Today’s Cold Call Dilemma — Is Cold Calling Losing its Superpower to Connect with Prospective Clients?
Back in the day, cold calling was a powerful way for me to connect with prospective clients.
I built my entire freelance writing career on cold calling.
Cold calling was like my freelancing superpower.
I loved its ability to connect directly with the person I wanted to reach.
I loved how I could quickly weed out the “no’s” from the “yes’s.”
I loved how it got me clients and projects.
No one advised me to cold call to find clients when I began freelancing. I thought of it myself. After all, how else was I going to find clients with no contacts?
I would use Yellow Pages lists, like public relations firms or publishing companies, and just start calling.
I would repeatedly call companies until I reached my target contact person (usually the marketing director) — and eventually I would reach just about everyone.
Even as recently as five years ago, I could still reach the majority of people on my contact lists.
Today — not so much.
After four months of cold calling, I have a long list of contacts I have not been able to reach — because business people are not answering their phones.
The Cold Reality — Why Aren’t Business People Answering Their Phones?
I was discussing this challenge with a friend of mine who is the VP of Business Services at her company.
I said, “It’s more challenging to cold call prospects these days.”
“Yeah, people don’t answer their phones anymore.”
It was good to get confirmation that it wasn’t “just me.”
The past two days, as I sat calling and calling, reaching only two live people, I had time to ponder this new glitch in my business strategy.
First of all, I was trying to figure out why the majority of business people don’t answer their phones these days. I came up with a few guesses:
1. People are just too busy.
The five-year recession took a toll on companies. People who still have jobs are doing more work than ever before.
They don’t have time to answer their phones, so they just let non-urgent calls go to voice mail — especially sales calls.
2. People communicate by email and text.
So many people are using email and text to communicate with their contacts and co-workers.
They’ll even “talk” to co-workers by email when they are just down the hall.
3. People use cell phones now.
Many people use cell phones for the majority of their business calls instead of their business phones.
The traditional business phone is like an ancient paperweight, sitting on their desks gathering dust.
4. Companies have convoluted phone systems.
Some companies’ phone systems resemble complex defense fortress, like the stonewalls and moots of ancient castles.
There is no way in. You just spin round and round, punching numbers.
To reach several of the contacts on my list I have to jump through the following automated-answering-system hoops:
- Call the main number
- Dial a number to get to their employee directory
- Dial another number if I want to look for a person by first name or last name
- Punch in the person’s name
- Punch another number to select the person I want to reach — who is never there to answer their phone!
5. Companies have restrictive phone systems.
A large number of the phone systems give callers only minimal choices, like “Dial 1 for sales,” “Dial 2 for support,” and “Dial 0 for the operator” (who often is never there: see #6 below).
In these types of systems, I’ve started dialing 1 for sales. After all, if anyone should appreciate a cold caller, it’s a salesman.
This strategy sometimes works — if I reach a salesman, they’ll often try to connect me with the marketing person. But most of time even the salesmen have answering machines.
6. Companies don’t have receptionists.
How many times have you walked into a prospect’s office for the first time and found no one sitting where the receptionist should be.
It’s happened to me many times.
Similarly, when cold calling, there is often no one there when I press “zero.”
Maybe every business sector isn’t experiencing these phone-answering problems. But my main business sector, high-tech, definitely is.
A New Contact Strategy — Taking the Chill Out of the Traditional Cold Call
So now that I’ve identified many of the reasons why people are not taking my calls, what am I going to do about it?
Along with thinking about why my contacts weren’t answering their phones, I was also thinking: How am I going to reach people now?
I’ve started devising a new system to breakthrough today’s busy, restrictive, hard-to-reach business world.
I’ll implement it over the next few months and see how it works.
I’ll make tweaks and refine it until I have a new cold contact system that works like my old cold calling system did.
There’s no way it will have the same simplicity — but, who knows, maybe it will be even better.
I’m not going to abandon cold calling entirely. After all, I found my two new clients thanks to cold calling. And I have several hot prospects, too.
But definitely, my prospect contacting process needs a new superpower.
Stay tuned to find out what it is!
UPDATE: Good news. On the last call I made this morning after two hours, I got a hot prospect. So cold calling is not completely dead yet.
What’s your superpower for finding freelance writing clients?
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