During the last 17 years, I have heard hundreds of voicemail messages that salespeople have left their prospects and have read even more prospecting emails. When I talk to salespeople, I often ask how many people get back to them. Unfortunately, it’s a very small number.

The problem is that most salespeople don’t think like business people. They focus on their agendas, which involve selling something, instead of demonstrating how they can help a prospect solve a problem. In other words, they leave messages that sound like every other salesperson’s messages.

One of my clients, the vice president of a mid-size company, said, “This one salesperson keeps calling and leaving me messages, but as soon as I hear his name, I hit the delete button. And when he sends me an email, it goes directly into the junk folder.” Ouch!

I seized on the opportunity and asked my client what it would take for him to return a salesperson’s call or respond to an email. He responded, “He needs to give me a good reason. He needs to demonstrate that he actually knows something about my business and the problems I’m dealing with and that he might have a solution I haven’t already considered.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Well, it is, and it isn’t. If you want prospects to respond to your voicemails and emails you need to stand out from everyone else. You need to demonstrate that you have done some homework and that you know something about their business objectives.

A salesperson I know recently sent an email to a senior executive. Prior to sending the email, he had done some research and referenced that newfound knowledge in his email. In less than 24 hours, he received a response from that busy executive and opened up a dialogue. It’s not rocket science. But it is a shift from the traditional “let me tell you about us” approach.

Show your prospect that you are worth speaking to so that they have a reason to return your call or email.

Sign up for The Lead and get a new tip in your inbox every day! More tips: