19 Tips to Improve Sales Voicemails and Increase Prospect Callbacks

Will Schmidt

April 25, 2024

15 min

Table of Contents

When it comes to sales voicemails, there’s a massive back and forth among sales pros. Should you leave voicemails, or is it smarter to simply hang up and move on to the next call?

It seems like an easy question to answer, right? Wrong. Here’s the rub with the whole situation.

There are very few credible sources available that explicitly vet the efficacy of sales voicemails. Do a quick Google search and you’ll see the same, outdated sales calls statistics parroted around a smattering of blog posts.

However, there’s no hard source for any of this data that tells us whether or not sales voicemails are worth our time. There’s still a strong argument to be made in favor of leaving sales voicemails.

Hear me out.

There’s no guarantee that your prospects will ever listen to the voicemails you leave them. The same could be said for the emails and text messages you send them. But that’s OK.

When you get a call back from a prospect that you left a voicemail with, there’s serious intent behind that call. This prospect listened to your message, liked what you said, and reached out asking for more—they want to hear what you have to say.

You might not get a lot of callbacks after leaving voicemails, but the ones you do get are guaranteed to be incredibly high quality. They’ll convert quickly and move through the sales cycle before you know what hit you.

You can’t catch a fish if you never cast your line in the water.

Translated into sales speak: you should be leaving sales voicemails.

And you need to know how to leave a professional voicemail. Not only that, you have to know how to leave a good voicemail as well that grabs someone's attention and encourages them to call back.

It's challenging, but far from impossible. To help make this as easy as we can for you, we rounded up 20 strategies, tips, scripts, templates, and best practices to help you successfully incorporate sales call voicemails into your outbound strategy, without disrupting your reps.

19 Tips to Leave Your Best Sales Voicemails

The most common argument against leaving sales voicemails is that it takes too long. Reps have to get through the voicemail greeting, wait for the beep, and then deliver their message.

Not surprisingly, many salespeople also claim that sales voicemails are highly repetitive. After all, they have to leave the same message over and over.

The whole purpose of the tips and strategies laid out in this blog is to overcome those objections and show you and your team the value in leaving sales voicemails. And we address the issues of lost time and repetition head on in the list.

Remember: if your reps aren’t leaving sales voicemails, they’re leaving money on the table.

1. Create a Solid Sales Voicemail Script

Almost every sales organization has a finely tuned cold call script. When it comes to an optimized sales voicemail script though, many might be lacking.

For all the same reasons you want a highly effective cold calling script—A, B, and C—you need a sales voicemail script. It’ll ensure your reps stay on target, nail their timing, and increase the chances for a callback.

Here’s an example sales voicemail script you can adapt to fit your own sales team’s needs:

“Hi [NAME],

This is Lucius Fox from Wayne Enterprises. We recently worked with Mark’s Cafe and John’s Pizza in Boston on a referral strategy that brought over 50% more diners to their restaurants in the last month.

It’s easy to set up and could help you generate similar results with little effort each month. If you could give me a call back at 555-555-1212, I’d like to ask you a few questions about your restaurant to see if this program would be a good fit.

Again, my name is Sally Jones, and you can reach me at 555-555-1212. I look forward to hearing from you.”

2. Pair Your Sales Voicemails with Emails

When you send sales voicemails, consider pairing them with an email as well. This provides your reps with an opportunity to reinforce the benefit they’re delivering or drive the prospect to specific parts of your website to learn more.

Additionally, if the prospect sees a well-written email first, it can encourage them to give the sales call voicemail the attention it deserves. So, have your reps hedge their bets by giving prospects two ways to respond. A simple, "I'll also follow up with an email," before hanging up, is short, concise, and shows thoroughness on your part.

3. Focus on Returned Calls

You should have just one, simple goal when leaving a voicemail. Before you make the call—and before writing your voicemail script—this goal should be crystal clear in your mind.

The goal of your voicemail is to get a callback.

It’s not to set an appointment, sell your product or service, or book a demo. You want the prospect to call you back, and then you can move forward with the next steps to book meetings or schedule more calls.

If you try to accomplish too much with your voicemail, it’ll be too long. And it'll be supremely boring. Your reps will also give their prospects plenty of reasons to rationalize not returning the call.

4. Leverage Social Proof

Create a compelling value statement about how you’ve been able to help someone like them—or a business like theirs. The more specific you are, the more compelling this value statement and social proof will be.

Your reps should do their due diligence to learn the location of the prospect, their type of business, audience demographics, and some pain points if possible. Then, they should find relatable customer stories or social proof that aligns with those key markers.

It’s all about selling the next step, not selling your solutions. Tell them what you’ve done with other, similar clients, and get them curious about how you did it. That can help increase the chances they’ll call you back to see how it could be done for them as well.

5. Establish a Connection

If you can lay the groundwork for a connection during your sales call voicemail, do it. It will help establish your credibility, disarm any objections the prospect may have, and encourage a callback.

Think through ways your sales reps can infuse this connection into their script, while maintaining their distinct personality. In some cases, it could be a very quick mention of a mutual contact, friend, or co-worker.

References to a company they know and respect, preferably one your sales reps have already worked with and helped, can also be strong options. If neither of those are options, you can always fall back on your company’s niche focus, their demographics, or even a shared physical location.

6. Keep it Short

How long should a voicemail be? Great question.

As a general rule of thumb, you don’t want to leave voicemails that are longer than 15 to 20 seconds. If you go beyond that, you risk the prospect abandoning the voicemail and immediately deleting it.

Remember, most smartphones will display the length of a voicemail. You’re here to help them, and you have the social proof to show them how. You're not reading them a novel.

You can help your reps stay focused and avoid tangents with this quick bullet point list. It’s a great reminder for the critical elements that need to be said during a sales voicemail:

  • State your name
  • State the company where you work
  • Deliver your social proof or value statement
  • Request a callback
  • End with your name and phone number
  • Say “Thank you”

7. Be Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm and excitement is contagious—your reps need to be the kind of person a prospect wants to call back. Don’t be afraid to put some soul, flavor, and flair into the sales call voicemail script.

When your reps get excited about your company, the results you offer, and how you can specifically help that prospect, it signals that they’re approachable. That gives prospects a reason to return your call.

There are plenty of ways they can make their conversations interesting, but remember not to go overboard with enthusiastic excitement and stay within your time constraints for the script delivery. It can help to have your reps practice the script and become intimately familiar with it, so at the very least it won’t sound like they’re reading off a paper.

8. Lead with an Attention-Grabber

It’s tempting to leave voicemails that are directly to the point. You have to remember that prospects can smell a bad sales pitch form a million miles away, and if they think your voicemail is too salesy, they’ll immediately delete it.

Your reps can overcome this by grabbing their attention right out of the gate. Do you have a mutual connection, did you go to the same university, or maybe you both have shared work experience?

At the same time, it’s crucial to build off that initial attention-grabbing lead with your actual voicemail script. It could sound something like this:

“Hey James, I was talking with our mutual friend Barb yesterday and she mentioned I should give you a call. My name is Will and I’d love to chat with you about…”

9. Leave Voicemails That Don’t Sound Like Your Emails

The same goes for your emails—don’t write emails that read exactly like your voicemails. Let the two stand apart from one another and exist on their own. That level of personalization can help increase the chances of scoring a response, whether written or on the phone.

If a prospect receives your voicemail, and then sees an email come in that’s verbatim the same message, they’re going to ignore you. There’s nothing that makes them feel special—you’re generalizing your approach to everyone.

10. Pay Attention to Your Tone

Just like with cold calls and cold calling scripts, reps need to pay very close attention to the tonality of their voice when leaving voicemails. Yes, there is a thing as too much excitement, positivity, and enthusiasm. It can sound cheap.

Also, yes, there is a thing as not excited, positive, or enthusiastic enough. It can sound really depressing and boring.

Always remember that people are psychologically conditioned to tune out and ignore sales calls. The same goes for voicemails. And there are countless tells, ticks, and verbal patterns that immediately give away the fact that you're a salesperson.

An awareness of tonality is crucial. Arching tonality upward indicates a sales call, while arching tonality down indicates confidence and authenticity.

If you want to learn more about tonality and the psychology behind outbound sales from five real-world experts, I highly recommend you download our free eBook, Outbound Sales: 10 Strategies to Help You Close More Deals. It's got tons of scripts, templates, and best practices you'll find immediately useful.

11. Optimize Voicemails for Specific Times of Day

Our Sales Calls Statistics Report that shows the best time to cold call is between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. CST. You want your reps to attempt to get live conversations during this window, and throughout the entire day.

However, if they’re unable to connect during peak hours, it’s wise to wait until later in the day to call back and potentially leave voicemails. If your reps call prospects around 4 p.m., 4:30 p.m., or even 5 p.m., they might get a prospect to pick up.

Should they instead go to voicemail, this is an opportune time to leave a voicemail. The prospect may listen to it on their commute, they might finally have a minute to breathe after a crazy day, or they’ll listen and pencil in a quick callback for first thing the next morning.  

12. Go Slow and Enunciate

Yes, you only have 15 to 20 seconds for your voicemail. That doesn’t mean you should rip through it at lightning speed. You don’t want your prospects to mishear, or entirely miss, key information that could encourage them to call your reps back.

Coach your reps to slow down, clearly enunciate their words, and leave voicemails that are easy to understand. This creates an ambiance of confidence and authenticity, and it draws the prospects into the message as they listen.

Consider offering a subsidized enrollment into public speaking programs, like Toastmasters, that will help your reps master this art. If they’re able to speak clearly and elicit callbacks, you should see a relatively quick return for your investment into their professional development.

13. Don’t Sound Desperate  

It can be difficult to nail your close when leaving voicemails. Often, we’re stuck on auto pilot and want to say things like:

  • “Please return my call when you can.”
  • “I look forward to your reply.”
  • “If you could call me back at your earliest convenience, I would appreciate that.”

These aren’t closers though. They’re asks—you’re asking your prospect to call you back on their schedule, with a “please” thrown on top. That’s desperate. It feels like work to them.

You don’t want your reps to abandon their manners and be aggressive or pushy, but you need to build a solid closer into your sales voicemail script. Keep it simple with classics like:

  • “I appreciate your time.”
  • “Talk soon.”
  • “Have a good day.”

Your voicemails should be so compelling that they spark a desire in your prospects to call back. Don’t beg them to call back.

14. Invite Prospects to the Conversation

Remember, your sales voicemail script is meant to be straightforward and quick. This is not the time or place to launch into a heavy sales pitch or push for signatures on a contract.

However, it can be powerful to end your voicemails with a message that invites them to reengage with the conversation and call you back. For example, maybe the prospect recently completed a professional certification course.

You could end your voicemail by saying:

“And, congrats on your recent certification! I’d love to hear more about it the next time we talk. You can walk me through how I could benefit from a similar certification in my own career.”

Your reps can key in on any contextual element—recent trips, major company news, personal achievements or milestones, or promotions at work—around their prospects to invite a call back.

15. Give Prospects Something to Look Forward To

Similar to inviting your prospects to give you a call back, you could instead opt to give them something to look forward to that your reps will deliver. Maybe they’ll be able to address how the product or service specifically solves a major pain point, or maybe they can discuss how they helped a similar company.

The trick here is to tease the information instead of including it all in the voicemail itself. Which of these two options do you think sounds more engaging?

“I think you would enjoy hearing about how our product can bring all of your disparate data systems together and ensure your teams are able to get the data they need, at the right time, and put it into action immediately.”


“I want to show you how our product can unite your disparate data platforms for easy information sharing across teams.”

Go with the second option. And then launch right into an ask to call back and book a meeting time. Your reps might even want to suggest a specific date and time to have the meeting.

16. Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up

If the prospect hasn’t called back yet, it’s OK to try them again and leave another voicemail. Don’t be pushy and don’t repeat your first message verbatim. Treat this as a continuation of your first message.

Here’s a quick look at how it could sound:

“I found a customer success story you’ll like. Dunder Mifflin started using our power dialer software less than a year ago and are reporting a 4x increase in the number of outbound calls per day. I think we can really help you out since you two are so similar. Let’s get a call scheduled to dive in more.”

17. Ask About Content You Sent

This is a great strategy for sales teams that make heavy use of email to supplement their outbound sales and overall sales strategy. Have your reps send prospects an email with powerful content that addresses specific pains.

Then, they can follow up on the phone. The beauty of this strategy is that if the prospect picks up, you have an immediate opening into the conversation:

“I just sent you a customer success story, and I was curious what you thought about it?”

If the call goes unanswered, your reps can essentially say the same thing when leaving a voicemail. Be sure to tweak a version of your sales voicemail script template that incorporates this angle.

18. Position Your Phone Number Strategically

The specific part of the voicemail where the callback information is placed is important. If your reps have never spoken with their prospect before, it might be best to include a call back number near the end.

That way, the prospect can listen to the full voicemail and call back once they understand the reason for the call. The other school of thought says that, when leaving voicemails, you should immediately say who you are and give your callback number.

This tends to work best when you’ve already engaged with a prospect at least once before. Maybe they forgot to call you back, but the voicemail with your name and number at the beginning prompts them to hang up and dial back right away.

If you’re cold calling and leave a voicemail that starts with your call back information, it can sometimes come off as too pushy or aggressive. Work with your sales team to determine which format you think works best—most likely, it’s a combination of the two.

19. Don’t Leave Voicemails Without Calling

Some sales reps are interested in learning how to leave a voicemail without calling. It’s an odd tactic, but there are software options available that make it a reality. However, they might do more harm than good.

Think about it from the perspective of your prospect. They suddenly get a notification that they have a voicemail. Why wasn’t there a call to pair with it? This can come off as sketchy or desperate. You’re not getting a call back.

At the same time, you’re bypassing the dial itself. What if that prospect was primed and ready to pick up the phone? What if they needed your solution today? Your reps are bypassing voicemail, but at the same time they’re bypassing opportunity.

Salespeople need to cold call. It’s part of the job and there’s no getting around it. Cutting corners has consequences, so pick up that phone and keep dialing.

Make Sales Voicemails Work for You

It’s easy to write off sales voicemails, especially when you can’t guarantee a return on investment with them. However, if you’re able to equip your team with the right tools to minimize your risk on the investment of time, it becomes a no-brainer.

Once you’ve severely reduced the negative impact from variables like time and repetition, you can focus all of your energy into creating sales voicemail templates. Invite your prospects to call you back, engage them with thought provoking questions, and prove to them in 15 to 20 seconds that you’re worth a call back.

You can be confident that, when your reps do get that call back from their prospects, they’re going to want to work a deal. If you’d like to learn more about how PhoneBurner can equip you with the right tools to successfully add, or optimize, sales voicemails as part of your outbound strategy, sign up for a free trial today.

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