In an age of mobile apps, social networking and 3-D, a technique like cold calling may seem like a nearly extinct residual from the dinosaur age of advertising. But the truth of the matter is that cold calling is simply a lost art—and it still has a valuable role in today’s marketing world.
Here are some tips to consider when considering cold calling:
1. Determine if calling is the right approach. Think about the way business is conducted at the company you’re calling. In some cases, such as when you’re calling someone who largely conducts business online, maybe an e-mail or some other form of contact is more appropriate. On the other hand, a phone call might seem more personal and engaging. You should consider your relationship with the business. Do you have a connection that you can refer to, such as mutual business partners or being members of the same organization? Having an “in” can also make your business call seem just a little more personal—which is only enforced by calling as if you were reaching out to a friend rather than sending a generic letter or sample. After all, if you consider cold calling rare these days, think of the flip side: Maybe calling your contact on the phone can actually make you stand out, if executed well.
2. Don’t delegate. There’s nothing worse than wasting your one opportunity. A professional won’t like it if they take your company’s call only to get the run-around. That’s why you or an informed member of your staff should be making your calls, not an intern or your assistant. This has the added benefit of showing this prospective customer or client that you personally took time out of your day to call because the relationship with them is important to you. If someone takes your call, they don’t want to be put on hold while someone less qualified searches for the information they’re seeking—or worst of all, be told you’ll get back to them with further materials by e-mail or mail. If all you want to do is send over samples and materials, stick with speaking to a receptionists or someone lower on the totem pole simply to confirm your target’s name, position and mailing address—and to let her know to look for your mail. Then, you can follow up with the receptionist or the recipient to see if they received and liked your materials. But if you happen to get your target on the phone, don’t cut them off by saying you’ll send along the information they actually might want. They took your call didn’t they? Talk to them.
3. Keep it brief and polite. Whether you’re on the phone with the president of a company or someone in the mail room, treat this person with respect and be sure to show that you value their time. Although some chatting and conversation is better than just jumping into your sales pitch, be sure to also get straight to the point so that you don’t wind up wasting their time–which is also a waste of your own.
Still unsure if cold calling is the way to go? Check back next week for more strategies.