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Tips & Tricks to Making Your Best Cold Calls

When it comes to cold calling, picking up the phone can be a daunting task. Let’s all be honest, who really likes doing this?

Change your mindset by having a reason or purpose for calling.  More than likely, you want to introduce yourself.  Of course, you can always do this by email, but if you want to get a meeting, you often need to make a personal connection, which is a lot harder to do through email. That’s why we still recommend cold calling, and to be successful, you need to go at this task and be focused.

A good way to ease your nerves or apprehension about cold calling is to remember that these people are just that, PEOPLE. They just happen to have a job that you want to be hired for.  The key thing to keep in mind is that hiring is part of their job. They need to have a roster of great artists to choose from, sometimes at a moment’s notice. So introducing yourself actually helps them do their job. Someone once told me that for every 10 people you call, you’ll get one yes.  This means that for every 9 NOs, you are one step closer to your YES.

When we speak to photographers, they often tell us the reason they don’t cold call is because they don’t know what to say. So, here’s a dialog we recommend for anyone starting out.  It’s a great starting point, but every market is different so you may need to tweak it as you go.  We’ve also found that emailing the people before you call helps in making the call easier.  You might also encourage the person to respond to you more quickly if you mention you will follow up with a call in a few days.

Dialog 1: Setting Up Local Meetings

STEP ONE: Send an email. Here’s a sample template you can start with:

Dear X,

Hello there.  This is X, I am an X photographer (insert 1-2-word description of what you shoot – i.e. Food Photographer).  I am reaching out to set up 10 minutes for me to come into your office and show you my latest portfolio.  My schedule is free next Monday or Tuesday at 10 or 11 am to meet for a few minutes.  Let me know if that might work.  I do understand your schedule is busy.  I will also give you a ring in a few days to try and connect in person.

Cheers, X

STEP TWO: Pick up the phone. If you get their voicemail, leave a message. Keep it simple with something like this:

Hi, this is X from X Photography. I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  I know you’re busy – so I will follow up with an email.

Or if they pick up, you might want to use the “Oh No, They Picked Up” dialog:

Hey, this X from X Photography – I was calling to introduce myself and set up a time to show you my work…is this a good time (WAIT for replay).

If you get a YES: Great, I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  Are you available next Monday or Tuesday at 10 or 11 am for a quick meeting?

If you get a NO: I completely understand.  I will follow up with you via email.  Have a great day and thanks for your time. (Follow up with email from above)

If you’re able to set up a meeting – great! Your job’s done. If you didn’t get an answer, move on to STEP THREE.

STEP THREE: Follow up with a 2nd email

Subject line: Following up – Hello there.

This is X from X Photography.  I hope you don’t mind my persistence, but I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  Let me know when you might be available to meet for a few minutes (I promise to bring the stop watch).

Cheers, X

Note: sometimes humor or being honest makes your email more human

Dialog 2: Setting up non-local meetings

STEP ONE: Send an email:

Hello there.  This is X, I am an X photographer (insert 1-2 word description of what you shoot – i.e. Food Photographer) from X city and I am traveling to X next week.  I am reaching out to set up 10 minutes for me show you my latest portfolio. My schedule is free next Monday or Tuesday at 10 or 11 am to meet for a few minutes.  Let me know if that might work.  I do understand your schedule is busy.  I will also give you a ring in a few days to try and connect in person.

Cheers, X

 Note: In your subject line, let them know that you are traveling from X to visit

STEP TWO: Just like the previous dialog, it’s now time to pick up the phone. Here are some scripts for a sample voicemail and what to do if they answer.

Voicemail:

Hi, this is X from X Photography and I am going to be in town next week. I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  I know you are busy – so I will follow up with an email.  (Now move on to step 3)

If you get an answer:

Hey, this X from X Photography – is this a good time (WAIT for reply).

If you get a YES: Great, I will be in town next week and I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  Are you available next Monday or Tuesday at 10 or 11 am to meet for a few minutes?

If you get a NO: I completely understand.  I will follow up with you via email.  Have a great day and thanks for your time. (Follow up with email from above)

STEP THREE: Follow up with a 2nd email

Subject line: Following up – Hello there.

This is X from X Photography, and as I mentioned in my voicemail, I will be in town next week. I hope you don’t mind my persistence, but I would love to set up 10 minutes to meet you in person and show you my latest portfolio.  Let me know if you are available next Monday or Tuesday at 10 or 11 am to meet for a few minutes.

Cheers, X

You’ve Booked the Meeting. Now What?

So, you’ve got some meetings set up! Are you comfortable meeting with potential clients? If you’re not, here are our top suggestions for making a good impression.

  1. Have your portfolio, iPad or both ready.  Printed books are still wonderful, tactile ways to view your work, but if your budget or timeframe (or your desire to actually print one) doesn’t allow you to create one, don’t put off a meeting because all you have is an iPad.  If you have both, use your iPad for new work or motion.
  2. Remember your leave-behinds.  Plan to bring business cards and postcards or mini books (think magcloud.com).  Another plan of attack is to offer to send them a print when you return.
  3. Dress professionally, but you can probably leave the suit and tie at home.  Dressing a step up from your wardrobe on a photo shoot is best because you’re still comfortable and approachable. Be the artist you are.
  4. Bring some sort of food with you as it’s a usually well-received gesture.  If you are traveling and you can bring something small from your hometown, what a great memory.  If you are local, bring something from your favorite bakery.  If all else fails, there is always a Starbucks a block away.
  5. Don’t overstay your welcome.  If the person hosting you asks you to stay longer or the conversation is going comfortably, then stay.  But if you’re the one driving the conversation, it’s time to go. Politely thank them for their time and then allow them to get back to work.  If they are dragging you all over the office – take it.  They like you!

Don’t Forget About Existing Clients

 It’s super important to remember to follow up with your existing clients.  They are busy and they can forget about you. You don’t want to give them the opportunity to call a competitor, so we recommend reaching out every 3-4 months. Here are some recommendations for staying in touch:

  • Call them just to say hello and see how they’re doing
  • Set up a meeting with them once a year to show them new work
  • Send them your recent work by PDF or a link to your portfolio
  • Send an email and attach your most recent work
  • Research online what your client is doing (by googling their name) and send them a note that you saw that piece and tell them what you liked about it
Lindsay Partridge

Lindsay has been with Agency Access for four years. After a transition from Campaign Manager where she managed multiple client campaigns, she found her home as Marketing Manager. She enjoys working in the creative world and bringing her Public Relations background to the forefront.

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