Cold Calling procrastination

Bus Stop

I’ve been learning a lot of cool things from watching the replays from International Freelancers Day (replays are only available until October 31, 2010). One of the messages I took to heart is that it’s crucial to prospect in order to get business. While that’s obvious, it still bears repeating. In order to make money doing any kind of freelancing, you need to let potential clients know you exist.

One of the best ways (in my opinion) to prospect is to make cold calls. Whenever I do a cold-calling campaign, I get new qualified leads (which, when handled correctly, may turn into paying clients). Whenever I stop making cold calls, my business grinds to a halt. According to Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-fed Writer (and also a presenter on International Freelancers Day), this mostly has to do with the low volume of calls I’m making. He suggests doing a full-force cold-calling campaign with hundreds of calls (and follow-ups once you get leads). Then you’ll never have to do such a huge number of cold calls in the future after that initial push.

Knowing what I know, and having heard the message repeatedly, why is it still so tough to pick up the phone? I actually like cold calling. I’m very much a phone person, and I love to talk to people. I don’t get discouraged when I get a ‘no,’ and I don’t even mind the occasional abrupt secretary. I’m good at cold calling.

But for some reason, the hurdle of that initial call is huge for me. So I start avoiding it. I make long Excel spreadsheets with prospects to call, I color-code the columns, I research more prospects to add to my list (which is easily over 100 already), and I start to negotiate with myself the best day and time to start calling. I write out my script by hand, then I re-write it on the computer and print it out for a neat copy, and I practice saying it (over and over).

My next procrastination step is thinking about the ideal location to make the calls. I check the batteries on my phone, think about whether or not to use Skype so I can use a headset, I research how to cold call, and then I’m finally ready.

Or not.

Now comes the hard part. I start deciding which company to call first. Surely I can’t call the first one, because they probably won’t need a freelance writer. So I look at their website. Yeah, I’m probably right. So on to the next one.

You get the idea. By the time I am really and truly ready to call, days or weeks have passed with absolutely no action being taken.

My advice to you (and me)? Skip most of the steps. The most important one, which I didn’t mention above, is to pick up the phone, dial the number, and ask for the name of the person in charge of hiring freelancers. Then ask for his/her email address so you can email your portfolio. Easy, right?

How you do handle your prospecting? Do you make cold calls easily, or do you procrastinate too? Any advice for the rest of us?

28 Responses to “Cold Calling procrastination”

  1. Mikael says:

    Procrastination is a huge barrier to many and I personally know it all too well. Luckily I am no longer in a business where I need to cold call people but when I was, the only way I could get going was to ask myself “what is the worst thing that can happen” and when answering that question and accepting what might happen, I was able to get going. But I didn’t like it one bit.
    Mikael´s last blog post ..Norlie Lagersalg – Find eksklusivt nedsat børnetøj

  2. Love your description of prcrastination. Adequate research and preparation are important for any tasks, but there is that point when you find it’s easier to keep preparing than to get started, and that’s when it can become procrastination.

  3. I don’t think that I have ever met anyone in all my time in business that just loved having to do cold calls. It is just one of those things that has to be done in sales to be successful. Overcoming that dread in the pit of your stomach that makes you procrastinate getting out there really is a huge part of winning the battle!

  4. Hangers says:

    I also procrastinate. And I think each of us do the same thing especially if we are not in the mood do something. But if you are in a business you will not reach the peak of success if you always procrastinate. Procrastination is the lazy man’s pastime. I admire you for having the patience in attending cold calls. Thanks for the post!

  5. julianne says:

    Procrastination is difenitly a big no-no if you want to be successful in any business. If you really have to do cold calling in your niche, just pick up the phone and do it or you will find reasons to not call.
    Thanks for sharing such a great article.

  6. sidash says:

    I also procrastinate too

  7. led strips says:

    It is just one of those things that has to be done in sales to be is harsh, but that is the job of sales.

  8. I think there is actually nothing I hate more than cold calling. The idea of having to call 50 people and being rejected 49 times (and sometimes even being insulted) just makes me shiver.
    Joe @ Hair Removal Creams´s last blog post ..Hair Removal Creams For Men – A Valuable Substitute For Shaving

  9. Jim says:

    I also procrastinate. And I think each of us do the same thing especially if we are not in the mood do something. But if you are in a business you will not reach the peak of success if you always procrastinate. Procrastination is the lazy man’s pastime. I admire you for having the patience in attending cold calls. Thanks for the post!
    Jim´s last blog post ..Product Overview – Leupold Mark 4 ER-T Series

  10. Tactics says:

    In the internet age you don’t need to do cold calling… you can find great freelancers (or freelance work for yourself) on networks like: oDesk and Elance.
    Tactics´s last blog post ..Tips to Build Effective Landing Page

  11. Nicely put, you need to just pick up the phone and make the call. When I used to do cold calling my hands would get sweaty and I would try to put it off for as long as I could. I think the intimidation (which leads to procrastination) comes from the fact that people don’t like being rejected (sometimes rudely rejected). Let’s be honest, some people aren’t so polite when you call them out the blue sky trying to advertise your services or products.
    John@how to stop excessive underarm sweat´s last blog post ..Eliminate Your Underarm Sweating

  12. Some good advice there… skip all the steps and pick up the phone. That’s were the action actually happens. Reminds me of when I was young and had to mow the yard… I’d spend an hour or more making sure the lawnmower was in tip-top condition instead of starting it up and mowing!
    Fred @ Internet Business´s last blog post ..How to Use Social Media to Grow a Brick and Mortar Business

  13. I don’t think making cold calls is ever easy — so it’s tough to muster up the courage. Especially if you don’t NEED to do them, you just SHOULD. I always make myself a list of priorities and check them off when I actually get things done — it helps me get motivated!
    Pet Care Expert

  14. Veronica says:

    It’s hard not to procrastinate. But if you plan ahead, It will save you so much headache in the long road.

  15. Olivia says:

    Sometimes procrastination gives you time to think things through.

  16. It is just one of those things that has to be done in sales to be successful.

  17. Eren Mckay says:

    Hi Theda,
    Even though I’m not a freelance writer I understand about procrastination. I believe it’s more about the perfectionism. We want to be sure that we are doing everything right so that if the outcome doesn’t go as we want it to go, we won’t feel like we are a failure. We are avoiding the pain of negative self talk when things don’t go as planned. What has really helped me is to think : What is “good enough”? I don’t have to be perfect, I just need to do things “well enough” to get some results. That has really helped me get started.
    Eren Mckay´s last blog post ..Duck Baby Shower Decorations

  18. Cold calling really is one of the most difficult things to do in business. I think that most people have a hidden dread of having to do it. However, it really does get easier with practice and preparation.

  19. sidashru says:

    Love your description of prcrastination!
    sidashru´s last blog post ..8 шаблонов WordPress которые меня «зацепили»

  20. green coffee says:

    LOL when I procrastinate, I usually watch a movie, play a game or basically bum around. I don’t overthink every step like you do! That’s just preparing to me.

    But about the cold calling, I don’t see the need for it either in this day and age. I would rather do everything via email than via phone.

    • Tim says:

      Thats all well and good and once you have a strong client base you may not need to cold call again, however for most businesses starting up emailing is not effective and can take far too long to get results. Cold calling initially is usually essential to get momentum going. Plus emails are the plague of modern business and me personally do not respond to emails. Even if I know the person I will not reply to emails unless its urgent. You would have to cold call me to get my attention and if you are good on the phone I might even read your email.

  21. JohnK says:

    I am naturally introverted, so getting myself psyched up for phone calls is a hard thing to do 🙂

  22. Abbasi says:

    Nice article. Cold calling is never easy for everyone actually. I think the most difficult part is to break first barrier and catch their attention in the first 1 minute.

  23. Hi,

    It’s tough if you’re in a business that requires you to cold call. I guess the best advice is to remind yourself that nothing really bad can happen, and dial the number before it even occurs to you to stop. Get ahead of your thoughts, so to speak.


    Pete @ Pure FX
    Currency Broker Pete´s last blog post ..US Dollar Falls Following Latest FOMC Report

  24. Ansøgninger says:

    Procrastination is a huge barrier to many people but hopefully they are no longer in a business where they need to cold call people. Often they just have to think “what is the worst thing that can happen”. This doesn’t mean they get to ike it though.
    Ansøgninger´s last blog post ..Sommerferien er forbi

  25. it really sounds so easy to do it, but cold calling is one of the worst nightmares of every sales person.

  26. You’re correct to be concerned about the wording of your calls. So spend an hour or two fine-tuning your “script”. But when you’re done…it’s time to hit the phones.

    Set a goal for yourself: X number of calls in one hour, or in one day. Reward yourself for making your goal (pick a meaningful reward for you).