This is Why I Won’t Return Your Cold Call Voicemail

Why Nobody Returns Your Voicemail

I’m in sales, and there’s nothing worse than having a cold “bad” call, and those of you in sales know what I’m talking about.

This paper is not about whether or not cold calls are dead, alive, cold, or hot. In the world of sales growth, it is not about the best prospecting tips or what’s wrong.

In addition to reaching out to the wrong person, or the person you are calling at the time has no use for the goods or services of your business, it has to do with how you leave a voicemail.

It’s about the basic reasons why they’re not answering your calls.

So if you’re cold calling prospects, and you’re wondering why your phone calls aren’t being answered, try revisiting the basics to make sure that you’re not guilty of making these errors.

Reasons I won’t give your cold call back:

1. I can’t understand your message

Talk, express, and slow down clearly. If you’re mumbling, talking too quickly, or not confidently speaking, it’s very unlikely that I’m going to get your call back, mainly because I’m not sure what you said in your message, or why you called.

Practice leaving alerts. Self-record and listen. How are you sounding? Would you ever call back?

2. You don’t say who you are or where you are calling from

Perhaps this is one of my greatest pet peeves. It might seem like a no brainer, but believe me, it’s happening. Make sure that you mention who you are and from where you’re calling. Better mention this twice, though. Tell it right at the beginning and the very end of your voicemail.

3. Your message is way too short

The fundamental steps of stating your name, business, and phone number are followed, but that’s it. I have no meaning for your letter, and I don’t really care about follow-up.

4. Your message is way too long

Your message is unnecessarily lengthy on the flip side. It’s time to tighten up your message if your voicemail pushes well past 1 minute and you’re still not convincing me to call you back. These forms of messages will be pulled out more often than not. Only don’t ramble.

5. You said too many “ummms” and “uuuhhs”

You’re human, I get it, and not a robot. I still make errors. I would rather listen to an upbeat message that sounds like an actual individual than an automated message, but look at the “ummms” and “uuuhhs.”

You’re not going to sound optimistic or persuasive if your message is full of them. Work renders fine. Calm the nerves and make your sentences articulate.

6. You don’t say why you’re calling ME

You call ME, so make sure it’s unique to ME and important. If your message is all about you, your company, and products and services, but it doesn’t include anything about my difficulties, it’s not significant.

Let me know, then, why you call ME.

7. You say your phone number way too fast at the VERY end of the message

Please make sure that you mention your phone number and S-L-O-W-L-Y clearly. Twice, make sure you say it. There’s nothing worse than asking someone to say their number so quickly at the end of a message that I can’t make it out. And what’s worse is that now I have to listen to your message again (if you’re lucky enough) in order to try and catch the number.

I don’t have time to listen over-and-over to your post again to try and figure it out.

8. You leave a vague message and ask me to call you back

Stop it right now if you’re doing this. Yeah. I mean it. A bad tactic is the ambiguous message to try to bait and hook me. Do you answer phone calls from strangers who leave a very ambiguous message, but ask you to call them back? Let me ask you this. Didn’t think so… so don’t use this in your outreach cold call.

9. You lie about being referred by one of my colleagues

No one likes a liar, and if lying is part of your plan, you are not only doing a disservice to yourself, you are doing a disservice to the whole sales industry. Sales are about trust and adding value. Especially because I understand the value of cold calling and catching attention, I am all for being imaginative, but I do not support lying.

And don’t cheat. If you tell me that someone referred you to me, especially someone in my office, and they tell me they don’t know who you are, I’m sure I won’t trust you. You won’t get my company either.

10. You call to “learn more” and “only need 15 minutes of my time”

Okay, this may have to do with cold calling tactics, but it’s very unlikely I’ll answer your call if your voicemail begins or ends up needing 15 minutes of my time.

I am too busy to give 15 minutes of my time to any salesperson out there. Let this not be part of your cold call. I don’t know you, and I don’t want to give you my time, especially if there’s a generic voicemail.

If you’re in sales, and you have a cold call, I applaud you for that. It’s not a simple job, but it doesn’t mean that your own cold calling abilities can not be enhanced to maximize your performance. Your cold calls and how you leave voicemails are my suggestions. Make sure the 10 mistakes mentioned above are avoided.


My name is Rob Cohen and my career has been dedicated to the retail / wholesale side of the distribution business. I've assembled some of the top groups of distributors carefully curated and categorized.

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