5 Essentials of an Effective Voicemail for Agency New Business

One overlooked business development skill is: leaving a voicemail. Without effective voicemails, you’re going to get fewer callbacks, fewer email responses, and fewer meetings.

Without a steady stream of meetings, your agency’s new business program will suffer. When the pipeline dries, it leads to less-predictable revenue and an increasing reliance on the unpredictable referral.

As an agency principal, this lack of predictability can cause other problems, as you find yourself on defense diagnosing problems rather than on offense winning new business from dream clients.

Exercise in Futility

At one point in my career, I was leaving hundreds of voicemails each week for CMOs, VPs, brand managers and marketing directors. The results? Zero callbacks.

I was discouraged. I even thought I would stop leaving voicemails altogether.

Then I got one. A terrible voicemail from a sales rep.

It was long. It felt impersonal and random. I had no idea who they were or why they wanted to talk to me. I thought to myself, “Why would I even think about calling this person back?”

I realized the voicemail I received was just like the babble I had been leaving my prospects.

A New Approach to Voicemail Leads to Better Results

What do you want your agency’s voicemails to do? There are three key takeaways—these are related to your positioning—prospects must walk away with after listening to your voicemail:

  • Who you are
  • Why you’re contacting them
  • What value you bring

Research shows that the most effective voicemails are 30 seconds or less. How do you get all of this across in 30-seconds? By focusing only on critical information that’s delivered in a specific order and prompts your dream client to action.

That bad voicemail I received? I took it apart and reverse-engineered it.

Doing so led me to develop 5 essential elements you need in your voicemails to get callbacks and meetings.

  1. Greeting
  2. Event Trigger
  3. WIIFM
  4. Action
  5. Valediction

Here’s a closer look at the five essential elements and how to use them to craft a great voicemail.

  1. Greeting

State the prospect’s first name, your name, your agency’s name and, critically, the type of agency you are. Be clear about this last point. Like it or not, the prospect will be putting you in a “box,” so you might as well make sure they put you in the right one.

  1. Event Trigger

The Trigger lets a prospect know why you’re contacting them, and why now. It gives the prospect context and relevant reason for your call.

Relevance is key here and is framed by the pre-call research you’ve done about the industry, company and prospect. Here is where you let the prospect know that you did your homework, by sharing relevant information that is salient to the prospect.

Timeliness is important. Consider tying in recent events, news or insights, such as their CEO’s statement during an earnings call, a quote by the prospect in a trade journal or a report by an industry analyst.

  1. WIIFM

WIIFM answers the “what value you bring” question. It introduces the value and why that value might be of interest to the prospect.

How do you accomplish this? By stating how you can help a prospect by offering immediate and clear value.

For the prospect, it also answers the question, “What’s in it for me?”

Demonstrating this value can take several forms, including:

  • Sharing proprietary insights that are relevant to the prospect
  • Showing results your agency achieved with a similar client
  • Offering a case study that shows how you’ve solved a challenge the prospect is facing

Let’s look a little closer at value. Remember, at this point, you are not selling agency services. You’re offering to provide value.

What will the prospect find valuable in a sea of generic cold-call voicemails? A partner who can have a thoughtful, helpful and solutions-focused conversation about a challenge.

Focus on the value you add to the prospect’s business. You want to express your expertise, insights and solutions for the prospect’s pain point. Show how you will make his or her life easier.

  1. Action

What you ask for in the call is important. This voicemail is not trying to close a deal; it’s trying to start one.

Here are tips for two types of calls to action you can seek in your voicemail. Keep in mind, your message should have only one intended action.

  1. A Callback. Don’t ask for a meeting, yet. Ask for a callback to discuss the value you have offered to provide.
  2. Drive to Email. Let the voicemail act as a humanizing touch point to an email you are sending. In a cluttered inbox, this voicemail will help your email stand out. The email can provide more details and ask for the call or a meeting.
  1. Valediction

Since birth, our names have been tied to our existences. We are our names. When people say our name, we feel recognized and noticed.

Throughout the voicemail, use the prospect’s name often, including at the beginning, the middle and here at the end. People pay attention when their name is mentioned. Remember, you want your voicemail to be personalized, and that means the prospect’s name, too.

Make sure to give your name and your agency’s name again. And if your action is a callback, leave your phone number – twice.

Getting Started

With a good voicemail that follows these five essentials, you’ll see better results. This is the format I follow on every voicemail I leave and it’s led to millions of dollars of new business wins over my sales career.

Be sure you do not include “salesy” language or agency buzzwords. Build in strategic silent pauses and vary the tempo of your delivery.

Make sure you have the right equipment and preparation. Be hydrated and have a clear throat before calling. Invest in a good headset. Be careful with your accent and phrasing.

Practice and speak with authority, knowing you have made a quick and powerful impact with valuable insights, structured in the right way, to land more business from dream clients.

Better voicemails will lead to more meetings and more closed new business. Your time will be spent in the right place—on offense—and revenue will be more predictable … and grow.

Christian Banach

As VP, Group Account Director, Christian leads Catapult's team of Sales Directors and is focused on helping generate new business opportunities for our advertising and marketing agency clients.