At the end of 2014, Coca Cola announced that they would be eliminating voicemail at their corporate headquarters. When they surveyed their employees prior to making this decision, a whopping 94% voted to get rid of voicemail! If you are a sales person that depends heavily on the phone for sales activity (as most do in our industry), this should be a sobering moment.
You see, this is not an aberration – this is the beginning of a trend that will change the way we sell in both the near and distant future. A recent survey by eVoice showed that “only 33 percent of people listen to voicemail from business contacts. Only 18 percent listen to voicemails from numbers they don’t know.”
Another study by Connect and Sell reviewed over 1 million sales calls and showed that the current ratio of voicemails to live connects is 22 to 1. So we already are spending the overwhelming majority of our time talking to voicemails. As this trend plays out, we will likely spend all of our time listening to a message like Coca-Cola’s, which now says, “You have reached the Coca-Cola Company. The individual you are calling is currently not available. Please call back at a later time or use an alternative method to reach this individual.” What is already an inefficient activity will essentially become worthless.
My guess is that we are less than 5 years away from voicemail going the way of the fax machine – still used by some technology laggards but discarded by most. So if you can no longer leave your prospect a voicemail, what are you going to do? Well, let’s think about our options:
Email – Certainly will still be an effective communication tool, won’t it? Probably, but it is also likely that this is where most other sales people will go as voicemail becomes extinct.
Door to door cold calling – In some markets, and some verticals (light industrial primarily), this can still be a viable way to get in front of your prospects. But in large markets, professional skill sets, or if you are selling nationally, this is an ineffective approach.
Social Media – LinkedIn will likely take on even more importance, and other social media outlets will undoubtedly gain prominence, just as Pinterest and Instagram have in the past couple of years.
Traditional Mail – Don’t be surprised if this makes a bit of a comeback. As email and social media become saturated, getting a tangible marketing piece in the hands of your prospects may be a differentiator.
Content Marketing – Prospects don’t like being sold to in the traditional sense. Be an expert in your field and provide them with content that helps them professionally. Whitepapers, blogs, webinars, videos all will continue to be great ways to build credibility.
Networking – Connecting with people in person will still be the best way to get new business. It gives you an opportunity to build relationships, show you are credible, and creates a referral network.