To Cory Mosley’s way of thinking, there are two types of voicemail – one that’s returned and another that’s ignored. If you want shoppers to respond, he says, leave a message that simplifies their car-buying decision. Mosley offers these tips on looking beyond your need to sell a car to get the reply – and the sale – you want. 

Leave a Value-Added Message 

In this voicemail, salespeople acknowledge the vehicle shoppers are considering and then offer additional information (e.g., a financing or leasing package, a premium payment for their trade-in or a recently issued safety report). “Regardless of where you are in the buying cycle, you’re not going to say, ‘How dare you call me with safety information.’ It’s not a natural reaction,” Mosley says. 

Beyond providing information with a clear benefit to the customer, he recommends making it time-sensitive and attaching a deadline whenever possible. “You have to have a sense of urgency tied to the value statement,” he says. “I don’t want to just leave it out there; I want it to have some takeaway effect as well.” 

What does Mosley advise against? He cites two frequently left voicemails: 

  • The “jerk message” that mimics the message that can work in our personal lives but falls flat in a professional setting.
  • The “qualifier message” that seeks to get information from a prospect that is better obtained during an actual conversation or showroom visit. 

Avoid a Jerk Message 

In this voicemail, salespeople simply greet the customer and leave their name, store name, hours and telephone number before closing with an invitation to call them back. “If you look at traditional indicators, that might be fine, but the problem with the jerk message is that it only serves you,” Mosley says. “There’s really no connection, at that point, to the customer or to trying to engage the customer.”  

Avoid a Qualifier Message 

In this voicemail, salespeople acknowledge the vehicle shoppers are considering and then ask for additional information (e.g., how many annual miles do they want with the lease or if they have a car to trade). “It’s a shortcut message to try to have the customer do your work for you. Then it’s right back to the jerk message,” Mosley says. 

He continues: “How many times can a salesperson leave the same voicemail message before they get deterred about it? If my training tells me to leave my name, leave where I’m calling from, tell them my hours, tell my telephone number, how many times can I leave that message before a) it becomes an annoyance to the customer and b) it becomes a self-defeating statement? I’ve called three times, I’ve left the same message, and the customer hasn’t called me back – but, in my mind, it’s the customer’s fault.” 

A similar qualifier message occurs when the salespeople say they’re calling to see if the shopper has made a decision. “How many times can I call you and say that? So what do I do? I give up on the follow-up because I don’t have anything else to talk-about.” 

Look Beyond the Full-Court, 72-Hour Press 

Mosley also encourages salespeople to take a longer term view of car buyers and the follow-up process. Rather than call several times a day for a few days and leaving only one daily message, he advises making 10 to 12 calls over a four- to six-week period. Leave a value-added message each time, Mosely says. Not only does this approach accommodate many shoppers’ actual timeframe to purchase, but it also keeps you top-of-mind when they decide to visit a store. 

“One of the greatest secrets to selling, I’ve found, is to not battle for control with the customer so that it’s obvious. You have to create an environment where customers think they’re in control when they’re not,” Mosley says. “There’s a common sense aspect in there. If I left the customer a message, and my message was effective, then they’ll call me back. That’s it.”