Updated: Oct 7, 2019
I've made a terrible mistake.
This is awful.
How can I get my job back? Hell, I'll take a pay cut. Anything but this!!!
This basically sums up how I felt when I was faced with my new reality as a business owner who had no business. This new reality: I'm in sales now.
No one told me I'd have to make cold calls and start networking. This is not the freedom and dreams I signed up for. I just want to make videos!
But oh well. There really wasn't any choice. It's make the calls or go broke. That's some strong motivation considering I had just given up my ONLY income source.
If this nightmare sounds familiar, then welcome to the club. Mr. and Mrs. freelance creative person, congratulations: you are now a business owner. With that comes the chore of finding new business.
There's lots of way of doing that. In person networking. Email outreach. Lead magnets. Pay per click. Referrals. Cold calls. Lots of ways.
Now, I'll admit, for some markets, cold calls probably aren't the best way to go. But, I've been able to get some very large, long term clients from cold calls.
So they aren't dead.
So here's a super short primer on how to make a cold call not suck. Maybe even make it kind of fun! Seriously.
There's three basic steps:
1. The pattern interrupt.
2. Permission to have a conversation, or Up Front Contract
2. The :30 elevator pitch
1. The pattern interrupt.
This is where I went terribly wrong for so long. I would call and it would sound like this:
prospect: "Hello, law office of...this is Tina."
me: "Hi Tina, how are you today?"
prospect: "fine"...she just sniffed out that I was a vendor, and now she's on high alert.
me: "I was wondering if I could talk to Scott?"
prospect: "May I ask what this is about?"
me: "Sure, glad you asked, " then I would launch into my lame sales pitch.
It never really worked well. Most of the time I got through was because of happy accidents or receptionists that felt sorry for me.
Now let's listen to the Pattern Interrupt.
prospect: "Hello, law office of....this is Tina."
me: "Hi, Scott's not there, is he?"
prospect: "I can check, can I have your name."
me: "Sure, tell him this is Woody Harrison."
prospect: "Can I ask what this is about?"
me: "Sure, just tell him Woody Harrison is holding for him."
It's bold and it's different. This method doesn't give away that you're selling something. It's respectful, but direct. This simple pattern interrupt alone has gotten me through to more people in the last two days than in two weeks doing it the old way.
2. Permission to have a conversation or Up Front Contract
So you got through! Congrats. Now what??? Here's an ingenious little device.
Get your prospects permission to tell them what you do and agree to let them decide if they want to keep talking.
WHO DOES THAT?????? It sounds like this:
Prospect: "This is Scott."
me: "Scott, this is Woody Harrison."
I'll use a couple different lines here. Sometimes it's this:
me: "can I be honest with you Scott?"
Prospect: will always say "Sure"
me: "Thanks. Well, this is a cold call. I hate making them, you hate getting the. So you can hang up right now if you want."
This blows them away! No one says this! It's honest, it respects their time.
Rarely, will they just hang up, but if they do, at least you both know where you stand. Back to the call...
Other times I do this:
me: "This is Woody Harrison. Does the name ring a bell?(sound familiar?...it won't.)
prospect: "Nope. Kinda like the actor"
me: "yeah, bad news, I'm not that guy. Is it okay to quickly tell you why I'm calling and you can tell me if we should keep talking?"
prospect: "Sure, what do you got?"
me: :30 second commercial...
What you've just read is a verbatim approach that I do for every cold call. Now, for me, this is so much more enjoyable. Not fun exactly, but the dynamic is changed so drastically for both parties.
3. The :30 Elevator Pitch
This is another area where I got it wrong. Now, there's soooooo many different opinions on how to create and deliver one of these because it's so important. Here's what I do and why.
Prospect: "What do you do?"
me: "Thanks for asking. I own Woody Harrison Films, I produce videos for businesses that want to use video to tell their stories, but they're worried about spending money on video production only to have something they can't use, or doesn't tell a really good story. Maybe their marketing departments are overwhelmed with daily tasks or they're frustrated because they don't even know where to start."
So how do I come up with this? I ask my clients, post project, what problems I solved for them in detail. This info comes from them directly.
Sounds different than:
prospect: "What do you do?"
me: "I'm a video producer and I produce high quality videos with best equipment in a cinematic style to tell a good story."
Omit as many "I's" from this as possible and remember, this isn't about YOU! This is all about empathizing with them and the problems they face in regards to your product or service.
Look, you may never have to do cold calls.
If not, luck you. But, just having a good :30 elevator pitch is always important. So at least get that right. Always remember: about them, not about you.
You're in sales now. Embrace it. Learn it. You'll be glad you did.