Ande Schurr gives us Part 2 of how to 'cold call' by introducing the 'old call'. With a personal example, he explains how to get over the fear of making that dreaded call.
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A phone call can be extremely efficient. In the time it takes to write an email we can be in real communication, explain our purpose, clarify anything, and best of all we move forwards.
An email can come across as cold and raise more questions than answers, even introducing subtext that confuses the receiving party because of things we don’t include!
Used together, phone and email, and we have the opportunity for real communication.
Why do we hide behind the easier ‘messaging’ language? Because it’s become too big of a deal to make a phone call these days.
Three years ago I wrote How to love cold calling.
I likened it to a romance, arguing that it develops the same skills needed to attract the one you love; you have the desire for them (or their business) and then the courage to connect.
Now I want to introduce the next concepts: The ‘old call' and ‘it’s no biggie’.
‘Old calling' is ringing up past clients whom you haven’t been in touch with and, because of our past association, we mistakenly believe that they are still thinking of us. So we don’t make an effort to ring and remind them that we are still keen to work for them.
‘It’s no biggie’ is exactly that - it’s no big deal to ring someone. However thanks to the ease of messaging, we have built up a ‘too hard’ wall around the phone. We’ll only use it when we have to.
It may not be this way for you dear reader, but in my experience there is something very confronting about a phone call. Especially when you’re networking. On the one hand, you don’t want to take up their time. Everyone who has a production company is generally super busy. Even if they aren’t, they are busy trying to win their own business.
Then there’s the fact that it’s a little cold just ringing up to see if there’s any work.
The solution to these two problems is in the problems themselves.
Firstly, be very brief and get immediately to the point of why you’re ringing. After you’ve paid your respects, come straight out with it - "Do you have any work in the near future?" Nothing beats getting to the point!
Secondly, you genuinely are asking how they are and actually you are not concerned if they have work at all. You can’t be cold if you don’t feel cold and really are interested in their well being!
This brings me to the most important point of this article. While the outer purpose of ringing is to increase business and exposure, let’s be clear about that, the more human reason that we ring is to stay in touch with our industry. To connect to people. To remain sane in a world that makes it so easy for us to hide from how we really feel.
Now, with all the serious stuff out of the way, here’s how I have fun with a phone call and remove the ‘big deal’ stigma attached to the dreaded cold call, or the old call.
Firstly, we have to understand that at the start of our networking ‘work’ as a freelancer, we have to dig deep and just do things that stretch our comfort zone. I recall one of the more glittering personalities I know, an actor, admitted that they are not the same person over the phone - they’d much rather talk face to face.
If talent, who are used to being in the public eye, can feel this way then how much more for those of us behind the scenes? So, we first dig deep and make those calls just to get the networking ‘ball’ rolling. Then, we toss that away and play a game with ourselves which makes phone calling enjoyable.
You know how people say “I could never do that, it would kill me!”. They’re referring to situations where they could get rejected. Well I ‘use’ that saying. Actually, I adapt it. As I’m about to make a phone call, I’m thinking to myself “let’s see if this kills me or not”. It’s quite hilarious (yes, I realise I’m the only one laughing here). I’m literally wondering if I’ll come out the other end okay!
Of course, I’m not really concerned for my survival, but it’s just a fun way to realise that any difficulty I feel about making a phone call is entirely in my own head.
The next time you think “I’m not looking forward to making that call” just ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen - would it kill me? No!” Then go and make the call and be yourself.
This attitude helps you be more present and ready to move with whatever way the conversation turns. Even if they can’t talk, you still have the chance to leave a good impression just by the way you say “Hi” and ‘Bye”.
So it makes me laugh because I’m dialling their number and waiting for them to answer and I’m thinking at the same time, “this will be interesting, I wonder if I’ll come out alive”.
It’s kind of ridiculous but we just have to do whatever it is we can to get over our unexplained fears.