A significant portion of my business is generated through cold calling. Well, I do quite a lot of research before actually dialing a number so it isn’t exactly cold calling, but that’s a story for another day. Today’s post is about what people say when I finally do call them.
It is extremely rare that anyone is rude, but most of the time, people have reasons they won’t hire a writer. Sometimes, the reasons are valid but very often they are closer to being excuses. I wanted to share some of them with you, as well as why I call them excuses.
1. My niece’s husband does all of the writing for my company. All right. I’ll admit I’ve never heard that one, but I’ve heard just about every variation of it you can imagine. My mom writes our copy. My sister writes our copy. My brother-in-law writes everything we need. One of our employees takes care of all that.
Although I cannot tell the person offering me this excuse, when I make that call, I’ve already looked at their copy and found it wanting. Either it is poorly written or hasn’t been updated. Or perhaps they don’t have a blog but could really benefit from one, or an email newsletter would work well for their business.
What I do instead of insulting their mom/sister/brother-in-law/employee is start asking questions. Do they write professionally or is it a spare-time kind of thing? Have you ever considered a newsletter or blog? Is time an issue?
Most of the time, all those questions serve to get the person to at least think a little more about how a professional writer could help. Depending on their reaction, I either answer questions and talk specifically about my ideas for their business or politely thank them for their time and ask if I can email my contact information in case anything ever changes for them.
2. It would take just as long for me to tell you what to write as it would to write it. This one stymied me at first because I couldn’t figure out exactly what they meant. Do people imagine they would need to dictate things to me? Or do they think I couldn’t take a list of bullet points or random thoughts and turn it into a cohesive piece of writing?
As far as I can tell, people do think both of those things. The other thing people mean is that they will have to explain their industry, business or whatever to me in explicit detail so that I will understand it well enough to write about it. They have no idea that good writers are also excellent researchers.
My response in this situation is to offer to do a “test” article at a deeply discounted rate. I say, “Well, why don’t you let me write one article for you so that you have some idea of what I do and can make an informed decision?” I know that there is a huge debate about whether or not writers should discount their work for any reason, but this method has gotten me more work than any other.
The key to making it work is to put an enormous amount of effort into that discounted piece. It is meant to impress. To stun. I want the prospect to read it, say “Wow!” then hire me on retainer to totally revamp their copy or to write their blog posts each week or whatever.
If they aren’t interested in even a “test” article, I thank them for their time, ask if I can email them my contact information and hang up.
3. It’s a great idea and all but we just don’t have enough customers to justify it. When someone says this, either they don’t want more customers or don’t understand that good copy brings in more business. Sometimes explaining the whole idea of using content to get more business nudges them in the right direction, but I have yet to get a customer who starts out from this point.
Even if they don’t call it content marketing, most good business people understand the idea. Business owners who are not interested in staying in touch with their customers or who don’t see the value in offering high-quality information that is complementary to whatever they are selling probably won’t ever “have enough customers to justify it.” That may sound harsh, but it’s true. Relationships and good service are beyond important.
Of course, sometimes, this is code for “I really can’t afford any additional expense right now, even though I know it would help.” Either way, my response is a brief explanation of how my services could help them get more customers, followed by a request to email my contact information in case they ever change their mind.
4. Our customers aren’t really blog readers. The italics don’t come close to conveying the tone people use when they say “blog readers.” It’s almost like they are saying “the biggest nerds in the world.” Now, you know (obviously because YOU are reading a blog, right?) that blog readers aren’t necessarily nerds, and I know that, too, but you might be surprised by the number of people suffering under that illusion.
You might also be surprised at my response. Instead of trying to convince them that blogs are not exclusively for nerds, I suggest that perhaps an email newsletter would work better for their customers, or ask if they have considered submitting articles to industry print publications. If they become customers later, then I’ll return to the idea of blogging…
The conversation can go a couple of ways at this point: either they are intrigued and start asking questions or they begin to sound impatient. If they are intrigued, I proceed to sell my services and if they are impatient…well, by now you know, I ask if I can email my contact information, thank them, and hang up.
The key to making this work, as I mentioned at the very beginning is careful research. Look for the next post for more on that. For now, please share. Do you make cold calls in your business? Do you hear excuses? Have you developed a set of responses?