A Recent Cold Calling Experience

As you may have noticed by now, I am in the guy at All Freelance Writing who talks about marketing. While most of my posts are tips and how-to articles, I wanted to give some “first hand experience advice” this time around.

Last week, I decided to make 25 cold calls to local businesses. Gasp! I am sure some of you get scared even thinking about doing this. While cold calling is never easy, it can payoff in the long run if you stick with it.

So, what type of results did I achieve? Before we get into that, let me tell you what I was trying to accomplish. My main goal was to call these businesses, get in touch with the decision maker, and then sell my freelance writing services. Pretty simple, right?

Let’s get to the numbers. Out of the 25 calls that I made, only one resulted in a new client on the spot. Believe it or not, this is pretty typical in terms of cold calling success – at least for me. It usually takes between 15 and 30 calls to find somebody who has a need for your services.

What about the other 24? Out of these, three told me they were very interested; three said to call back in a couple months; and the rest had no interest whatsoever. As you can see, even though I only landed one deal the first time around, I may be able to build on this as some of the other leads think about my proposal. Once you get your foot in the door, even if you get rejected, you have what you need to keep at it until you hear a “yes.”

I would have loved to tell you that I made 25 calls and signed up 25 new clients. But with cold calling, things just don’t work that way. If you are going to cold call to market your services, make sure you are ready for a lot of rejections. Just remember this: when you finally land a new gig it will all be worth it.

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Chris is a full-time freelance writer based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He specializes in web content, sales copy, and many other forms of writing. Chris has two books in print, as well as hundreds of articles in local and nationwide publications.

8 thoughts on “A Recent Cold Calling Experience”

  1. Chris, Thanks for posting your results (I’ve been thinking about calling rather than emailing).

    Do you mind if I ask what your response rate is for emails? Is it similar?.

  2. Wolfster – With email, I would say my success rate is a bit lower – although this is not always true. The thing about email is that people can ignore you; this is not the case with cold calls!

  3. When I first started my writing business, I made 700 cold calls (with follow-up emails) over the first few months. It was grueling, but it works. I found that, on average, for every 100 calls I would get a job, and every third or fourth job was a big one (even though they had never worked with me before). I also found that a handful apparently kept my information, and called me back weeks or months later when they needed a writer. And out of those 700 calls, I only dealt with one or two really rude people. Everyone else was professional and courteous.

  4. Chris, 1 sale out of 25 is excellent – you must have your pitch down to a T – the rest of your stats are impressive too. I know because I’ve done a bunch of cold calling over time too.

    Hope you don’t mine, but I did write an article called Cold Calling Tips for Freelance Writers ) some might find helpful.


  5. Thank you for the follow-up info, Chris. The info you provided was what I needed (I do get a response to my emails, ~1/25 but sometimes as high as 1/10, but I’ve wondered if I could get a higher response by calling…you are getting a better response with calls, so time to re-evaluate).

    Aso, @Richard and @Anne, thank you for your responses, too. I will admit that I am a giant phone coward and that is what is holding me back from making those phone calls. So Richard’s response (~1 out of 300 ipeople are rude – low number) is helpful. Anne your article also has useful tips.

    I’m looking for more clients right now, so this article is timely.

  6. Chris,

    I found cold calling much less horrendous than I thought it might be. I didn’t get any work right out of the gate but I was pleasantly surprised how many people were at least polite and possibly interested, with a few who were genuinely interested and wanted follow-up.

    I definitely use a short script that I keep on a card in front of my face. I’ve used a bit of humor in it to let the person at the other end know this isn’t life or death. It helps and I’ve gotten chuckles.

  7. I hate, hate, hate cold calling. lol I’m really good at closing deals on the phone. I’m good at verbal persuasion. But I just don’t like doing it. It always feels like such a waste of time to me compared to my other options.

    That said, if it works for you, it works for you so continued good luck with it! 🙂

  8. I have started cold calling and i have been quite successful but sometimes i encounter clients who say “call later” and then again when i call they say “call tomm.” . Should i keep chasing them ? How do you deal with such people ?


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