6 Simple Tips to Warm Up Potential Clients When Cold Calling

Cold Calling Tips for Freelancers

Today’s post is a guest post by one of our readers, Chris Vanasdalan, a freelance writer. Chris shares his tips for increasing your success with cold calling prospects — a “traditional” but still effective way for freelancers to get clients.

Cold calling can be a daunting and terrifying prospect for freelancers. No one wants to spend the day getting screamed at, hung-up on or being called a parasitic worm unworthy of human interaction or basic kindness.

It’s tough to check your pride at the door and prepare yourself to get flatly rejected by dozens of strangers, and a variety of thoughts run through your head as you face “no” after “no” after “no.”  But if you’re determined and have a thick skin, cold calling can pay off.

Here are a few tips that can boost your chances of cold-calling success:

Call at The Right Time

The timing of your call is one of the most important factors when it comes to getting through to a potential client. Avoid making cold calls on Monday. Most people are still getting caught up after the weekend and don’t want to be bothered as they get back into the groove of an upcoming work week.

The same goes for Fridays. Most folks are checking out and trying to wrap up what they need to get done for the week. They won’t be receptive to an unsolicited pitch.

The best times to call are Tuesday through Thursday, early in the morning and later in the evening. Shoot for 8 – 9 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. Many of the decision makers got where they are by coming to work early and staying late. This is a good time to reach them when the office is calmer and they have more time to listen to your pitch. Plus, you can avoid having to convince a receptionist or secretary to send an unsolicited call through to their boss.

Do Your Homework

It helps if you research your target’s contact info before you make the call. Having the name of a specific person (hopefully the boss or head of PR) will help ensure you get through to the right person and you aren’t pitching to a company intern.

It’s also important to keep a record of who you’re calling and when. Make a simple chart so you can fill in important info. I record the company name, contact person, address, phone/fax, e-mail, date of contact and any info or samples they’ve requested.

Knowing who you’ve called helps you avoid targeting the same people too often. It also helps you when it comes time to follow up on those killer samples they’ve asked you to send.

Don’t Send Clips Unless They Ask

These days potential clients will likely ask for an e-mail with links to your portfolio, blog or other samples, but some still prefer you send hard copies via snail mail. In this case, it’s important not to offer to send your portfolio unless they ask. If you offer first they might say yes just to get you off the phone. You can’t afford to send out high quality clips just to have them end up in the trash.

Know Whom You’re Pitching To

Make it easy on yourself by targeting one specific industry per day. Start by making lists of all the graphic designers in your market, then all the PR firms, banks, web developers, etc.

Having a comprehensive list for each industry will streamline the process and keep you organized. Spend a morning calling all the local banks. The next day call the PR firms. The next day call the graphic designers. Get the idea?

Stay on Message With a Script

As cheesy as it sounds, having a simple script will make things go a whole lot easier on you. I have two different versions of a 10 to 15 second script written on a 3 x 5 card. One side is for when I reach a live person, the other is for when I’m leaving a voice mail message.

Mine goes something like this…

“Hello, My name is Chris Vanasdalan. I’m a freelance writer calling local __(insert industry)___ today to see if you have any temporary or on-going needs for a professional writer to help with copy, advertising or marketing material.”

When leaving a voice mail the message is the same, followed by my phone number, website and/or e-mail address.

If they’re interested you continue the conversation from there. If not, politely say “thank you” and move on.

Don’t Take “No” Personally

Nobody likes being hung up on, having a call sent to voice mail, or being escorted out of the building by security, but it happens. (Hopefully not the last example.) The key is not to dwell on it. It isn’t personal.

Getting rejected can sting like a family of scorpions living inside your colon but there’s not much you can do. Most folks won’t be interested in your services and it’s tough not to scream, “I’m trying to make your life easier! Why don’t you get that?”

There’s no point to getting frustrated or angry. That won’t get you anywhere. Especially in the business world where everyone you talk to is a potential client. You never know where the next job might come from, so there’s no sense in burning bridges before you’ve had a chance to cross.

Always remember that just by calling you’ve done something very important. You’ve made them aware of you and your brand. At least now they know you exist and you’ve planted a little seed in the back of their mind.

Plus, if you’ve done your research you have a whole list of contact info you can use during your next direct mail campaign or e-mail newsletter. That’s another opportunity to get your name in front of them.

Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and the person on the other end of the phone is interested in your services and wants to set up a meeting on the spot. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen.

Just remember, the more times you hear “no” the closer you are to a “yes.”

Have you tried cold calling to get clients before? What was your experience like? Please share your experience in the comments below.

Chris VanasdalanChris Vanasdalan is a freelance writer based in Indiana. He’s got more than a decade of professional writing and reporting under his belt having written for various newspaper, radio and television outlets in central PA, Pittsburgh and Indianapolis. Currently he’s the owner of Write Now Indy, offering copywriting, photography, social media help, PR services and media training.

In his spare time Chris is a husband, a referee with USA Hockey, an environmental advocate and political junkie.

Creative Commons License photo credit: » Emily Rachel Hildebrand «

14 Responses to 6 Simple Tips to Warm Up Potential Clients When Cold Calling
  1. Imie
    January 11, 2011 | 10:25 am

    I like your intro. This is honest and to the point. I hate it when someone interrupts me with a cold call and say “how are you? this is a courtesy call”. Then proceeds to sell me. I would be more willing to listen if someone got to the point and and became authentic:)

    • Alexis
      January 11, 2011 | 10:49 am

      @Imie – Thanks for giving us the perspective of one who receives cold calls :-D

  2. Jennifer Brown Banks
    January 11, 2011 | 1:28 pm

    Great post with meaty take-away value. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Chris Vanasdalan
    January 11, 2011 | 2:26 pm

    @Imie – Good call. Being open and honest should have been tip number 1. In my experience prospects know I’m trying to sell them something. There’s no reason to try and be sneaky or backhanded about it.

    I look at cold calling as a way to make potential customers aware of me and my services. It’s a first impression so it has to be authentic.

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  5. Elvis from Rio
    January 13, 2011 | 5:04 am

    Hi Chris! Thank you for your post. Great inspiration. Right now I’m getting ready to do some cold calling myself. I hadn’t REALLY thought of a script yet. Just realized I have to work on it! Thank you!
    Elvis from Rio´s last blog post ..Joomla! 16- criando exceções para pagina

    • Alexis
      January 13, 2011 | 8:11 am

      @Elvis from Rio – I was just thinking how awesome it would be to have a full-blown script for a cold call. You know like, if the person said, “Get lost!”, what would you say? Or if they said, “Ok, tell me more,” then you say this. What do you think, Chris?

  6. Chris Vanasdalan
    January 13, 2011 | 9:16 am

    @Elvis @Alexis – If they say “get lost” it’s probably just best to move on. They’re likely not a client that would be easy to work with anyway.

    Having a response when someone is interested could work for some. I personally like to be able to react genuinely, so I just play it by ear. Here is where your preliminary research comes in. Hopefully you’ve done your homework on this particular client i.e. checked their website, reviewed past marketing material or who they’ve worked with before.

    If you’ve identified some of the services they need or could use, like a sloppy website, poor graphics, you start there.

    Highlight what you can do for them, or things their competition isn’t doing. Everyone is more willing to listen when you’re appealing to their bottom line.

    I’d love to know if anyone else has thoughts on this.

    • Alexis
      January 13, 2011 | 9:23 am

      @Chris Vanasdalan – Oh cool, more useful tips!!! Here’s another question for ya: How do you tell a prospect that their website stinks… without making them feel like failures? In other words, how do you criticize their current marketing efforts without turning them off? TIA!

  7. Chris Vanasdalan
    January 13, 2011 | 9:47 am

    @Alexis – This where your awesome writing skills come in. When phrasing it’s important to always be focused on helping them.

    You don’t say “your copy is poorly written,” but something like “I can help you sharpen your message and convert visitors into buyers.”

    I like to use the image of “boiling the message down to it’s syrupy goodness.” You can always suggest to the prospect that the website doesn’t reflect the great customer service their known for. Or it just doesn’t display the quirkiness or the essence of what brings customers to them in the first place.

    Focus on what they do well and gently suggest that the messaging doesn’t always match up.

    It’s a fine line to try and walk, so the more you know about the prospect’s business the better.

    Obviously you don’t want to spend too much time trying to convince someone why they need your services. Hopefully you’re cold calling prospects that already know the value of using a freelancer. This is why it’s so important to “get inside your client’s heads” as you suggested in your “31 Days to Start Freelancing” course.

    If you pay close attention they’ll tell you what services they need help with.

  8. Sue
    January 13, 2011 | 11:02 am

    Hi Chris
    Great post your tips really do make sense. I used to cold call for another business many years ago and found that by calling early I did reach the more interested prospects.

    Research is key before calling as you can definitely have an example of how you can improve an area for them. This shows the prospective client that you pay attention to detail and come prepared.

  9. Chris Vanasdalan
    January 13, 2011 | 11:50 am

    @Sue – Exactly right. Being prepared gives you a big leg up and shows the prospect that you’re organized, thoughtful & can handle research. All skills that just might convince them to hire you and better yet, pay you what you’re worth.

    Thanks for the feedback.

  10. Clifton Richard
    January 24, 2012 | 3:00 pm

    I’ve been using your “script” technique and it’s been working very well. It’s to the point and so far the people that I’ve actually spoken with seem to accept it well. It leads into a conversation very well. I now feel I can do this on a daily basis. It has “broken the ice” for me as far as getting started.

  11. Amyda
    October 12, 2012 | 11:17 pm

    I will have a try, it sounds good.

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