Warming Up the Dreaded Cold Call
Last week, I wrote about a few of the things I hear when making cold calls. I also mentioned the fact that my cold calls aren’t exactly cold because I do a ton of research before I ever pick up the phone. Like most people, I hate cold calling. It can be so uncomfortable. In the process of procrastinating I figured out a few things that make it a bit easier.
First, I should tell you that I tried other methods of finding new business. Being a writer, I most especially wanted cold emailing to work. In my experience it does not work, at all. Out of maybe 100 cold emails, I will get at most two responses. It doesn’t matter how much research I do or how tailored the email is to the person receiving it. If you’ve had success with cold emailing, please, please share your secret!
In my last “real job” part of my responsibility was to find lists of companies that would be prospects for a group of third party recruiters to call. When I started my own business, I did the same for myself. It got depressing pretty fast. The rejections and blow-offs came thick and fast. It didn’t take long to start coming up with a list of things that would rule out a prospect before I called.
After a while, I began developing a profile of my ideal customer, and using that profile as a guide has helped me become a much more successful cold-caller. First things first, you have to have a reliable phone system. If not, click here to view Eatel Business’s pricing information and to see what services they offer. Starting off with a good phone provider will make this process a lot easier. There are a few other things that I do before calling that really help. Here is my basic process:
1. Look for companies that have an existing marketing budget. In other words, try to determine if they are spending any money on marketing currently. I do this by looking through the classifieds in various publications. If a company paid to run a classified ad, they probably have some money set aside for marketing, but not a whole marketing department.
2. Thoroughly investigate their current practices. In my case, I check to see if they have an inconsistently updated blog, whether there are errors in their site copy, if they have a Facebook Page and so on. I make notes about all of those things, including what could be better. I find at least a few things that look really good.
3. Figure out who to call. If I can’t find a name, it doesn’t automatically rule a company out, but it drops it to the bottom of my list because it’s just easier to call and ask for “Kim Smith” than it is to call and say “Can I please speak to whoever handles your marketing?” Your chances of getting screened out by a gatekeeper are lower when you have a name.
4. Make the call. If you don’t pick up the phone and make the call, you’ve wasted an awful lot of time with all that research. Even with the first three steps, I still end up leaving messages and doing a ton of follow up. However, when I do get the right person on the phone, we have something to talk about.
I only make about 10-20 calls a week, and end up getting some kind of new work from those calls an average of every other week. As time goes on, those numbers are improving, probably because I’m getting better at deciding who to call. I don’t depend on cold calling for all of my business – some comes from referrals, some from social media and some from in-person networking – but it is an important source for me.
How do you generate new business? Do you have a process for gathering prospects and contacting them?