Everyone dreads cold calls, so my advice is, don’t do them.
There are so many ways to get to know your prospect and their company before
you reach out to them via email or phone that you should never have to make a
cold call. Do some homework before you start “dialing for dollars” and cold
calls will be a thing of the past.
Here’s what I do before emailing or calling someone I’ve never met.
Do your research! Go to the company website and read the “About Us” page, read the “Team” or “Leadership” page, read any recent press releases and scan older ones, look at the “Careers” page which often gives you a feel for the culture and can clue you in as to whether they are in growth mode. Go to Crunchbase and find all kinds of useful third party data ranging from funding and stock info to milestones. If the company is public, you can access a ton of additional useful information about budgets and goals.
You’ve identified the person you want to reach from the “Leadership” or “Team” page above. If that didn’t help, you poked around on LinkedIn or Crunchbase to figure this out. Next, get to know your point of contact.
Send an introductory email with a compelling subject line that your prospect will want to open. Don’t write something cheesy or misleading (you must always be working to build trust) but think about what would be useful to your prospect. Based on the research you’ve done in #1 above, anticipate a primary objective of your prospect in the subject line. One of my current clients is a Social Business Conference. When reaching out to new people on their behalf, I often use the subject line, “Interested in reaching 400+ big brand and agency social decision makers?” which has worked quite well when reaching out to VPs of marketing for companies with a product in social.
Be direct and succinct in the body of the email about why you are reaching out. Here’s an example:
“Dear So and So, I am reaching out because I work for Inman News which is the leading media company for real estate reaching more than one million real estate agents and brokers. We can help you get the word out about your real estate technology product to our community of top performing agents via our website and events. Can we schedule a few minutes to talk? How does Monday at 10am look for you?”
Mention a specific date and time for a meeting. This often triggers your prospect to at least say whether the time works or not. Remember to include calls to action in emails to your prospects. If you score the appointment, fabulous. Go get ‘em Tiger!
If your new favorite prospect does not respond to your email, feel free to call them a day or two later. Your phone call or voicemail would start like this:
“Hi So and So, I am calling to follow up on the email I sent you a day ago. Did you see it? I am reaching out because…”
Use the structure above to complete that sentence.
Most people will respond after a couple voicemails and if they don’t you can try the old, “call until they answer” method, where you call at different times of the day until they answer. With the prevalence of caller ID, I don’t recommend doing this all day long. You’ll look like a creepy stalker but a morning, midday and then late afternoon attempt are reasonable.
Remember, your prospects are people with interests, interesting stories and relationships they care about. It’s up to you to learn about them and make every call feel warm, like you’re calling a friend.
Alice Myerhoff is a business development/sales/marketing/management executive with over 18 years of experience in industries ranging from online games, digital media and social business to real estate & mortgage. She has worked at Electronic Arts, Philips Professional Publishing, Countrywide, Princeton Capital, Inman News, Pivot Conference and the Tomorrow Project. Her party trick is being able to count to 10 in 6 languages and she is fluent in German and French. Follow her on Twitter at @motodot and connect on LinkedIn.
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