The 9-Word Voice Mail – That Gets Replies!

This morning my message light was flashing on my phone.

There was five.  Two were rotten messages from vendors and they were quickly deleted. Two were from clients.  The last message went like this:

“Jim, this is Bob Smith (not his real name). My number is ________”

So there I was clutching the receiver thinking : Who is Bob? What does he want? Probably a sales rep. But it could be a prospect. Maybe it was someone who attended one of my sessions.  I just sent out my newsletter, maybe it was a reader.  Could be those computer guys I called a while back.

My spider senses were tingling. Only 9 words. Hmmm… I sensed it was a sales rep.  But, dang, I was curious. I hemmed and hawed for about 22 seconds and then I called the number.  And sure enough it was a sales rep/consultant offering up a service.

I didn’t have a need and so the conversation was short.

But that’s not the point!

The point was his message worked. It got me to return his call. That’s what a good voice mail message should do.


This message was highly effective.  Nine words! Short, simple, clear, directive.  It was delivered  succinctly and well.  And it created more that curiosity.  It created uncertainty.  I was uncertain about dismissing it, deleting it, or trashing it. It could have been  important. It could have been  a prospect; an opportunity. I did not want to risk ignoring and losing out.

5 Lessons Learned

First, the voice mail message did not try to sell me or pitch me.

Second, it did not identify the rep’s title, company or position. It gave me nothing to help me disqualify the message.

Third, it drove me mad wondering what it was about. It was like a pebble in my shoe.

Fourth, it indirectly played on one of the key motivators: fear (uncertainty).

Fifth, it got me to call back.


Nine words. So simple. So powerful. You couldn’t get much more of a basic voice mail, could you? But,  sometimes in our search for good solutions we become overly complex; we out think ourselves; or we try to be too clever.  Sometimes simple is the best. Try it and see.  Let me know  how it goes.

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3 Responses to The 9-Word Voice Mail – That Gets Replies!

  1. Hi Jim,
    Very interesting. As I read I am wondering if this “simple” message will have the same affect on folks who hold positions where they wouldn’t be considering the call may be a prospect or opportunity. (for example I mostly call leaders in the Facilities or Operations department.)

    I am going to take this approach to see if it also works for me and I will let you know how it goes!

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  2. Hey Sheila
    I don’t know what the affect might be on your target market but you have the right attitude. Give it a try and see what happens. Judge it from there.

    Here’s the thing: I have learned that I personally don’t have to like some of the techniques I have provided on my site to recognize and respect that they work. Provided they are ethical and above board, I have no problem providing tips that can improve results even if I don’t use them myself.

    Selling and selling techniques are often a personal thing. If a rep is not comfortable with an approach then he/she shouldn’t use it. I don’t use all the techniques I’ve but I have worked with dozens and dozen of reps who do use them successfully. Lots of ways to skin a cat … so to speak.

    So…give it a try and let me know how it works for YOU! Jim

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