You make the call

Everyone knows that the telephone figures prominently in many aspects of marketing. But it is worth a slight detour to talk about the most effective uses of this tool.

Placing cold calls—unsolicited telephone calls to unknown people to try to drum up business—is uncomfortable for most of us. Consultants don't like to make cold calls, the person on the receiving end doesn't want to get them, and the response rate is low.

Yet some professionals swear by the technique. One tax accountant reports a good response rate for cold calls made to businesses close to tax time. You may find cold calls effective in limited situations. If you have sent a direct mailing to clients you don't know about an upcoming seminar, you might follow up with a call to find out if the recipient plans to attend. For the most part, though, cold calls are a waste of time.

By contrast, "warm" calls based on referrals or to follow up on contacts made at conferences, speeches, or other events are an easy, effective, and low-cost way to keep your firm's name fresh in prospects' minds. Also, you should regularly call those in your professional network and in your firm's client base to follow up on articles you have sent, discuss your most recent report, or invite them to events.

Tb avoid bugging clients and contacts, call infrequently, but have a consistent plan to keep in touch. Rehearse calls in advance and keep them short and to the point. Keep a log of your calls and document the issues you discuss. Don't try to sell on the telephone; use your calls to stay on the radar of clients, prospects, and colleagues.

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