When I first started out I hardly knew anyone. Although I had been passed on some contacts, in order to launch a sales effort I needed much more than just a handful of names and numbers if I was to make any impact at all. Cold calling is quite daunting and something that all new entrepreneurs will have to face head on and deal with.
There was no choice but to contact people and organisations I didn't know and who didn't know me either. Basically, I had to decide how I was going to approach these important people that I knew would want my product and make them realise they actually needed it too!
Cold calling was the only answer. Not in the sense that I went knocking on doors, the doors I needed to crash through were deep inside large organisations like councils and schools. Door-knocking was simply not going to work for my business - and you also have to consider areas where cold calling is banned. You might have noticed 'No Cold Calling' zones when driving around, so you have to respect that.
Instead, I decided to put together a good pre-approach email to the people I wanted to see. Sometimes I did this by letter as they would be less likely to 'delete' it and more likely to actually read it! Emails can be deleted very easily but if you have a good catchy subject line that you know satisfies a problem to which you have the answer, they are more likely to open it and read it.
I have interviewed some of the top entrepreneurs in the UK and I contacted them all cold. They were all intrigued as to what I was doing - helping the next generation of entrepreneurs. I needed their help and advice on how they became super successful so that I could learn it myself first and then pass on this incredible knowledge to other young people like me who wanted to be just like them. It worked and this gave me the confidence to build on.
I have needed to meet with council leaders to tell them about my work - not the ones further down the hierarchy - the ones at the top who sign the cheques. There is no point wasting time starting at the bottom, go straight to the top! So, I wrote to all the ones I wanted to see and got an amazing response.
The reason I got a good response was that my subject line was current and addressed real issues that they are having problems with. One read: 'Tackling Youth Unemployment in Your Area' and this was something they could not ignore.
Crucial to the pre-approach email is follow up. If you don't follow up then don't bother! Send only a manageable amount of emails that you can follow up, even if its only two or three. If you don't follow up within two days of sending it will get forgotten. Find out who the person's PA is and call her/him with the view to making an appointment.
The purpose of the email is to get an appointment, not to sell your stuff. When you get the appointment, this is your opportunity to sell. Your email must go into just a few of the benefits and make it so delicious that they HAVE to see you to find out more.
Of course, not everyone you contact will see you so you have to send out quite a few in order to get results. This has worked fantastically well for me and I have secured some brilliant appointments which have resulted in bookings for workshops for young unemployed people.
So, the best way to 'cold call' is to warm them up first with a good introduction email, tell them who you are, what you can do for them, give them some testimonials (links to videos on You Tube are best) and tell them you want to see them to ask how you might be able to work together. By the time you call them, it is no longer cold.
Writing an email is not exactly hard but you need to keep your message perfectly clear and ask for an appointment. That's the way to do it.
To the Future