Whenever I give a talk or deliver a workshop I eventually get around to sharing one of the most important elements of success on the telephone: It’s not about you!

When it comes to cold calling, if you understand this, you will always – and I mean ALWAYS – be successful.

In my last blog I talked about creating and maintaining information on your customers and potential customers. But that’s not the first step in the cold calling process. The first step is accurately identifying your potential customers. Who are they?

Your potential clients are people or companies that have a problem you can solve. They have a pain you can ease or even eliminate. Working with you will increase their success and improve their bottom line.

It is all about them!

Because if you pick up the phone and pitch someone you don’t know a product or service they don’t need, that has no value for them, your telephone experience is going to be, in a word, awful.

I think this is one of the major reasons why cold calling is so difficult for many people. At some point in their business life they took a great idea or product to the wrong audience, had a horrible experience and now have tremendous difficulty picking up the phone.

So how do you identify your potential customers? Well, sometimes it’s easy. For example, I’m about to start a project that will have me contacting the general managers of hotels. When I go to Google and type in hotel general managers, I find enough names and phone numbers to keep me busy for a month. Doing a title search on LinkedIn can be fruitful as well.

Newspapers and magazines are get sources of information. When you read about a potential customer in an article, pick up the phone and call them right away and mention how you found them. They’ll be thrilled that you noticed and your conversation will be powerful right from the start.

And there’s billboards, and television. Back in November I spent five days in Ottawa visiting family. I returned home on a Monday night, feeling a bit anxious about some advertising deadlines that were awaiting me the next morning. I’d tuned out the anxiety on the flight by enjoying a movie, and as I was standing at the airport luggage carousel, I zoned out by staring at the rolling billboard rotating through five or six different ads. In the days that followed, I sold a full-page, full colour ad to one of the advertisers on the Air Canada inflight entertainment system, and a one-third page ad to one of the companies on that revolving billboard.

Classifieds are a valuable source of leads as well. When I first started The Phone Lady, I scoured them daily, looking for companies needing to hire salespeople. I could then be certain that they had a sales force, that my phone skills workshops might be of interest. Perhaps best of all, each ad gave me a concise description of the company, provided me solid information on my new potential customer.

I’m sure there are lots of other ways to identify potential clients. (If you’d like to share one or two, I know everyone would be appreciative!) No matter what your business model, whether you intend to cold call or not, keeping an eye out for potential clients is a must in terms of your growth and prosperity.

Finally, I do owe you an update on my mostly unplanned trip to Grand Caymen. It was amazing! In addition to a lovely visit with my family, swimming with dolphins and stingrays, walking on gorgeous beaches and watching stunning sunsets, our standby flights found us flying First Class between Toronto and Grand Caymen both there and back. What’s the lesson? Planning is good and not planning – it can be good too! I know I need to practice this more to truly believe it, but I think I’m now up for the challenge.

For those of you on Twitter, know that I am there now too – I’ve finally organized tweeting about my phone life. If you want to follow along, I’d be honoured.

Until next week – happy phonework! TPL

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