Rotary phone for cold callingWhile 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.