A few weeks back, one of the Facebook groups on which I occasionally engage in professional discussion had someone mention that he was taking some time off from his “day job” to work on marketing and growing his voiceover business. One thing he had on his “to do” list seemed to inspire a backlash from seemingly out of nowhere, including some rather pointed words from a very well-known voiceover artist. Of all the ways we as freelancers put ourselves in front of prospective clients, none seem to generate such simultaneous endorsement and condemnation with no in between as cold calling to build a business. Count me as someone who appreciates the value of cold calling as a tool in your marketing arsenal. Done right, it might be the best way to build long lasting, and most importantly, profitable relationships.
If you’re still either on the fence or still vehemently anti-cold calling for any reason, i.e. nerves, the perception it doesn’t work, you think it’s intrusive and turns off potential clients, here are a few reasons why cold calling could be effective for you, along with a few humble suggestions on howto go about pulling it off successfully.
First, the “why”……
It costs you nothing!
In the current economy, you can’t beat free, especially when it applies to your marketing efforts. As long as you have a phone and an unlimited long distance plan, and most of us do these days, you can put it to good use to help establish yourself as you engage in a career for which you have a passion.
Personal connections still matter
In an age where email, social media, and texting rules, there is still nothing more powerful than being old fashioned. The spoken conversation still trumps the written one any day of the week when it comes to establishing relationships, both personal and professional. Cold calling proves that you’re a real live human being who can communicate.
The results are long lasting
The ultimate success barometer with cold calling isn’t gaining new clients. It’s gaining repeat, long term clients who sometimes become much more than partners in the growth of a business, both yours and theirs. They sometimes become friends as well.
So how should it be done? I certainly don’t even pretend to have all the answers, but here are a few pointers based on personal experience…….
Don’t sell them anything!
The initial goal of a cold call is not getting a “buy”. You only want a potential client to sample your product or service. As a voice talent, I’m interested in getting to someone who will agree to hear my demo, not hire me on the spot for their next project. Offering to customize the product or service and gear it to them is also very effective. No one likes pushy, and we all loathe the stereotype of the pushy salesperson. Be polite, keep it low key, and sell nothing.
Keep it brief
Time is money, and the companies you’re calling come in all shapes and sizes. This is a great way to perfect your “elevator pitch” while getting to the person who works directly with the service or product you have to offer. Assume that they’re busy and get to the point.
Treat it as an “audition”!
As a voice talent, cold calling can literally be my initial opportunity to prove I can do a great job as a company spokesperson. Regardless of what facet of media you represent, the world is your stage on a cold call. The value of a good first impression goes without saying, so make the world your stage when you make that call!
As a born introvert, cold calling was not something I looked forward to and took a while to get used to. There are far more introverts in the field of media and communications than those on the outside might ever imagine. Once you get a few under your belt, however, and realize that the worst case scenario you have pictured in your mind neverhappens, it can become quite the cash cow for you. Don’t knock it ’til you try it!