How can I get prospects to return my calls?


Q & A by C.J. HaydenThe most important factor in getting people to return your calls is not the content of your message, but rather your pre-existing relationship with the person you are calling. If they know who you are and have a positive experience of you already, they are much more likely to return your call, whether or not they are interested in doing business with you at that moment.

When you are calling people who don’t yet know you well, they will often not return your call unless there is an immediate benefit they will gain from calling you back. Messages that say, “I’m calling to introduce myself” or “I’d like to tell you about my services” will hardly ever get a return call, because the content of those messages is about what you want, not what the person you are calling wants.

A better approach when calling strangers (or near-strangers who you met briefly once) is to try and put yourself in their shoes about what might be of benefit to them. For example: “I understand your company is going through XYZ, and I have worked with those issues before. I’d like to speak with you about your situation and see if I might have some experience that would be useful.”

Or if you are calling someone to network rather than to sell to them: “I think you and I share the same target market, and I’d like to connect with you about how we could help each other be more successful.”

But there is no guaranteed formula to get a return call from people who don’t already know and like you. It may be helpful to think of your voice mail messages in this situation as simply one of many opportunities to remind people who you are and what you do. Rather than expecting them to call you back, assume they probably won’t, and reach out to them by postal mail, email (if appropriate), and any other available channel, in a series of contacts over time.

A much more productive approach is to focus on strengthening your relationships with people from the outset. For example, if you meet someone at a networking event, then call that person afterward, and he or she doesn’t return your call, it’s a good bet your new contact doesn’t feel a positive connection to you. The way to change that isn’t what you say in your voice mail message, it’s what you do when you meet them to begin with.

When you meet new people, try to listen carefully to what they say rather than focusing on delivering your own marketing message. Ask questions about their situation, express interest and concern about their issues, and offer helpful ideas or resources whenever you can.

One of the best ways to get someone to return your call after you have met them once is to leave a message that says: “I’ve got that resource I told you about for the issue you and I were discussing last night, and I’d like to share it with you.” That way you will be perceived as a helpful colleague rather than a pesky salesperson, and therefore worth the time to talk to.

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