How I Finally Made My First 10 Freelance Business Cold Calls After Five Years
If you’ve been following my story, you know that I need to make cold calls to rebuild my freelance business after nearly five years of working for only one company, and then firing that client last summer. I had put off the dreaded cold calling until I could put it off no longer. On Thursday, November 8th, I finally started making cold calls. Here’s how it all went down.
10:30 AM — I had intended to start making cold calls at this time on this day. Instead, I wrote the following in my journal: “Uuuuugh! I’m dreading this.” I decided that I would only have to make 10 calls on my first day. This gave me an endpoint that I could live with.
10:35 AM — I attempted to open my new Salesforce account, but forgot the password and had to find it.
10:40 AM — Found the password, opened my account, and perused the names of companies I’d entered as my prospects. Which one should I call first? Hmmmmmm? Tick-Tock!
10:45 AM — Picked a company at random. It happened to be in a particular niche of the healthcare software industry. I had experience in software for healthcare. Then I picked up the phone and dialed the number. I felt very awkward and uncomfortable. I couldn’t wait for my first cold call in five years to be over. I got a standard company automated message. It gave me three options: 1 for sales, 2 for support, and 3 for dialing by name. Sales was the closest thing to marketing, so I dialed 1 assuming I’d just be routed to a mailbox.
A woman answered.
I asked my standard first question: “Could you tell me who is in charge of marketing?”
“I am,” she said.
“Oh. Well my name is Karen Jonson and I’m a freelance writer. Is this a service you need at (name of company)?”
“Yes, but anyone we hire needs to have our specific industry knowledge.”
“I have experience in healthcare and software,” I replied.
“I mean our ‘specific’ industry.” She was referring to her company’s tiny niche within healthcare software. I didn’t have that specific experience.
“Okay, thank you,” I said.
As I hung up, I realized that I hadn’t even asked for her name. It all happened so fast. I can’t believe my first call actually resulted in speaking to my target person, and getting a “no.” Not even a “maybe.”
Successfully making cold calls is a numbers game. You need to make a lot of calls and hear a lot of no’s before you get your yes’s. I had one “no” down.
One “No” Down — Nine Calls To Go
10:52 AM — I picked up the phone again, and dialed a number. A receptionist answered. I asked who was in charge of marketing. She gave me a name, but said the woman was not in. I typed the name into account log for the company, asking about the spelling.
10:59 AM — Dialed another number. Reached the receptionist. She gave me the name of the person in charge of marketing, which I needed her to spell. She said the woman was in a meeting with the rest of the marketing team.
11:02 AM — Called the fourth company. I reached an automated message system, with no way to reach a receptionist. I dial a random number and got a voice mailbox. I hung up. I’ll call back when I’m more in the swing of things. I have no problem pursuing every avenue to get inside of a company and reach the target person. However, I’m not in the zone yet, and each call is a misery. I still feel awkward.
Five Calls Down and Five To Go
11:05 AM — I reached the operation and got a name. Then she sent me to the person’s voice mail. But I didn’t leave a message. It was way too soon. I will try several more times to reach her directly before I’ll leave a message. It’s extremely rare to have anyone call you back when you live a message during a cold call.
11:08 AM — I dial 0 for an operator as instructed, but received the message: “No one is available to take your call.”
11:10 AM — Reached the receptionist and got a name. She forwarded me and I also got the person’s extension, because the automated system gave it out. This is a major score. Now when I call back I can bypass the receptionist.
11:14 AM — The automated message gave me a choice between sales and finance. I picked sales, but only reached an answering machine.
11:16 AM — When I hit the 0 for operator the phone rang and rang. I hung up.
That was it. I was only 24 minutes in, but it felt like two hours. I was done cold calling for now.
I had accomplished what I had set out to accomplish: Getting that first step out of the way. I had picked up the phone and made my first 10 calls. I also got four names of the people I need to reach, which I consider very valuable.
Now I could stop, regroup, and resume this week (I had several appointments lined up on Friday and could not make calls that day). Yesterday was a holiday, so I didn’t call. So I will resume my cold calls this afternoon — right after I publish this blog post.
Have you ever had such a painful cold calling experience? Or have you never made a single cold call yet?