Leave a Message and I’ll be Glad to Return your Call… Not!

Leave a Message and I’ll be Glad to Return your Call… Not!

Written By Jeffrey Gitomer

KING OF SALES, The author of seventeen best-selling books including The Sales Bible, The Little Red Book of Selling, and The Little Gold Book of Yes! Attitude. His live coaching program, Sales Mastery, is available at gitomer.me.

Press one if you’d like to leave a message. I’ll be glad to return your call as soon as I can. Right. And Santa will bring you toys if you’re a good little boy.

Press two if you’re selling something I don’t want. That’s a lot closer to the truth.

Why won’t they call me back? When you get someone’s voice mail and decide to leave a message, what steps can you take to ensure that your call will be returned? Lots.

If you leave a message, here is a collection of techniques that have gotten calls returned:

  • First name and number only (in a very businesslike manner). It seems that calls are returned in inverse proportion to the amount of information left.
  • Be funny Clean wit will get response.
  • Be indirect “I was going to mail you important information, and I wanted to confirm your address.”
  • Offer fun “I had two extra tickets to the Knights game and I thought you might be interested. (here’s the sure shot) Please call me if you can’t go so I’m able to give the tickets to someone else.”
  • If it was positive first meeting, remind the prospect where you met.
  • Dangle the carrot. Leave just enough information to entice.
  • Ask a provocative or thought provoking question.

Note: There is never a reason to give your sales pitch on voice mail. No one is there to say yes. Your objective is to make contact. Your objective is to provide enough information to create positive response.

An alltime classic technique was offered by Thomas J. Elijah, III, of Elijah & Co. Real Estate, at a SalesMasters meeting. He said to leave a partial message that includes your name and phone number, then pretend to get cut off in midsentence, as you’re getting to the important part of the message. “Cut it off in midword,” Elijah says, “it works like a charm because the prospect can’t stand not knowing the rest of the information, or thinks his voice mail is broken.”

“Leave a partial message that includes your name and phone number and pretend to get cut off in midsentence as you’re getting to the important part of the message.”

~Thomas J. Elijah, III

Here are a few examples of the “Elijah Method.”

Leave your name and number then deliver half a sentence to peak interest:

  • Your name came up in an important conversation today with Hugh…
  • They were talking about you and said…
  • I have a deal that could deliver you a hundred thou…
  • I’m interested in your…
  • I have your…
  • I found your…
  • I have information about your…
  • Your competition said…
  • I’m calling about your inheritance…
  • Are you the (persons full name) who…
  • We wanted to be sure you got your share of…
  • I’m calling about the money you left at…

I had to call Elijah this week to get some information. I tried his technique on him, cutting off my message in midword. I said, “I’m going to quote you in my column this week and I need…” He called me back in under 3 minutes laughing hysterically. This technique could revolutionize message leaving. I’ve been using it all week and it works. Be careful about how far you go on the humor with someone you don’t know.

If you’re making several calls, make sure you document your messages so you can be on top of it immediately if/when your call is returned. Nothing worse (or more stupid) than getting a returned call and having no idea who it’s from.

Bob Hofmann, of Hofmann Network Services, a voice mail and voice messaging company, says that voice mail helps companies route messages faster and the recording system offered by voice messaging reduces errors and allows complete messages to be left.

If you’re thinking about buying voice mail, don’t just look at the benefit of your convenience. Before you make a commitment to a specific system consider the impact on your customers. Will they be better served? Will you maintain friendly, human service in spite of the voice mail system?

Don’t confuse voice mail with automatic attendant systems. Automatic attendant, where the computer actually answers the phone, is the single worst business invention ever.

Here is the most customer friendly type of voice mail system to use:

  1. Human answers.
  2. Human determines if the person you’re calling is in by ringing their phone and monitoring the response.
  3. If not in, human returns and says, “Mr. Jones is not in. Would you like me to help you personally, take your message personally or would you like to leave a detailed message on his or her voice mail?”
  4. You faint from the shock.

If you do leave a message, ask yourself, “Would I return this call?” If you hesitate to say yes, change your message.

Press one if you hate voice mail. Press the hot button of the prospect
if you want to get a call back and make the sale in spite of it.


Persistence: The Secret of Entrepreneurial Success. Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Don’t stop! Just go to www.gitomer.com click Access GitBit/Redbit at the top of the screen, register if you’re a first-time user and enter the word PERSISTENCE.