Get Voice-Mails ReturnedIt’s ironic. People have more phone numbers than ever before, yet it’s harder to actually reach people than ever before. Which means whether you’re using the phone to follow up with leads, prospect for new customers or close sales, you’re going to have to deal with voice-mail a lot. Here are some powerful tactics that will help make sure your message gets returned.

1. Slow Down and Speak Up
Most people speak too quickly when leaving a message. The result for the listener is often garbled names and unintelligible phone numbers. I have received messages that I couldn’t return because I couldn’t understand what the caller was saying. Make sure people hear what you want them to hear. Speak slowly and distinctly, enunciating each word (and especially numbers) carefully. Speak with enough volume so that your recipient won’t have to strain to hear you.

2. KISS Over the Phone
Voice-mail is not the place to let your inner Dostoevsky free. Do you like listening to long, rambling messages? Neither does anyone else. Keep It Short and Simple. If you don’t know exactly what you’re going to say when you hear the voice mail prompt, hang up, compose your thoughts and call back. If you’re prospecting over the phone, never leave your sales pitch on someone’s voice mail. Instead, tantalize them with a benefit or mention the name of the person who referred you. You should be able to do either or both in a matter of seconds.

3. Get Specific
Don’t just say, “Call me back.” People are more likely to return your call when they know the reason for it. Tell the person what you are calling about and what you need from them. This will also give them a chance to come up with the information, action or decision before they get back to you, saving both of you time and aggravation.

4. Make It Easy for Them
Even if the person you’re calling already has your number, giving it to them in the message saves them the trouble of looking it up. Be sure to leave your complete phone number, including area code and extension. And to prevent playing phone tag, let the person know when you will be reachable at that number. You may also want to leave an additional number they can reach you at, depending on when you want them to call back.

5. Be Happy
Of course you’re disappointed that you didn’t reach the person you wanted. But don’t let that come through in your voice. People will be more likely to respond if you sound enthusiastic and upbeat. Smile as you record your message and let the person know that you’re looking forward to hearing from them.

We all hate voice-mail. But it’s a fact of modern business life. Rather than get upset or frustrated, use these strategies when confronted with a recording and before you know it, you’ll be talking to a real, live human being.