I quit my web business after relocating out-of-state from Southern California. Getting re-established in a new market quickly enough during a down economy proved too difficult because I foolishly depended on a single source for new business—networking. That, combined with the fact that my partners and I had an amicable split the year before meant I was back to wearing all the hats.
At the time, I knew nothing about cold-calling. My only feeble attempt was a few years earlier when, with high hopes, I purchased a list of local businesses. It took me 45 minutes to work up the nerve to make my first dial. After fumbling through a dozen calls, I put the phone down and gave up—mostly out of embarrassment than from lack of success.
Three years later, I sold $60,000 worth of lawn care services over the phone within a six-month period. If I’d known how to cold-call when I was struggling to get my web business re-established, how much income might I have generated?
When I decided to call it quits, I still needed to pay the bills, so I took the first job I came across—at a call center. Not long afterwards, I took a sales position. Because of the cold-calling experience I’d gained, along with my background selling web services, I was eventually hired as an AT&T Yellow Page rep, selling print and online advertising. This taught me how to sell in the real world and gave me the experience I needed to become a sales trainer myself. So much for telemarketing being a dead-end job.
You may be at a similar crossroads yourself. Perhaps you’re not generating enough business to make ends meet. Or maybe you want to take the next step and go full-time, but you’re not sure if the business will be there to sustain you. The way I see it, you have four options:
- Quit and get a full-time job
- Get a full-time job and freelance on the side for extra income
- Get a part-time night or weekend job to supplement your income and keep running your business
- Employ aggressive, hunter-style prospecting methods to generate a sustainable amount of new business revenue
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, if you have a way to generate enough business that doesn’t involve cold-calling, then by all means, do so. Cold-calling isn’t rocket science, but neither is it fun. It can be nerve-racking to the uninitiated and tedious even to the experienced. Believe me, if it weren’t an effective means to quickly obtain new clients, it wouldn’t be part of my marketing arsenal.
When I put the phone down after my first inept attempt at cold-calling, it would have been tempting to claim “it didn’t work” than to admit I didn’t know what I was doing. Had I not learned to do it effectively, I may very well have joined the chorus of those proclaiming otherwise.
You may never actually come to enjoy cold-calling, but ask yourself which you’ll enjoy less: cold-calling or working for someone else?
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.