Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

January 24, 2018

The Most Frustrating Phrases Used on Voicemail Greetings

By Nancy Friedman, Keynote speaker

When was the last time you listened to your own cell phone or work phone voicemail greeting? If it’s been a while (or never), that’s your first assignment from me, the Telephone Doctor. Listen to your own greeting.

Why do this? Because we cannot fix what we do not know. Here are some of the most common phrases sales professionals use on their away message – and the missteps you need to avoid.

#1: “Hi, I’m not at my desk right now.”

Well, that’s a hot lot of news! If your voicemail answered, they already know you’re not there. Let your callers know where you are – not where you’re not. The whole point is to be available to your customers and prospects. Instead of telling them where you’re not, give them another avenue by which to reach you (since they obviously didn’t reach you on this particular call). The best would be to give another name or extension. You can also provide an email address or a home phone number.  

#2: “Your call is very important to me.”

The problem with this phrase is that it doesn’t sound genuine. The caller is thinking, “Well, if I’m so darn important, where the heck are you?”

#3: I’m sorry I missed your call.”

Of course, you are (although, let’s face it; there are probably some calls you’re not sorry to have missed). Leave this one out! It’s a given. Use the time and space for something more valuable.

#4: “Go ahead and leave your name and number, and I’ll return your call as soon as possible.”  

Everyone says this, right? Well, not everyone, actually! (I don’t.)   

Based on our Telephone Doctor surveys, people aren’t returning their phone calls in a timely fashion. If you’re telling your callers you’ll call them back, then do it ! Or have the call returned on your behalf. “As soon as possible” is rhetorical and a choice. (Also: “I’ll return your call at my convenience” is a potential irritant.) And remember: unreturned phone calls rank high on the frustration list.)  

Final tip: When you record your voicemail greeting, smile! Your listeners will be able to hear that in your voice.

Today’s post is by Nancy Friedman, keynote speaker on customer service, communications, and sales, and president of Telephone Doctor®, an international customer service training company headquartered in St. Louis, MO, specializing in customer service, communications, and telephone skills. Call 314/291-1012 for more information or visit her Website at