Voicemail Sales Tips: | Messages That Prompt Callbacks (The WERCS  Formula)

You’re devoting all day to telephone prospecting, determined to exceed your sales target. Come quitting time, you’ve spoken with five live prospects.

  • Three said, “No.”
  • One said, “Send me information.”
  • Finally, one actually scheduled an appointment!

As you tally the day’s results, you realize it took eight hours to get one appointment. What happened to your other 90+ phone calls? They all landed in voicemail. Did you get that sinking feeling as you left each message, thinking you were wasting time and these prospects would never return your calls? Well, take heart — the following tools and techniques will help you create powerful voicemail messages that’ll have prospects eager to call back.


The WERCS Formula helps you create engaging, thought-provoking voicemail messages that encourage prospects to call you back.

The first thing prospects want to know is who else you’ve done business with, and exactly what you did for those clients that relates to their own needs. If your message can quickly address their concerns, you’ve set the tone that you’re a credible, legitimate resource worth listening to. You needn’t reveal your client’s name or other confidential info if you think it might harm your existing customer relationship. In fact, not revealing client names may even pique prospects’ curiosity, providing more incentive for them to call you back!

Example: “Hi, Mr./Ms. _______, this is _____ with XYZ Unlimited. I’m calling because I recently worked with a key player on the west coast who’s well respected in your industry. Their challenge was _____, so we worked with them over the course of _____ months. As a result, they’ve secured five more contracts totaling $2 million in business. I’m calling to explore an idea that worked for them that might benefit you, too. (Hint: A powerful opener lets you undersell.) I’m in the office the rest of today and tomorrow morning until 11 A.M. You can reach me at _____ to discuss this further. Thanks for your time.”

Like most of us, prospects prefer staying in their own comfort zones. You must galvanize them to seek new opportunities or minimize perceived threats. Exclusivity is based on the concept that prospects have a limited time frame to act on your exclusive offer. Examples include demos, tests, previews, and giveaways, among others.

Example: “I’m calling you because we work with many companies in your industry. During the past year, we helped them achieve (number, dollars, percentages). We’re offering a limited number of prospective clients an opportunity to evaluate this unique product/solution. If this interests you, please call me by ____, as I only have (number) available for you to preview. I can be reached at _____. Thank you.”

It’s important to reference credible sources, third parties, organizations, or people your prospects know and trust, such as:

  • Articles/news from publications and journals your prospect knows.
  • Credentials you’ve earned, certifying you as an expert.
  • Awards validating the quality of your services/products.
  • Selected name dropping of previous clients.
  • Endorsements or testimonials.
  • Associations representing your prospect’s industry.

Example 1: “I’m calling because I recently read in the ‘Wall Street Journal’ that your industry’s biggest challenge is _____. This coincides with what many of our clients face. I’m calling to share with you some innovative approaches and why I think this may be of interest to you. Please call me at…”

Example 2: “I’m calling because of my involvement with (an association that your prospect would be affiliated or familiar with) and the work we’ve done with some key clients now seeing an average 20% gain from last year. I thought you’d be interested to learn what others are doing to get results and to see if it makes sense for you. You can reach me at…”

Use this advanced technique with discretion! Let’s face it. Prospects are cynical today; they’ve probably heard every sales pitch around. No matter what the product or service is, everyone claims they’re the best, the most customer-focused, honest, etc. Because prospects hear the same story day after day, they’re no longer really listening to sales pitches. Set yourself apart from the sales masses with a compelling message capitalizing or exploiting a negative about your solution. The point is to get your prospect to sit up and say “What?” so they call back. When they do, you must know how to spin a negative into a positive so you’ll come out shining. You must be ready with an answer that will not only educate your prospect, but differentiate your services from the rest of the pack.

Example: “I’m calling because of the fact that 95% of what salespeople learn in a training session gets lost. That’s right, evaporated, after 30 days! No wonder managers are frustrated and salespeople hate sales training! With results like these, it’s clear that training salespeople doesn’t work…I want to share with you how to avoid a similar dilemma. Please call me at _____ and let me know if you’re interested in a free copy of our audiobook ‘Sales Training Guaranteed to Get Results’…

Stories provide strong motivation for your prospects because they appeal to their emotions. Facts are important, but on their own, facts even come across as dull. To persuade your prospect through a story, make sure it’s short, specific, and contains something of value for your prospect.

Example: “I’m calling because one of my clients was missing 25% of just-in-time deliveries. With customers threatening to take their business elsewhere, our client turned to us to implement a new software system. Six months later, our client now reports meeting customer requirements 100% of the time, and best of all, keeping them happy. I’m sharing this story with you because perhaps you’re looking for ways to improve your operations. If so, please call me at _____.”

Make the WERCS Formula work for you, and get a greater return of calls from your voicemail messages.

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Paul Cherry

For over two decades, sales expert and author PAUL CHERRY has helped B2B sales professionals close more deals in all major industries. As a recognized thought leader in customer engagement strategies, Paul Cherry has been featured in more than 250 publications, including Investor’s Business Daily, Selling Power, Inc., Sales & Marketing Management, The Kiplinger Letter, and Salesforce.

Performance Based Results

Paul Cherry is the president of Performance Based Results. PBR delivers intense, customized sales team training programs and sales management coaching to companies throughout North America. Paul has worked with more than 1,200 organizations, including 175 of the Fortune 500, plus more than a thousand entrepreneurial, small to mid-sized, cutting-edge businesses looking to dominate their niche markets. Clients typically get 7 times their return-on-investment (ROI) or better.

Questions That Sell

Paul Cherry’s top-rated bestseller, Questions That Sell: The Powerful Process for Discovering What Your Customer Really Wants (AMACOM) has been listed on BookAuthority’s “100 Best Sales Books of All Time” and has been published in four languages. He is also the author of Questions That Get Results (Wiley) and The Ultimate Sales Pro (HarperCollins Leadership).