Cold Calling: Dead or Alive?
As a freelance writer, I obviously have to put some effort into getting new business. There are many ways to get your name in front of prospective clients: general advertising, targeted mail-outs and/or emails, sponsorship, etc. but I must admit to being a fan of the good, old-fashioned telephone (even if I do use Skype, these days).
The term ‘cold calling’ has attracted a lot of criticism, mainly due to those annoying telemarketing companies taking a shotgun approach: hoping the odd stray bullet may bring down a bird. But targeted B2B cold calling delivered from a concise, non-intrusive script puts you in a different category altogether. I mean, if you believe in your services, have selected relevant prospects and take a professional sales approach (more on that in a future post), you will find most people receptive to this approach.
But why put yourself to the trouble when emails are far more convenient and free to boot? Well, here are my top three reasons:
- You can’t lose your voice
Yes, yes I know you can lose your voice in that way; but you won’t lose it in the same way as you can lose an email in cyberspace or a letter in the mail system. Of course, you can always check to see if someone’s received their mail but if you’re going to do that, then…you know? Of course, there is Voicemail, but you still get to put a voice with the name and I would guess that more businesspeople check their VM message box than conscientiously open every email and letter.
- People really aren’t that scary
OK, technically this is a reason why to not ‘not cold-call’ and technically, it’s not wholly true. Some people can be intimidating but they are the exception rather than the rule.
I find that the majority of people I call fall under two categories: the brusque, to-the-point, message-takers and the friendly, ‘time for a chat’ people. They are both valuable in their own way: lots of the former are a blessing when you have a list of twenty calls to get through by lunch; plenty of the latter are nice when loneliness has got you chewing your paper-clips.
- Be your own database checker
No matter where you have sourced your list from, chances are there is an error or two: a wrong digit in the phone number, a misspelled address, an out of date contact name. Even if this is all factually accurate, you will almost certainly come across occasions where you are supplied with a more personal, less generic email address or the direct line for a key decision-maker.
It is my belief that cold-calling can make the difference between a personal chat with the MD of a company and your beautifully-crafted email sitting in the receptionist’s trash bin.
So what do I know? Well I do have one inspiring story of my own:
When submitting articles to magazines I was always told never waste your time calling the editor. So, when finding a home for a recent article, I called the editorial department of a major internationally sold magazine. To my surprise I got a line straight through to the editor’s desk. After spending twenty minutes ‘chatting’ and taking notes, I knew exactly what he wanted from me – no guesswork.
I wrote the piece, emailed the editor and – within fifteen minutes – got a reply message with started with, ‘Wow’, and ended with an offer of $300.
But the experts tell us cold-calling doesn’t work, so…