Day 28: Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes!

Cold Calling to Find Clients

This is Day 28 of 31 Days to Start a Freelancing Business (or Make Yours a Better One). If you want to catch up, click here to read Day 1.

These past few days, you’ve been increasing your exposure in the online world, through various strategies such as getting published online and guest posting.

Today, you’re going to do something more traditionally used in the offline world. It’s the terrifying, death-defying act of cold calling.

But first, a disclaimer:

I have never done any cold calling to market my services, so I cannot give you advice based on my experience. Instead, I am giving advice from the point of view of somebody who receives cold calls. I have also gathered existing resources about cold calling for today’s blog post. More on that later.

Why Do It In the First Place?

Well, if you’re a freelancer who needs clients, it’s better to cold call than to sit in front of your computer, waiting for your phone to ring, or for your Email notification to flash – whichever applies to you.

If you’ve done all the marketing tasks I suggested in previous blog posts and your target clients aren’t beating a path to your door – yet – then you may as well use all your free time to promote your freelancing biz.

Do You Even Know What Cold Calling Is? defines cold calling as:

(1) Visiting a prospect (who may not know the visitor) without a prior appointment. (2) Calling a prospect (who does not know the caller) for a sales appointment. Called also cold canvassing. (3) Making unsolicited phone calls to strangers, usually to generate a sale or seek a donation. Such practices are illegal in several countries.

I’m sure you have received cold calls. In the last few weeks, I’ve gotten cold calls (either in the form of telephone calls or physical letters) from:

  • a newspaper, offering me a promotional subscription rate
  • a travel agency, asking if I was interested in booking a trip to Mexico at a significant discount
  • the Firemen’s Association, to remind me to check my smoke alarms, and asking for a donation

I responded to these cold calls with varying degrees of interest and annoyance, depending on several factors. So, based on my personal experience as the RECEIVER of cold calls, here are what I believe to be…

Basic Principles for Successful Cold Calling

1. Know what your prospects want before approaching them.

I don’t want a Mexican vacation or to read the newspaper – I have enough papers lying around the house. On the other hand, I do want to keep my home safe, so the Firemen’s Association’s call was very welcome.

If you’ve done the research on your target clients and know who they are and what they *really* want, then you can make very targeted cold calls to prospects who are already looking for what you have to offer.

2. Be useful.

Again, the Firemen’s Association is a good example. They gave me something of value first – a reminder to check on my smoke alarms (they do work, by the way, because they always go off every Friday evening when I make pizza). This made me very receptive to their request for donation.

If you can begin your cold call with specific advice on how your prospect can improve their business, then you’ll be breaking down a lot of defenses that exist in a cold calling process.

3. Make an irresistible offer.

I have to admit, that Mexican vacation was tempting. Their offer was very cheap, the pictures on their site were amazing, and I’m sure my children would have loved it. Unfortunately, a vacation isn’t urgent to me right now.

If you can give your prospect an irresistible offer, including a sense of urgency, then you’ll have a greater chance of success.

Further Reading

As I promised earlier, below are some resources on cold calling:

1. Freelancing 101: Turn Your Business Around With Cold Calls - Includes specific scripts for telephone or email. Add the principles I mentioned above and you’ll have even better scripts of your own.

2. Effective Use of Cold Calls to Promote Your Small Business – A step-by-step guide to cold calling, written specially for freelancers and home-based businesses.

3. The Secret to Painless Cold Calling – The simple approach to cold calling, if the idea of “selling” your services makes you nauseous. Includes a script, too.

None of the resources above mention the principles I wrote about today. Maybe I’m just too much of a marketer. But I urge you to work the cold calling principles into your cold calling attempts. I’m sure it’ll help you to be more effective.

We’re getting close to the end of 31 Days to Start a Freelancing Business (Or Make Yours a Better One). If there are any topics I missed but you think I should have covered, do let me know by posting a comment below. I just may be able to squeeze them into the next 3 days.

Tomorrow, your task will keep you busy while you’re waiting for your wonderful clients. It’s a ninja marketing tactic used by big businesses – and you can use it to promote your own freelancing biz.


Creative Commons License photo credit: e³°°°
8 Responses to Day 28: Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes!
  1. Chris Vanasdalan
    January 3, 2011 | 3:14 pm

    One thing I would add about cold calling. It’s best to avoid doing it on Mondays and Fridays. Monday is a day most folks are catching up at work, Friday is they day they’re checking out early and thinking about the weekend.

    Early morning and late in the afternoon are good times to catch the decision makers. Most influential people rose to the top of their company by starting early and staying late.

    Also, it helps to keep a spreadsheet of who you’re calling, who you spoke to, and the result of the call. That way you can develop a schedule so your not hitting up the same people all the time.

    Cold calling can be intimidating, but the more no’s you hear, the closer you are to a yes.

    • Alexis
      January 5, 2011 | 10:38 am

      @Chris Vanasdalan – Thanks for the excellent tips! Most people hate the thought of cold calling and some even say it’s obsolete, but I hear a lot of freelancers swear it still works :-D

  2. [...] Day 28. Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes! [...]

  3. [...] Day 28. Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes! [...]

  4. Abu Wilson
    December 18, 2011 | 12:48 am

    When I cold call, I can’t seem to get past the gatekeeper or they quickly transfer me to Human Resources.

  5. [redacted]
    February 26, 2013 | 7:50 pm

    Amazing stuff. Thank a lot for writing that. I will definitely come again to read more and inform my neighbors about it.

  6. […] Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes! – The Savvy Freelancer […]

  7. […] Cold Calling to Find Clients – Yikes! – The Savvy Freelancer […]

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