Can I Vent For A Second?

Most outgoing voicemail messages SUCK!

Today’s blog post may or may not help you, but I promise it will make me feel better! And it’s a lot cheaper than an appointment with my therapist.

Annoyed man on phone

You are a sales PROFESSIONAL, right? So why do so many “professionals” have horrifically bad outgoing voicemail messages? It drives me bat $#*! crazy.

If you ask anyone who has ever worked for me, they will tell you this is one of my all-time pet peeves. Perhaps I’m overreacting. But I promise, if your voicemail has any of the phrases below, you may be losing credibility with the people trying to reach you.


Tim’s Top 11 Peeves As It Pertains To Voicemail

  1. No outgoing voicemail message at all. Instead, the computerized voice that says, “You have reached 555-121-1212. Please leave your message after the beep.” – Whenever I hear this, I wonder if they are dodging creditors or they are afraid that whoever is calling will know for sure this is their phone number. C’mon, take 60 seconds and set up your voicemail already.
  2. “The voicemail box for this subscriber has not been set up.” – Seriously? I actually get this message at least once a month when calling “professionals.” Enough said.
  3. “The voicemail box belonging to Joe Agent is full and can no longer accept messages.”  – Ummmm, why? Which one is it, are you too clueless, too disorganized, or both?
  4. The voicemail that was set up from the car while driving. You know what I’m talking about. You can barely understand the message due to the background noise. I get it, you are busy but find someplace quiet to record your outgoing voicemail message. Your callers will thank you.
  5. “I’ll call you back at my earliest convenience.” – This may be the one that drives me the craziest. I’m so glad that my call was so important to you that you will make sure it doesn’t inconvenience you. Lose this phrase!
  6. “I’ll call you back as soon as possible.” – What does that mean? An hour, a day, a week? Give me a timeframe to expect your return call (by close of business, within 24 hours, etc.) and then overdeliver. I personally use 24 hours, but I usually return calls within a few hours. (Why I only return voicemail twice a day.)
  7. “So, you know what to do…” – Don’t try to be funny or glib. Remember, you are a professional, act like one.
  8. “Leave your name, number, the time you called, the reason for your call, any other pertinent information, your mother’s maiden name, your astrological sign, Social Security number, shoe size…” – Do I really need to tell you all of that to get a return call? I’m guessing my name, number and (perhaps) the reason for the call should be enough.
  9. “After the beep” – Oh, I have to wait for the beep? Weird, when did that start? If only I had known…
  10. “I’m so sorry I can’t come to the phone right now…” – Are you really sorry? It sounds disingenuous to me as I’m usually not very sorry when I can’t answer the phone.
  11. “Your call is very important to me.” – Every single call you get is important? Even the calls from telemarketers or your annoying brother-in-law? I get you want to be polite, but let’s not kid each other.

O.K. What Should I Say?

So what do I suggest instead? “Hi, this is Tim Martin with Success Is Voluntary. I’m currently unavailable. Please leave me your name and your best contact number. I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. I promise.”

How simple is that? Make sure your outgoing voicemail message, leaves a clear message: That you are a true professional.


Get Your Voicemail Messages Returned

Read How to avoid voicemail hell. 6 tips that will keep you in the game.


Your Turn

What is the most annoying thing that you’ve ever heard on an outgoing voicemail message? Amuse the SIV Tribe by leaving a comment below.

Later… Liar

Do you lie every day?

I didn’t coin the phrase “Later – Liar.” It was something I heard in a speech by a senior leader of a very large Voluntary Benefits insurance carrier. I will not reveal their name to protect the innocent-ish. It took me a few days for it to really sink in, but once it did it has haunted me ever since.

Later - liar woman with pinocchio nose

I don’t know about you, but I often promise something in the moment and then forget (or choose not to make it a priority) to deliver on time.  Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, once said, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” I can relate.


When I Say:

“I’ll get that report to you in a bit,” it really means,

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You Are Not Going To Like This

Lack of Time vs. Lack of Priorities

I don’t know if you noticed, but as Americans, we are busier than ever. More things are competing for our time. There has been an insidious spread of bringing work home via our smartphones. Constant access to email and texting has irreversibly blurred the line between work and home life.

Dr with hour glass

The fact that we take less vacation time than any other industrialized nation on the planet has been well documented. 54% of Americans end the year sacrificing multiple days of unused vacation time. What choice do we have? To stay competitive,

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Are You Running a Deficit? By Bryan Yager

An Article I Wish I Wrote

“The way to develop the best that is in a man (woman, child, employee, any person who is important to you) is by appreciation and encouragement.” – Charles W. Schwab

Bryan Yager sent out the following article to his tribe as part of his Monday Morning Minute series.

I  met Bryan 14 years ago while living in Boise Idaho. We hit it off immediately as we share many of the same business philosophies and beliefs. Over the last 5 years I have twice hired Bryan to work with my leadership team. Both times he absolutely crushed it! Bryan appeared on the Success Is Voluntary podcast 4 years ago (listen here) to talk about the importance of strategic planning. The comments and feedback were incredibly positive!


Are You Running A Deficit?

Sometime today, take a brief minute to reflect on the most important people in your life, both personal and professional. It is likely, even probable, that one or more of those people are discouraged by something going on in their life, right now, as you read this short commentary. Think about it, almost all

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What Makes You So Special?

The Surprising Answer Of High Performers

“What makes you so special?” It’s a question that is asked of high performance sales people all the time.

Of course it never is actually asked like that. It usually sounds more like, “What is the secret to your success?” Sometimes it is asked with honest curiosity. More often though it is asked with an underlying current of jealousy. As in, “I’m smarter than you. More educated than you. Why are you more successful than I am? There has to be a reason…” But people can’t just come out and say that  of course, so they ask,

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Pick A Lane

It will save a lot of damage

I recently met a friend of mine for coffee. Sally (not her real name) wanted to pick my brain as to some ideas for her business.

Pick a lane

The Situation

Sally gave me the following rundown of her many endeavors as she explained her situation.

  • Sally runs a very satisfying small business that fortunately breaks even most months, even after pulling out a small salary.
  • Sally is involved in a network marketing company that she earns o.k. money from every month. She hasn’t started to recruit other reps but she does believe passionately in the product and has several loyal retail customers.
  • Sally helps some friends of hers by working with their customers via the internet. The amount of money from this “job” is fairly negligible and it takes her 10 hours a week to accomplish.

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Tame The Beast

Your Cellphone is For Your Convenience

I’m guessing you have a smartphone. In fact you are probably reading this article on said smartphone. Isn’t the technology that you hold in your hand nearly miraculous? In the last three years the lovely Dizzy D and I have traveled to Europe twice. We went to countries we had never traveled to and where we didn’t speak the local language. Because of my iPhone (I’m not an Android infidel) the trips were almost flawless. We visited Italy for 22 days and spent 10 days in Portugal and Spain. I used

Man going crazy on phones.

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How Do You Know?

Do you really want to know?

In sales we often are so driven by emotion that we don’t stop and really analyze what is going on in our business. We just bebop through our day doing the activities we think will drive our business forward. We end the day on a high. We have accomplished every thing on our task list. We made two DM presentations that we feel really good about. We even found time to make a bunch of new contacts that we are convinced will turn into new customers. It seems our business is about ready to explode. Well to borrow a phrase from ESPN commentator Lee Corso,

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You Are A Leader (Like It Or Not.)

“Leadership is influence; nothing more, nothing less.” - Dr. John C. Maxwell.

I have heard dozens of people try to define leadership. Most of the time they were doing it in the context of what makes a great leader, great. Dr. Maxwell is paraphrasing the accent Chinese proverb, “If a leader doesn’t have anyone following him, he is simply taking a walk.” To lead, you must have people that are following!!!

Leadership Success Is By Working Together Like Gears

The reality is that you and I have worked for good leaders and those that couldn’t lead a starving man to a steak. As you move through your career, the thing that separates those that thrive in their organization, versus those that languish, is they have learned how to lead. Sometimes they have the position and authority to lead. More often they have the moral right to lead based upon their contributions. Contributions to their customers…. Contributions to their company…. Contributions to their boss…. And most importantly….Contributions to their peers.


True Leaders Often Don’t Have The Title

Ask yourself this, have you ever been in a meeting where one of your colleagues drove the conversation even though they weren’t the “boss?” Of course you have. We have all been in that meeting. Why do you suppose that happens? I have an idea… You don’t have to be the “boss” (or named leader) to lead.

In fact, if you wait until you have the title, you will never be the leader. In my career I have had the privilege to promote over 200 people to leadership positions. Guess what I based EVERY SINGLE ONE of those decisions on? That person’s CURRENT influence. Sure, performance and work ethic had influence in the decision. But overwhelmingly I have looked to promote people that others were already following. Call me lazy, but I have always wanted to run with those that were already running.


Tim’s Six Leadership Tips

So how do you gain influence with you boss and your peers? I have six, sure-fire ways to gain influence and join the leadership ranks of your company.

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Doing The Work SUCKS!

But the results are worth it

Most people who begin a career in sales are a little pollyannaish over the trajectory of their career. When I began my VB career in 1998, I thought insurance salesman took clients golfing, out to lunch and then were done with their day at 3:00pm. Perhaps I’m exaggerating a little but I never expected to have to work as hard as I did. (My natural state is lazy. Not kidding.) I am incredibly glad that I chose to volunteer for success and do the hard work necessary to succeed in the great adventure of professional sales.

As I have watched literally thousands of new, straight commission salespeople begin their career,

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The 5 Words That Will Kill You Sales Career

You don't understand, I'm different!

You Don’t Understand, I’m different!

I'm Different

After 20 years of recruiting, on-boarding and training sales people, it never ceases to amaze me when a new salesperson says this to me. The sad fact is that almost all of the new agents I have worked with, at some level, believed it (whether they expressed it out loud or not.)

How do I know? Their actions made it crystal clear.  They failed to follow the sales system they had been given. They thought that they were smarter than the other poor rubes that they worked with. If someone else, who was following the system, was having success, they must be cheating, lying, stealing, or just plain lucky. “There is no way that person is smarter than me,” the agent who isn’t following the system thinks.

The reality is that they are probably right. And that will absolutely kill their chances for success. Over my career I have noticed that the “smarter” someone is, or thinks they are, the less likely they are to follow the system to the letter.


Put The Pressure On The System

In Joe Buzzello’s fantastic book The Cap Equation  Joe recounts a story of his father (who was never in sales by the way) rather pointedly expressing to Joe that he had never actually done

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2018 Might Suck

Or it could be your best year yet!

I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to see 2017 firmly in the rearview mirror. There have been a few years in my life where the journey was incredibly painful and brutally hard. 2017 was certainly one of those years. The good news is that throughout my life, years like last year have forced me to grow much more than my “good” years. I certainly don’t want to relive any of those ”growing” years, but I am thankful for the lessons they have taught me.

Hand Holding Rearview Mirror

Change is Inevitable: Growth is Optional

The reality is that 2018 will not be any better for you or for me if we don’t take certain steps now before the year gets away from us. This article is not about business planning, goal setting or creating business strategies. I promise we will get to those things in the next couple of weeks. Today I want to talk about what you and I need to do to make sure our head is in the game for 2018. I believe that the biggest obstacle we face every day is the six inches between our ears.

Trust me, this article is for me as much as it is for you. As I look forward to this year here are the 5 things I must do to make 2018 my best year yet.

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