Most people are familiar with cold calls, which are contacts you make via telephone with potential customers who are not expecting your call. While cold calling can be very effective, not everyone is comfortable with this form of marketing. For many, the preferred method is the hot call. Hot calls are contacts you make via telephone with potential customers who are expecting your call. They are anticipating your call because someone has referred you to them. Referrals are one of the most effective ways to increase your customer base and require 3 simple steps:
1. Create a list of individuals that can serve as a referral. Develop a list of people who are familiar with your work and can speak on your behalf. A good place to start includes the following:
• Current & previous customers
• Current & previous employers
• Professional association colleagues
• Participants in seminars you have facilitated
• People in your address book and mailing lists
• People in your business card holder
• Social acquaintances from community organizations
• Friends, family members and neighbors
• Social media contacts
2. Ask for a referral and request the person’s direct involvement. Ask the person if he or she knows anyone who can benefit from your products and services, and then have this individual make the first contact (if you make the first contact, it’s just another cold call). Make it easy for the referring party by developing materials he or she can use to introduce you (e.g., brochure, standard referral letter). Also, make sure you get as much information as possible about the potential customer.
3. Make the hot call. After the referring party has had a chance to make the first contact, follow-up with the potential customer and immediately provide something of value (e.g., product sample, book, newsletter, free demonstration, product discount, advice). This is much more effective than making a pure sales pitch and is an excellent way to get the person interested in what you have to offer.