This poster is on an article from the British Broadcasting Corporation -- and a story about residential door-to-door cold calling. No doubt about it, cold calling can be effective BUT it is not for the faint of heart (or anyone who cannot stomach much rejection). If you are thinking of doing it for an AEC practice, it is best to go prepared, and with a clear plan of action.
An interesting discussion is developing on the SMPS listserve about whether it makes sense to cold call for AEC services (coupled with direct marketing pieces).
Paul Klassen, Marketing Coordinator of C. H. Guernsey & Company Oklahoma City wrote
I was curious about an aspect of marketing that I haven't seen come up on this list. For professional services (architecture/engineering), in a very targeted market - do any of your firms cold call via phone?
Example: You are targeting a very specific market, like a particular type of building/facility user. You may have the name of the facility manager, or not. The region is your city only. You'verecently sent a direct mail and this cold call would follow up to see if they remembered the direct mail piece and also if there are any services for facility expansion you could provide. There may be a significant number (>500) of facilities of the type in your city.
If you do not feel this is a viable process, why?
If you do, who would you expect to perform this service, an internal marketing staff? The project managers or junior level architectural staff (who would be familiar with the specific facility type)? A contracted telemarketing firm?
Dan Caldwell of Stout and Caldwell Engineers in Cinnaminson, NJ responded:
Q: You may have the name of the facility manager, or not.
A: My opinion, the "or not" piece of the puzzle needs to be eliminated. If you don't have the name
of the facility manager or a key decision maker, please don't waste the time/effort and money sending your beautifully designed marketing piece to just "facility manager".
SUGGESTION: Do your cold calls first to identify the facility manager or more importantly, the decision maker. Then, send the mailer and do your follow up calls. P.S. While you have them on the phone, verify all of the mailing contact information, phone, fax, email, website etc.
Q: You've recently sent a direct mail and this cold call would follow up to see if they remembered the direct mail piece and also if there are any services for facility expansion you could provide.
A: Design your marketing piece so there is no way they could forget it, be memorable! Forgetting your mailer cannot/should not be an option, really!
If you do this, the call you make will take little or no "re-introduction"so you can get right to the reason you really called, to see if there is any business there!
Q: There may be a significant number (>500) of facilities of the type in your city.
A: AGAIN, above all else, make sure that your mail piece is designed to be memorable so when you do the "cold call", they can't help but to remember your firm. P.S. 74%+/- of companies who send out marketing pieces, don't do follow-up calls from their mailers. They are using the shotgun approach:reason, follow-up is work, its hard work but if done correctly, it can be the best marketing tool for your business; you just have to be willing to pay that price.
Q: If you do not feel this is a viable process, why?
A: I do feel this is a viable process but with modification. Personally, I love cold calling prospective clients, with or without a pre-mailer.
Q: If you do, who would you expect to perform this service?
Internal marketing staff: 75%
Project Managers: 12.5%
Junior level architectural staff: 12.5%
A contracted telemarketing firm - either 0% or 100% (all or nothing)
A: RECOMMENDATION: If the marketing staff doesn't know and understand the specific facility type, they need to learn it and learn it fast! How could they "Talk Turkey" to the facility manager or the decision maker?
Everyone in the company needs to now the "details" of the business type that you are targeting i.e., the key players, the competition, the winners, the losers in the business, who is growing, who is contracting, which companies are the most conservative and the least conservative; the standard "lingo"in the business (and they need to speak it like it's part of their every day conversation), they have to have a handle on pricing, time variables, permitting, local, state and federal requirements etc.
My bottom line: If you spend time putting together a great marketing piece, PLEASE take the time to make sure it gets to the right person and that when you follow up to see if your mailer arrived properly, make sure that the person calling has a handle on the conversation, wherever it may go. Suggestion: If you don't like cold calling, try this: Write your script and practice it for a day. Then try it out on the prospects that are less likely to give you business. You need to learn to expect to receive "no" for an answer which makes getting a "Yes" or even an opportunity, that much sweeter. Then as you improve your cold calling skills, focus on those key prospects who really can give you business. Also, measure the success rates: (positive-vs-negative). Do it for a week, a month and a year. If you keep doing it and measuring it, you will eventually see your improvement and realize how great cold calling can be!
My thoughts? Cold calling is tough for professional salespeople; it would be demoralizing for anyone who doesn't have the 'right stuff' for sales work (but notably many people who would make great salespeople, are in non-sales jobs). Properly done it can be effective IF you know who you are calling, and have a natural approach to the situation. Otherwise, expect your share of rudeness, hostility and downright demoralizing responses.
(Today, for example, sitting at Amanda's desk, (she couldn't get in because of a snowstorm), some guys were pounding the floor in a neighbouring office with a hydraulic drill. And I needed to prepare for an important meeting due to start in 10 minutes. Someone calls: "Can I speak to the person responsible for IT services in your company?" Did that person exactly receive a favourable reception --when in fact he had reached the right person and I generally try to be courteous to inbound callers?)