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Success With Cold Calling

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

Perhaps no other personal marketing activity strikes fear into the hearts of grown adults more than making cold calls. Scenes of rejection, failure and misery flash before your eyes. You prepare. You think about it. You dream about it. And then you avoid it like the plague.

Granted, cold calling isn't the easiest thing you can do. And frankly it is often not the most appropriate or even most effective thing you can do to connect with new prospective clients. But many times it is very appropriate and very effective as well. I've had clients get projects in excess of $50,000 through a cold call.

Do you have a target market that you know could use your service, yet will probably find out about you no other way? Have you gotten a lead that you need to follow-up on, but the business connection was not strong? Do you just have a hunch that you ought to call that one company to introduce your services? All of these are opportunities to make cold calls -- and win with them.

Here's a few tips to help you through the mine field of cold calling.
  1. Prepare ahead of time. You've heard this before but do you really do it? Think through the crystal clear benefit of what you are offering. Write it down. Write out what you are going to say. Practice it out loud several times. Practice it with a friend. Work on it with a marketing coach.

  2. Make your opening very brief and to the point. This approach has worked for me: "Hello, this is Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. I help companies attract new clients. Who would I talk to about that?" If you don't have the right person, they'll usually put you through. If you have the right person, you'll usually get their attention. Remember, crafting this opening line is the key.

  3. Have a good follow-up sentence that answers their question and gets them talking. "How do I help companies attract new clients? Well first of all, I've found that the majority of service businesses are doing very little to market themselves effectively. Is that true for your company?" If you hit the nail right on the head, you'll initiate a productive dialogue.

  4. Next, engage them naturally, being more interested in them that selling your service. "Well, you're not alone. I've worked with hundreds of service businesses and it's pretty normal to rely just on word-of-mouth. Has that brought you as much business as you need?" Your job is to show you understand and demonstrate that you can help.

  5. If you get interest and response from this dialogue, have an offer ready that you can close with. "You know, from what you've been saying I may be able to help you. Something that I offer to prospective clients is a short, complimentary presentation on the 6 Ps of Service Business Marketing that I think you'll find valuable. I'd be happy to give this presentation to you and your top managers. It will take about an hour. Is there a time next week that would be convenient?"
Cold calling should never be automatic, forced or manipulative. You have a valuable service that many companies could benefit from. Sometimes the best way to tell them about it is to call in a very straight-forward, no-nonsense way. I challenge you to make a few of these calls this week.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

Other Articles by Robert Middleton

The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.


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