NEW DATA: Does Leaving Voicemails Influence Prospect Engagement?

In sales, leaving a voicemail for prospects is a line-in-the-sand argument.

When I was a budding SDR, I once started a full-on office war when I mentioned I might leave voicemails for prospects. There was no middle ground: my teammates either loved the idea, or they hated it. Unsurprisingly, most hated it. It sparked a sales floor debate that covered every argument in the book, from “They’ll just block your number!” to “It’s the only way to book meetings.” 

Without a settled answer, many SDRs have never even tried leaving a voicemail.

But the stigma around leaving voicemails isn’t borne out by data, and we don’t have to rely on who yells the loudest at the latest sales debate. The numbers show that voicemail is valuable — in fact, it can improve pickup rates, call-back rates, and even email conversions. 

Voicemails make future pickups more likely

Making tens of millions of dials every year, Orum is a treasure trove of call data. Baked into that data is information on call disposition — whether a dial was picked up, whether a voicemail was left, if the number was invalid and failed, and so on. We analyzed 7.8 million calls made using Orum software between June 2021 and March 2022, measuring the rate of pickup on the next call after the sales rep left a  voicemail.

  • When no voicemail was left for the prospect, the next call was picked up 3.2% of the time.
  • When SDRs chose to leave a pre-recorded voicemail for the prospect, the next call was picked up 4.1% of the time — a 25.8% improvement in pickup rate.

Voicemails make prospect call-backs more likely

The next logical question on any good SDR’s mind: “What about call-backs?”

We looked at 733,000 calls made from January 2022 to March 2022 and analyzed prospect call-back behavior within 7 days of receiving a pre-recorded voicemail.

  • For outbound calls where a voicemail was never left with the prospect, the prospect called back 2.277% of the time.
  • When a rep did leave a pre-recorded voicemail, the prospect called back 2.538% of the time — an 11.462% improvement in call-back rate.

We tested all data using a chi-square test of independence with a p-value below 0.00001.

Why does voicemail make a difference, anyway?

We have a few theories on why leaving a voicemail impacts call-back and subsequent pickup rates.

We’re all human here

The most likely answer is the simplest: you’re proving your humanity. One study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology showed that compared to text or email, voice-based communication creates a stronger social connection. Receiving your message and hearing your voice reminds the prospect that there’s a real person on the other end of the line — someone interested in connecting with them, someone they don’t want to let down.

Effort for effort

Another theory: By leaving a voicemail, you’ve already made more effort to catch their attention than the other calls they’ve received that day. Proving you’re invested in reaching them could be the push they need to reach back out (or at least pick up the next time you try.)

Right place, right time

If you’re reaching out to prospects in a sequence, it could be that by the time you leave a voicemail, they’re primed to respond — all they needed was that proof-point that you’re there, you care, and you still want to connect.

Omnichannel outreach includes voicemail

As sales development professionals, we’re constantly prospecting for our sequences, writing personalized emails, finding prospects on LinkedIn, and calling them directly. Omnichannel outreach is our bread and butter. Why wouldn't we leave a voicemail as a natural step in that process? 

Pair voicemail with email for better conversions

TOPO has reported that organizations see a +10–11% lift in email conversions when sent within minutes of a voicemail. If you have someone on day 20 of a sequence, drop a voicemail in their inbox, and then send an email right after, there’s a higher probability they both open that email and respond. You can employ the same tactic across other touchpoints as well: here at Orum, our reps pair a voicemail strategy with either an email follow-up or LinkedIn outreach for optimum results.

The beauty of an omnichannel approach is that it can be automated for efficiency without feeling automated to the prospect. Pairing Orum’s pre-recorded voicemail drop feature with a follow-up email, for instance, can result in a natural-feeling sequence of events: I called you, it wasn’t a good time, I sent a follow-up email that you can reply to at your leisure. 

Offer prospects multiple response channels

Another tactic our team uses is to point prospects to multiple channels to respond. In your voicemail, try the following script: 

“Hey, this is Thomas from Orum. Seems like you missed my call. I’m going to follow up with an email. Feel free to call me back or just respond to that email.”

This pushes your email to the front of the line if it gets buried in cold outreach in their inbox. It also sets expectations for the prospect and makes the email seem organic and personal. 

PRO TIP:

The last five years or so have seen a shift in voicemail technology. When leaving a voicemail for a mobile number, keep in mind that your prospects don’t necessarily have to listen to it — often they can just read the transcript directly on their phone. And with that, bam! A brand-new channel has emerged, along with a new way to think about leaving voicemails.

Brush up on your objection handling

One thing to keep in mind when you’re leaving voicemails for leads: they know what to expect when you call back, and may have had time to form objections in the interim. Take full advantage of your second chance to connect with your lead and stay on top of your objection handling, ready to meet doubts and questions head-on for your best chance of booking the meeting.

Leave prospect voicemails at scale with Orum

Just the simple act of appearing in your prospect’s voicemail inbox — complete with a transcript that mentions your own name and business — can be enough to trigger a pickup, call-back, or written response.

Orum’s AI-powered dialing solution not only gets reps into 5x more live conversations, it allows you to pre-record voicemails, drop them at scale, and log the call disposition. And if you’re leveraging our Outreach.io integration, you can sequence your voicemails based on step, making that automated voicemail seem much more personalized. Check it out with a free trial or request a demo with our team.

Written by

Thomas Lopez