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  • Diana Schneidman

Apples vs. oranges in cold calling: tips for going orange

Many marketing coaches who work with freelancers, consultants and other solo entrepreneurs pontificate on the evils of cold calling.

They set up cold calling for assignments as the most dreadful activity in the world as a straw man to make the alternative they teach—often emailing, magnetic websites / blogs or social networking—seem like a breeze in comparison.

Just the other day I was reading a newsletter article where a freelancing coach described his long-ago, high-pressure, multi-year career selling B2B products through phoning or simply showing up onsite. I label this the apple approach because it appears to be rather widespread, especially among experts who argue against cold calling for solopro assignments.

Yes, he made an excellent case for the horrors of cold calling. However, his description of cold calling was totally different from anything a thoughtful, strategic solopro would do to build a business. Let’s name the better way as the orange approach because it’s juicy, nutritious and stands out in a crate of apples.

Heading up his former sales organization was the sales manager, typically a man (sorry to stereotype but it matches this story and many others) who exhorted his crew to get out there and sell, sell, sell. The only thing that mattered was filling up the day with aggressive sales motion until sales resulted. And these sales had better contribute to the current sales quota for the period ending Saturday!

While the case described did not outline everything that was going on—or not going on—in depth, it appears there were several shortcomings to management’s leadership, including:

  • Weak understanding of their product’s benefits and competitive advantage (and perhaps even its features).

  • Total commitment to making sales numbers and no commitment to exploring and addressing customer needs.

  • No (or inadequate) sales materials in support of sales process

  • Nonstrategic selection of prospects. Worse yet, leaving sales staff to find all their leads on their own with inadequate support.

In summary, blustery sales management—and oh yes, commissions and sales awards—were employed as a substitute for everything else a sales staff needs.

This is NOT how to sell solo freelance or consultant services.

Instead, it’s about finding companies and their people who would benefit from your services and are open to learning more. Then talk with them about their needs and how your services fulfill their needs. Then say you’d really like to work with them and enter into a discussion about how to proceed.

Now you might not have everything all pinned down before you make the first phone call for your services. In particular, sales copy and materials may need further development. Still, since you’ve already mastered the services you offer, perhaps in a full-time job, you’re ahead of the high-pressure game.

And since you offer a valuable service in a customer-centric way, cold calling can be a comfortable, even caring, way to market your work.

Originally posted 5-24-11

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