Thursday, April 21, 2011

Cold Calling Unscripted

So most of you writing types are probably familiar with Peter Bowerman (who talked me into this whole cold calling thing via his excellent book, "The Well-Fed Writer").

In the book he includes an extensive cold-calling script that covers every actual contingency that could happen on the phone.

When I was working up the nerve to cold call, I took Peter's script way too much to heart. I actually made flashcards so I could practice the responses verbatim.

Yup, I practiced saying everything from "May I speak to your marketing director?" to "I feel comfortable working on a wide variety of projects" to "I'll be in your area next week. Might I stop by with some samples?"

Seriously. I agonized over this for months. I wanted to be sure I was really, REALLY ready.

I wish I had known what real cold calling is like.

After about five calls, I actually scrapped Peter's script. (Sorry, Peter. I still worship you). It just didn't sound like me and it was making me sound nervous and forget to breathe -- leading to sharp intakes of air in the middle of sentences.

Instead, I rewrote my own little script which fits neatly onto an index card:

Hi! My name is Sarah Maurer and I'm a local freelance (copy)writer. I'm checking in to see if you have any occasional or ongoing need for a writer to assist with (fundraising), (marketing materials), (patient communications), and so on. Who would be the best person to speak to?

If I actually get through to a real person, 99 percent of the time this is all I have to say.

If they're interested, they ask if I have samples.

I tell them I've got several uploaded to my website and would be happy to send them a link. I tell them I'll touch base soon to see if they have any questions and discuss any writing needs they may have.

If I've done lots of writing in their field (e.g. healthcare), I mention this.

Sha-ZAM. Done.

Really, that's all the talking that happens. It takes two minutes tops.

Before I started cold calling, I was sure I'd be grilled by every prospect. But seriously, I've probably only had four or five people who asked any questions at all before seeing the portfolio.

How about the rest of you? Do you use a script? How much actual selling do you do during the initial call?

No comments:

Post a Comment