Do you receive cold calls either via phone or face-to-face? Do you ever listen to an entire pitch? I still receive cold calls. They're called interruptions. Do you read blogposts? News articles? Newsletters? Watch video? Listen to podcasts or audio?
Creative, compelling, helpful content is the new cold call.
Much of your success in cold calling relies on timing. If you are a plumber and you cold call me, unless I have toilets overflowing, you're not going to get very far. Timing is crucial. If you are in a business like ours and your sales are largely driven by event triggers, timing is everything, more importantly, it's calculable.
Example: let's say you want to reach out to a prospective client in regards to a special event they are having. Cold calling best practices include offering something of value to your prospect. Same goes for content. Thanks to LinkedIn, you can research your prospective contacts name or simply do a Google search and more often than not, actually find the email address of your contact. You then simply forward the most helpful article or blogpost or video you can find on the web with an email like this:
Hi, John ... I see that you have a major tradeshow coming up. This is the most clever tradeshow booth traffic draw I've ever seen, real flies flying with banners: http://goo.gl/2LLNT I'd love 5 minutes of your time to discuss your objectives for your show. I'd like to provide some creative ideas that will ensure your event is a hit. I'll be in touch.
Ideally though, the content should be created by you and demonstrate your prowess in your particular field of expertise. I have a bank of articles I can access on my personal blog and on our company blog. Thanks to our new podcast, we're banking even more helpful content I can forward as well. My email might go like this:
Hi, John ... I see that you have a major tradeshow coming up. Did you know you can dramatically increase your impact by having a pre-show, at-show and post-show plan? Here's an article I wrote about it.
I'd love 5 minutes of your time to help make your event a hit. I'll be in touch.
Here's a few tips on how to make this work for you:
- Create a bank of content that you can draw on to help your clients and prospects. Be persistent. Be patient. Content development takes time and it's easier for some than others but is worth every minute. One secret about content creation - develop content in channels that play to your strengths. I enjoy writing and podcasting. I hate video. Most of my content is developed along my strengths.
- Draw on this bank account of content when you need it. Be specific: "Hi, Sue! At the luncheon, you mentioned wanting to learn more about developing video, here's a quick interview we did with Jason Sadler who has self-produced over 2,000 videos, he gives some great tips on video development, I hope it is helpful".
- Just like physical cold calls, this is still a numbers game. You aren't going to have whopping success with just one or two emails. It may take an article per month or per quarter to your prospect. Persistent helpfulness is welcome, pestering is not.
Embracing content as the new cold call requires a mindshift for business leaders. Creating content is no longer optional. It's not a "nice-to-have", it's a "must-have". This means either attributing payroll to hiring more content creators, outsourcing to content creators or recruiting a new kind of salesperson, someone with people skills and digital savviness. If you're a solo operator, it means making content creation a priority. (I'm not a solo operator but I spend many Sundays and evenings creating and curating content).
For solo operators and business leaders, content creation is a sacrifice and an investment. You are either going to spend more money or more time on it; ideally, you should do both. Do you feel cold calling is outmoded? In what ways are you using content to reach clients and prospects? What challenges do you face when it comes to creating content?