The Loss of Voice Mail

I get asked about voice mail all the time. The first obvious questions are, “Should I leave a voice mail” and “If I leave one, what should I say”?

Once again, things are changing rapidly. Many of us discover that our voice mails have no listeners. How many times have you received a return call from a voice mail only to have the other person say “What’s up?” They clearly didn’t listen to your message – they just hit “send” on their phone and called you back. (Not to be ungrateful for return calls, but now I have to tell my story again if it was a detailed voice mail).

An excellent suggestion was made on a recent group role playing session. One of my female advisors said she’s changed her outgoing message to say “And please tell me a good time and day to return your call so we can connect.” She has removed the classic “I’ll return your call as soon as possible.” Randomly trying to reach people is more frustrating than ever.

Changing your outgoing message is a good idea. But embracing the concept of scheduling Phone Dates is better. If you are scheduling 95% of your outbound dials to people that have already agreed to a specific time to talk, you reduce:

1. The need for voice mail.

2. The concern about playing phone tag.

3. Your craziness at trying to get folks on the phone in the first place!

On the (rare) occasion that your Phone Date does not pick up when you call at the specified time, your choices are:

1. Wait 5 minutes and call again, or...

2. Leave the following brief message: Hi, it’s Gail Goodman. It’s 10:00 and I’m at my desk ready for our call”. Then leave your phone number again.

Your next step is to either remain at your desk if you have work to do, or continue on with your day. Reschedule the phone date via text or email (whatever is preferred by the prospect) and expect it to reschedule.

The challenge of voice mail is that it doesn’t have the import it used to have. People don’t pick up their phones; don’t regularly listen to voice mail; don’t return phone calls and overall, don’t use their smart phone to make actual phone calls. (I wish we called it something else, don’t you)?

Redesigning your phone life is more important than finding the “best words” for a voice mail in today’s culture. Get into the habit of scheduling Phone Dates and you won’t get crazed by those who ignore your voice mails and never return your calls.


Gail Goodman is known as The PhoneTeacher. Gail has developed the best structured analysis of the appointment setting phone call so that all direct sales people can master this critical skill. Being a great sales person is irrelevant if you’re not sitting with prospects, and Gail’s training materials, on-site seminars, videos and newsletters zero in on the most effective way to understand this critical part of the sales cycle. For almost thirty years, Gail has continually updated her seminar and training materials to keep pace with the changes in our culture. Despite the exponential increase in emailing and texting, the ability to communicate effectively by phone remains an important part of American commerce. Gail addresses the new “digital-personal-vocal mix” which all sales teams must learn to manage in our ever-changing society.