“One of the things that I’ve been trying to get on top of in this Covid downtime, is organizing a marketing outreach. I find cold-calling very stressful. What’s odd is that, even though I’m a bit shy by nature, once I’m on a call I’m basically okay but for some reason, I get really anxious about picking up the phone to actually make the call. I’m hoping the PFRE group can offer some suggestions to help me out. Thanks.”Gabriel, in Richmond Hill, ON, Canada
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Hi Gabriel, I think it’s safe to say that most people don’t leap out of bed in the morning, all excited at the prospect of making cold calls! I’m in a unique position because I live in a small town and I have a decent market share here but I will tell you that starting out I absolutely hated cold-calling. One of the things that I did to help the process was to send an email fist, then follow up with a call. While I believe making in-person connections is the best way to go, I still think that email marketing is a good way to connect with prospective clients. For someone like yourself, who’s wary of picking up the phone, sending out an email ahead of time might make the call easier as it goes from a total cold call to a moderately warm call, if that makes sense?
If you want to reach out via email, here are a few tips to get you on track:
1. Subject lines - Keep them short and friendly rather than “sales-y”. Nobody likes getting an overly aggressive push in a subject line!
2. Think about the time of day you’re sending your email - Like many other jobs in a corporate setting, I’d guess that real estate agents aren’t likely to open their emails on a Monday morning or a Friday afternoon. I find that the middle of the week is a good time to call—either late-morning or early afternoon.
3. Show off your work - Rather than make your email all text (just like every other email they’re likely to open that day), you might want to consider inserting a reduced-sized photo that represents your best work of one of the “hero shot” rooms in a listing (i.e., kitchen, master ensuite, family room, etc).
4. Less is more - No one, and I mean no one, seems to have the time these days, to read a long email. So the longer your email is, the less likely you are to get a reply. If you can come up with a general cold-call email template and you’re not a confident writer, then there are lots of very cost-effective services out there where someone with a writing background can review your template and tighten it up for you.
5. Define a specific follow up time - I remember speaking to a friend of mine who’s a career counsellor, and she said that a best practice when writing a cover letter is to let the person know when you’ll be following up. She suggested a morning time follow-up five business days after the letter was sent. This may be a decent practice for email follow-up too.
6. Signature - Finally—and this is a no-brainer—be sure to include your phone number and a link to your website in the signature of your email. If they’ve been thinking of using a photographer for the first time, then you don’t want that person searching for your website. Even if that agent already uses a photographer, you have no idea as to the status of that relationship. If they’re thinking of making a switch, then your site’s URL ought to be there in your signature block.
Gabriel, I’ll close out this response by highlighting the awful truth of cold-calling—whether it be via phone or email. At the end of the day, you’re looking at a conversion rate of only about 2%. That is, 2 out of every 100 people you reach out to will give you a photoshoot. I don’t say this to discourage you but to offer it as a simple truth that has to be taken into consideration if you ever reach the point where you get frustrated or even worse, taking that rejection personally.
If the person you’re trying to contact doesn’t respond to your email and follow-up phone call, I’d suggest that you wait one more week and phone them again. If you still don’t hear back from them, the odds are they’re not interested right now. At this point, it might be wise to move on and consider following up much later down the road.
Those are my two cents. What advice does the community have to offer Gabriel about his aversion to cold-calling?