Voicemail? Email? Success Takes A Conversation

I saw an interesting discussion posted in one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to. It asked:

When “cold calling” on a company for the first time, what is the best way to make contact that gets results? Assume you have no “in” at the company.

There were 64 votes. The voting results follow:

  • Email (4%)
  • Telephone (until you reach them live) (18%)
  • Inmail once (1%)
  • Email, then follow up by telephone (28%)
  • Telephone, then follow up by email (46%)

I don’t think it’s too far of a stretch to change “company” to “person” and change “Assume you have no in at the company” to, “You don’t know this person.”

Which would you choose?

I’m a phone sourcer who’s asked many times to take my research one step further and contact each of the names I’ve sourced to “profile” them for their interest in the opportunity my customer represents. So, I would choose Door #2: Telephone (Until You Reach Them Live).

I know that makes me a minority, but I have my reasons for doing this.

I call and call and call until they answer. It doesn’t mean I call repeatedly in one day, but it does mean I might call once or twice a day for a week. I do it in list format. I keep notes on each name in my work document with the date, time of call, and what happened on the call.

Like this:

Tom Jones Satellite Antennae Design Engineer 831 xxx 5734

Feb 3 11:47 am reached his voicemail

Feb 4 9:15am same

Feb 4 2:13pm Reached/ he said the opportunity “mildly” interested him and he agreed to profile.

I then mark it “PROFILED.”

Voicemails Get Ignored

One of the reasons I don’t leave messages is I don’t get paid unless I reach them and gather their information. But moving beyond that silly pragmatism lies my firm belief that most voicemail messages go unheeded.

Once in a lucky while my notes look like this:

Sheila Mathews Business Analyst x58976

Feb 1 8:58am Answered; is definitely interested as long as she doesn’t have to move. PROFILED

More often, it looks like this:

Chris Schuster Market Research Analyst

Feb 1 9:08am VM (voicemail)

Feb 1 3:56pm VM

Article Continues Below

Feb 2 11:15am VM — says he’s on vacation ’til Feb 10

Feb 10 3:55pm VM

Feb 11 10:13am VM

Feb 11 1:03pm Answered; PROFILED

Three Calls Get You In

Many times I have to call two, three, and four times to have the person on the other end answer live. I’d say an average number of calls (most industries) before reaching someone live is three.

I’m going to assume that the “Telephone, then follow up by email” choice above means a voicemail was left and then an email was sent. This assumption is based on my experience in what many people generally do. It is also based on the fact that a potential candidate is being contacted who is not necessarily looking for a job.

Many people never even listen to their voicemails and some only check them rarely. Even so, many people in our industry insist upon leaving voicemails after one call. Why, if you’re reaching out to them to gauge their interest in one of your opportunities? Why leave such an important matter to chance?

Once you have the name of someone who you know can do the job you have open, why take the chance of them not calling you back? After all, they’re “not looking for a job.” Why in the world would they call you back when they know that’s what you’re calling about?

It’s bad enough that many will tell you this when you do reach them. It’s your challenge to overcome that objection and press on with them to pique their interest.

So given all that, why would you leave a voicemail that handicaps yourself to a very low chance of return?

Oh, I know the yadda yadda, “I don’t leave an explicit message; I leave a teaser. They call me back to find out what it’s about.” Great. So they call you back and none of them are miffed that what they hear from you is nothing near what they were expecting?

It seems to me that would put a heavier burden upon a recruiter’s shoulder.

Isn’t the job hard enough?

So, what do you do? What would you have answered?

Maureen Sharib has been a “Socratic sourcer” her entire sourcing career; from the moment she first picked up the faxed list of Silicon Valley high-tech companies that was her target list to “phone source” in 1996 to today she has instinctively followed this method of investigative sourcing using (mostly) the telephone.  She is a proponent of sourcing as a synonym for success and envisions the craft moving away from a dangerously drudgery-paced life-form existence to an exciting investigative/competitive place within organizations where practitioners co-exist within a framework of market research, human resources, and C-level future planning. She owns the phone sourcing and competitive intelligence firm TechTrak.com, Inc. You can contact her at Maureen at techtrak.com or call her at (513) 646-7306.  If she’s not on the phone she’ll pick up!


7 Comments on “Voicemail? Email? Success Takes A Conversation

  1. I’ve been at this game a long time and originally came from a direct sales background. I was a 200 call a day guy until one day I realized I was pretty much wasting time. I have very respectable CONSISTENT billings and have gone back and forth with this idea of phone email, email phone etc.. Through years of testing, trial and error and mutiple industries I have found one common denominator….I like to work smarter now a days and in doing this I found I can send 40-50 personal emails every morning to company owners maybe 2-3 hours time in sourcing these emails and write one fee approved qualified job order through an inbound response or 5 JO’s a week. Of course I still pick up the phone once the lead comes in and do what needs to be done. I now immediately goto work presenting candidates and look to get my one send outs before the end of the day. Also, email hangs around longer than other means of marketing and you can also build a base of emails doing this of which you can go back and re-email each month. I’m at the point now where I can send my list and the beginning of the month and virtually not have to market for the rest of the month and close 2 deals each month with average fees of 20K. I’ve worked years to make this model work and it can work for anybody that puts time into it, but after spending 20 years on the phone, leaving messages etc..I found the phone just doesn’t work like it used to in making the initial contact. One last thing, every inbound email I get does go into a database so I do have weeks where I still make 100 calls a day but typically to people that have responded to me in the past so the call is usually very effective when I make it.

    1. I would love to know more about the emails that you send. I too, come from direct sales and am now a rookie recruiter. What do you say in that initial email to gain interest and get a response? I hope you can share some insight into what has opened doors for you. Thanks

      1. Always pitch a candidate in an email, that is the key. I’m currently working with a (TITLE) (SIZZLE) To learn more, call or email.

        Generate the lead, chase the call until you get a JO or drop them into your database. Repeateall over and build a email database.

        I have found the key is no less than 50 personal emails a day, anything less probably wont generate JO’s. Hope this helps.

        1. Mike,

          I really like what you had to say. Do you think you might have a few mintues to talk with me about this strategy?

  2. I take the counter point to some degree. When I am making marketing calls to someone that I do not know yet I use this Proven Process. 1). Call and leave a voice mail and conclude the voice mail with “I will send you an email with my contact information in case that is an easier way to communicate” 2). Send an email right after you end the call – Subject Line is “Following up from phone call – recruiting”. 3). If the email does not bounce then you know you have a good address 4). if no reply in one week – Invite them to Linkedin 5). if no reply yet resend original email (exactly as you first sent it – or better yet reply all” 6). still no reply move on and hit em again in 6 months.

    My record for an email reply was 2 years after I sent it – the client started with “thanks for sending this – I have not hired until now!”

  3. I wonder if Mike ever answered Andy. Anyone have any updates on these techniques? For me, I’m still on the phone…I know this – if you stay on the phone you’ll always be doing business!

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