Cold calling ... for the first time in 10 years

A couple of days ago I got on the phone and did some cold calling for the first time in 10 years (cold calling is ringing up someone out of the phone book that doesn't know you from a bar of soap). The last time I cold called was when I was just starting out as a business coach - and the results back then were nothing to write home about. In fact I think over six months of fairly consistent cold calling I didn't get a single client. Since then I've been in the fortunate position of getting enough business coaching clients through referrals, so it's been a while (which is lucky really, because I if I was relying on my cold calling skills I think I'd be on the street by now). You are probably thinking "what on earth prompted you do that again?"

Good question. Most people would prefer to do just about anything other than cold call.

In a couple of weeks I'm launching a new business - Pure Bookkeeping. It's a partnership with my bookkeeper, client and friend Debbie Roberts. We've been working together for 8 years, and in that time Debbie has grown from a sole trader to a team of 12 bookkeepers, doubled what she charges, and created the best system in the industry. So we're starting a business teaching other bookkeepers how to grow their businesses, and selling the systems that have been so successful for Debbie.

But I don't know that many bookkeepers apart from Debbie, so to get a room full of bookkeepers it was time to smile and dial, as they say. On Tuesday I had my first session of calls. I gave myself one hour, and in that time I made six calls. My thinking was that to get 1 person to come to our seminar I'd need to speak to 4 people (and it would probably take 10 calls to get onto 4 people). Of the four, one person would basically hang up on me, one person wouldn't be interested, one person would be busy on the night and I'd make one sale. So how did I go?

In a word, unbelievable.

I spoke to 2 people and left 4 messages. Both the people I spoke to are coming, one is bringing a colleague, and one gave me the name and number of someone else I should invite (who is also coming now). Later that day 2 of the people I left messages for called back, both are coming and one is bringing her business partner. The end result - made 6 calls, spoke to 4 people, and have 7 people registered and paid.

Not a single no - as I said, unbelievable.

I thought it would be useful to identify what I think made it so successful. Here are my thoughts:

  • Credibility. I started by asking if they had heard of Debbie Roberts from BACS Bookkeeping? I was her business coach and had been working with her for 8 years, and over that time she had grown to a team of 12 and doubled what she charged. Immediately I had some credibility.
  • Talked to their need. I then said we are launching a new business aimed at helping bookkeepers grow their business. Most bookkeepers are interested in growing their offer.
  • Had a great offer. I'm calling to invite you to a seminar that we are running on the 19th of May on The Seven Secrets of Growing Your Bookkeeping Business. Do you have a couple of minutes now for me to tell you about it.
  • Preparation. I'd looked at their website, and knew a bit about them and their business.
  • Confidence. I know that our seminar will be great, and if they're looking to grow their business they would get great value out of it. I'm doing them a favour by letting them know about it.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with cold calling - whether they are closer to my first attempt (a big donut over six months) or my more recent efforts.

Oh, and if you know a good bookkeeper who is looking to grow their business, I'd love an introduction. Thanks.