The Voicemail Award

By Bill Farquharson
In February 19, 2015

If there was ever a trophy given to the Buyer who deflected the most incoming phone calls from new vendors and relegated everything to voicemail, it would look a lot like the Heisman Trophy. For the uninitiated, the Heisman is given to the top college football player of the year. It symbolizes greatness and often predicts complete failure in the Pros. But, it’s the hand gesture that the football player is making at the top of the trophy that I think is most appropriate here.

Picture a helmeted football player holding onto the ball, one knee tucked up as if running, and a straight arm and open hand pushing away would be tacklers. In football terms, it’s called the “Stiff arm.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Voicemail Award.

I would guess that all print salespeople would have at least one nominee. Most people assume that Voicemail is where sales calls go to die, that there is no value to leaving a message, and that anything they say will be quickly deleted and forgotten. To this, I have two comments:

First, if your voicemail messages are going unreturned, it is likely that you are not saying anything of value. “Hi, my name is Bill. I think I can save you money on the cost of your print. Here’s my telephone number. Let’s talk.”

Easy there, tiger. Let’s not come on too strong. I can’t imagine why someone wouldn’t return that one!

Voicemail is an audition. It’s a chance for you to demonstrate your attitude, knowledge, and sales skill. Be prepared and then knock it out of the park!

Second, I want to tell you about a response I got to a LinkedIn question: Why don’t buyers return phone calls? One respondent posted a memorable comment. He told me that he gets 60 voice mail messages a day. He said, “If I returned every call and gave everyone five minutes, that would take five hours of my day, every day.”

He went on to make an even more interesting comment: I go through and listen to every voicemail message. But if they tell me that they’re going to save me money, I delete the message immediately. Everyone says that. The ones that I listen to other ones where the caller tells me he or she is going to save me time. Time is what I value the most and that’s what gets my attention.

That last part stuck with me.

What can you say in your voicemail that differentiates, shows your professionalism, and speaks to the interest that Buyers (and everyone, really) has in improving efficiency and productivity?

Answer that one, and you won’t ever leave another voicemail message. People will be calling you!

Bill Farquharson is a Vice President at Epicomm. His training programs can drive the sales of printed reps and selling owners. Contact him at 781-934-7036 or

Bill Farquharson

Epicomm Vice President Bill Farquharson previously served as President of Aspire For, a sales training and consulting firm in Duxbury, MA, and is a 30+ year sales veteran in the print and form industries. He has trained thousands of print sales representative, sales managers, and “selling owners” with a highly successful, no-nonsense “old school” approach. His unique training programs—The Sales Challenge, The Mobile Sales Club, and Tuesday eWorkshops—have become an industry standard for driving new business. Bill has trained and coached sales people from Xerox, Fuji Xerox, HP Indigo, Heidelberg, EFI, Konica-Minolta, and others. An active columnist and blogger for Printing Impressions magazine,, he also shares two weekly electronic eblasts each week with thousands worldwide: Monday Video Sales Tip and Friday Short Attention Span Webinars. Bill received a B.A. degree in Marketing from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and worked in sales at UARCO Business Forms, Advanced Form Systems, and Print Tec Network, prior to founding his own firm.

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