Are you afraid of cold calling?
I don't blame you. I used to hate it. I could rarely get past the gatekeeper. And when I did, it was usually straight to voice mail.
Often, the person you want to target has instructed the receptionist to screen all calls. And that gatekeeper knows if the wrong call gets through, the boss is unhappy. He or she gets really good at sniffing out sales calls.
So most of my efforts were wasted.
Until I discovered some little known tricks that make success easy. Adapt the following techniques to your own line of work to find the decision maker for any company you are trying to target.
Here's What I Do
I'm a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant. The job titles of the folks who hire me are typically something like creative director, marketing manager, or corporate communications manager. Depending on the size of the company, it can even be the owner, president, or CEO.
I don't want to send letters to all these generic titles within the company. So how do I find out the right person to target?
I call the company. If I get a switchboard operator, I ask for the marketing department. When transferred, I say this to the receptionist:
"Hi. My name is Jay Huling. I'm a freelance business writer here in Jacksonville. I just wanted to send in a business card so you guys can keep it on file in case you ever need my services. Who should I send that to?"
That brief introduction is so passive – so unthreatening – the gatekeeper almost always gives me the name without concern. The reply will be something like . . .
"You can send that to Abe Miller."
I confirm Abe's title and mailing address, and just like that, I have all the info I need.
I don't ask to speak to Abe. I don't give a big sales pitch. Or any sales pitch. I don't hint that anything else is going to happen other than me sending in a business card for them to "file."
Which is exactly what I do. I send my letter and business card in. And then I wait. And I call back about a week later.
Ring . . . Ring . . .
"May I speak with Abe Miller, please . . ."
If I get Abe on the phone, the call typically goes something like this:
"Mr. Miller, my name is Jay Huling. I'm a freelance writer. I sent you a letter last week because it's my understanding that you are the person there who hires writers for your direct marketing projects."
That's where I'll find out how accurate my information is. He'll either tell me it's true or not. If it's not, I'll ask who is the person who hires freelance copywriters. When I find out, I thank Mr. Miller, end the call, and send the new person a letter. And repeat the process.
But if Mr. Miller is the right person, I simply say something like . . .
"I'd like to be considered for your next project. What would it take for that to happen?"
Almost always, the person will tell me exactly what I need to do. Perhaps they want to have a meeting with me . . . or ask me to call back in a month . . . or they ask me to describe my service right then and there. So I'm ready with my quick, personal commercial:
"I'm a marketing expert who specializes in helping companies like yours find, get, and keep more business. Over the last 23 years, I've developed a wide range of marketing communications – from direct mail . . . to print campaigns . . . to TV and radio . . . Internet strategies and more . . . All to help businesses make money."
Sometimes they resist or throw up some roadblock. That's okay. It means I've learned this person and this company is a waste of my time. I just move on to the next.
Sometimes I'm put into their voice mail. That's okay, too. I simply leave a message reminding them of my letter and ask what it would take to be considered, etc. I ask them to call me back. But if they don't, I simply try again.
Sometimes they have a project they can use me on currently in the works. But that's rare. And it's really just blind luck if that happens. My realistic goal for the call is to get the decision maker to agree to allow me to keep in touch.
Keep in Touch
If they ARE the decision maker . . . and they DO hire freelance help . . . they WILL eventually need me . . . and I want to take the time between now and then to convince them that I'm the right person for the job.
And I want to do it without being a pest. Rather, I want to display my expertise.
That's why I publish my free e-zine "The Huling Letter." Which I offer like this:
"I'd like to keep in touch with you. I publish a free monthly e-zine called "The Huling Letter." Every month, it's filled with free tips, tricks, and advice on how to make your marketing and advertising make more money. Can I add your e-mail address to my list and send you the next issue?"
They will almost always say yes. Even if it's just to be agreeable so they can get off the phone. That's okay. Because my e-zine does exactly what I promised – it gives away a lot of valuable information, stuff the decision maker will like; stuff he could put into practice even without hiring me.
It's that good.
But since the decision maker, in this example Abe Miller, has already confirmed that his job is to hire consultants like me, there's a good chance he actually will.
Just Have Patience
And call more folks. And get more "Abe Millers" on your list. And keep sending real-world advice that works.
And they will call and hire you. Like they do me.
Use this process for yourself. In whatever business you're in. Adapt it to your sales culture. It will pay if you do.
Do it. And let me know how it works for you
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