I want to talk a little bit about cold calling today. I originally thought cold calling (and ‘cold emailing’) was a fantastic way to get leads for my video production business. In fact, for a while, I thought it was the only way. That was until I discovered ‘warm calling.’
In this article, I’ll go into depth about cold calling vs. warm calling and let you know how to get leads for your video production business by picking up the phone.
The Cold Calling Creeps
When I first started out in video production, I was very meticulous. I read everything, spoke to experts and left no stone unturned in . One thing that kept coming up was ‘cold calling.’ Cold calling is an age old selling technique where you reach out by phone to people who you don’t know (and who don’t know you) in the hope of getting their business.
‘That can’t be that bad’, I thought, ‘that’s just socializing, treating people as people and allowing human nature to take its course’.
But it was nothing like that.
Sure, if you listen to the sales gurus, you’ll hear story after story of success — it’s all about positivity, creating rapport and how it can be a mutual growth experience. But, dig a little deeper into the nuts and bolts discussion of the actual call, and it’s a different ballgame.
The cold calling experts talk about ‘yes ladders’, or getting your prospect to say ‘yes’ to obvious questions so they’ll say ‘yes’ to the big one. ‘Question reframing’, where instead of giving people the option to opt out, you only ask them what time they want to meet, so the ‘no’ is harder. And ‘frame breaking,’ where you basically confuse the other person with an unexpected comment to put them on the back foot and have them continue the call.
That didn’t sound pleasant! That sounded manipulative.
Still, who was I to question the professionals?
A Closer Look at Cold Calling
So I gave it a try.
I made a list of a 100 local businesses that I thought might be interested in my video production services and began. I felt like I was some kind of romanticised hero embarking on a tough journey. I looked at the first name on the list and picked up the phone. Every journey begins with a single step, as they say. Or, in this case, every journey begins with the first call.
By the end of call three, I understood the manipulation. These people didn’t want me to call them! You needed the tricks just to get the conversation started.
By the end of call 10, drenched in cold sweat and with my stomach cramping, I knew this was not for me. I didn’t want to do business this way. Elements of society already try hard enough to make us no more than numbers on a page. I didn’t want to add to that. Besides, the expectation of rejection shouldn’t be the basis for business.
I determined that would either leave you miserable, or utterly uncaring about the opinions of others.
And so I left that behind, certain in my gut that it wasn’t how to get video production clients.
Vindicated by the Numbers
Then, recently, I found this statistic by Mahan Khalsa of Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play: ‘Only 1 to 3% of cold call calls work to get you an initial appointment.’
I felt vindicated.
Let me explain. Personal experience has taught me that if you do what I like to call ‘warm calling‘, which is where you call a company (or person) having already contacted them before, you’ve got a much better chance of getting that Initial Meeting.
Now, naturally warm calls take more work, but let’s do a little math. Let’s take that original list of 100 local businesses I had. The important thing is these 100 businesses should be companies who have a website but don’t have any online video. Based on Mahan’s statistic, if you cold call and you’re good at it, you’ll get about 1-3 people saying agreeing to meet.
Fantastic! Well, you got rejected about 97 times, but you have some results. This is a numbers game and you’ll always get the odd person who’ll agree to meeting you, even if your cold calling skill is subpar.
Now, how many of those you’ll close, and how many actually suit your business in the first place, is a different matter.
Heating Things Up With Warm Calling
Let’s compare that to warm calling. I do some research and find out who I know who knows them and where we have a connection (something that’s surprisingly easy nowadays with social media). For those people, I can approach the contact and ask to be introduced. I can call or email the connectors in my network for this, or just use social media like LinkedIN.
From there, calling is much more productive. This is ‘warm calling’ at its best.
So that’s maybe 50 possible connects who I can ‘warm call,’ or, depending on the connector, I might even be able to fast-track straight to an Initial Meeting in-person.
Maybe, conservatively, I get meetings with 75% of those that I have warm called. 75% of 50 people is 37.5. Let’s discard the half a person and round down to a (full!) person. So that’s 37 Initial Meetings out of the 100 prospects.
More importantly, I’ve only got to deal with 13 rejections, as opposed to 97 with the cold calling method above! This isn’t just good for my state-of-mind, but also means I can still approach those local business owners who haven’t rejected. Heck, I’ve still got all the research I did about them on file!
In other words, I’ve burned far less bridges by annoying people and having them slam down the phone on me. That has incredible potential value.
But, wait, what about the other half of the original list of 100 local businesses who I didn’t have a contact in my network who knew them?
Warm Calling When You Don’t Have a Connector
So you don’t have someone within your network to connect you to someone on your initial prospect list, but they still look like a good lead. What do you do?
Let’s look through the names on your original prospect list who you didn’t have a connector within your network to connect you. Remember, these should be local businesses who have a website, but don’t currently have online video. You’ll be surprised how many that is.
You’re going to find their email address (or the contact form on their website) and email them. If you don’t hear back from them, you will give them a follow-up phone call.
If they do respond positively to your email, then you have a meeting for potential business.
Here’s what one of these emails should look like:
“Dear [insert name of their business, or even better, a first name if you can find it.]
I was looking on your website and found you don’t currently have video to promote your business. Did you know that video is absolutely essential these days for businesses who want to connect with their audience and show potential customers what they do?
[put some benefits here about your video service and what it will do for them.]
We are [insert your business]
We do [insert what you do]
You can see samples of our work here: [insert a link to your website]
We would love to sit down with you and discuss options that would fulfill your needs. If this is something that interests you, get in touch on [insert your phone number] or at [insert your email address.]
That’s a sample email and you should add add your own touch to make it a perfect pitch for the services you want to offer.
You should also make an effort to look at the website of each potential client and pick out details to mention in your email. This shows that you’ve actually taken the time to consider them and what they do, rather than just pumping out hundreds of copy & pasted messages.
Let’s go through those steps again:
1. Look at the websites of local businesses who don’t already have video.
2. Make a list of their email addresses and get first names of the owner/manager where possible
3. Write a template email that you can send to multiple businesses, but ensure you include specific details about each business that you contact.
4. Send out batches of these emails, including your contact information and links back to your website.
5. Give those who don’t respond a polite follow-up call. “Hi, I’m calling on behalf of [your video business name] and I’m just wondering if you received our recent mailing about a great opportunity in online video…”
6. For those who respond positively, ‘warm call’ them and set up an exact time for a meeting. This is called an Initial Meeting and is the first big step towards gaining a paying client.
Still unsure if calling people up and selling your services doesn’t work? Watch this awesome video of Gary Vaynerchuk doing just that. Granted, it’s an example of cold calling, but the results he gets with calling a random stranger should inspire you even more when you consider how powerful warm calling can be!
How to connect to companies?
That’s the big question, isn’t it? It’s all fine and dandy to say you need to warm call, but you need to be connected to be able to do that. So how do you do that? I’ve already dealt with a lot of the ways to do that online before, so today I’m going to discuss an offline method:
Attend events organized by groups of small business owners.
In this modern day of electronic devices and gadgets, people have forgotten what these old fashioned get-togethers can do. Minute for minute, the value of meeting face-to-face outweighs any email, any social media and any phone call. That’s because we evolved face to face and, despite all our modern day machinery, being able to look another person in the eye matters to us.
And a good way to press the flesh is when these groups get together, be it the local Chamber of Commerce meeting, a dinner for local business owners, or even just a party sponsored by business owners who you want to network with..
They’re not even hard to find out about. Just pick up the local newspaper, or community newsletter. They exist purely to make other people aware of the opportunities to meet others in the community.
Don’t know what to do with yourself at one of these things when you don’t know anybody? But you’ve got the perfect prop! All you need to do is bring a camera, explain that you’re collecting footage for a story about the local community and the business owners that help support it.
They see you in action, ask a few questions and whammo! In no time at all, people will open up to you, tell you all the local gossip and form a connection with you.
Then it’s just a matter of handing out business cards, taking other people’s cards, and letting relationships form. You barely have to talk yourself up! In fact, people will get talking between themselves about the film you’re making at the event. It’s a point of interest and a true conversation starter.
And then you just network. After all, unlike with cold calling, everybody is here for that exact purpose! They talk, you talk and everybody connects.
1. Find local networking meetings.
2. Attend the meetings and bring a camera. (You should ask the organisers first about bring a video camera)
3. Get some great footage of the event, but make sure you mingle. You’re a business owner, too, not just a videographer for the event!
4. Network! Hand out cards and take other people’s cards. You have your conversation starter, after all!
5. After the event, deliver the film to the organizers (ensure you get full credit and a link back to your website).
6. Follow up with those you met at the meeting. This is how you expand your network.
Before you know it, you’ve connected and come Monday can reach out to them in the knowledge that you’re not cold calling, but can talk to them on a first-name basis and even complement them on their blueberry pie! And because you met them face-to-face and had a beer together, you haven’t just met the people at the networking meeting, but their networks as well.
And all it took was socializing, treating people as people and allowing human nature to take its course. Doesn’t that sound far more appealing than having more than 97 people tell you they’re not interested?
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