I recently received a phone call from a woman working for Pitney Bowes. Her call was the 4th or 5th call I’ve received from the company this year. She wanted to sell/lease me a postage meter. (When I mentioned these calls to the young participants in a workshop, they asked in unison “What’s a postage meter?”) I’m certainly familiar with the value of a postage meter. In my first business, we did A LOT of direct mail, and our postage meter was as important as our fax machine. But today? For The Phone Lady? I have absolutely no need for a postage meter.
This is what we all visualize when we hear the phrase “cold calling”. A phone call that has absolutely no value, that is an interruption, that causes the prospect to be annoyed or impatient. But that’s not what I do – have done for 29 years. And that’s not what you need to be doing. Calls like this aren’t inspiring or fun – they are simply and only about the numbers. (I wonder how many people the Pitney Bowes representatives have to reach to generate one valid lead? Waaaaay too many is my guess.)
For me, my cold call to a prospect is the last step of my research process, and this is what makes it exciting. I discovered my love of research back in high school, when I would choose esoteric topics for essays and then spend countless hours proving my theory. (Things like hope existing in Lord of the Flies or how Jimmy Carter’s presidential race was similar to that of John F. Kennedy.) And I carried this into my career as a journalist and an entrepreneur.
When I phone a prospect, my research has indicated (not proven) that my services are a good fit, that there’s a direct benefit to the prospect to work with me. But proving my theory? I can’t do that without a conversation. All the elements of conversation are vital to my research – tone of voice, nuance, speed, the questions that arise, the way the conversation ends – everything.
For a variety of reasons, some of which I shared with you in last week’s post, my call often proves my theory incorrect, similar to my student days when my unusual essay topics earned me a decent mark but little praise from my teachers.
But equally often, I’m right. The prospect is interested, excited and pleased that I called. With over 70% of my revenue coming from repeat clients, this first phone call is usually the beginning of a long relationship – so what’s not to like about the process? I look forward to the time I spend cold calling. I clear off my desk, make a mug of tea or coffee and dial my way into interesting conversations.
As always, I encourage you to do the same.
Enjoy your phone work everyone!