This story is from a reader of Baseline Selling:

Please read Page 43 of Baseline Selling. Since I’m over the embarrassment of screwing up something so simple, here goes. After almost 20 years of selling, managing & coaching salespeople and now sales development, I just learned last week how to leave a voicemail!

Here’s the Story:

I’ve been conditioned to believe that, in the real world, one doesn’t always get through to the intended person. So, over the years, I’ve worked on crafty little positioning statements that leave an impact, so that when I finally do get hold of that decision maker, they’ll remember who I am and why I called. For this purpose, I’ve been pretty effective.

My first step was to purchase the right list and begin making the calls. Since it’s a new group, I had the opportunity to again revisit the effectiveness of my cold-calling through tracking. Beginning Monday of last week and ending on Thursday of last week, I made exactly 100 attempts, got hold of zero people, yep, zero, and, therefore, left my scripted, can’t miss voicemail for everyone who didn’t use a real person to take the message.

The result, no one called back, yep, zero. But then I got to thinking. Am I really calling these people to warm them up, or should I be actually trying to get hold of the right person, who, if they have the kinds of problems I solve, might actually buy something from me?

As I look RIGHT NEXT TO MY PHONE, I see my copy of Baseline Selling is TOUCHING THE PHONE. Inside the book there’s a nice hand written note from Dave Kurlan that says, “Dave, Continued success in growing your business”. Pretty cool note from a guy with a pretty darned good business. I have read the book once and it really was great. Maybe, at this point, I should look once more and see what Dave has to say about cold-calling CEO’s.

Again, it’s on page 43 in the form of an outlined quote “The chances of your call being returned are inversely proportional to the number of details you leave in your message”.

NO SHIT. (by the way, if swearing offends you, I’ll simply ask what you say when you drop a bowling ball on your foot?)

On Friday, after coming to grips with no matter how bad the guy writing the book might actually be at cold-calling, I’ll bet he’s better than zero, my voicemail became: “Hi, Bill, it’s Dave Mantel. As soon as you get a chance, please give me a call at 206-236-7225”. (Yeah, I stole it word-for-word)

The result: Of 20 messages left, 40% returned the call. 4 people told me politely never to call back, 1 hung up when they found out what I was up to (so I’ll never know), 2 booked appointments with me and 1 person will be attending my next briefing in June. The rest will get calls the next time through, maybe winter time, but for now, I’m moving through the rest of the list.


I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I was one of Dave’s first clients 20+ years ago. I’m amazed that normally smart people try to complicate this stuff. We have to “customize” it to make it our own. Me too!

So, when I get the urge I try, “Bill, Dave Mantel………..I guess I’ll just leave my number, 206-236-7225” or “Hi, Bill, Dave Mantel, sorry I missed you. I should be pretty reachable, this morning at 206-236-7225. Talk to you then”.

And the I go back to what works best.

Rick Roberge.