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Thursday, December 10, 2009

"Cold calling is killing me"

The Greater Ottawa Carleton Home Builders' Association Boat Cruise last summer. Relationships developed within this association have been vital to my business -- If you are going to cold call the association's members, (or for that matter, if you plan to call the members of any association) however, results will be much better if you join first.

This posting on touches close to my heart.
Cold Calling is Killing Me

Okay I printed out the entire list off the local Home Builders Association website. On the "L's" right now and dammit I'm tired, I could work a 10 hour shift and not be so wore out haha. Out of about 50 so far I have a few e-mails to send two guys to meet and that's about it.

I have also have put out upwards of 3000 door mailers/flyers and 3,000, two months ago, and 6,500 more to come.

Dammit this stinks we have NEVER had to go out and look for work and we have been in business for eight years. Any ideas, guys.
As the thread progresses, we learn that the contractor had moved from Atlanta where his business thrived on word-of-mouth, to Knoxville, TN, where he is struggling to build relationships.

My quick and somewhat superficial advice: Join the HBA before making the cold calls to fellow members, and possibly look for relationships based on shared geographical experience.

The latter idea is something anyone who has moved should consider. I will never forget the clearest example of its importance.

I was watching (alone) a cricket game in Bulawayo Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1979 when I heard a voice: "Mark, is that you, Mark?" I looked at the person, and needed a few minutes to connect the dots. A couple of years ago, we had worked together but not closely on the student newspaper at the University of British Columbia.

My former student newspaper colleague had somehow found his way to the same remote (at least to anyone from Vancouver) African city at the same time. He had become a police officer (to be closer to a South African woman he knew) and I had found employment as a sub-editor on the local newspaper . Despite our different careers and place in life, we naturally had plenty in common, now, and so formed a close friendship which continued through our time in Africa and upon our return, at least until our paths separated again.

With the Internet, news groups, and existing client bases from your "old towns" you can I believe forge useful relationship-building connections by relating the old and the new, and then your word of mouth will take hold.

My first suggestion, to join the HBA before cold calling its membership, is more obvious but in some ways more challenging to execute.

The reason is that just joining a HBA or any association with the hope of creating immediate business is likely to be disappointing and frustrating.

Certainly the renovation contractor would be much better placed to get his foot in the door and the opportunity to win some bids -- certainly, the HBA in our area, the Greater Ottawa Home Builders' Association, adheres to its motto: "Be a Member -- Do Business with a Member", and the amount of business we've obtained through the years through this membership is impressive.

But association memberships, and many other marketing methods, require you to focus on what you can give rather than what you can sell; you need to think in terms of contribution, support, sharing, and the like -- and I know these qualities are probably farthest from the mind of the contractor simply trying to find enough business to keep the doors open.

Still, I think the contractor would find real value in joining the group -- and possibly connecting with his community associations in the areas where he lives or wishes to serve. The latter are much less expensive, and a little voluntary work can go a long way to cementing relationships. Maybe, in fact, he'll find some people he knows from Atlanta at an association event -- and start building even closer relationships.

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