(Blogger Bizze Guye has tagged me to comment on warming up cold calls as one participant in a meme. For other contributors go to his site.
Cold calls, sales meetings at your request with someone you have never met, are universally loathed in the professions. But they can be effective, especially because they offer direct access to a prospective client of your choice. No other technique I know of does that. When in hot pursuit of an opportunity that will go to someone else, unless you move quickly, a cold call may be your best shot.
Of course, you would be crazy not to warm it up, if you can.
1. Market Like Crazy: A major goal of your firm’s marketing effort is to build its brand, a market awareness of what you do well. Developing a brand takes time, so start now and cold calling will be easier a year or two from now. I still remember the first cold call I made on a person who had one of my books and had heard of me from two people. I was so much easier than any I had made before.
2. Ask for an Introduction: If someone introduces you to the prospective client, the temperature of the meeting starts about ten degrees warmer than if you go it alone. People with large networks can almost always identify some who knows who will provide an introduction. The ability to do so frequently is a hallmark of rainmakers.
3. Identify Someone You Know in Common: During the small talk which precedes the meeting, see if you can identify someone whom both the client and you know. Say a few nice words about someone you both admire and you can almost feel the warming up of most relationships. Rainmakers, with their big networks, are good at this.
4. Use the Client’s Time Well: The client is a busy person and probably feels she is doing you a favor by meeting with you. Do your homework so that you focus discussions on something of interest to her. If you can, call someone who works for her or some higher in the organization, who knows you well enough to tell you about the client and her interests.
5. Keep up the Relationship: Find reasons to stay in front of the client from time to time, so that the relationship continues to build and so each call you make is warmer than the last.
For more on this subject, including a description of how to get and conduct a cold call meeting, see Chapter 7, “Eliminating the Dread of Cold Calls,” in my book, Rain Making-2nd Edition—Attract New Clients No Matter What Your Field.