On vacation last week I read an article in the Silicon Valley paper The San Jose Mercury News. The title grabbed me: “Death of Voicemail Changes How We Connect,” by Ethan Baron. The author explains that texting has overtaken voice mail in our personal lives, and that voicemail is also going the way of the fax and pager in business applications. This trend may be concerning to those of us who make our living in sales.
A 26-year-old software engineer interviewed for the story said he hadn’t set up voicemail on his personal phone but will leave a voicemail message for “older” people in more formal situations.
The article goes on to quote Naomi Baron, an American University linguist who studies language and technology. She says her university stopped providing voicemail to employees, making it opt-in instead. “There is a death knell being sounded for voicemail in business,” says Baron.
So, where does that leave sales reps? If buyers don’t answer calls, ignore emails, don’t have receptionists, and don’t have voicemail, how do we reach them effectively? This is a recurring theme in conversations I have with sales managers around the country.
Some are finding success with direct mail. Others are using social media as a way to get to buyers. Of course, relationships are key. But what happens when a favorite and loyal buyer retires? According to the book “Nonstop Sales Boom” by Colleen Francis, we have to be ubiquitous; we have to be everywhere. She suggests using both direct and indirect attraction, relying on as many of the following as possible:
E-newsletters to clients: Stay on their radar screens and share information that matters to them.
Network: Attending a monthly Chamber meeting doesn’t cut it anymore. Join the board of a cause that you care about, volunteer in the community; this is how new and meaningful relationships are forged.
Referrals: Nothing new here, but how many of us are good at it? Your excellent customer service is the best way to gain referrals.
Web-directed leads: We have to make ourselves easier to find on our own stations’ websites! Each salesperson should be represented with a head shot. We are not as unforgettable as we think we are!
Cold calls: Hone your skills; voicemail is not dead quite yet! Make calls with a true purpose beyond filling up your sales reports. Do you have a real and timely reason to be calling them right now?
Events: Are we in the community? Do we invite people to our stations? Invite clients and prospects to station events.
Media kits: Including video/audio testimonials.
Trade shows: Attend those that open new categories for us. Join the organization and get involved.
Direct mail: This is having a greater impact than email marketing, according to some.
Marketing: We have a radio station and website to use and it’s free! We should always have some sort of messaging airing, whether it’s client testimonials, info on our audience or the Halo Effect. Make sure you keep it fresh!
If voicemail becomes the latest outdated technology, we need to be ready for it. As salespeople working in media, we can be marketing experts who use all the tools available to us!