Everybody hates cold calling.
A lot of people, whom I respect, say you need to make 40 cold calls a day. If you’re lucky, two of them will work out.
My strategy is to make two to five calls but make them count by warming them up a little. Hit the ground running by doing some research before you call.
Here’s how I do it.
Find a Connection
Obviously, it’s helpful if you’ve met the prospective client at an event, the grocery store, their restaurant, your kids’ school, etc. But there are other not so direct, not so obvious ways to create warm interactions: LinkedIn and Google.
Say I’m looking for Art Gallery Directors. I can use LinkedIn to recognize a 2nd level connection, and then send an email saying, “Hey, I saw on LinkedIn that we both know [the same person]…”
Also, being a member of an association or networking group is a great way to find connections. For instance, I’m a member of National Association of Professional Women (NAPW). Once I have the connection, I head over to Google and find out more.
Do they have kids? Dogs? What causes do they support? Are they a member of PETA? Unicef? Try to find out as much about this person as possible to build upon the initial connection.
When using information from profiles, blog posts, etc., put some finesse around it. The most critical thing is that you only use the information they’ve willingly made public.
If you have a niche, start there. Having a niche becomes the first limitation of your search. Your second limitation is your geographic area. It’s smart to start locally.
Keeping these two criteria in mind helps you narrow your search. Looking for a dentist in New Orleans is a much more manageable number than looking for “small business owners.”
Doing a little research ahead of time makes you an insider, helping them let their guard down when you make your introduction.
What to Say
The first 90% of the call should be about chatting and connecting. The question of why you’re calling comes up quickly and naturally. That’s the last 10%.
When I call – without fail – I tell them how I found them and what I’m looking to do. I like to say, “I need your help. I want to know more about your market, what you’re doing, how you’re servicing your community.”
If we’re members of the same organizations or associations, I’ll say something like, “I found you through the NAPW database. I love being a member of this association. What’s it like in your town? [And some other small talk]. The reason I’m calling is because [describe what your business does]. I’m looking to expand what I do, and I wanted to reach out.”
Even if it’s a far-fetched connection like, “We both lived in New York,” you can have a conversation that goes like this:
- “I saw that you lived in New York. I used to live in New York too. I’m in New Orleans now. I just moved here. I used to live at 51st and 9th. It was so crazy back then, but it’s so nice now…You happen to be in my niche market. I do x, y, z and I’d love to talk to you to find out more about your business.”
Get Them Into Your System
I prefer making phone calls to sending emails. When I call, I don’t put a time limit on them, but I try to keep the first call under ten minutes. The whole point of the first call is to set up something better at a later date. I want to put them in a position where they’re comfortable talking about their business.
If I interrupt someone, they may not have time to talk. Making a short call, initially, is about respecting their time. If I schedule a call for a later time, I’m no longer an interruption.
You could dedicate 90 minutes a day to researching and contacting warm leads. I go to networking events once a week because I prefer to get out and meet people face to face.
You need to create a system that works for your business. Everyone has different needs, so you have to figure out what works for you. The whole system depends on how much work you need to stay busy. Be willing to test. It will evolve.
Be a Real Person
Everything I’m doing is from an authentic base. I genuinely like to know about people, how to expand my life, how to learn something new.
When you get people talking about what they care about, not only does their light go on, but they can get you excited too!
None of this is just a strategy for me. It’s not about getting more money in the bank. It’s about connecting with people, forming relationships, and having a ton of fun doing it. With this mindset, it becomes beneficial for everyone: financially, personally, and professionally.
You’re offering an opportunity to better someone’s business. You’re not asking for money. You don’t have to feel like you’re begging for work.
If they say no, that’s okay. They’re not ready to grow their business in that way…yet. Knowing what you have to offer gives you confidence in helping others.
Do you have a strategy for “warming up” potential clients? What strategies have you used to make calling more personal? Leave a comment to tell me how you make calls.