HOWTO: Leave non-shitty voicemail

I’ve been receiving a fair amount of voicemail at work from sales jagbags that are of the form “Hey, this is Jagbag from JB Inc, I’ve got a couple of questions for you, so if you could call me back at 555-DICKBAG, I’d appreciate it.” I will never return this call. It’s not that its from a sales guy or that its a cold call, although that adds to the likelihood that I’ll delete it with prejudice. It’s the vague “I have a few questions for you.” Give me some specifics for a reason to call to you.

Its not just sales people, I receive voicemail from people in my organization with “call me back” and no other content.  That might be my biggest pet peeve.

How to leave a good voicemail:

  1. Tell me as specifically as possible what the content of our phone call would be if I called you back. I can be prepared when I call. I can send you e-mail with supplementary information before I call.  Help me help you.
  2. Leave when you might be available or unavailable. Let’s not play phone tag.
  3. If you are a sales person, remind me when we (or my company) did business together. I can look at past notes to refresh my memory. (See also #1.)
  4. Let me know if there is any urgency or the consequences of me taking too long to respond so I can prioritize with the rest of my day.
  5. If you are calling me with a problem, let me know what you have already tried to do to resolve the issue.  (Again, see also #1.)
  6. Leave your e-mail address if you don’t know if I have it already. There may be some answers that come better via text.
  7. If for whatever reason the content is inappropriate to leave on voice mail, say something like “I would prefer to say nothing else about it at this time as its inappropriate to leave in voicemail.”

Those 7 cover my biggest pet peeves… I’m sure there are more we could easily add.