Ice cold calling

Tim ReadLets face it, cold calling is the one marketing task that most people really have a hard time getting done.

When I started 5 Fingers Creative in 2007 I never once considered cold calling as a viable option to reaching potential clients.  I suppose this is because of the fact that I don’t like receiving cold calls. No one likes having his or her dinner interrupted to hear about the latest satellite television technology. In fact I’ve become pretty good about the “big hang up.”

However, after about a year of scraping for clients just short of dumpster diving and much vexation I joined the Cold Calling Club. I wish I could say that the early beginnings of my cold calling venture was a big success but the fact of the matter is was one mistake after another. I learned a lot during those first calls.

Be prepared. Get as much information as you can about whom you’re calling before you make the call. Be prepared to ask questions about their business. And most importantly know whom you are calling. Try not to call and ask for the “person in charge of xxx.”  If you don’t know the name of the person you need, call for the name of the person and how to reach them. Then call back another time asking for them directly. Nothing says “buffoon” like ignorance.

You’re not selling vacuum cleaners. Get past the selling mindset. In the beginning I always tried too hard to sell myself. This isn’t retail and we aren’t selling vacuum cleaners. The initial call is merely an introduction call. The majority of people I call appreciate the fact that I made the time to make a personal contact instead of simply emailing them.

Follow-up. Like milk, the contacts you make through cold calling have an expiration date. The longer you let it sit on your desk the more spoiled it gets. Have a plan for your calls.

Follow up each call with a quick email and note that thanks them for their time. This little act says a lot about how much you respect their time. Have several self-promotion pieces available for quick turn around. Drop them in the mail the same day or within 48 hours. The longer you wait to follow-up the frostier the contact gets and when you call back it is less likely that the potential client will remember you.

I‘ve always compared cold calling to dating. Although it’s been a few years since I’ve been on the playing field I still remember the rules of the game. If you know someone you want to get to know better and have him or her get to know you better you have to first introduce yourself. No one is going to know that you exist until you let him or her know you are available and have a lot of great qualities to offer. I had to ask a lot of girls to dance before I finally found one that rocked my world.

Clients are the same. The more you are out there introducing yourself and getting to know people the better chance you have of getting one or two that will want to shimmy with you.

As creative people we have a service that people want and need. Unlike the calls we get at dinner, there are a lot of potential clients out there that are just waiting for us to contact them. What we have is a gift; cold calling is just one of a hundred ways to share it with world.

BTW: Listen to this podcast with illustrator, Tim Read, about how he uses LinkedIn to find prospects to call. And if you need a plan to keep you on track, check out the one Tim uses: The Marketing Mentor Marketing Plan + Calendar.

7 thoughts on “Ice cold calling

  1. Bill Watchulonis

    Great Piece Tim….

    When you use the system you laid out for calling it’s not cold calling anymore. Cold calling is when you’re playing that childhood game in the USA of pin the tail on the donkey. You’re describing what Art Sobczak lays out in his fantastic book “Smart Calling”.

    Harvey Mackay has the “Mackay 66” which are the 66 important things you should know about your prospects and clients. Jill Konrath in her award winning book “selling to big companies” explains the how and why she only wants to deal with decision makers at larger companies. The decision process may be longer but the payoff can be client for life.

    I have found that the Terror Barrier Bob Proctor tells us we can overcome is a mental thing a preconceived notion. It’s all about your thinking using a positive mental attitude and armed with cutting edge technology of knowing about your prospect and their business you’re guaranteed to be a winner. Just do it!

    Fill your mind with good positive uplifting thoughts, pay attention to what you’re thinking about, remove any negative thinking and when you get knocked down dust yourself off and do it again. You see a failure is an event not a person.

  2. Doug C.

    Hi Tim,

    I was actually Googling around about this very thing yesterday and I found this great article, 7 Cold Calling Secrets Even the Sales Gurus Don’t Know. One of the key points in that article is start thinking about language that will engage people and not language that will trigger rejection.

    This was a good one, because if you start a conversation based on something they need instead of something you’re trying to sell then chances are they won’t put up “the wall”. This is what I did when I started sending out cold call “emails” to businesses in my area. I spoke to their need for a better brand and how this could translate into increased visitors and sales.

    Speak TO them, not AT them, and you’ll be more likely to succeed.

  3. Dawn Mentzer

    Hi Tim,

    This is great stuff! Would you give your permission to periodically re-post your blog articles on our blog ( for the Lancaster, PA Chapter of SCORE (a national non-profit who provides free mentoring to entrepreneurs and small business owners). I will credit you and your blog with authorship and provide the link to your original post. Thank you kindly for your consideration!

    Dawn Mentzer – SCORE Volunteer Lancaster Chapter

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