Voicemail is an essential tool for salespeople. You’re never guaranteed to reach a prospect on your first call attempt, so salespeople spend hours practicing and perfecting a compelling voicemail template that will hook buyers’ attention and get them to call back.
But what happens when leaving voicemails just … isn’t an option anymore?
We’re probably years away from a voicemail-less world, but the trendlines are already starting to point away from voicemail. Coca-Cola got rid of voicemail for 94% of its employees last year, JPMorgan Chase has removed voicemail for a portion of its employees (with Citigroup and Bank of America considering following suit), two-thirds of Americans no longer check voicemail, and HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan doesn’t even have a phone at his desk.
All of which suggests that even if voicemails still exist, they might no longer be the best or easiest way to reach buyers. While salespeople probably won’t stop leaving voicemails any time soon, it’s not a bad thing to start investing more time in getting really good at other sales techniques.
What do those strategies look like? Here are four skills salespeople should make sure to perfect so that if voicemail does ever become obsolete, they’ll be ready.
1) Writing really good emails
This one’s no surprise. Email is a less interruptive method of reaching a prospect than a voicemail, since they get to decide when and if they respond. But it’s also hard to stand out — prospects get dozens, if not hundreds of emails every day, and there’s no guarantee that yours will get read.
Good sales emails include a catchy subject line, compelling value proposition (a reason your prospect should respond to your email, not buy your product), and something that provides value to your prospect. And even if you think you’re better in person than through a screen, reflect on what exactly makes your voicemails so compelling — then put it in your emails!
Still, writing good email isn’t easy. You have to invest time into really researching prospects so they’re hooked by highly relevant content from the first sentence. Writing also may not come naturally to some salespeople. For more tips, check out these resources:
- How to Write a Sales Email: The Definitive Guide
- The 14 Worst Sales Email Writing Mistakes
- 16 Creative Email Subject Lines That Restart Stalled Conversations
- 26 Sales Email Subject Lines That Get Prospects to Open, Read, and Respond
- The LinkedIn Skim Guide: How to Research Any Buyer in 15 Minutes or Less
2) Social selling the right way
Social selling is much-hyped but also oft-criticized. It’s easy to dismiss the tecnique as so much social noise if salespeople are overly promotional and post irrelevant content. But done right, it’s an incredibly powerful way to meet buyers on their own turf and talk about the issues they care about.
Research the social platforms and online forums your buyers are most likely to be active in, then join them and start participating. The key to successful social selling is to shed your salesperson identity. Instead, act as an advisor and industry expert. Provide helpful advice and link to relevant content. Only talk about your product if you are explicitly asked about it.
If this seems like a foreboding amount of work to you, try starting out by just sourcing your target accounts on social media. Monitor their activity and jump in with advice where you can. Eventually, you’ll be comfortable enough with social selling to make it part of your regular routine.
3) Providing value before a sale
You might traditionally think of all pre-sale activity as Marketing’s responsibility. And while marketers certainly have a huge role to play in nurturing and educating leads, salespeople have a great opportunity here as well. Whether it’s social selling (see above), creating original content, speaking at conferences, or running educational webinars, the more valuable you can make yourself to a prospect before they even think about purchasing a product, the more likely they’ll think of you and be willing to take your call when the time comes to make a decision.
4) Leveraging their existing network
Referrals are powerful. Salespeople who can leverage their existing networks for referrals are at an advantage — after all, you have an objective third party backing up their value proposition who your prospect presumably already knows and trusts.
Salespeople leave voicemails and send prospecting emails to get an introduction. But plumbing your networks for referrals completely skips over needing to make that initial connection yourself. For more tips on setting up a referral program, check out Joanne Black’s blog post on the subject.
What do you think will happen to sales if voicemail ever becomes obsolete? Let us know in the comments below.