The Illusion of the Detailed Message

Why do some voicemail messages result in a return call and other’s don’t? While there are a wide variety of reasons, one of the biggest contributors to the unreturned call is the detailed message.

The role of the detailed message is : 1) to provide information to someone you already know and /or are already working with; 2) to give them information they need/want ; and 3) to give them such complete information they do not have to return your call.

When we receive a detailed message, we are predisposed to not call back.

So, if the objective of your phone calls is to connect with others and have a conversation – stop leaving detailed messages. This simple shift in your behaviour will both increase your percentage of returned calls, and improve the quality of the conversations you have with people you reach.

I recently received a detailed message from a finance organization. The caller, whom I do not  know,  left me a tremendous amount of information on the reason for the call. So much so, I was able to determine that returning the call held absolutely no value for me. It was clear in their tone they did not expect me to call back and that they felt leaving the message removed me from their to-do list. Displaying such a lack of desire to truly communicate means that not only will I not return their call, I’m unlikely to answer should they decide to call again.

And this is the illusion of the detailed message. We convince ourselves that we’ve delivered information in such a way that the other person will be inspired to call us back. And we give ourselves credit for completing a task. But since the task was about having a conversation and building relationship, well … it’s a fail.

If the person who called me had left a shorter message, inspiring me to call back, we perhaps could have discovered value for me during our conversation. As it stands, they have a check mark beside my name but have not “connected” with me in any way.

Here’s a message that would have worked: “Hi Mary Jane, This is Angela calling from ABC Company. You currently have an account with us and I have a few quick questions for you. You can reach me throughout the day today at 555-555-5555. That’s 555-555-5555. If we don’t connect today, know that I’ll follow up with you again next week. Thanks and I look forward to our conversation.”

If you are interested in more information about leaving messages, you’ll find these previous posts of value

The AABC’s of Leaving Messages Part I

The AABC’s of Leaving Messages Part II

The AABC’s of Leaving Messages Part III

The AABC’s of Leaving Messages Part IV

Enjoy your phone work everyone!

Closing a sale is the natural outcome of inspiring great conversations and listening intently to our potential customers. This natural approach still involves a process – a plan that moves potential customers through a journey of discovery with you. So ... what's your process? And am I the right sales coach for you? Let's find out.

7 thoughts on “The Illusion of the Detailed Message”

    • It seems that the more hectic our lives become, the more we lose touch with what we instinctively know to be true. The detailed message is one of those things. We all know how to use it correctly, we simply get so busy we use it to help us feel like we’ve accomplished something. Thanks for checking in, Steve.

  1. I’m a big fan of detailed messages – they can be a tool for efficiency. But you’re right – they’re not meant for relationship building. So easy to lose sight of our goals.

    • Detailed messages have tremendous value, especially when it comes to communicating on existing projects or with current clients. It makes sense that you’re a big fan, Linda. Perhaps you’d like to write a post in response? Share how you use detailed messages efficiently?

  2. If I need to get detailed information to a client, then I use email as I can be very specific PLUS I then have a record of it (I keep almost all emails sent and received from clients). I really don’t like to receive long detailed emails as I then have to take notes and sometimes need to replay the voicemail.

    • Ahhh – I had forgotten about the necessity of writing things down due to a detailed message. Email is much better. Thanks Peggy.


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