Break the ice: 4 ways to better cold calling

defrost your cold callsWhether you’re raising money, growing customers, pitching a reporter or recruiting committee members, you have to make some asks. It can be uncomfortable. But to advance your objectives, you’ve gotta brave the cold.

Here are 4 ways to make those efforts less frosty and more productive.

make sure your database is in order
Some organizations have excellent databases full of information about their prospects: likes and dislikes, last conversations, purchase history, past connection to the organization and contacts received. Do not—I repeat—do not, make a call without first reading what’s in the database.

Recently, a fundraiser called me asking whether my company would make a gift this year. The person who called had no idea that I had led a major campaign for them within the last few years. I felt extremely unappreciated and shall we say, “uncharitable”?

If you don’t have a database, implement one immediately. Employee turnover in both nonprofits and for-profits is a constant. Merely keeping paper files or information committed only to memory means important institutional knowledge (and relationships) will be lost.

Don't make people feel like last week's half-moldy leftovers.Thaw out your cold calls with a smarter process.

ask for an introduction, then call right away
Who are the people on your “A list”? How do you gain or enhance connections with them? An easy start: see who you have in common on LinkedIn, then ask for an introduction. Be specific in your ask from the connector. Tell why you want to meet and how the connector can help you. Once that introduction is made, follow up quickly before there's time for a chill to set in. Call your prospect (now you can name-drop) and make the ask.

Afterward, be sure to close the loop with the person who helped you connect. Say thank you and give a short report on how your conversation went.

Offer to return the favor.

make it about them, not you
Reporters: frame your conversation about what’s in his interest. Read his past stories. Know his angles. Why will his readers care about this? How will your pitch make his job easier?

Donors: think about how your request matches her dreams. What has she supported in the past? Where else do you see her name? Who else is in her circle? How do your needs fit hers? If you don’t know, don’t ask.

Customers: what have they purchased from you in the past? Did you make a presentation, but not win the business? Why—and is it time to try again? Or if they did purchase, is it time for an upgrade or add-on?

call first thing in the morning or late in the day
I’ve found that once the day gets rolling, it’s harder to break through to people. They get into the swing of their hefty TO DO list and are not open to unplanned interruptions.

But call them while they’re still organizing their day—or winding down for tomorrow—and it may be the opportune time to talk. Plan for a short conversation… just enough to establish a time to have a longer conversation by phone or over coffee. (Don’t forget time zone differences and plan accordingly.)

Implement a better system to ask and watch your organization's results catch fire!

For help with a smart, branded sales protocol, call Martha Bartlett Piland at 785.969.6203

Tags: business strategy, business development, non profits, fundraising, networking, public relations, donor cultivation

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