While decluttering my office, I ran across a battered 1981 edition of The Canadian Writer’s Market. In it I found 32 pages of agency listings, each entry with a pencilled X or check mark beside it, plus new telephone numbers and scribbled names.
Flashback: I was a newlywed, had just moved to Toronto and was moonlighting as a freelance writer while searching for a full-time job.
Oh, those glory days. I absolutely HATED cold calling. Most people do.
Cold calling is exactly that, cold. The rate of rejection is high; even the best salespeople can take 10 calls to get three meetings. Although you shouldn’t take it personally, it’s hard not to.
But sometimes you have no choice. If you’re stuck making cold calls, here are some tips to get you through:
- Be positive. Look at it this way: You have a valuable service that the right person will be glad to know about. Your job is to find that person.
- Don’t take rejection personally. In fact, don’t even think of it as “rejection.” Think of it as confirming that you don’t need to spend time following up with this person.
- Think about and practice what you’re going to say, but don’t launch into a canned speech that doesn’t leave room for a comment or two.
- Keep your introduction brief. Mine was: “I’m a freelance writer, and wonder if your company occasionally uses freelancers.” Yes, and the conversation continued. No, and I thanked them for their time and ended the call.
- Keep the focus on the people you’re speaking with and their needs. Follow their lead. Allow a natural conversation to develop.
- Some experts advise calling early in the day or late in the day. You’re not as likely to get an administrator or other gatekeeper.
- If you get voice mail — and it’s hard not to! — don’t leave a message on the first attempt. But if you can’t get through after another try or two, leave a brief message. Plan what you’re going to say ahead of time. Say your name and phone number slowly.
I have not had to make a cold call for many years, thank goodness. These days, besides repeat business from existing clients, I am more likely to get referrals from people I know through networking and volunteering, both options that are much warmer than cold calling.
Do you use cold calling? What tips make it a successful tactic for you?
Image: Alexas_Fotos and Pixabay.
Persistence is very important. A client of mine said that sales is just a numbers game: make enough calls and you’ll get some sales. I no longer cold call for corporate writing work either, but I have to make a “brazilian” calls to get ads for our magazine. And actually, I have always preferred emails to phone calls. I do a lot of emailing to prospects who have been receiving the magazine, reminding them of our next issue. I find that some prospects prefer to use email themselves, not returning phone calls, but replying by email. We even make some sales that way. But however you do it, you have to do a lot of it. Persistence pays.
Gloria, you’re right. And along with persistence is patience. I had a call recently from someone I last contacted three YEARS ago!
Oh, yes. Patience… Advice I received a long time ago said you have to market & promote yourself & then be prepared to wait until next year or years after to see the fruit of your work. It is certainly true. Someone in advertising said that magazines hear “If you’re still in business in three years, get back to me.”