Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Do you get cold feet when you have to make a cold call?

How often do you need to pick up the phone and call someone you don’t know to ask either for funds, a big favor or new business?
Unless you are super outgoing and love to reach out to strangers, this part of the job description can be a huge challenge.
The first step is to engage with the person you are calling as a fellow human being rather than a name to be talked to and then checked off your list. Find out something about them.  A quick check on LinkedIn or “goggling” their name will get you some basic information to build on.
As the owner of a marketing communications firm, I often need to
make cold calls to line up projects such as this e-mail seminar.

If you need to call a lot of people, write a script that will guide your request. In your script, tell them who you are and the name of your firm/organization. Then, spend about one minute telling them why you are calling. Pause. Tell them what you want from them. Is it a donation? A favor? Their business?
You need to substantiate this “ask.” What’s in it for them? How will it solve their problem? How will helping your organization be something they will be honored to do?
Don’t read your script, rather “act it out” with a smile. Your fresh approach will be most welcome. If you rehearse it enough, it becomes natural. If it doesn’t sound natural, rewrite it. Try to get an engaging element in your request that really piques their interest.
If it’s a prospecting call, what problem can you solve for them? If you are calling on the same type of client, such as a manufacturer or bank, ask key questions, germane to their industry, to determine if they are a good prospect for your services. Mention some ways in which your services can address their problem. Close by offering to send more information via e-mail, scheduling an appointment or sending a proposal.
If you are calling to raise funds, you must convey to this individual why he/she or their company should give to your organization. Help the prospective donor visualize your request by making the solution come alive. For example, if your organization builds homes, talk about much independence a family gains when they can move out of a shelter and into their own home.
Typically development officers and small business owners make their own calls. However, professional service companies do well to identify a knowledgeable, upbeat member of their staff to make the calls and schedule a good time for a partner or “rainmaker” to follow-up either by phone or a visit. The staff person should make the calls on the day that the partner/rainmaker is in, on the off chance that the connection can be made by phone right then.
For high-level contacts, lawyers, accountants and other professional service providers can make the connection first via e-mail or LinkedIn to gauge their interest. After some exchange of e-mails, tell the contact you want to talk by phone and schedule a time. 
With websites and social media, an initial meeting often isn't needed to get an affirmative answer to your request. Although, for high-value requests, scheduling an appointment often establishes a greater level of trust and is a good start to a working relationship. 
Everyone is busy; so if you need to call multiple times to reach an individual, don’t be deterred. Be pleasantly persistent, and you’ll succeed more times than not in getting the job, contract or donation.
Happy dialing. I’m interested to hear about your results.