Sent to voicemail again? No surprise: the FCC recently predicted that nearly half of all calls made this year will be robocalls, and a frustrated public is responding by choosing not to answer the phone. As more robocall companies dial from area codes or numbers that closely match the recipient’s own number – known as caller-ID spoofing – it’s becoming harder to distinguish what’s a legitimate call. This puts sales professionals in a tough position: how to connect with prospects when every call gets sent to voicemail?

4 Strategies for Getting Past Voicemail

Standing out in a sea of 47.8 billion robocalls isn’t easy. Cold calling can still be an effective sales tactic, but like any effective tactic, it needs to be part of a smart strategy. Our expert sales recruiters suggest the following:

  1. Improve your chances to connect by leveraging social media contacts.
    When possible, don’t call completely out of the blue. At a minimum, connect first on LinkedIn, either directly or as part of the same LinkedIn group. If the person you are calling is in a common LinkedIn group, you are 70 percent more likely to speak with them on a cold call. Use these connections to your advantage.
  2. Send prospects a small, unique gift.
    If you find yourself consistently sent to voicemail, try smoothing the way by sending a small gift to their workplace. It could be a clever play on a service your business sells or a useful daily item, like a phone charger. Customize it with your business name and phone number. This improves your business’s brand recognition and can help break the ice when your call does get through.
  3. Pick the right time.
    Try cold calling early in the day before your prospect is hit with the latest client emergency or budget meeting. Some decision makers receive a constant stream of calls all day and don’t have the bandwidth to answer calls from unfamiliar numbers.
  4. Treat gatekeepers like friends, not foes.
    When a receptionist or administrative assistant answers the phone, don’t be frustrated. In fact, just getting an answer should be a reason to celebrate. They don’t assume you’re a spam caller! Keep the momentum going in your favor by being pleasant to whoever answered. Try asking, “I wonder if you can help me?” and proposing a specific call back time, such as “Wednesday at 3:30pm.” Psychologically we’re programmed to be helpful when asked an easy favor. An assistant who may be low on the office org chart will also appreciate you acknowledging their importance.


For more on succeeding as a sales professional, check out “LinkedIn Profiles for Sales Professionals” and “Mastering Your Sales Selfie.”