It’s the marketing strategy that many freelancers think of as a last resort – a dreaded activity to be undertaken only when all other avenues have been exhausted. Yes, cold calling can take some courage and might have a low success rate, but it could just produce that single magic client that you need to get started.
What it means:
‘Cold calling’ entails phoning or emailing businesses who look like they might be in your target market, explaining what you do and asking if you might send them further information. You follow up the ones who say yes, providing them with all the right information and an excellent impression of yourself. With some luck, that’ll tip one of them into requesting some work from you.
How it works :
- Find a pool of your target clients. Apart from general googling for clients in a particular industry, a few good ways to do this are:
- LinkedIn groups or advanced searches
- Industry association members lists which can often be found on their website
- Public Twitter lists which other people have created to group together like-minded individuals
- Do a little background research on each potential client.
- Call or email each potential client to make them aware of your services, tailoring your pitch to suit.
- At this early stage, just ask if it’s OK to send them some information by email e.g. your CV, some free advice or information about a free review, etc.
- It’s unlikely (but not impossible) that you’ll generate immediate clients from this. However, you may make small connections (‘Yes, why not come into our offices for a quick chat”) which you can nurture into work over a longer period.
The Freelance Parents View:
Cold calling tends to be a numbers game. You might only get a positive response from one in twenty contacts, and those few leads may not turn into actual clients. You’ll also need a pretty good pitch to interest a totally cold contact. Arm yourself with good evidence of your skills, experience of similar clients, etc.
I’ve tried two batches of cold emailing in my time. I did generate one actual client from this. I did some fairly thorough research into local digital marketing agencies and tailored an email to each of them. One of them invited me for a meeting because my skillset was of interest, although they didn’t have any current work. After our meeting (at which they asked me to critique their newly designed website – eek!), they passed on my details to an agency whom they knew were looking for freelancers like me. That ‘pre-warmed’ potential client then took me on.
What other freelancers say:
“I sent an email!”
Read the full story of how Emily found her first client – it’ll give you hope!
When I started freelancing almost ten years ago, Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter hadn’t yet been launched. I think it did me a big favour. I got a tatty old phone book (my local business directory), made a list of businesses I thought I could probably work for, and simply rang them up and asked whether they outsourced the services I was offering. I was scared to death when I made the first call, and it probably told in my voice. I only received one “yes” that day, but it felt wonderful. I got myself a meeting, took along with me a well designed leaflet/price list etc. and tried to wow their socks off. They never got back to me, but it still felt incredibly empowering. I knew I was on the right track and that I could “do it”. I kept trying with other local businesses, until I finally got my first few customers.
To round up
Getting a positive result from cold calling is a fantastic feeling – as though you have created something from nothing. It does take perseverance and faith in your own abilities, but these are two essential traits for any freelancer anyway.
Do share your own cold calling successes here to show us all what’s possible!
Next strategy: Finding clients through social media