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Why your prospect won’t return your calls

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Despite what you may have heard, cold calling is still a widely used prospecting tool and sales strategy. Whether it’s an initial cold call, a subsequent follow-up call or a “keep-in-touch” call, salespeople still rely on the telephone to connect with busy prospects. Making that call and getting a return phone call, however, are two entirely different things.

Here are seven reasons your prospects won’t return your calls:

1.  Your voicemail message is too long. The majority of voicemail messages decision-makers receive are far too long. Decision-makers are too busy to listen to a long, rambling, disjointed message. That means you need to get your point across in 30 seconds or less. In fact, I suggest you try limiting your message to a maximum of 20 seconds.

2.  Your voicemail message is too cryptic. On the reverse side, a short, terse voicemail with no details is unlikely to motivate someone to call you back. You must give a prospect enough information to capture her attention so that she will think “I need to talk to this person.”

3.  You leave the same voicemail message. Because it is important to keep trying to connect with your prospect, you may find yourself leaving multiple messages. However, if you want your prospect to call you back, you need to leave a different message each time. Plus, your message must be compelling (see #4).

4.  Your voicemail message is not compelling. Most voicemail messages do little to motivate a prospect to pick up the telephone. A compelling message must demonstrate that you understand your prospect’s business and circumstances and may have a solution.

5.  Your voicemail sounds like every other salesperson’s. The average executive receives dozens of sales calls each day, so if you want a busy executive to call you back, you must stand out. I once sat in a VP’s office as he listened to voicemail messages on his speakerphone and was fascinated by how similar the sales calls sounded. I was equally intrigued by how quickly he deleted these messages, too. In most cases, he erased them after hearing only a few seconds.

6.  Your product or service does not interest your prospect. Contrary to your deeply held beliefs, not everyone needs your solution. When you call companies that are not the right fit for your product, service or offering, you are simply wasting your time and theirs. Improve your results by more closely targeting your prospecting calls to companies who can actually use your product or service.

7.  Your prospect is simply too busy. Most salespeople fail to realize exactly how busy their executive prospects are. A client of mine once said, “I’m so busy right now I can’t possibly take on any more projects.” This sheer volume of work often prevents decision-makers from returning your call, because they don’t have time to talk to you and because they can’t fit another project into their schedule. Unless your product, service or offering is something they desperately need right now, they probably won’t return your call.

If you’re serious about increasing your sales and improving your cold calling approach, it’s essential to give your prospects a reason to call you back. Then—and only then— will your telephone prospecting efforts pay off.

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Kelley Robertson helps sales professionals master their sales conversations so they can win more business at higher profits. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at


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