A voicemail greeting is a first impression – one which can either set you up for future opportunities or shut the door before it’s even open all the way.
Last week, I spent a little time calling clients and customers out of the blue to see how they were doing. I was already prepared to get voicemail messages since so many of us are in small businesses that can’t afford to constantly man the phones, but what I didn’t expect was so many people to not have a voicemail greeting at all.
Maybe I’m missing something related to privacy or avoiding telemarketers, but not having a voicemail greeting setup is a huge mistake from a business point of view. It results in lost opportunities.
Imagine if I were a prospect interested in working with you and got no voicemail greeting. Sure, you may want me to email as that’s you’re preferred method of contact, but not having a voicemail message sends a flag to me that you’re not professional enough to take the time to set it up.
Or perhaps I was a sponsor interested in advertising on your site. Or from a speaker’s bureau trying to get in contact with you about a speaking opportunity. Or an associate that that’s interested in collaborating with you on a new project.
As much as you might like to deal with things like this via email, many people still call first. And you’d be surprised how many of the people you want to interact with now prefer to call and talk instead of get trapped in email.
Nearly every day, I work with or hear people who feel like good opportunities are so far away or hard to make, especially when they’re in the earlier stages of business. There’s a lot we can do to set the conditions for luck and opportunities, but doing all of that work only to be thwarted by something so trivial as a voicemail is folly. Three months of work really can be squandered in 15 seconds of tone and silence.
Don’t let this happen to you. Here’s what to do:
- If you haven’t checked your voicemail greeting in the last two months, call and listen to it. Does it sound both professional and like you?
- If you haven’t set it, write out what you’d like to say. Make sure you tell the person calling what information you’d like them to leave. Rehearse it a few times so it’s natural to you and you get the flow of words and breathing right. (Not too fast, not too slow – don’t rush your listener.)
- Do a trial run so you can test the process and aren’t surprised by an unexpected prompt or don’t forget to stop recording and have one of those awkward voicemail greetings where you can tell the person is having tech woes.
- Spend a minute or two thinking about something that makes you smile and feel at peace. It’ll alter your voice and tone for the better.
- Record your greeting as rehearsed.
- Call in from a cell phone and listen to your greeting. Many people will be calling from cell phones so you want to hear what they hear.
- If it’s good, keep it. If not, do it again. It’s worth the 5 minutes of effort to get it right.
First impressions make or break opportunities. Don’t let your first impression be a lack of a professional voicemail greeting.