The Greatest Communication Tool You’re Not Using

Fire your voice mail message. Today!

I’m pretty sure most of the human population thinks the rest of the human population has the IQ of a sparrow. And I can prove it.

Just call someone (anyone!) and get their voice mail.  What you’ll hear is a prerecorded message that assumes you’ve been stranded on Gilligan’s Island since the early 90’s. The message will tell you the person isn’t available and that you can leave a “brief” (or “detailed”) message, after the tone. Shazam! Butter on toast, the wheel, the lightbulb – all in one set of instructions.

As business professionals, can we stop this please? Like today, just end it. No more. From this day forward, choose to honor callers with the assumption that they actually know what to do when you don’t answer their call. Let’s trust them to look both ways, to not run with the scissors, to not play Gronk on defense and to chew their food. They got this!

Instead, let’s blow them away with better idea. Here’s how:

Record your outgoing message with something unique to tell them, something you would tell them if you had their undivided attention and knew they wouldn’t interrupt you (they can’t, what an opportunity!). Essentially think of it as a voice mail post.

I play around with this every week or so (call me and see: 401-228-9589). Occasionally I say something inspirational, sometimes something encouraging and from time to time something random, a book I liked or a movie I saw. And you know what happens? People tell me how much they enjoyed it; at my doctor’s office, barber, restaurant – anywhere that calls to confirm an appointment or returns a call. They acknowledge my message. I become a little less obscure (the kryptonite of business people). How cool is that?

You can even use the message to direct them somewhere: your web page, blog (like this one), social media links, charities or upcoming events you’re attending.

Opportunity is knocking. If you have to send it to voice mail, don’t tell it to wait for the tone.

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