Cold Calling: A Hot or Cold Business Tactic?

Cold calling is one of those things that some people swear by, and that others swear off. Cold calling is terrifying for most people. There is no question that it goes hand-in-hand with rejection and sometimes even anger from the other side of the phone line. That being said, studies have shown that it does work.

So…the question arises, should you or shouldn’t you incorporate cold calling into your business marketing regiment?

It’s a rare person who can pull off the cold-calling thing, not only from an effectiveness standpoint where they actually get results from it, but from a “coming-off-authentically” and “being comfortable” doing it standpoint.

Most people who do it, hate it. They do it because they think they “should.” First off, there are no “Shoulds” – as they say, stop “shoulding” all over yourself. You can make a conscious choice to do something or not after weighing out the benefits and downsides, but don’t respond from a “should-y” place. That’s you giving up your life and control to what other people say. And that’s messy and just asking for trouble.

You have an internal guidance system, use it. Pay attention to your intuition, guts, instinct, spiritual guidance – whatever you call it – you have it. I always recommend conscious choices. Now conscious choices don’t make a decision good or bad, right or wrong. It just makes sure that it aligns with you and your best life. Because you know the reasons why you made the decision you made, and you’re not just doing the lemming thing. (I make no judgements as the lemming thing might work out for lemmings, but presumably you’re not a lemming, so … not recommended.)

Okay, stepping down off my soapbox, let’s continue onward : )

After having said all that and going all the way down the lemming track just to warn you, I’m going to turn around and apparently contradict myself, so hold on. Try not to get whiplash : ) .

I actually would recommend that everyone in business do the cold calling thing for at least a few months, just for the experience and the insights that you’ll gain from having done it. Not just insights into human behavior by looking at the wide spectrum of responses you get from the people you’re cold-calling. But even more beneficial are the skills that you’ll develop and the insights into your own personal behaviors and methods of response to the people you’re calling and their behavior. Expanding your comfort zone and doing things that you are uncomfortable with can push you into becoming a more well-rounded individual and will give you a deeper insight. Cold calling will not only increase your people skills, but can help you better understand your target audience.

However, once you’ve gone through the “trial-by-fire” growth experiment of cold calling, if it’s just not you, and it’s not your thing, I say “Don’t do it.” Simple as that.  There are easier, more effective and certainly more authentic ways to reach your audience with your message and offers. Cold calling is by no means the only way to gain potential leads and grow your business.

If it is your thing, then by all means, study it, practice it, learn it, get good at it, and most importantly, get better at finding a way to be of service while you’re doing it. Don’t just do it from a selfish and self-centered angle in order to get people to do business with you. Do it from the perspective that you truly, genuinely have something that will be of benefit for the person or organization you’re contacting.

The reason telemarketers and other people who cold-call get such an icy reception from many of the prospects they’re trying to reach is because of the blatantly obvious, spot-it-from-a-mile-away, self-centered approach that those cold callers use.

Think about it from the prospect’s perspective: it’s clear that this person is trying to sell me something that I don’t want or need – their only agenda is to make the sale – and I’m the one who’s going to pay – and it ain’t gonna happen on my watch.

So it immediately becomes an adversarial battle of wills. It doesn’t suddenly “go pretty” from there. That battle will often get ugly and turn into abuse from one direction or the other or both as the egos of the battlers get inflamed.

So…it’s no wonder heart-centered business people think cold-calling is a punishment worse than emergency tooth extraction. Rejection is much more personal and disheartening when you feel passionate about whatever you are selling or whatever services you provide. The trick is in expressing that passion within the first few minutes and showing that you genuinely want to help and benefit the lives of those who you contact through cold calling.

If you can come at it from a viewpoint of being of service, and really examine the question,

“How can I let them know that I can help them solve the issues they’re facing and at the same time see if we’re really a good fit?” rather than from the desperation and selfishness of “I’ve got to make this sale,” you have taken the most important step that you can for cold calling.

There are plenty of good books or internet resources out there that can teach you how to create win-win scenarios through cold-calling. If you think that it would be an option for you, take a gander at some of these resources, put together a plan, and give it a whirl.

Before doing it though, make sure that you have a plan. It not only takes away some of the anxiety of the whole thing, but substantially increases your chances of success. Just like you wouldn’t give a public speech unprepared, I would not recommend jumping into marketing your business to strangers via telephone without a plan and practice beforehand.

Like I said, I think everyone should do some of it at some point in their life just for the experience.

If it scares the crayons out of you, I’d recommend that you do it every day for three months. OR, if you just want to get it out of the way faster, just make 300 phone calls. Keep track of your stats and make a game out of it. Because it will work if you recognize and adhere to the philosophy that it’s a numbers game. Despite the fact that you will undoubtedly face a decent amount of rejection, each lead that does come through is beneficial to your business. Focus on the good rather than the bad when it comes to cold calling.

As they say in “The Aladdin Factor” by Jack Canfield (great book by the way!) …

“Some Will.
Some Won’t.
So What?
Next”

Give it a shot, no matter whether you decide it’s for you or not – I guarantee that you’ll learn tons in the process….

Has cold calling worked for you? What have you learned through doing it? I always love to hear your thoughts and experiences. Just leave a comment by clicking the speech bubble on the upper right hand corner of this post or by leaving a reply below.

Next week, I will go into the importance of a business website in the marketing and success of your business.

Hope to see you again then, and in the meantime…go out and make it a great week!

Networking: A Business Owner’s Best Friend

I guarantee that you have heard the phrase “It’s all about who you know.” As much as we would like to discount the notion, you gotta admit, there is definitely an element of truth to this phrase. Some people take it a step further and say “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you,” which of course moves us closer to the truth of the matter. But I like to take it even further than that, and I say “It’s not who you know, but who knows what you do and how you can help.”

As a business owner, your success can depend on who you know and who the people you know know. The more people who know you, the greater chance there is of people knowing about your business and what you do and who you serve, and consequently, the greater the number of people who will think about YOU first when looking for the services that you provide. As such, networking is ESSENTIAL for business success.

When it comes to networking, simply knowing people is not enough. You have to build and maintain RELATIONSHIPS. In order to do that, you have to actually put forth an effort. And therein lies the problem, because everyone wants immediate solutions, and relationships take time. Not only time to grow, develop and strengthen, but time out of your busy life that you may or may not have readily available.

If you want someone to care about you, you need to not only stop and be interested in them and what is going on in their lives, you need to figure out how you can be of service to them as well. It’s not all about how they can help you – although most people networking act as if that’s the bottom line. I don’t remember who said it, but you’ve probably heard the expression, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Don’t turn into a used car salesman whenever you talk about your business.

I just got back from a conference with about 300+ attendees, and I probably met and got to know about 40 or 50 awesome and passionate service professionals: people that I conversed with and engaged with in a vibrant dialogue, getting to know each other and discussing what we did, and some of our struggles and how we were focused on moving forward and what our next steps were for growing our businesses bigger and better than ever, etc. It was fun and engaging and pleasant and even energizing. We laughed; we brainstormed; we connected with each other.

Then there was one person who was all about using the conference to “sell herself” and get clients. Every conversation she had revolved around her business, what she did and that everyone needed what she had. It felt very invasive and pushy. It was the difference between midnight and high noon; the difference between apple pie and cowpie. A conversation should not be one sided, and you should not come off as if it’s all about you and the only reason you would deign to have a conversation with me is because you are trying to sell me something. You need to listen, and to show interest in a person if you want to create a genuine relationship with them.

Now I suspect that she most likely didn’t realize that she was coming across that way. I’m sure she thought she was just as social and friendly and personable as everyone else at the conference. Perhaps, though, it’s time for her to grow into that lesson, or the Universe may have a stronger, more impactful way for her to learn (think the Wicked Witch of the East if you’re not sure what that “more impactful way” could be…)

The best thing you can do to develop those relationships with people is to ask questions about them, their life and their business and anything else that’s important to them. If you help people in a particular arena of their life, there’s nothing wrong with focusing your questions on that area – for example a health coach asking questions about someone’s busy life and family, and how they manage to handle the stress and overwhelm of it. Or a printer asking questions about how someone’s business is going, or inquiring about the progress on the volunteer event that the person is coordinating. In general, you don’t have to do much of the heavy lifting keeping the conversation going if you’re asking questions. And if you’re smart, you’ll pay attention to the answers. Because the way that people answer questions and talk about their lives and what’s important to them will give you tremendous insight into who they are and how you might be able to offer solutions to the problems they’re facing.

Don’t look at networking like a work activity. Look at is as a friend-ing activity. You’re making new connections, new friends, and you can never have too many friends!!

Speaking of friends, they are a great place to focus your initial networking on. They already know you, and obviously like you at least a little bit if they have stuck around long enough to become your friend. Family is another great resource because they are essentially obligated to like and support you. People who you have known for a long time and with who you have a good relationship can often sell you better than you can sell yourself. Referrals and testimonials have a ton of value, and can be extremely persuasive. They can give you a whole other level of credibility. PLUS, they have a ton of other friends who they can introduce you to or recommend you to.

People that you are close with are not the only acquaintances to keep in mind when networking. It can also be extremely beneficial to go to someone that you have met in the past. For this reason, it is important to maintain relationships with people you trust and respect. A good example of someone who may fall into this category would be one of your professors from college. People you have worked with or done services for in the past can also be great resources. You do not have to call these people on a weekly basis or pretend to be their best friend. It is as simple as making contact with them once every few months. Shoot them an e-mail asking how they are doing, or in the event that you come across something that you think they would be interested in as well, let them know. You can send a letter or card thanking them for their business if they are previous clients. Just maintain contact and make sure that you do not fall off their radar.

There are a number of ways to reach out in order to develop new relationships. One great way is through social networking sites. I know that I keep coming back to networking sites, but I can’t emphasize enough just how beneficial they can be for you and your company. With respect to networking, they are especially great because people who you don’t know can get to know you through your profile, and because there are MILLIONS of potential clients out there that spend a TON of time on them.

Joining networking clubs and/or associations that pertain to your career field is another great way to meet new people, create new relationships, hear different perspectives, and to have some fun while you are doing it all. : ) You can attend meetings, seminars or industry mixers as well.

Really, networking can be done ANYWHERE. All you need to do is embrace your outgoing side and put yourself out there. Be friendly, be real, listen, and talk about what it is that you do. You never know where you could meet potential clients or someone who can be of help to you and your business in other ways. Maybe the guy sitting next to you on the plane has a best friend who runs a website that runs great ads for really cheap. Maybe the lady doing your nails is part of a club of women who could all really use your services. Or perhaps the student you ran into at the library wants to do the same thing as you and has some really great ideas that could take your business to the next level. The point is…you never know!!

If you truly are passionate about what you do and serving those you’re meant to serve, people will see and appreciate that, and want to be a part of it.

Along with this, ALWAYS and I mean ALWAYS keep business cards with you. You can make a great connection, but the card can seal the deal. It is a constant reminder of you and your business, and of course it contains all of the contact information that anyone would need to get ahold of you. Don’t be afraid to hand one to an acquaintance, you will be happy that you did.

Networking does not need to be as difficult as it often can seem. It’s all about people skills and promoting what you love. With that, there are certainly a number of guidelines that should be taken into consideration. Don’t ever be pushy. Nobody wants something that is being pushed on them, and nobody wants to help someone that is so obviously self-serving. Do not overuse on person. If you go to the same person over time, they are going to get tired of it and begin to question your motives. SPREAD THE LOVE!! If you expect, or want help from others, you have to be willing to dish it out yourself in large helpings. It should be a give-give, and a win-win situation for all the parties involved, not just a take-take endeavor. Conform to general social rules, and be a good person, your most kind, generous and loving self, and a friend, and you should be just fine.

I recently met and had dinner with Sue Clement (a Referral Pro) at a conference, and she gifted me with her fabulous book called “Insider Secrets to Referral Success – Uncover the Power of Your Network.” (and signed it for me, too!) She really focuses on creating a “Referral Network” so if you want to take your networking to the next level, her book is a definite must-read! You can get it here: http://www.SueClement.com/referral-success-book (just click on any of the links in this paragraph to take you there)

In what ways has networking benefited YOU? I would love to hear your stories, and I’m more than happy to answer your questions. You can either click on the speech bubble on the upper right hand side of the post, or click on the reply button on the lower right hand side to leave your comment. Look forward to hearing from you.

Make it a great week!! Why not? It’s all yours!