Office voice mail has become a graveyard for unwanted sales solicitations for things I don’t need. People who need to reach me have many available methods. I’ve decided to take some creative liberties with my voice mail recording and you should too, listen to it below for an example to spur your own unique recording!
The Problem with Voice Mail
The unsolicited sales and marketing industry has become much more adept at spreading their unwanted pestilence across the digital landscape. Legacy communication hubs like office voice mail aren’t safe from their tentacles either.
It’s become a common practice for cold sales associates to scrape and automate large call volumes towards the main phone listing of a company and ask to be transferred to your voice mail once they learn your name. Thanks to place like LinkedIn and social media in general this is trivial to figure out and automate. Also if you’ve ever spoken at any industry conferences your name is already in the bucket (they even refer to it as a science).
Here’s an example of some recent calls, none of which are wanted and a good majority look malicious or some kind of phishing attempt or robocall:
Let’s Have Fun with It
One solution is to just not use voice mail, but that rules out the existing legitimate uses. After getting bombarded by the 100th call about how I can leverage VMWare Cloud for my Microsoft Exchange environment I decided to turn the tables a bit (We’re a 100% Linux shop and we have our own virtualization platform – most cold sales don’t even bother to research).
I decided to spend 10-15minutes on YouTube finding the perfect mix of live machine gun fire and mortar rounds and the ideal t-shirt muffling strategy while I record a shaky voice stating I’m on a long-term business assignment in Chechyna. People I work with know to contact me via email, IRC or sometimes have my direct mobile number so this is going to catch everything else that I don’t want.
Here’s my voice mail below and the transcript. It’s served a few purposes for me, the main one being my amusement everytime I see linphone light up with an incoming call I know they are in for a wild ride.
Here’s the transcript:
Hi, you've reached Will Foster. I'm currently on an extended business trip in Chechnya so the best way to reach me is IRC or email. Have a great day.
By muffling the right amount of small arms and mortar fire sounds with a shirt and optimizing the balance of ratta-tatta and boom, pop, pop .. I tried to emulate an environment that while I’m not in immediate danger but I’m probably not in a place to return your call about urgent agile cloud optimization software.
Occasionally I get a follow-up email from persistent sales people that think it’s funny and still want to sell me things. A few times I’ve gotten emails or even a follow-up recording saying “Are you ok man?”
People say this is a tad unprofessional – that might be true but I’m not in a position where this matters and I also believe in having a good sense of humor and fostering a fun work culture. I also usually know what I need technology/sales wise and I have several trusted contacts in all the various infrastructure spaces. Voice mail is an artifact from the past and there are lots of legitimate uses for it just not for me. If you find your voice mail mostly filled with unwanted solicitation take the power back and have some fun with it!
Advice to Sales People
I get it, it’s a tough job. If you’re going to be effective you need to know your audience. Trying to copy-paste or robocall me about Microsoft solutions isn’t going to be effective to a 100% Linux shop. I’m letting you off easy here. A little effort goes a long way, if you have an interesting proposal and it’s done tastefully I’ll check you out.