Marketing your business

Four Questions You Must Ask Before Cold Calling

By Brennan Dunn

We all have ideal clients. They might be companies we admire, companies that have projects that are completely different than anything we’ve ever done before, companies that can be stepping stones to getting bigger fish, and so on.

Back when I ran my consulting company, I took on a job (that even then, and especially in hindsight, made no financial sense) for a multi-national in Tokyo. Why? Well, I love Asia, and I loved the idea of talking about our “Asian clients” when meeting with future prospects. They were an ideal client in that they were a stepping stone for our company.

I made a conscious effort to try to fit each new lead into one of the following categories: “Will they grow (can they get us a higher caliber of clients by virtue of being on our resume)? Will they shine (will we produce something that we can show off or talk about publicly, which will open new doors for us)? Will we love (will this improve the happiness of our team)?” New leads that didn’t fit one of those three attributes would sometimes be dropped, even if they had cash and urgency behind them.

I tried to deliberately take on new work. And being deliberate — knowing who your ideal customer is — is a must when putting together a cold contacting campaign.

Deliberate Prospecting

When cold contacting, you’re in total control over who you contact. Unlike waiting for lead submissions or referrals, you’re able to decide who you want to work with and make the necessary inroads to working with them. And when you’re controlling your business development, it’s much easier to cherry-pick clients who will help you move in the direction that you want to move.

But before you get too excited about the idea of working with anyone you want to work with, you’re going to need to put together a pre-qualification checklist. Here’s mine:

  • Do I understand their industry (or at least know what affects their bottom line)?
  • Can I teach something to a decision-maker at the company?
  • Can I identify and get in contact with a decision-maker at the company?
  • Could I deliver a solution that would be a positive investment for the company?

If these four conditions aren’t met, don’t bother. The strategy I’m going to be teaching you involves a mutual exchange of value. You’re not going to be calling up a company, and trying to get out “Hello-are-you-interested-in-a-new-website-design-….” as quickly as possible before being hung up on.

This is cold contacting for people who hate rejection.

Here’s your homework. Using the four steps I listed above, try to find 10 decision-makers at companies, preferably in your local area, that fit the bill. I’d also strongly encourage you to find companies who will help you “move the needle” by being a client that will help you grow, shine, or that you’ll love working with.

In a future post, I will walk you through the steps you need to take to make the first contact with your list and establish some forward momentum. It’s going to involve LinkedIn (yes, LinkedIn!), virtual assistants, emailing, and maybe even a phone call or two.

Oh, and I want to make one thing pretty clear: I’m an introvert. I’m the guy at parties alone in the corner nursing a gin & tonic. I’m not typically comfortable approaching someone I don’t know.

But the principles I’m going to be outlining can help even the shyest of us. We’re not going to be calling people and selling. We’re going to be providing value immediately, and making someone want to keep talking with us, and then we’ll position ourselves as a natural next-step for amplifying that value through a paid consulting engagement.

So find some time to do your homework, and we’ll pick up here in a future post! 🙂