Why cold calling as a voice over is so important

businessman-cellphone-communication-859264For many people, cold calling is a dirty word (or two words, for my more pedantic readers). The sheer thought of calling a complete stranger to offer your company’s goods and/or services can be terrifying to some. And that is understandable. More and more, our experience of the cold call is one of some foreign call centre using an automatic dialler and a computer to ask you about the accident that we’d had in the last three years that wasn’t our fault.

But that is what’s known as B2C selling – Business to Consumer. In the B2B world – Business to Business – things are a little different. You see, in B2C, the net is cast very wide. The only qualification one needs to receive a call is a working phone number. There’s a chance you may have a need for the service on offer, but there’s also a 99.999% chance that you absolutely will not.

In B2B, potential clients are researched first – even if that simply means looking for all the companies that offer a particular service. For example, if you sell cleaning supplies, you could call restaurants, offices, schools, but you probably wouldn’t call other cleaning supply companies.

In voiceover, the cold calling net can be cast very wide here too. The more obvious examples are video production companies, commercial production companies, radio stations, animation studios, the list goes on. But of course there are less obvious examples, such as the local accountancy firm whose telephone greetings are just awful, or perhaps a museum that offers audio tours.

The point of this article was not to provide a list of potential clients to the voice over community. Voice actors have access to some amazing coaches who can help them focus on their business acumen, rather than simply the quality of their performances.

So what do I need for effective cold calling?

For the voice over artist, these cold calls can be the easiest thing in the world, and it all comes down to one word.

BELIEF

I’ll explain. I used to work in promotional merchandise. I sold everything from pens and USB sticks to branded ant farms and chocolate Christmas cards. I loved it, and when the merchandise was genuinely unique I loved telling my clients about it. But just how exciting was it to call someone to talk about a pen? Granted, there may have been occasions when the pen was the best option, but excited about a pen? Hardly.

But the voiceover artist, has a range of products that all fall under one banner – HIM OR HER SELF.

A cold call if you are a voice over artist is incredibly easy because the enthusiasm is genuine. You have a love for your product (well, one would hope so, but that’s a whole other post for a whole other day). So your belief really should not be in question. You believe in your product and you want to share it with someone whom you believe will benefit from it.

Once you recognise that fact, you’ll quickly see that you are not really ‘selling’ at all – and people who hate cold calling really do regard it as a hard form of salesmanship.

No, what you’re doing is telling someone about what you do and asking them if you can help them. Granted, when a voice over actor is hired for a job, you could argue that it’s the client helping them, and that’s the point – you are helping each other. The client needs a voice – the voice needs a client. So you see you’re actually match making.

The voice over artist marketplace is a little over crowded. Entry level freelancer sites like Fiverr and People Per Hour, along with products like VOGenesis, have allowed anyone with a computer and a voice, the chance to consider themselves voice over artists.

To those so called ‘voice over artists’ that are reading this post, I get it. We all have to start somewhere, but the best thing you can do is to invest in your craft and your studio. Get coaching, consult with studio engineers, speak with experienced voice over artists and then take a finely crafted product to market – confident that you are worth more than $5 for your time.

Because once you have that product – once you are ready to present yourself to clients with realistic and respectful budgets – once you BELIEVE – then getting on that phone should be a breeze.

Now I’m not going to provide you with a killer pitch here for two reasons. One – I don’t want to ‘give away the keys to the store’ and two – because you don’t really need one. “Hello, my name is Paul J Rose and I’m a voice over artist. I was hoping I could speak with someone there who works with your voice overs.” It’s simple and straight to the point, and here’s where it gets really interesting….

No one will hang up on you, hurl abuse at you, wind you up to waste your time or any of those other things that we do to people when they invade our space to offer us stuff that we don’t want. The worst thing that could happen is that you’ll be told that they don’t work with voice over, in which case you thank them for their time and it’s onto the next call.

The cold call is a journey, so what’s the first step?

But let’s just wind back a couple of seconds and let me see if I can make this whole cold calling ordeal even easier for you. You see before you even start to dial, you need to ask yourself one very important question. “What do I want from this call?”

It would be foolish to think that you’ll call, say, a video production company to introduce yourself as a voice over artist and that they’ll respond with, “Thank Heavens you called – we’ve just had a five figure job come in and we’ve literally no idea how to find a voiceover!”

No, realistically, you’re going to be asked to send in your demo, and that is just fine. You now have the contact details of someone who you may be able to help in the future and he or she is expecting your demo. Nothing scary about that, is there?

All there is to do at that point is send your details and make a note in your diary when it would be good to call again. And following up is important. There have been numerous occasions where people I email will simply consign me to the pile of other voice over artists looking for work, but then three months later, another call reveals a different contact, a new opportunity and eventually to a booking.

On other occasions, I’ll hear nothing for months or even years and will then receive a call or email from out of the blue telling me that they have a project for which they think my voice would be perfect – and we all love receiving those calls!

It’s a cliche but people will say “Right place, right time” a lot in the voiceover industry. The best way to be in the right place at the right time is to be in as many places as you can, as often as you can. Cold calling, affords you the best opportunity with which to do just that.

Can I get some more help with this?

If you are an aspiring voice over and looking for training and guidance, then there are two resources toward which I am happy to point you. Nancy Wolfson from Braintracks audio is a worldwide voiceover coach. She is in high demand – and if you get the chance to work with her, you’ll know why. For more training and guidance, take a look at Gravy for the Brain who are doing incredible things to serve the UK (and now international) voice over business.