You Can’t Afford to Make a Bad Voicemail Impression

An advisor friend of mine gets about 10 cold calls a week from mutual fund wholesalers. The number he actually returns? Zero. He has a longstanding policy with his administrative assistant to send all unsolicited calls to his voicemail. Every now and then he shares some of the more amusing messages with me. Here’s the transcription of one of them (note that the name of the advisor, the wholesaler’s name and his firm have been changed). “Hi, James! How’s it goin’? Craig from AlphaSmart here. I know you’re definitely going to want to hear about our small cap equity fund that’s hammered the Russell 2000 by 150 basis points this year. It’s gonna be a game changer for you. Give me a call back at 555-555-5555 and let’s set up a time to meet.” After we had stopped laughing, “James” and I discussed all of the Sales 101 mistakes “Craig” had made in his message, and why it earned AlphaSmart top position on his “do not use” list.

Wholesaling – it is a tough job

I get it. Like any cold-calling sales job, wholesaling is tough. You get a long list of people to call and a pre-written script to follow. Most of the time you never reach the actual person. So you’re spending your day leaving the same voice mail over and over again. But here’s the problem: Wholesalers (or their voices anyway) are the brand messengers of their firms. If your voicemail content and demeanor make a bad impression, it will reflect badly on your firm as well. So, using “Craig’s” voicemail message as a textbook example of what not to do, here are some tips on how to leave a voicemail that won’t turn advisors off.

Lead with formality, rather than familiarity

You haven’t earned the right to communicate with the advisor on a first-name basis or speak colloquially. Begin with something like, “Good morning Mr. Jones. I’m Craig Smith from AlphaSmart Asset Management…”

Don’t assume anything

You don’t know what the advisor needs or wants. So avoid provocative phrases like “You’ll want to hear about” and “It will be a game changer” that make unfounded assumptions. It’s up to the advisor to determine if they’re interested. Instead, use more deferential language like, “If you have time, I’d love to talk to you about….”

Lead with value-added rather than product pushing

Advisors get dozens of performance-pushing product-focused marketing emails and calls each week. Most already have a well-defined list of funds they use with clients. If they want additional choices, they do their own research. So what can you offer? Insights and thought leadership. Instead of pushing a fund, offer a new whitepaper or an invitation to a webinar presented by your focused fund’s portfolio manager.

Don’t make them call you

Even if an advisor is interested in your value-added offer, the last thing they want to do is return your phone call. Instead, let them respond to your offer online. Give them an easy-to-remember URL, such as, that makes it easy for the advisor to sign up for the offer. If you’re using a fill-in form, keep the required fields to a minimum – name, title, name of firm, email address and phone number. Sure, some advisors will balk at filling in these forms. That’s okay – you only want to share your intellectual capital with the advisors who are willing to take that step.

The improved voice mail

So, keeping all of this in mind, what would be a better voicemail script for “Craig”? After bouncing ideas off the advisor who received it, we came up with this: “Good morning, Mr. Smith. This is Craig Jones from AlphaSmart Funds. I’m calling to let you know about an upcoming webinar Ray Collins, portfolio manager of the AlphaSmart Small Cap Opportunities Fund, is presenting on the challenges of balancing value and volatility in the small cap universe. The webinar is taking place on November 6 at 4 pm Eastern Time. If you’re interested in attending this live event or viewing a recording, please visit or feel free to give me a call at 555-555-5555. Thank you for your time and have a great day.” Will these kinds of voicemails generate more responses? Possibly. But at least the deferential tone and the value-added offer will generate a more positive first impression of you and your firm, which is a critical first step for relationship-building. Related: The Intelligence Learned from One Opened Email Alert