Posted by: DrAlanRae | June 4, 2007

Cold Calling – how scary is it really?

I’m often struck by the extent to which this topic recurs on the front page of social networking sites such as Ecademy. It seems that the corporate refugees are all terrified of doing it and a continuing battle seems to rage between those who think it’s a key weapon in your armoury and if you’re not getting past the gate keeper you’re going nowhere on the one hand, and the devotees of Seth Godin who believe that pull marketing is the only way to go.

I’ve been thinking about this quite a lot recently and have come to the conclusion that it depends on what you have to sell. The more tangible the product and the more clear the differentiator, the easier it is to cold call.

In my own experience, I last did any serious cold calling in 1986. Me and the boss (her indoors) had set up a CAD business which was to run for 10 years. My instructions were to drop everything and get on the phone. I punished the wires for about 6 months to get the business off the ground. As time went on I did progressively less until after about 3 or 4 years I had enough customers to keep me in referrals.

Since then I’ve done very little. All my consultancy business comes by referral or from people I already know who I bump into again when networking who have a little Rae-shaped hole in their projects. All the stuff from the internet trading businesses comes by remote control anyway.

However the expansion of the plants business and the acquisition of the glasshouses meant we had to do something with them and organic veg. seemed like the answer – but how to sell it?

The more I thought about it the more likely it seemed that cold calling in person was the answer – just pitching up off the street with a few samples or differently created bits of collateral to make yourself different. Engaging in conversation with a good story to cover “local”, “in conversion to organic”, “we have a good reason for doing it” etc etc. Initial results seem pretty encouraging really. I did back it up with a basic web presence courtesy of Guru Seth’s Squidoo site. You can see it here

After all it’s pretty obvious what you’re supposed to do with vegetables which is more than can be said for a strategic marketing service!. I’m not sure that the kind of research projects I do would fit the cold calling model either – although CAD systems seemed to work ok at the time.

Any comments from anyone about their experiences – what worked, what didn’t?

All for now

Alan

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