Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Cold Calling Confidence


Preparing to make cold calls reminds me of being at a middle school dance. The girls are on one side and the boys are on the other, scared to cross the school gym to ask a girl to dance. Their fears of rejection and ridicule prevent them from asking a girl out of the blue to dance. Some of them don't make a move, sure that they'll find another way to catch their girl's attention. The ones that do risk their egos are thought to be made of different stuff, -- and they're the only ones who get what they're after.

OK, so that was a dramatic analogy! But the truth is, everyone gets nervous when there's a chance they'll get rejected. No one is "made" for cold calling, but it is something all voice-over artists have to face. For some reason, calling for voice-over work exposes a host of insecurities that we may have. Which is why we don't want to do it. There are so many question marks: What if the person is rude? What do I say if they shut me down? What if I get stuck on the phone with a babbler and can't get off? What if I stumble over my words [as a voiceover artist] or sound like an idiot? You also know, as a professional voice-over artist, that your voice will choke up if you're nervous, will be low energy if you're tired, or will be short and pointed if you're annoyed or frustrated. No wonder you don't want to make cold calls!

Becoming comfortable with the cold call is essential to starting, growing, and maintaining your voiceover network. Like other fears you may have, the only way to get over the fear -- or whatever euphemism you call it (e.g., annoyance, discomfort, anxiety, hassle), is to start making cold calls and build up your 'cold calling confidence'.

Here are a few ways to prepare yourself for your cold calls to make them less, well, cold.

1) Make sure you have researched the company: You can get online and find out just about anything these days. Research the company, know where and how they operate, how they do their marketing, and what their products or services are. Being familiar with their image, as well as identifying who their niche is, will certainly make it easier when talking to the person responsible for hiring voice-over talent. If you analyze what type of voice is most appropriate for the job, and whether or not that voice is you, will make things easier on you.

2) Know who you're calling: It sounds really basic, but don't jumble your contacts! Make a clear tracking sheet in Excel to help you keep track of the company, the person you'd like to talk to, and their position at the company. You may need to call the receptionist to get connected to the right person. If so, ask for the person's name that you need to speak with so that you have the name for your follow-up calls.

3) Know what information you'd like to give and get: In fact, write it down! The minute you get on the phone your mind is certainly going to go blank. Have a note pad in front of you with an outline of points to cover. If you do get into a conversation about the voice-over work you can do, offer to email your demo.

4) Follow up, follow up, follow up ... and follow up again: Keep track of when you call in your spreadsheet, and don't take it personally if it feels like they're ignoring you. Returning your phone calls is probably not at the top of their to-do list. Be persistent without sounding entitled to their attention. The more they see and hear your name with good associations to it, the better.

Keep in mind that cold calling takes a while to pick up traction. Just because you called 20 people in your first week with little to no success does not you should give up. It does mean that you should be patient though.

Have other tips on making cold calls? Share them here!

3 comments:

  1. I mean this in the most pro-active way possible - cold calling is asinine, archaic and an utter waste of time.

    Rather than dial for dollars like some kind of penny stock or siding sales person, how about making it a warm call.

    It's not hard and it's a much less awkward approach than a cold call that won't likely make it past the receptionist anyway.

    You'll have to add some kind of direct mail piece to your marketing arsenal. A letter, a brochure or a postcard would be good. Make sure that content has something worth discussing - offer, special talent - something unique.

    Then when you call, assuming you do it within a few days of the mailing, you have a better chance to get to speak to somebody.

    Hi, this is Peter from audio'connell calling. Can I speak with Jim?

    Can I tell him what this is in reference to?

    Sure, I promised to follow up with him in a letter I sent him this week about a pending marketing project (a project I would have referenced in the letter that Jim "may" be working on etc).

    Softer and more concrete than an abstract phone call from an anonymous company that gatekeepers live to chew up and spit out.

    T'aint perfect (nothing is) but its 100% better than a cold cold.

    And to be clear, my disdain is for the cold call, not the blog post or its writer.

    Best always,
    - Peter

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  2. Thanks, Peter -- great feedback! Warm calling sure sounds better than cold calling to me!

    Best wishes,

    Catherine

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  3. This is a very interesting blog. I do agree with your points. It is very difficult to make cold calls to people as you will not know what to expect. Cold calling is one of the numerous strategies adopted my marketing companies to get more sales or prospects. Col calling can be very successful sometimes.

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