How to Vanquish the New Cold Call Gatekeeper: A Voicemail Script for More Callbacks

By reorienting cold call strategies, harnessing the psychology of 'social proof' in voicemails, and minimizing friction, sales reps can improve callbacks and seize more meaningful conversations with prospects.

The cold call Gatekeeper is a menacing specter for the intrepid sales hunter.

Maybe that’s because most sales training treats the Gatekeeper as a quasi-mythical beast that must be slain in order to reach the prospect and set the appointment, viciously frothing and snapping to ward off intruders.

It’s no wonder your palms start to sweat as you dial your next prospect, your stomach churning ever more violently with each successive ring.

Your call has been answered. The moment of truth has arrived. You ready your hand on the hilt of your sales sword as the Gatekeeper says…

…”Please leave a message after the beep.”

These days, it turns out the Gatekeeper is a fairly mild-mannered adversary. In fact, it doesn’t even have a pulse. While receptionists and assistants still exist, today’s decision makers increasingly rely on caller ID and voicemail as their defense against unsolicited calls.

Discouraged? Don’t be. The rise of the robot Gatekeepers creates a new opportunity to get a leg up on your competitors. Here’s how:

1. Reorient Your Cold Call Strategy

It’s estimated that between 50% and 90% of cold calls now go to voicemail. Even at the low end of that range, that represents a huge chunk of your call time. So why do most cold calling scripts and strategies treat voicemail as an afterthought?

Some argue that, since voicemail response rates are paltry, devoting time to a precise voicemail strategy is a waste of time.

But wait a minute… you already know cold calling takes time and energy. And crafting a 15-second voicemail script that increases your odds of a callback is among the least time-intensive aspects of cold calling.

That’s why we recently revised our 6 Winning Cold Call Scripts to put voicemail at the top of the list, rather than at the end. Since most of your calls will end up there, it’s smart—and easy—to be prepared.  

2. Persuade Your Prospect to Call You Back

Okay, so how can you use voicemail to generate more callbacks and leads? It starts with basic psychology.

Imagine you heard about a new tool that claimed it could help you increase sales. Would you buy it?

Now imagine you heard that several of your competitors used that same tool, and claimed that it really worked. Would that affect your decision?

If your chances of buying increased after hearing about your competitors’ behavior, you just illustrated Robert Cialdini’s principle of “social proof.”

The principle of social proof is rooted in the fact that people look to the actions of others as a guide, especially when they’re uncertain about what to do.

Voicemail presents the perfect opportunity to put social proof into action. The next time a cold call goes to voicemail, try this script:  

“Hi [FIRST NAME]. This is [NAME]. I’m calling regarding [PROSPECT’S COMPETITOR / YOUR CLIENT]. Please get back to me at [PHONE NUMBER]. Again, this is [NAME] at [PHONE NUMBER]. I look forward to speaking with you.”

Importantly, the “competitor company” is always a specific firm that is both a client of yours and a competitor of your prospect’s firm.

Why is it so effective? Because the mention of your prospect’s competitor triggers a “social proof” reaction. Even before your prospect knows what their competitor is doing, he’s interested—that’s pretty powerful.

Our sales reps have actually been using this message for years. It’s so effective, we call it the “Boomerang Message,” because it reliably comes back in the form of a callback.  

3. Eliminate Friction

There’s another important reason the Boomerang Message works: it gets to the point quickly, and emphasizes the precise information necessary for a callback.

Just like cold call and cold emails, cold voicemails are competing on a crowded playing field for your prospect’s attention. Your odds of getting the response you’re looking for are much higher when you’re clear and direct about what you’re asking your prospect to do.

That means eliminating “friction”—no long lead-ins or detailed descriptions. Like its namesake, the Boomerang Message is nearly frictionless, specifically constructed to grab your prospect’s attention and come sailing right back to you.

Of course, you can’t use the Boomerang Message for every cold voicemail… because it has to be true. The good news is, you should be targeting prospect firms that look like your clients anyway… and the more clients you get, the more effective the Boomerang Message becomes.

Even better, perfecting a tried-and-true voicemail script will free up your mind to tackle other, more difficult cold calling challenges—like what to say to your prospect when you actually get them on the phone. And your new voicemail script will ensure that happens a lot more.