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  • Diana Schneidman

What’s a better name for cold calling?

I’ve been puzzling over a fundamental issue for months—or truly, years now—and I’d like your input: Should I call “cold calling” by some other term?

I use the term to label the activity of phoning the people most likely to become clients of my freelance and consulting services. I’m totally comfortable with the term and that’s why I’ve used it in my book (Start Freelancing and Consulting), on my blog and everywhere else.

People seem to understand what it means and in that respect, it communicates clearly.

Another benefit is that it makes a good keyword in Google, and other databases. It’s a ready hashtag for use on Twitter.

Because people think they understand the concept, it’s a nice, handy way for people to find what I’m writing about. For those who want to learn more, here I am, immediately findable and accessible online.

On the other hand, I suspect that it turns off some potential readers—or even fans—immediately because the concept of “cold calling” has such bad press. It’s used as the straw man for everything uncomfortable or even distasteful about marketing.

It generates an instant “oh no, I won’t do that!” from many people before they can find out that my understanding of the concept is much different from theirs.

To me, cold calling is a highly personal, helpful, honorable way for us to reach out to those most likely to want our professional services.

  • The people we call (and recommend you call) are typically in businesses, so this is a type of B2B marketing.

  • They are the individuals most likely to purchase such services.

  • We make the calls ourselves. We can explain our services and answer their initial questions on the spot.

  • Our messages are informative and clear.

  • We space the calls out so they do not resemble harassment.

  • Calls are supplemented by emailed info, website links, etc. to provide additional information and marketing.

  • Calls are made during work hours because the calls are B2B.

  • People aren’t tricked into calling back through vague messages.

  • In practice, people are very rarely ticked off because our calls are intended to be useful, not a bother.

So I am entertaining the use of an alternative term to position the marketing approach that I advocate in a much more positive way.

Here are some of the possibilities:

Phoning. It’s honest and succinct, but it’s not particularly attractive.

B2B or Professional Cold Calling. I could insert some modifiers to clarify that this isn’t about calling apartment dwellers at home during the dinner hour to sell them in-ground swimming pools.

Prospecting. Almost everyone offering a business service understands they need to prospect. The term is sufficiently vague that readers don’t immediately click away. Also, it obscures what I’m going to teach and leads people to stick around . . . but maybe feel they have been taken for a ride when they get the real story.

Outreach. To me, teaching cold calling for freelance and consulting services is a form of outreach to help other professionals accomplish the work they want to get done. However, to other people it may suggest entirely different offers or even religious proselytizing.

Love Calls or some other label unique to me that I could even trademark. Too corny?

Originally posted 1-2-12

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