Coming In From the Cold: Connecting With ProspectsJanuary 29, 2013 | By: Sean Murray
A small business owner posted a great question on the LinkedIn group “Small Business Networks for Startups and Entrepreneurs” board:
Are cold calls effective? Or is it old school? For a small company, what is the best way to promote the business? Any advice will be greatly appreciated.”
The small business owner who posted this question got more than her fair share of advice and opinions regarding the practice of cold calling. And, while most every single comment had a jewel of truth and wisdom when it comes to cold calling – the comments also conflicted with each other. For example:
“Not only is it old school but its intrusive and offensive.”
“Cold calling is old school indeed but it is still one of the most effective ways to reach prospects.”
So – which is it? Offensive or Effective?
Fortunately for the small business owner uncertain whether to pick up the phone there was one comment that simply rocked. Sandra Hoedemaker owner of ChefinDemand.com an online business coaching service specializing in providing services to personal chefs, posted a completely different perspective and approach to cold calling – something she calls “Connect Calling.”
Connecting is Warm – Cold is…well, Cold
Those commenters who identified cold calling as intrusive and offensive make a good point. Today’s consumer not only isn’t interested in hearing uninvited sales pitches, they can (and quite often do) find unscheduled sales calls as a definite intrusion into an already too busy day.
Sandra notes that she does, in fact, “cold call” and also indicates that these calls are always most successful when she is able to connect with the decision maker. So far her comment sounds like your run-of-the-mill cold calling advice. However, Sandra definitely breaks rank because she goes on to say that she “doesn’t sell on the phone.”
OK, if she’s cold calling, but not selling – what exactly IS Sandra doing when she makes those calls?
Sandra knows prospects aren’t interested in “being sold” – but they are interested in learning real ways to solve their problems and get their needs met. Sandra knows that the best way to do that is to establish her credibility as an expert who knows how to solve common problems and meet the special needs of her niche. How does she do that? She offers to provide them with carefully selected free services. This allows her to:
- Build her email list and then connect with prospects freely because they have invited Sandra to contact them.
- Stay connected to her prospects via blogging, teleclasses, and other virtual events (she’s also in the process of putting video presentations in place.)
Outside of the above, connecting with prospects versus cold calling prospects has resulted in Sandra receiving referrals and she’s also garnered invitations to speak as well. Sandra has successfully used Connect Calling as a tactic to connect with prospects in meaningful ways. She’s taken an “old school, annoying” tactic and turned it into a powerful tool to build a community of prospective buyers.
What is most impressive about her approach is the opportunity to begin to establish trust with prospects via Connect Calling. Offering useful, applicable free services and information allows prospects to begin to build a relationship where Sandra becomes a Trusted Advisor who’s got their back versus someone trying to make a sale. Sounds more like networking than cold calling doesn’t it?
And when those prospects pick up a phone to make a call when they find themselves in need of services Sandra charges for, Sandra’s much more likely to be the one who hears it ring.
Sandra’s business serves a unique niche – but Connect Calling can be a valid, productive, and profitable tactic to market your small business no matter what market you serve.
Last modified: January 29, 2013
Sean Murray is the founder of deBanked, a 10-year veteran of the merchant cash advance industry, a casual Lending Club and Prosper investor, the co-founder of Daily Funder, an alternative lending speaker, consultant, writer, and enthusiast. Connect with me on LinkedIn or follow me on twitter.