Cold Calls Don’t Have to Make You Freeze.

Most of my time is spent on the road between cities in Texas. So, with all that glorious land to cover and time to burn, I try to relegate this time for brushing up on my networking over the phone.

Lots of times I thumb through my existing contacts list which continues to grow by leaps everyday.  It’s not yet in the hundreds or thousands as I have heard from others, mind you. But, I can honestly say if I add someone to my list they are important to me (like my dentist — he’s on the list under “My Dentist”).

It’s essential to ping your existing contacts on a regular basis. Even the clients you have the best relationship with, when they do not hear from you, will forget the sound of your voice. They will give a chance to someone else who makes themselves more present.

My efforts are increasing, however, on building my contacts list. And, this sometimes seems to happen providentially. Which is the greatest high in the world. Sometimes, without even searching, you will be brought face to face with a name that you can’t overlook. And, you’d be a fool to pass the opportunity by. Even if it requires making a cold call.

Humans, by nature, are not geared toward the cold call (or am I just talking about myself, again?). It feels so awkward, at times so desperate, so rude. The conversation is on your shoulders. It’s YOUR call. Are you going to nervously laugh? Are you going to sound too needy? Are you going to stumble over your words? Can you do this?

There are lots of books and I know many of them must deal with cold calls. The techniques must abound for personalities of all types. At the heart of them all, the strategy is still the same: to keep you from freezing.

I had such an opportunity today as I was working for an existing client. I turned a corner on a county road — a road I have driven many times over the past six months — and there it was. A large sign for an investment firm. The part that matters is the name on the sign was one I recognized from a previous job. It so happens that this person was married to someone I used to work for. And, the name on this sign represented an avenue in my industry that I wanted to cross into.

So, I pulled over and saved the number in my contacts list and then gave him a call. Interestingly enough, this person whose name I recognized no longer worked for the firm. But, the man I did speak with was very interested in speaking with me. In fact, I walked away with more business because I stayed on the phone.

Here are some things that happened in our conversation that I will leave with you. Things that will keep you from freezing:

Just Plow In.

As soon as I saw this sign, which I must have driven by dozens of times but now was being made aware of, I pulled over. I sat there for only a few moments reasoning with myself about the necessity of the call. Then, I plowed in. Chances to grow are often missed because we hesitate. Because we reason ourselves out of it. Because we convince ourselves we’re not ready. Yes, planning plays a monumental role in building your business. But, it must be tempered with bold attempts, risk-taking events where you just put yourself out there.

Don’t Apologize.

When my new contact answered the phone, I didn’t waste his or my time apologizing for calling him on his mobile. After all, his assistant suggested this on his office voicemail. I acknowledged the fact upfront that we had never spoken, and then moved quickly into expressing my desire to build a contact if he was willing. He seemed to respect this. If you are on the phone with the right person it will not be a waste of their time. Hundreds, thousands of times, someone may say they are not interested or too busy to talk. They will easily forget you. But when you talk to the right person, they will be all ears.

Establish a Connection.

I was able to have a substantial conversation with this new contact, mainly because I knew the man he used to work with. A good portion of our talk was spent on this connection, which I didn’t mind as long as I was building trust. I would advise never calling someone you would like to work with a lie about a connection, or stretch the truth. Bad idea. No, when you share a real connection, the conversation will flow effortlessly and meander it’s way toward more trust.

Know What You Do.

Sounds simple, but when you are put under pressure, it’s usually the easy stuff that flies out the door. Then, you feel like a loser when you think later about how you botched it. When you are given a real chance to shine, be prepared. Go in there with a fine-tuned list of services. A few minutes into our talk, and my new contact said, “I’m trying to think of how I can plug you in here.” To which I replied with the services I provide. Know what you do and you will be fine.

Be Willing to Grow Their Business.

Another reason I was able to stay on the phone with my new contact was his interest grew after I told him about some of the people I was working for. I told him I would love to bring him into my network so that I could grown his business. I explained to him in no uncertain terms that networking for me is not about, “What can you do for me?” but rather “How can we help each other’s business grow?” If your cold call is only about how someone can help you, then your schmoozing will turn them off. It disarms people when you tell them in all honesty that you want to help them become even more successful.

Back Up Your Call With Results.

Before we got off the phone, my new contact suggested putting a “test order” out there for me. He took my email address and said he’d send it over. He wated to be sure that I wasn’t all talk. If you are willing to cold call for more business, back it up with results. It will not happen everytime, or even most of the time, but you will make that call and it will go really well. When it does, and you get business, do your best to come through.

That should cover the basics of the cold call. And, it should keep you from freezing. In fact, when it goes well, trust me, you’ll feel really cozy.


About this entry