Here`s one of my favorite phone tips:
Be excited when you get voice mail. It`s your opportunity to tell your full story without interruption. Just make certain that you`ve practiced & perfected it to be 45 seconds or less.
Another thought... don`t make your outgoing voicemail message too long. At one of the organizations I volunteer for, I timed the outgoing message. It was almost 3 minutes! I told them it was no wonder they didn`t get a lot of messages. Yikes! We revised that baby down to under a minute, and I think it was much more effective.
Great point about long VM greetings! I`ve hung up on some of those myself. I also leave my number twice, once near the start, then give my "elevator pitch" of 30 to 45 seconds and then my number again at the end of the call. I also make sure and tell them when I will call back if they don`t return my call.
Another tip: When you leave a VM to someone, please say your name clearly, especially if you have an unusual name or simply have not dealt with the person before. This situation is always made worse if the person with the unintelligible name on the VM only leaves a main company number, and not a direct line.