.

Yet, there is a massive blocker standing in the way of reaching your target’s inbox: spam filters.

1. Limit Links

Having an excessive amount of links in your email is one of the biggest red flags that will set spam filters off. Only include links that are absolutely essential to your sales email, such as your call-to-action, examples of your work for previous clients or something similar.

2. Keep the Exclamation Points To a Minimum

Punctuation marks like exclamation points are commonly found in spammy sales emails that litter our spam folders. Within your email, keep your exclamation points to a minimum, and quickly get to your point.

3. Dont Use Strange Fonts

Seemingly obscure fonts are another trigger that commonly set off spam filters. To combat this, stick to the default options your respective email provider gives to you. For example, on Gmail, Sans Serif is the default font. By using the fonts offered by your email provider, you’ll be reassuring the spam filters that your email was drafted in Gmail instead of being created by a sketchy bot.

4. Don’t Include Too Many Images

By keeping your text-to-image ratio at a reasonable level, you’ll be be decreasing the chances your email gets caught by the spam filters. As a rule of thumb, only use images that are absolutely essential to the content of your email. If you can’t, then it’s best to stick to text.

5. Don’t Use Sales Type Words

Words like “urgent” and “promo” and “sale” are easy targets for spam filters to identify and mark as junk mail. If you’re hosting a promotion that you truly think will add value to the prospects you’re reaching out to via email, then use a tool like Thesaurus.com to find some suitable synonyms to get the point across.

6. Include Your Physical Address & An Unsubscribe Link

Because of the CAN-SPAM Act, all senders must include a physical address as well as an unsubscribe link in all their emails. If you don’t, not only will you be violating this law, but your emails will also be much more likely to never make it through the spam filters. Platforms like Mailchimp make this process easy by having both your address and an unsubscribe link as a piece in all their email templates.

Email outreach is still one of the most commonly used forms of sales in the business world today. If you want to make sure your sales emails outsmart the tricky spam filters and reach your target’s inbox, start by following the best practices laid out in this article. Best of luck.

Source: By Dakota Shane Co-founder, Arctiphi@DakotaShane_Nun

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10 Skills You Need to leap ahead of your competition

According to Forrester, 93 percent of B2B (business-to-business) buyers say they “prefer buying online rather than from a salesperson.” Ugh.

Today, the most successful salespeople are part technician, part tactician and part consultant. The most effective selling style differs from market to market and product to product. Yet there is an evolving formula most effective in the majority of markets where technology is embedded in every solution, and relationship selling has been devalued.


Among the most powerful differentiators today is information. The contemporary salesperson has access to data, and they know how to manipulate it in a form that is useful to customers. For example, exception reporting can trigger a response when a customer has not ordered something. You’re more likely to impress a customer by showing you’re paying attention.


To deliver the most effective solution, salespeople need to understand which technology applies to which problems. One approach may companies employ is matching salespeople with engineers or other technical subject matter experts to ensure technical competency is being presented to every customer.


While many companies talk about consultative selling, customers still try to put salespeople in their place. The consultative salesperson is an expert at “framing“- the art of demanding you are treated like a peer.

To do this, salespeople must frame every interaction. Before a meeting, they provide value-added information. During a meeting they manage how they are introduced, where they sit, what they wear, etc., with clear intention. For example, salespeople who offer only a few appointment times give the impression that they are in demand and not just available any time.

Once they have been framed as a consultant, they deliver the solutions customers value. This requires both technical knowledge and creativity. The most effective salespeople pull others into the conversation, such as Marketing and Operations. Often being a consultant within your company is as important as being one with the customers.


Understanding that some customers are left-brain thinkers, effective salespeople have research-driven data that support their positions. Fact-based selling brings validity to your offer.


In most markets there is too much competition to be a generalist. Targeting niche businesses and overwhelming them with value is the key to standing out. For example, one of our clients has positioned as a private label provider to regional furniture stores, which do not command as much attention from major brands. They have the ability to yield very specific expertise to a narrow audience.


There are still some relics who dismiss the need for customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Their days are numbered. The complexity of today’s sales process requires that companies have a central hub where they can manage customer information and leverage marketing automation to provide useful, targeted campaigns. CRMs offer salespeople many other advantages such as mass email templates, tickler campaigns and more.


Sales productivity today is driven by a partnership between sales and marketing. Integration of sales and marketing departments drive a cohesive message, positioning a brand for relevance, and driving more effective selling.

For example, with the proper use of CRM, new prospects have already been dripped (email marketing) in advance of every call with specific messaging about the products or services they are interested in. When sales and marketing are on the same page, the company’s SEO (search engine optimization) attracts the right prospects, and marketing provides useful tools likely to lead to conversion.


To be solution sellers, the salespeople themselves need to demonstrate subject matter expertise. Social media tools like how-to videos, customer evangelism pieces, white papers and case studies provide “proof” of a company’s value, but when the salesperson originates them they position as the authority.


While all the aforementioned methods are important to have in your tool chest, the best salespeople are great story tellers. It is a lost art.

Having a set of examples for every business solution is what separates the most enduring salespeople from the herd. Having both the substance and the delivery are of equal importance. Framing how you have solved other customers’ problems is the number-one trait of a subject matter expert.


One constant that has not changed is that any good salesperson knows how to “ask for the order.” Many of the ideas offered here may “break the tie” or may simply be cost of admission. People still do business with people they like. So make sure you have communicated clearly in every step of the process and positioned yourself as a go-to solutions provider.

Source: https://www.inc.com/marc-emmer/10-skills-you-need-to-be-a-top-salesperson-in-2018.html?cid=search

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Need More Leads? Did you know you already have them on your website right now?

B2B Website visitor tracking is becoming more common place for companies looking to add value for sales and marketing and generate more leads . When you consider that 98% of your website visitors leave your site not filling out a contact form, your simply missing out on leads and that’s just not ok, is it?

New leads

  • Website visitor tracking software is going to provide you with additional leads which you would never have been able to access otherwise. There out there right now on your site looking at the very products and services you have to offer.
  • Your Leads may be of all different qualities and strengths but right now you dont have a way to identify companies visiting your website, imagine if your your sales team could identify prospects on your website right now?

Keep a close eye on leads in your sales funnel

  • In addition to new leads, any existing leads in your sales funnel can be tracked using website visitor software to identify when prospects go back to your site and identify what products and services they are interested in.
  • You can customize alerts on a specific company and can see exactly when they are visiting, which pages they have looked at and for how long. Having this knowledge now puts you in a whole new game. Imagine having a proposal out and seeing that prospect on your site!


  • Many feature in website visitor tracking software are automated, saving you time to work on closing more deals.
  • All data is real-time and automatically filtered into a simple to use dashboard. Once you customise your settings the software will provide data/analytics and notifications so you dont have to log into the system constantly.

Demographic insights

  • The demographic insights from website visitor tracking can be very useful for discovering new markets and areas which you can include in your future marketing campaigns.
  • Seeing that you are receiving frequent website visits from certain industries, geographies or verticals will allow you to narrow down your focus and home in on your sales and marketing efforts.

Website performance insight

  • You will be able to see which pages are getting high traffic and those which are not. Allowing you to fine tune content for better conversions.

Bring sales and marketing together for the common good

  • Website visitor tracking software can act as a hub for both your sales and marketing teams. We all know there is a divide between sales and marketing, however this divide can be broken as you work together to see what prior hidden opportunities are right in front of you.

Get a inside view on your competitors

  • Website visitor tracking tools enable you to watch your competition’s movements on your website.
  • You will be able to see your competitors engagement on your site which will allow you to identify threats and allow you to plan your next competitive analysis with deep insight you otherwise wouldn’t have.
  • You can set a trigger that allow you to see all of their activity going forward on your site and be informed of their instant arrival on any landing page which you choose.
  • Review your Google ads keywords and competition as your competitors click on your add.

Enhance your marketing campaign results

  • Add value to your marketing campaigns by identifying what companies are on your site. Especially your paid marketing efforts. You are able to collect a genuine contact rather than empty traffic numbers which may or may not convert. You now have the option to follow up or continue to market in their direction.

Data & Analytics beyond Google

  • Having a report of visiting companies available for monthly or weekly reports can be a vital piece of data. And, of course, these can be customised to your exact needs and requirements.
  •  Zapier integrations allows you to sync into tools meaning your website visitor tracking data is far more conveniently used and adaptable to the way in which you work. Data reporting and sales processing could not be easier.

Cost effective solution for lead gen

  •  When you find the right Website Visitor tracking program for you and when used correctly, you will have a great ROI which will allow you to grow revenue and have data tools not currently available.

Click Here to learn more about BetterLeadGen website visitor tracking

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