Thursday, October 18, 2007

Voice Mail Tips

Here's another bit of wisdom that was in my email today. I have coached my staff and others to use the "idea" approach over the years. The "help" approach also works well here in the midwest. However I have some additional words of advice and warning that I'll give you at the end of this post.

By Jim Domanski

Have you read any novels by John Grisham,
Tom Clancy, Anne Perry, Nelson DeMille
or perhaps Patricia Cornell?

They have the uncanny ability to draw
you in, to get you to read the next
paragraph, the next page and the chapter
beyond even though it is well past midnight.


Because they are masters at intrigue.

Intrigue is defined as "mystery, suspense;
to arose interest or curiosity."

At the end of every chapter, these authors
leave you with an unanswered question, a
moment of suspense, a sense of expectation.
You can't help but read on.

When prospects pick up/access their
voice mail, they are, in effect, picking
up a book and leafing through the pages.
Something must catch their

In a way, you must become a master of
intrigue when it comes to leaving a voice
mail. You must become the Grisham or
Cornell of voice mail! You must leave
your prospect hungry for more. He or
she must want to pick up that phone
in the telephony equivalent of turning
to the next page.

How do you do this?

Writing a good novel is essential a
matter of technique. So too is leaving
a voice mail. After leaving your name
and your company here are some techniques
or statements that leave your prospect
curious for more.

This statement has proven to be very
effective in getting prospects to call
back. It looks like this:

"Mr. Gandara, I need your help with some
research I am doing on safety issues
and I am told you are the resident expert..."

There are three things that work with
this statement. The first is that the
word 'help' appeals to the average
individual. It is not threatening and
it certainly doesn't sound like a
sales pitch.

Secondly, intrigue is created by
forcing the recipient to ask:
"What kind of help?" "Why?"
"What's this all about?"

Finally, the phrase flatters. By
stating that the prospect is the
resident expert, the prospect
feels important.

I have used the "idea" opener
in other scenarios in telesales and
it works extremely well because it
leaves the recipient asking the question
"what idea?"

For instance:
"Ms. Ackerman, I have an idea that I
would like to run by you that might
significantly impact your quality
control program..."

It creates intrigue in much the same
manner as the "I need your help."

The prospect is forced to wonder the
precise nature of the idea. That it
significantly impacts quality control
makes it all the more interesting.

This is a new one for me. I like it
and wish that I had developed it but
the credit goes to Tom Freese, author
of "The Secrets of Questions Based

"Dr. Tuori, I have a question that
I believe only you can answer concerning
carpal tunnel syndrome..."

The fact that only the recipient can
answer the question is intrigue enough.
The prospect thinks: "What question?
Why me?"

Here's another one I have seen used in
various forms. The insider referral
leverages the expertise, title or
position of someone within your company
and creates a unique sense of intrigue.

"Mr. Jackson, Dr. Carrigan, the head
of our Marketing Development Division,
suggested I give you a call concerning
employee productivity..."

The intrigue here is twofold. First,
the reference to "Doctor" Carrigan is
powerful. A doctor? What kind of doctor?
What is this about? Why did should a
doctor want me to call?

Second, the reference to productivity
is an implied benefit. But it is not
precisely clear and it nags like a
persistent itch. To scratch it you
have to call.

Not every company has a doctor on staff.
Another variation of this voice mail
statement is,

"Mr. Edgerton, our president, suggested
I give you a call..."

The "president" is a powerful title and
generally gets the attention of the

Learn to be a master of intrigue. Craft
your messages and try them. Test variations
and see what works best for you. Maybe you'll
create your own "best seller."

(Jim Domanski is President of Teleconcepts
a telesales consulting and training firm. Contact
him at and
613-591-1998. He's also author of the bookS,
"Add-On Selling,"
and "Profiting By Phone," )

Here's the additional advice:

1. Be prepared for what you are going to say if you get a live person, and if you get voice mail. You are in control since you are the one placing the call!!

2. You must be honest! Do not ask for help and then turn into a pushy salesperson! Use the appropriate words. If say you have an idea, then you better have an idea. If you need help, then be sure to ask for specific help.

3. Do not sell over the phone. Use the phone to schedule a meeting. Face to face meeting if possible.

4. Now if you are doing sales over the phone, you better be good at it. Otherwise you are going to struggle and fumble and quite frankly, it is not the way I would want to make a living.

5. Now, to every rule there is almost an exception, since I do sell over the phone and with email to out of town clients. But these are special situations, and most of the clients I work with, we have met face to face.

Sphere: Related Content

Email tips

A few years ago I bought a domain name that was based on my e-mail identity: ScLoHo. (Ask me if you want to know the origin of ScLoHo). This was the first step of moving away from a semi-professional to a full fledged professional. If you are still using Yahoo, Hotmail, G-mail or those types of email addresses for your professional business, you are hurting your image.

Next though, came the problem of spam. Although my account goes through Yahoo, and I have become very comfortable using Yahoo's services, their spam filtering was terrible.

After some research, I decided to add another step and that involves forwarding my e-mail to a G-mail account and let their spam filters do their stuff. It has been amazing. On October 17th, 200 Spam messages that were NOT caught by Yahoo, but were filtered by G-mail. And best of all, the G-mail account cost nothing and the more I use it, the more I get used to it.

One more tip. Do not mistakenly spam folks that you haven't met. Let me explain. There are a couple of local networking groups that I attend. One of them I had not been to in at least 4 months. Once a week, I get a reminder about the meeting time and place, which is fine. However, I got an email from a new member of this group that I had not met yet and he copied and pasted all the email addresses that were in the weekly reminder email and then sent an email to all of us that was inappropriate.

The e-mail came off as a sale pitch,

Good Evening!
It was such a pleasure meeting with you at the XXX XXX Leads Group! I had a great time, and being my first time at this networking meeting, etc.

Since I had never met this person, due to my not being at this Leads Group the last 4 months, it was an inappropriate email for me, and sounded like spam. I wrote him back and told him how to do follow up, using the business cards from the people he actually met, and to personalize his emails. There is a way to send emails to those on the list that he had not yet met, and it is so important to make the right impression from the beginning, than to try and repair a tarnished reputation.

Happy e-mailing!

Sphere: Related Content

A Better Way to talk to Unhappy Customers

The following advice and article came in my e-mail today and is written by Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

No matter how much customer care training we conduct, some customers will dislike our service. They may become so irate that they confront us face-to-face, venting their frustrations--at times rather loudly and accusingly:

"You double-charged me this month, and you can be sure I’m looking for another company that will be honest in its billing."

"Your service man said he would show up at noon, so I went home on my lunch hour. He didn’t get there until 2:00, and I had to take the rest of the day off. Seems to me you owe me for the income I lost because of that."

"Your telephone service is terrible. Yesterday somebody put me on hold and forgot about me. Well, I’m ready to forget about your company, and find somebody who will be courteous and efficient when I call."

"You know that my wife and I have eaten here every Friday night for a year. We won’t be back though. Our waitress last week talked to her customers so long that she got way behind on delivering orders. We don't like having our time wasted."

How are we likely to respond? By habit, we become defensive. We talk plenty. We contradict them, and tension rises. Far from gaining satisfaction, the disgruntled buyers become more upset.

However, there's a better way to deal with complaining clients. I heard about "noncommittal agreement" when I spoke at the Virginia Pest Management Association's State Technical Meeting. Here’s what Brian Delaney, the association’s president, told me in a phone conversation several weeks before the event.

Our inclination, he said, is to "make a decision before the customer gets to give the whole story." We "jump to a conclusion" too quickly.

Through experience, Brian has discovered a more productive approach. He listens, without making judgmental comments like "that's where you're wrong" or "our agreement doesn't include that service." In a quiet voice, he just agrees: "I see. . .Hmmmm. . .Tell me more."

Brian reports that the results are often amazing. Because he doesn’t challenge the customer, the customer becomes friendlier as the story unfolds. In fact, Brian says that "sometimes the customer even apologizes for taking up so much of my time, and for getting upset over something so trivial." Certainly that doesn't happen in every case, yet the "noncommittal agreement" nearly always defuses a tense situation.

Throughout the customer conversation, Brian prompts the customer with questions. This underscores Brian's willingness to hear what the customer feels and thinks.

When I gave my keynote speech on customer care, I called on Brian to share his noncommittal agreement concept with the audience. After he described his customer conversation style, I linked his statement with Stephen Covey's five levels of listening, and noted that empathic listening, Covey's highest level--as explained in chapter five of Covey's bestselling book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People -- mirrored Brian's noncommittal agreement.

So the next time you face a dissatisfied customer, try Brian's method. Both you and the customer will experience an unusual calmness. Instead of escalating into a verbal brawl, your dialogue will resolve the issue faster. As Stephen Covey advised, "Seek first to understand, and then to be understood."

Speaking of Stephen Covey, use this link to access my four minute video--"What's Your Listening Level?"--that discusses Covey's five levels of listening:

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., helps organizations improve their communication, motivation, sales and customer service. His speeches, seminars, consulting and coaching share the advice included in his book, The Complete Communicator: Change Your Communication-change Your Life! Visit his Web site and sign up for his complimentary monthly newsletter: Call Dr. Lampton at 770-534-3425.

Sphere: Related Content