As many freelancing ChurchMag readers know, cold calling clients is no fun. It is, however, a good way to make initial contact with individuals and gather information to determine what kind of effort you should put into trying to get work.
Since many of us dislike cold-calling, let’s look at some things you can do to make it more pleasant:
First, prepare for cold calling by sending the people you intend to call an introductory letter and a small gift of some kind. Make it something inexpensive, but unique. An inexpensive pen or magnetized business card with your name and phone number on it is good choices.
Second, prepare yourself mentally not to take rejection personally. Remind yourself that you’re trying to contact people so you can help them with their business needs. Remember that you can’t control how people will react when you call them, though. They may be courteous, but they also might be hostile. Many of the people you call will try to get off the phone as quickly as possible. You’ll have to face a lot of rejection for every spark of interest that you find.
Third, do your research to find companies that might be in the market for your services. One way to find this out is to look at the classified ads in your local newspapers and the job boards on the Internet to find companies that hire technical writers.
Fourth, find out the name of the person you need to talk to. This may not be easy. If you can’t find out the name of the person who would hire freelance technical writers, ask for the marketing director.
Fifth, don’t call to make a sale. Call to open the door for communication and learn more about the company you’re calling. Remember, the real purpose of a cold call is to set an appointment to pitch your business, not to convince people to hire you on the spot.
Sixth, write an opening statement for your cold call. Don’t ask if this is a good time to talk or ask how they are. The best way to start your call is to greet the other person, introduce yourself, make a statement about the company you’re calling (perhaps something that you’ve read in the newspaper), the benefits of your product or service, and a transition to a question or dialogue. For example, you could say, “Good morning, Mr. Smith. This is James Moore with Progressive Writing Services. I read in the local paper that your company will be adding a new product line of advanced computer components. We specialize in writing technical documentation that bridges the gap between technology and users. I’d like to ask a few questions to determine whether our service would help you meet your goals.”
Write a script for the rest of your cold call as well, or make an outline of the services you offer and the reasons why this company would benefit from using them. When you’re writing your script, think of possible objections, and then write how you would answer them.
Also, include in your script how you’ll ask for an appointment. When you ask for an appointment, be specific. Don’t ask if you can meet with them sometime; ask if Thursday at 2 p.m. would be a good time to meet.
Making cold calls can be a part of every workday, or you may choose to make them every other day or even once a week. Most business advisors would recommend that you make cold calls every day.
Schedule your time to make cold calls early in the day when you feel the most energized. If you put it off until later in the day, not only will you be dreading it all day, but you might consciously or subconsciously find excuses for not doing it at all.
When you’re ready to make your calls, place your list of contacts in front of you, along with your script and a tablet and pen to take notes.
Before you pick up your phone to make that first call, take a few minutes to relax and reflect upon what you want to achieve. Remember, your only goal for these calls is to get an opportunity to have a meeting.
Also, remember at this time that what you’re doing is a time-honored sales tradition. It’s one of the ways that business gets done. In essence, you’re saying, “I want to work with you to help you achieve your goals.” Think of yourself as an educator and an advisor, not a nuisance. Think what kind of image you want the person on the other end of the line to have of you.
Once you are relaxed and have an attitude of a professional offering service to other professionals, pick up the phone and make that first call.
Getting Past the Gatekeepers
Quite often, your call will be answered by your contact’s secretary, as known as a “gatekeeper.” Be pleasant to whoever picks up the phone and try to make an ally out of them. Learn their names and ask them when the best time to contact the prospect is.
Above all, be persistent. If you don’t connect with someone on the first call, try again – and then one more time just for good measure. You don’t want to make a nuisance out of yourself, but if you’re sure that the company you’re calling hires freelance technical writers, keep calling until you are able to connect with the person you need to talk to.
Take some pressure off yourself and don’t call your best prospects first. By calling some of your more marginal prospects first, you’ll have an opportunity to practice your delivery and won’t feel so devastated if your presentation falls flat.
As you become more comfortable with cold-calling, start to customize your delivery. Learn to listen to the person on the other end of the line and be sensitive to his or her needs.
Cold Calling for Market Research
Let’s say that you have been thinking about adding translation services to your business, but you’re not sure there’s a market for it. How can you find out? You can call several companies in your area and ask if they would have a need for this kind of service.
The goal of this kind of cold calling is to get people on the phone answering questions. In addition to introducing yourself to potential clients, you’ll be surprised at how much information you can learn in a short phone conversation.
If you’ve had experience in any of this, we would love your feedback!