Considerations before you make that call:
1. If you encounter voice mail, will you leave a message, or keep trying to reach the prospect directly? If you leave your name, then you leave it in the prospect's hands to respond, and you lose control.
If it turns out that this prospect doesn't return your voice mail call, then it gets awkward: does that mean no interest, or just too busy? But sometimes leaving your name and number is the only way. Besides, if the prospect does call you back, that puts you in a good position, as it shows some level of interest.
2. As a rule, I try several times, not leaving my name, hoping to finally get the prospect at the desk. If the pattern becomes clear that I'm not likely to catch the person, then I do go ahead leave my name and number, figuring that this way there is at least a chance of getting to the prospect.
3. Don't "wing" your messages. Decide just what message you want to leave, then boil it down so it gets quickly to the point. Rehearse your message until you can say it confidently and with a smile in your voice.
When you're live on the voice mail via cell phone or land-line answering machine is not the time to be winging it; even if you expect to speak to a person, be prepared just in case a robot takes the call.
4. Then, before leaving your first voice mail message on a prospect's machine, call your own phone and leave the same message. Analyze it, from a prospect's perspective, using as a tool the Prospecting by Telephone Checklist. Then go back and revise and rehearse your message again until it is right.
5. When you encounter voice mail, should the message you leave identify your company or your reason for calling? That puts you in a bit of a bind. If the prospect thinks you are a potential buyer of his services, he will be more likely to return the call than if he knows you are selling to her.
On the other hand, a busy prospect may not bother returning calls that lack information. Definitely do not try to make the sale, or even describe your product, over voice mail. Just say who you are, maybe your company, and your phone number. If you are out a lot, or turn your cell-phone off while making other sales calls, you could suggest ideal times to call.