Phone calls, voicemail messages, emails – you need to cut through the clutter!


Has selling changed in the last few years? Yes! No question about it. Are prospects & customers getting smarter about your products & services? Likely. Is competition as fierce as it has ever been? Good chance. Are prospects harder to contact? DEFINITELY!

When the COVID Pandemic started my clients would tell me, “Coach, nobody is working any more. Nobody is answering their phone. Nobody’s replying to my emails.” It was a daily complaint  that was running rampant through the minds of many salespeople (still is at many companies). 

This created an opportunity for us. What can we do to help our clients increase response rates from prospects & customers? What can we do to help our clients cut through the clutter of all the other salespeople (& other folks) fighting for the attention of their prospects?

That is the challenge! It is not that people are not working. People are working the same as you are. They just have different distractions today. Instead of Larry coming by their cubicle wondering who the Detroit Red Wings will hire as head coach, they now must struggle with caring for a child or two because they are working from home.

Instead of Sheila knocking on their office door & asking for help with a project, they now have to make sure the dog gets let out, so the carpet does not get ruined – because they are working from home.

People are still working. They are just doing it from home & now have different distractions.


Today’s salespeople must be creative with their voicemail messages, their subject lines & their emails in general. The stuff that worked even up until early 2020 does not work anymore – there is too much of it.


Yes, salespeople still use the phone. Not all salespeople, but some. If you are leaving a voicemail message for someone that does not know you (& certainly is not expecting the call) you cannot leave a long & detailed voicemail message – they will not listen to it. Would you? No.

A voicemail message to a stranger (cold call – not expecting your call) needs to be compelling, raise suspicion & make the prospect become curious. For example

Hi, Jeff, Dave Tear here, 2 4 8 – 5 1 4 – 4 2 8 2. Give me a call. Leave your number early, slowly & clearly.

This voicemail message (to a cold prospect) gives no reason for them to NOT call back. It is not specific, not detailed & not long. Does it work every time? NO (nothing does).

It also is NOT the typical salesperson approach. No please. No thank you. No I look forward to hearing from you. No please call me at your earliest convenience. If you want to cut through the clutter, leave all of that out (that is the clutter). Would your mother approve of it? Probably not. Is your mother in sales?

email Subject Lines

Let us face it, email is not going anywhere. Might as well embrace it & by all means continue with your creative juices in cutting through the clutter.

Picture your own workspace. If you are not on a website or doing a quote or writing a specific email or surfing (checking scores for example) what are you looking at on your computer? The answer is email SUBJECT LINES. You are looking at a screen full of email subject lines.

Which ones do you open? The ones that say, “Quote Follow Up?” The ones that say, “Introduction to ABC Company?” The ones that say, “Just Released: The Binford 5,000 Widget?” If you are like most people, the answer is also a gigantic NO. Why? Because they are boring. Subject lines need to be compelling. Just like voicemail messages they need to raise suspicion, make you curious or to quote an old-school song they need to Make you go HMMMM.

If a customer is expecting information from you, the creativity can slow down – you are already engaged. What we are talking about here is cold outreach.

email Subject lines that ask questions are 10% more effective than ones that do not. For example:

1. “What more could you want?”

This subject line generates curiosity & the desire to know more because it does not reveal the details of the

Question. The only way to grasp the root of this question is to open the email & read what is inside.

2. “Why [Company]? And why now?”

This subject line persuades you to find the answer. Why is this company reaching out to me in the first place, &

why now? The subject line provokes curiosity & an urge to answer the question of why.

3. “Are you ready?”

The only way to understand what this question is referring to is to open the email. Asking an incomplete question 

will help elicit action.

The thing about these questions is that they are not complete. They keep you on your toes & get you to take action to 

find the root of the question in order to know the answer, which means they do their job.

email Subject lines that indicate PAIN POINTS are effective too. For example:

4. “Remove the guesswork from [Task/Activity] today”

Be direct here, remove the guesswork from what? Guesswork is a common pain point. Research your prospect &

cater this subject line to them.

The word “today” helps to create a sense of urgency — if you can remove the guesswork today, why wait any 


5.  “[Name], is there too much on your plate?”

There is no question why this subject line is as successful as it is. Professionals everywhere have too much on their plate right now. It is a pain point that hits home on various levels.

The Body of the email needs to enable a response (in other words say less. . . its best)

My favorite comedian (Jim Gaffigan) says it best, “Why are these emails so long? I feel like I have homework!”

He is right. Most emails are way to long. Do yourself a favor & read your email & ask yourself if you would reply to it.

The are lots of ways to shorten up emails:

  1. Stop writing paragraphs (back to Gaffigan)
  2. Use bullet-points or numbers
  3. Bold or highlight important items
  4. Make your Subject Lines more specific (4-8 words are OK)
  5. Use attachments for the details
  6. If you have a deadline, put it in the Subject Line
  7. Remove the word “I” from your emails. Almost every “I” can be replaced with Our – Ours – Us – We – The Team – 

The Company.  When you write the word “I’ in an email you are making it about you. The email should be about your prospect or customer

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Dave Tear

Dave is passionate about selling & helping others understand the sales process. Whether a client company has a 5 person sales team or a 300 person National sales force, Dave can Coach & Train them to be the best in their industry.
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