As a publicist and business development expert, much of my time is spent cold calling or cold pitching the media. Although many people dread the thought of cold calling, it’s a skill that can be developed over time. Following are helpful tips and tricks.
First, face your fear about cold calling. I often draw upon the Dale Carnegie statement, “what’s the worst that can happen?” If you think of the possibilities that can come out of a cold call including a valuable new business connection or client, I think you’ll agree it’s worth doing.
Be Brief and Relevant
Do your homework and carefully research the person and company you are cold calling. What are they most interested in? Put yourself in their seat and think about what could you offer them that would grab their attention? Craft your pitch to include a compelling headline and include an informational tidbit or link to an article they could use.
Throw Spaghetti at the Wall
Manage your expectations. When doing cold calling, you can expect a 50-90% failure rate – no response. Sure, that can be immensely frustrating and at times infuriating. But don’t let it stop you. The more cold pitches you send out, the higher the chance of getting traction.
Uncovering a Prospect’s Email
Locating or figuring out an email address isn’t as difficult as it seems. In fact, you can often get an idea of a company’s email format by doing a Google search for media@name-of-company, which will take you to a press release contact section that contains a contact email from which you can draw upon.
The free Chrome app, Find That Lead is another valuable tool. You may also call the company’s headquarters and say you’re trying to email something to a key executive and they will often provide that person’s email address.
Be Politely Persistent
After sending your initial email pitch, you are being politely persistent if you send a follow up after 2 days. Still no response? Follow up with a phone call. Since you will probably get to leave a voice message, practice your message offline first to make sure you get it right. Writing it down can help you stay on track. If there’s no response, give up after 3 or 4 tries and consider trying another company contact.
Don’t Write Off Fridays (Except in Summer)
People often say that you shouldn’t cold pitch on Fridays, but sometimes Friday mornings are a quieter time in the week when executives are catching up on emails.
As noted above, keep your message short and to the point, using bullet points wherever possible. Brevity increases the chances it will actually get read – and relevance increases the chances of a reply.
Does this still feel uncomfortable to you? Think about why. You probably have amassed a great deal of insight and wisdom. A concise email to the right person can open up new possibilities for business connections and growth – for both of you.