With so many ways to contact people these days, you may debate whether you should use a traditional voicemail or send a quick text. There are those who will admit they despise having to listen to a voicemail, particularly from their cell phone, and prefer a text. Of course, there are just as many who will tell you they believe texts to be impersonal and apathetic versus a voicemail and can more easily (and safely) listen to a voicemail than read a text while driving. How do you know the best way to make contact and what is the best way to leave a message?
If you have the benefit of meeting a client, contact or prospect in person or reach them on the phone, ask them which mode of communication they prefer before you end the encounter. This simple question not only shows them you respect their time, but also increases the odds they’ll return your messages in the future.
If you haven’t met them or spoken to them and are trying to get your foot in the door, voicemail and/or email is best. If they have a voicemail to email feature on their phone, then your voicemail will automatically be sent via email. Texts are generally more acceptable to people you’ve already met and may seem presumptuous to someone who doesn’t know you. Texts may be better if the message is urgent or time-sensitive, however, since many people take more time to listen to a voicemail or read an email than to see a text. If you decide to text, be certain the number you have is a cell number since texts to landlines generally don’t make it.
Dos and Don’ts
- Be brief – ideally 15-30 seconds max
- Speak clearly, slowly and loudly so they can hear you if they are in a crowd
- Reference how you are connected to them, either by a friend, colleague or mutual acquaintance
- Give the reason for your call and what’s in it for them without giving ALL the information
- Give your name and contact phone number at the beginning and end of the call
- Do not read from a script
- Specify when you plan to call back or if you will be sending a follow-up email
- Do not leave more than two voicemails in a two week period regarding the same topic
What are the dos and don’ts of sending a professional text?
- Be brief and get to the point with minimal abbreviations
- Include your full name and company in the text in case they don’t recognize the number
- Provide a link they can easily click to direct them to a particular site or information
- Use text as a follow up to a voicemail or email you may have already sent
- Do not text more than two times in a two week period regarding the same topic
The Voice is a Powerful Thing
Personally, I think an initial conversation should be voice. If you haven’t met the person you’re trying to contact, letting them hear your voice is always more personal than shooting them a text or an email. My rule of thumb is to call them and leave a message if necessary, letting them know I will be following up with an email in case email is easier for them to reply. I reserve texting only when an established relationship has been formed and they have expressed their desire to be texted. I believe if we’re going to connect with people, CONNECT. Face to face is always best, but at least a voicemail allows the recipient to hear your voice, your tone, your professionalism and your demeanor – none of which is possible via text or email…or emoticon.