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Do Your Phone Habits Lead To Jobs
Or Customer Hangups? A Wise Plan ...
December 2, 2013

By J. Christopher Dunn

People contacting me to work with them on their project sometimes make the initial connection by giving me a call. When I’m in a studio session with a client or away from my desk, my voicemail takes a message.

When a client (or prospect) calls you, how soon after do you return their call?
  • Immediately?
  • Within a few hours?
  • The end of the day?
  • Sometime the following day?
  • When you get around to it?
  • Never?
There are many talented people available for hire, so why provide an opportunity for a talent seeker to look elsewhere?

My response time and the effort I make to get back with potential clients is key in getting their business. If I wait too long, I can predict that my chances have been reduced. I don’t like that. I

ANSWER THE CALL

Make sure your clients have multiple ways to contact you, the most immediate being the phone.

I’ve come up with a method of working with phone calls that’s successful. It has been a learning process and I’m sure there is room for tweaking.

I’m surprised at the number of times when the person I called back was not expecting my call so soon. I know I’ve done the right thing when the person I’m calling back is surprised (and pleased) by the timeliness of my call.

YOUR MESSAGE PLAN

Phone tag is not a legitimate sport.

Leave a message indicating who you are, why you are calling, your call-back number and email address. Make sure to leave an exact time when you can be reached - a time when you know you will be available to take the call.

And set expectations with your voicemail message. For instance:
"I’m not available now, but will return your call by the end of today. If you prefer, please send me an email at myemail@address.com.”
DETAILS COUNT

When listening to a caller’s voicemail, take note of their name, business name, any details about their project and their call-back instructions.

Do not automatically grab their phone number from the caller ID history. Often they are calling from a trunk or office that supports multiple phones, but displays only the main number for call ID purposes.

RETURNING THE CALL

Attempt 1. I make it a point to call whoever has left a message soon. This doesn’t mean that I push other client responsibilities aside. It means that I’m aware of the call, I’ve made a note to return the call and decided the best time to do it.

Don’t leave the person waiting.

The return call can be short. When you’re pressed for time, explain that you’d like to talk when they’ll have your full attention. Maybe later in the day, or during a time that you’ve set aside to do call backs.

I schedule time for return and followup calls every day. When I don’t have calls to make, the time is absorbed into another task.

If you return the call and you end up leaving voicemail, make sure to include a message with your call-back number. Include a good time for them to contact you. Show them that you’re interested. Let them know that you’ll call again, if you don’t hear from them, at a time that makes sense to call back.
"If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll go ahead and give you another call at 10:00 AM tomorrow morning.”
Attempt 2. You’ve made your first try to contact the person who wants to work with you, only to have left a message on their voicemail. They haven’t called you back either.

Make sure to call back at the time you mentioned in your message. If you didn’t leave a call -back time, try to call them at approximately the same time they called you. Chances are they’re available.

When you get their voicemail again, leave a message indicating your interest in working with them, and if you haven’t heard from them, you’ll call back the next day, in the morning. A good suggested time is 9:00 AM their time.

Attempt 3. This will be the third time you’ve tried to complete the connection with the person who’s interested in hiring you.

It’s been two days since their initial call and you’re starting to feel a bit frustrated. Don’t.

During this call-back, if you are left with another opportunity to leave voicemail, do what you’ve done in the previous attempts.

After the third try, wait until the following week, five business days, to try again.

A number of things could be going on with the prospect, and now you need to provide some breathing room. Realistically, you know that the business moves so fast these days, that job is long gone. Probably so. But, maybe not. 

At least let the client know you are interested and follow up. After all, there may be reasons why the gig got delayed. 

Also, focus on the positive. The caller did consider you for new work and you want to make sure they continue to do so.

THE END GAME

So, the following week, place two calls. One in the afternoon on one day. One in the morning on the second day.

Mondays are frantic for most people, so unless the caller requested that you return their call on Monday, I recommend waiting until Tuesday. Then follow the second call on Thursday.

Skip Wednesday and Friday. Some people typically work an abbreviated day on Friday.

A week later, if you haven’t heard from them (I know what you’re saying, "They don’t want to talk!!”) give it one last try on Wednesday. Middle of the week, in the morning.

Leave one final message indicating that you’d like to discuss their voiceover needs and that you would like to help them out any way you can.
"If the project is still open, please let me know how I can help. Don’t hesitate to call and let me know either way.”
Every call is a potential gig. Will they call back after the initial call? Probably not. And even when they say they will, it’s up to you to follow up when they don’t.
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ABOUT J. CHRISTOPER
J. Christopher Dunn is a professional voice actor who lives in the Pacific Northwest close to Seattle. He voices commercials, web demos, podcasts, product demonstrations, telephony projects and documentaries. His voice is described as friendly, warm and trustworthy - the guy next door or the voice of high profile corporate presentations. He also spends time with the Penn Cove Players, a Whidbey Island, WA troupe that performs original audio dramas, as we all as recreates old time radio shows in front of a live studio audience.


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Comments (3)
J. Christopher Dunn
12/3/2013 at 2:01 PM
Good point about the voice mail acting as a calling card. SIRC - Specific, Informational, Relevant and Clear. Those are ingredients for memorable voicemail.

James and BP, thanks for checking out my article!
James Lewi.
12/2/2013 at 6:32 AM
Very sound advice. I would also add: be aware that the voice mail you leave is your audition. My desk is in a corner with a very scratchy cell phone connection. So I use a hard-wired phone for voice-related professional calls
BP Smyth, Narrator
12/2/2013 at 4:43 AM
Excellent advice, Christopher. Thank you for sharing it.
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