Voicemail and email, when used together in rapid succession, can be an effective combination when reaching out to prospects, leads, and customers. This one-two punch could lead to a “knock out,” resulting in more sales and stronger relationships.

According to FreeDictionary.com, a one-two punch in boxing is a combination of two blows delivered in rapid succession, especially a left lead followed by a right cross. This term is also used informally to refer to an “especially forceful or effective combination or sequence of two things.”

Why Leave Both Voice Mail and a Follow-up Email?

If it sounds like more work to leave both a voicemail and a follow-up email, you’re right; it is. However, this one-two punch is an effective combination that makes it easier for your contacts to respond.

For example, imagine getting a long-winded voice mail from a salesperson you may or may not know. You listen to the message and are actually interested in learning more.

However, a few obstacles could make it challenging for you to return the call:

  • The salesperson races through his or her return phone number. In order to return the call, you will have to listen to the entire message again and hope you can make sense of the phone number.
  • Caller ID might display a callback number, but it could be the company’s main 800 number. This often means listening to an automated voice response system or an extended hold time.
  • You receive the voice mail on your mobile phone or at an inconvenient time, but it’s impractical for you to make a note to yourself to call back later. Your intentions may be good, but you ultimately put it off for later or forget altogether.

By following up with email, you can relieve the other party of the burden of figuring out how to call you or remembering to do so later.

It’s not just about making it easier to call you back. In fact, when you use the one-two punch, you’re opening up another avenue of communication — one that many busy professionals prefer over voice calls.

The Left Lead: Tips for Leaving Effective Voice Mail Messages

The one-two punch is a combination move. Though it has two components, it ultimately serves as a single method. When leaving a voice mail message using the one-two punch, keep in mind that you will be quickly following up with email.

Since you know you’ll be following up with an email message, your strategy for leaving a voice mail will be slightly different from your normal practice. Use the tips below to craft your first punch:

  • Keep your message short. Many voice mail notification systems indicate the duration of each incoming message. Keeping yours about 15 seconds in length could mean the difference between your message being heard and being deleted.
  • Keep your message warm. Let your prospect know-how you’re connected if possible. For example, did a mutual contact recommend that you call? Did you recently meet at an industry conference? Have you heard good things about the company in the press? Did you read one of the prospect’s blog posts?
  • Call at the right time. The worst time to call anyone is first thing Monday morning or Friday afternoon. Any other time during normal business hours — in your prospect’s time zone — should be fine. However, you may want to avoid early mornings and late afternoons.
  • Skip the sales pitch. This isn’t the time for it. Plus, you only have 15 seconds! By all means, introduce yourself and the company you represent, but approach this portion of your outreach as a means of piquing interest.
  • Make the call on the phone that you’d like to receive a return call on, and make sure Caller ID is turned on. This will help overcome the Caller ID problem should the prospect want to call you back.
  • Indicate that you will be sending a follow-up email. You already know you’re going to do it, so take a little pressure off your prospect and set the stage for a future interaction. The prospect will be expecting your email and may feel relieved not to have to take any action or make a decision right away.

The Right Cross: Tips for Sending Effective Email Messages

Now it’s time to follow up with the second punch. Use the tips below to write effective follow-up emails.

  • Make sure your name appears in the from field. Check your email settings to ensure your full name is displayed. Not only is this professional, it will help build name recognition over time.
  • Remind with a thoughtful subject line. Remember, your prospect is expecting your email. This can be as simple as “Sorry I missed you,” “Following up as promised earlier today,” or “Following up regarding your recent blog post.”
  • Personalize your message. While it’s tempting to use a standard script, don’t. Address your prospect by name, mention how you met or what you have in common, and introduce yourself.
  • Explain why you’re reaching out. Your prospect is feeling a little warmer but needs a reason to keep reading. Focus on the prospect rather than your offer. For example, “You mentioned that…” or “your keynote address was intriguing…” Indicate why you believe you may be able to help, and how you’ve helped others in a similar situation. However, do not go into too much detail here because the next tip is the most important of all.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Your follow-up email needs to be brief or it won’t get read right away, if at all. Shoot for two to three short paragraphs. Use plenty of white space rather than a big block of dense text.
  • Ask to continue the conversation. Close your message by telling them how and when you’ll be in touch again.
  • Include contact information. Make sure that your email signature contains all of your contact methods including phone numbers, email address, website, and LinkedIn profile.

The one-two punch provides you with additional channels to interact with your prospects, leads, and customers — and it can be an effective tool in your toolbox. Put it into practice over the next month and punch your way through a knock-out round.