an online conversation
about design management


Cold calling and prospecting

There's been a lot of discussion lately about how much people dislike having to cold call. It's hard not to agree – it does suck. I have had experts tell me that cold calling is just a signal to the prospect that you are a telemarketer that is selling design today and mobile phones tomorrow.

I have subscribed to that idea in the past but I am beginning to change my mind.

Part of what I do in the Design Business Council is to show business owners how design can benefit their bottom line. I have developed a number of tools to analyse a business and identify how they are using design now and how they could use it better.

When I started doing this I looked at how I could gain access to the right person in the right business. The most obvious approach was cold calling.

Some of the most common reasons for cold calling are:

  •  you're a start-up and you need clients now
  •  you're just lost a couple of clients and need to replace the revenue now
  •  you've got lazy about other, ongoing marketing efforts and you need more clients now or
  •  your existing clients are cutting costs and you need to replace them with better-paying clients now.

I decided to avoiding cold calling by marketing the Design Business Council to my prospects every week. Not in a crash and burn type way, more of a drip, drip, drip method.

Regardless, I still find I need to cold call. And it's very demoralising when the activity doesn't result in immediate new business. So I decided to rethink cold calling.

Linkedin is my new cold calling tool.

This is how I do cold calling on Linkedin.

I segment the markets where I can show success in using design to add value. Then I search my local area in Linkedin. This allowes me to identify the people to cold call. I craft a connection request that refers to their industry and my successes. This usually includes a link to an example on my web site.  I send off the request and wait for a response. Once I receive a response I follow up with a request to meet or send a credentials document.

If I don't get a response I look at their company Linkedin page for contact details and send them a credentials document.

I measured this approach against the old fashioned telephone cold calling and found that my response rate doubled.

So, don’t give up cold calling just switch from telephones to Linkedin.

Greg Branson

Greg’s passion is the research and development of methods that improve design management and the role of design in business.

Greg has developed a series of business tools to help designers manage their business better along with a series of workshops that show designers how to use these tools.