Are you sick of cold calling prospects? Does it feel like a lot of work for very little payoff? Are even your best efforts to connect with clients met with radio silence?
It’s not your imagination: Cold calling is becoming less and less effective for gaining clients, according to The Harvard Business Review. In fact, a recent study found that it takes 18 or more phone calls to connect with a prospect. Even then, callback rates are below 1 percent.
The message is clear: It’s time for a new approach. The following tactics are effective alternatives to cold calling prospects and winning over new clients.
Networking. It may sound old fashioned, but networking remains one of the best ways to connect with other professionals and build quality relationships. Join professional organizations and sign up for their mailing lists to stay up to date on upcoming events. Ask your peers and clients to refer you to events that they know of and frequent themselves. Networking can be intimidating, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
Email. An email is an excellent alternative to cold calling, as it is less invasive, and saves you time, enabling you to send one message to multiple prospects. It’s worth taking a little time out, however, to customize each email just a little so they don’t sound spammy or generic.
Mutual Connections. Have a prospect that you’re dying to meet? See if you have any connections in common and ask for an introduction. Just make sure you always give a clear reason for wanting to connect, and let the person know there will be no hard feelings if, for any reason, he or she doesn’t feel comfortable making an introduction. (After all, building connections should not come at the risk of alienating current ones.)
Client Referrals. People are more likely to trust the recommendation of a peer, which is what makes referrals one of the best ways to find new clients. Asking current clients for a referral might feel awkward at first, but if you’ve gone above and beyond for them and have good relationships with them, chances are they will be happy to provide a referral. Try saying something like, “I’m so happy you’re pleased with my work. Do you know of anyone else who might benefit from my services?” And always make sure you thank people for their referrals. Check out this Entrepreneur article for more tips for asking for referrals.
Social Media. Social media is one of the best networking resources out there today - as well as a powerful platform by which to build your personal brand and establish yourself as an industry expert. For example, you can join industry groups, engage in conversations and offer helpful advice. Use your LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts to share articles and industry news that is relevant to your audience. Create your own content to share and establish yourself as a thought leader. (Just remember to strike a balance between the content you share that’s written by you and content written by others.)
Staffing Software. Take advantage of technology that enables you to discover new prospects and get in-depth information about their history and current challenges. A solution like Jobfeed from CareerBuilder, for example, provides a comprehensive database of prospective clients, job posting history and behavior, as well as current labor market trends. Jobfeed helps you gain a better understanding of prospects’ needs, so you can offer solutions right away and establish yourself as an expert in your field.