I have done a modest amount of cold calls over the years. When one first picks up the phone, it is incredibly awkward. You’re talking to a total stranger, and in many cases, you’re trying to get their money. Many people follow scrawled down outlines of how they think a conversation should sound go forward, but rarely if ever does a call go as planned. The caller seems like a robot, following an algorithm that leads to the wallet of the person on the other end of the line. Most people know within 10 seconds that you are calling to sell them something. They become disinterested, distant, and in some cases downright mean.
So, why call someone? Most people check their email more often than a watch these days. Wouldn’t it be easier to reach them there?
It’s true that people check email often, but that doesn’t mean that they will answer you. In most cases, your email will be deleted right off the bat- or worse- marked as junk so that any further attempts to reach the recipient end in the black abyss otherwise know as the “Junk Mail” folder.
Calling provides a path around that. It gives you an opportunity to put a voice to your “@company.com” email address. You’re not a robot, and people will appreciate that. Here are a few tips for making cold calls a little easier:
#1) Do not fear the phone.
Getting started is always the hardest part of cold calling, especially if you are new to it. You’re sitting at a desk, with a list of people in front of you. You know nothing about them except the general area where they live and their name. You don’t know what you’re going to say. You fear they will be extremely mean since you’re calling at 9 a.m. on a Monday. The last thing you want to do is pick up the phone. Phone fright is hard to overcome because so few of us use the phone on a regular basis. Most of the time, I text my friends if I need to get in touch. If I’m calling someone its usually because something bad has happened.
The only way you can overcome phone fright is to jump in the deep end. That may not sound like great advise, but realistically there is no way to wade into the shallows, feel the water temperature, and decide IF you’re going to swim when you’re cold calling. You have to jump in, because you need to sound confident. If you’re shivering at how cold a call is, your fear will be heard by the person you’re calling and you will lose control of the conversation.
#2) When calling someone, you’re not selling a product; you’re selling yourself.
You must be extremely personable to keep a person on a phone. This is not a skill you get overnight, and having a bad day will plague your calls no matter how practiced you are at cold calling. The best thing to do is try to stay relaxed, keep a smile on your face, and stay focused. If you need a snack to make yourself feel better, get one. Sleepy? Have a coffee. If it makes you feel better, do it before you start calling. Be upbeat, positive, and pleasant. If you are happy, the person on the other end of the phone will be able to tell, and will be more responsive to the conversation.
#3) Ask a ton of questions
Questions will keep conversation flowing, and will give you ammunition to use later. This derives from the simple fact that everyone likes to hear themselves talk, and more than that, they like a good listener. If you ask someone how their day is going, and they start talking about their child off at school or a broken down car, humor them. Ask about their problems even if it has nothing to do with why you called. It will make them like you. Of course, don’t let them go on for too long, look for places where you can ask them about their business or what they need to make their life easier. They may not know it, but they need you, and its your job to tell them why they need you.
#4) Make your pitch palatable.
When you find out why a person needs you; you have to tell them why they need you and your product. Think about a pitch like this:
In a restaurant, you ask about the soup de jour. The waiter says. “tomato”. Ok tomato soup, its red and plain. I’m ordering something else. If instead the waiter said, “the soup de jour is an elegant tomato basil soup made with organic tuscan heirloom tomatos and basil grown in rich volcanic soil beneath the slopes of Mt Etna” you would be far more inclined to go with it. It is still a plain red soup, but the adjectives make it sound like you would find it on the Queens table in Buckingham palace.
A pitch is no different. Your product has to sound good even if its really not that special. The best pitch comes when you believe the product really will help your customer. Those are the easiest sells. Its the customers that don’t really need the product that are the hardest. That’s when the adjectives may make the sale or break it.
5) Some people are jerks
There are many people in the world who are just mean. They will insult you, badger you, and hang up on you. The phone puts just enough of a barrier between them and you that they have no fear of speaking their mind. You will not change some of these people. The only way to deal with them is to pardon your interruption, and say you will try them later (even if they explicitly say they don’t want to talk to you). Let them calm down for a week or two, and they will have completely forgotten you. Then try them again. Maybe they were just having a really bad day when you first called, they may be fine at a later date. The key is not to let what they say hurt you. If they get under your skin, it will be evident to the next person you call. Stay positive and shrug off their insults. Calls will go poorly, and you have to accept that.
The tips listed above may seem like common sense, but I hope they help you out. Cold calls are difficult, but by staying positive and removing the fear from the phone, you can make a cold call feel like you’re chatting with an old friend.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) is one of the oldest and most reputable think tanks in the country. Founded in 1938 as the American Enterprise Association, AEI has become a premier non-partisan institution committed to promote “greater public knowledge and understanding of the social and economic advantages accruing to the American people through the maintenance of the system of free, competitive enterprise.”
In 1943, AEI moved from their original New York location to Washington, D.C. to prevent wartime price and production controls from becoming the norm. In so doing, they were on the forefront of the great migration of business and policy institutions to our nation’s capitol. Following the impressive elimination of wartime economic controls, AEI began commissioning research on legislative proposals. As of today they now research seven major areas: Economics, Foreign and Defense Policy, Politics and Public Opinion, Education, Health,Energy and the Environment and Society and Culture. Their research has remained steadfast to their initial academic objectives of “accurate, impartial, and objective” non-partisan research.
The arrival of William J. Baroody in 1954 transformed AEI into the organization that it is today. With limited resources he was able to effectively recruit leading academics for research, and effectively promote their work so that, by 1955, AEI publications began appearing in leading newspapers and journals, such as the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s.
AEI has enjoyed close relationships with several presidential administration’s, most notably Ronald Reagan’s and George W. Bush’s. Under both of the aforementioned administrations, many AEI scholars were taken on as leading architects of policy. To quote President Bush on AEI: “ I admire AEI a lot — I’m sure you know that. After all, I have been consistently borrowing some of your best people. More than 20 AEI scholars have worked in my administration.”
Their close relationships with these administrations was certainly merited. AEI has been remarkably accurate in their economic and political forecasts, predicting both the collapse of the housing bubble in 2008 and the Arab Spring. At the time, these reports were taken with skepticism, but as more of these outlooks have been proven true, there is no question that the Beltway listens when AEI speaks.
In 2008, Arthur C. Brooks took the helm of AEI. Since his arrival he has stepped up AEI’s presence on the Hill and in the media asserting ”that free enterprise is not just the most efficient economic system for America, but an expression of American values.” I could not be in more agreement with that statement.
Under the leadership of Mr. Brooks, AEI is grabbing the bull by the horns in the fight “between two competing visions of America. In one, America will continue to be a unique and exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise. In the other, America will move toward a European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, increasing income redistribution, and government-controlled corporations.” [from Mr Brooks' book The Battle, available at Amazon, $6.40]
By fostering a dedication “to open inquiry, lucid exposition, vigorous debate and continuous improvement in the institutions of American liberty”, AEI’s renowned staff, fellows, and adjunct scholars will continue to be a mighty force to be reckoned with for many years to come. For more information, please visit www.aei.org
Founded in 1985 by Grover Norquist at the request of Ronald Reagan, Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and The Americans for Tax Reform Foundation (ATRF) are a 501(c)4 lobbying and 501(c)3 educational organization that fights against any increase in tax as a matter of principle.
Their stated mission is to support “a system in which taxes are simpler, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today. The government’s power to control one’s life derives from its power to tax. [They] believe that power should be minimized.” ATR’s flagship issue, The Taxpayer Protection Pledge, is an attempt to hold often fickle politicians to their no-new-taxes campaign rhetoric by making them pledge that commitment to their constituents in writing. This pledge was launched with Ronald Reagan’s endorsement in the 1986 presidential election, and has become central for many Republicans seeking office. For many voters, myself included, this can be a make-it or break-it issue in the campaign process. Here is a list of all the pledge signers for the 112th Congress.
Outside of tax reform, ATR covers a whole host of other issues and has partnered with several affiliates to reduce government across the board. This includes efforts to cut spending and reduce the ever-widening budget deficit, reduce protectionism and establish free trade agreements, healthcare controlled by the individual, and an all-of-the-above approach to American sources of energy. Each year, ATR publishes it’s “Cost of Government Day” report. This report falls on “the day of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of the spending and regulatory burdens imposed at the federal, state and local levels.” In 2011 this day fell on August 12, and the report determined that the Federal government consumed 61.42% of national income.
In recent years the government has made many and often successful attempts to tax the internet. As a response, ATR launched Stop eTaxes as a special project to keep the internet free of the taxman’s fingers. These taxes, such as the Amazon tax or Internet Access taxes, greatly hinder interstate commerce, put states at comparative disadvantages with one another, and above all, restrict one of the greatest free-market inventions in human history- the internet.
Starting in 1997, Grover Norquist launched the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project. The project seeks to honor President Reagan by having a monument, building, road, or other public space named after the President in every county/parish in the United States. Additionally, the project encourages state governors to name Feb. 6 as “Ronald Reagan Day”. ATR believes that a man who “led us out of double-digit inflation, twenty percent plus interest rates, and double-digit unemployment” deserves such recognition. Their first undertaking was to rename Arlington, VA’s “National Airport” to “Ronald Reagan National Airport”.
With a membership of well over 60,000 individuals, and with a commitment to keeping government accountable to taxpayers, Americans for Tax Reform leads the charge in keeping your money in your wallet. For additional information on their projects, issue areas, and publications, please visit atr.org.
The Heritage Foundation was established in 1973 by Paul Weyrich, Edwin Feulner and Joseph Coors to promote conservative principles including limited government, free enterprise, individual freedom, a strong national defense, and traditional American values. Since it’s formation, Heritage has become the most widely supported think tank in America, with over 710,000 individual members. It was ranked by the University of Pennsylvania’s 2011 Global Go To Think Tanks Report as the 13th most influential think tank in the world and 7th most influential think tank in the United States. This rating comes from a large quantity of criteria including, but not limited to, Heritage’s overall output, reputation with the media and policy makers, and the relationship between policy objectives and positive social change.
With its vast resources and manpower, the Heritage Foundation covers a wide range of policy areas. Its centers and projects include: Asian Studies Center, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics, Center for Data Analysis, Center for Health Policy Studies, Center for International Trade and Economics, Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, Center for Media and Public Policy, Center for Policy Innovation, DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society, Domestic Policy Studies, Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, The Kathryn and Shelby Collum Davis Institute for International Studies, The Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom, and Thomas A. Roe Institute for Economic Policy Studies.
One of the many influential publications of the Heritage Foundation is their Index of Economic Freedom, which appears annually in the Wall Street Journal. The index ranks the economic freedom of each nation based on the Rule of Law, Limited Government, Regulatory Efficiency, and Open Markets. According to the index, the United States currently ranks 10th, a sharp decline from its 5th place ranking in 2008.
Beginning in April 2007, the Heritage Foundation undertook a new ten year initiative called “Leadership for America.” According to their webpage this initiative is ”a campaign for freedom, a new effort to conserve liberty, and a sustained, clear-headed program to rebuild the foundations upon which our future rests.” It is designed to “Fulfill the Mandate of Liberty” by reinvigorating the first principles of liberty, restoring the primary institutions of our society, expanding our economy and economic freedom, and guaranteeing America’s place as a global power in a dangerous world.
The Heritage Foundation also has an acclaimed blog called The Foundry. With contributions from many different staff and fellows at the organization as well as original investigative reporting, The Foundry ranks among the top 6,000 most visited web pages in the US, and ranks 11th in Technorati’s list of Top 100 US Politics blogs.
Robert Bluey, Director of the Center for Media and Public Policy at Heritage, hosts The Bloggers Briefing event every Tuesday. These briefings were launched to provide center-right bloggers with greater understanding of policy debates, and easier access to Heritage scholars. They can be attended in person by invitation, or via internet live stream, often with conservative leaders as guest speakers.
With many well-respected scholars, researchers, staffers, and achievements, the Heritage Foundation will continue to be the powerhouse of the conservative movement for many years to come, leading the fight in a return to the principles our great nation was founded upon.
Editor’s Note: In his new column “Foundations of Liberty” at Free the Future, author D.B. Atchison profiles organizations helping to advance the movement for liberty.
Students For Liberty (SFL) has dedicated itself to the restoration of a free society by starting with the future– the youth. Since its inception in 2008, SFL has grown from a gathering of 100 students to an organization with a presence in every continent except Antarctica, including 43 countries, and 800 student-run chapters.
SFL traces its origin to a small meeting organized by current SFL president Alexander McCobin while he was an intern at the Institute for Humane Studies. That meeting set out to develop the best practices for student organizations that are dedicated to liberty.
They determined that a successful student organization needs to fully understand liberty in order to practice it, that students with similar ideas need to be able to contact other, like-minded individuals, and that student groups need external resources to be effective. With the help of Sloane Frost, Pin-Quan Ng, and Sam Eckman (pictured right), McCobin organized the first Students For Liberty Conference, and out of its success launched the organization Students For Liberty.
The rapid growth of SFL is atypical of most newly established organizations. In the past year alone, they published their first book, The Economics of Freedom, distributing over 30,000 copies to student groups around the world. Additionally, their Facebook page grew 153% to a total of 18,800 fans in the same year. As of today, their page now has 64,970 fans showing a far greater growth rate for 2012. More statistics on growth and funding can easily be accessed in their 2010-2011 Annual Report. From their first Students for Liberty Conference at Columbia University in 2008, which attracted 100 attendees during a blizzard, to this year, SFL has grown ten-fold with the most recent Fifth Annual International Students for Liberty Conference attracting over 1,000 students from around the world.
SFL is completely run by its student members, which gives it a one-two punch of grassroots momentum. This unique structure also ensures that the issues SFL takes on are the issues that matter most to coming generations of students, and what will become the forefront issues as its members enter the political sphere. As McCobin says:
By rejecting the typical top-down model of student organizing where groups are expected to take directives from the national office… we empower students to advance liberty through whatever strategies they think will be effective on their own campuses.
As a 501(c)3 educational organization, SFL provides students with resources to combat the growth of government in one of the most bureaucratic, semi-authoritarian environments in the United States- the college campus. They provide consulting services for students, as well as one-on-one services for specific, on-campus problems. They also act as a networking group, providing students with a large umbrella of support from other students, leaders, and organizations dedicated to the philosophy of liberty. Lastly they place resources like $500 protest grants and books at a student’s disposal.
Partnering with both the Ayn Rand Institute and the Foundation for Economic Education, SFL also provides free books to students who wish to start a pro-liberty reading group. The available books include works by Ayn Rand, Frederic Bastiat, Ludwig Von Mises, and others. Additionally, they offer free webinars on various topics throughout the year, allowing students from around the world to simply click and learn liberty.
In all, Students For Liberty is an organization which continuously attracts large numbers of college students each year. They are a force that is here to stay, and a presence that will continue to grow nationally and internationally, and help guarantee a bright future for the liberty movement.SFL has taken what was once a libertarian minority in the conservative movement, given it the fresh face of youth, and, most importantly, have given the principles of the coming generation -the principles of liberty- a national voice. SFL now has presence at both CPAC and the Clinton Global Initiative, showing that they are able and willing to take the debate across all parts of the political spectrum.
Disclaimer: D.B. Atchison is an alumni of Students For Liberty at the University of Alabama
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