[IMGCAP(1)]Mark Twain once said, “The report of my death was an exaggeration,” upon learning that a newspaper carried his obituary. Talk about a bad way to start your day! “Honey, do I look that bad because people said I’m dead?”

Could the same be true for cold calling? We all see announcements for seminars or webinars offering us, for a price, the secret to “Never Cold Call Again.” But don’t those offers fall under the category of cold calling? Just wondering. So before we rush off to the grave site, maybe we should see if there is a need for an autopsy for cold calling first.

Your firm will grow via four direct avenues:

1. Current clients: They add new services that we provide for them, which means new revenues. They may also provide us with a referral that we convert into a new client. More new revenues.

2. Centers of Influence: Bankers, attorneys, investment advisors and other professionals that because of our reputation, performance and expertise refer their clients and/or prospects to us because they know we will do a good job for them. If we again convert them over to us, bingo, more new revenues.

3. Your own initiatives: Here is where cold calling creeps into the conversation. Majority of professionals are not big fans of cold calling (and that’s on a good day). However, given the competition, the economy and the need to continually seek out potential new clients, more professionals are finding themselves out on the street looking to uncover new opportunities. And that’s when we see a bit of the rub. It’s one thing to hear internally, “We need more new business, so go out there and get it.” Easier said than done. First you need to identify an opportunity, but that does not guarantee that you will convert them. Plus, even if you are successful in uncovering a new business opportunity, you may have a long courtship before they sign on the dotted line. And that means follow up and cultivating the opportunity. This is not a one and done, where you meet someone and leave with a new client. There are not too many businesses out there on a street corner holding up a sign that reads, “Help!! I need a new CPA firm.”

4. Acquisition: Look to merge in another firm to increase your revenues.

There are also digital and social media marketing, as well as walk-ins that can help grow your business. But if you are looking for the biggest impact for revenue growth, the four direct avenues of growth have been there in the past, and they are there now and will be in the future. It all depends how enthusiastically you embrace the four avenues that will answer the question of “how can we grow our firm?”

As a professional service provider, along with our sisters and brothers in the financial services world, we all work in a common field: We work with people and businesses to handle their unique set of circumstances. That’s why cold calling is so important. The way we interact with others is crucial for our success and to achieve the goals of growth for our firms. We may have extensive expertise, but if that message does not get out to our targets, marketplace, COIs, clients or prospects, how will others know of our capabilities?

Cold calling itself can have various appearances:

A. Is it going out to an office building or industrial park, walking into a business, handing out your business card, asking for the business card of the owner, CEO or president, and then following up with a phone call or email requesting a meeting? Yes.

B. Is it going out to a networking, chamber of commerce, civic, charity or association event and introducing yourself to new people and exchanging business cards? Yes.

C. Is it going to your kid’s Little League game, striking up a conversation with another parent, and in the course of the conversation, finding out their role in the business they work at? Yes.

D. Is it going to a room full of accountants from different firms, and to your surprise in the course of exchanging war stories with other accountants, you hear about the specific needs of their clients that you can offer your professional expertise to them? Yes. There are some attorneys that can do nothing but contact other attorneys offering their expertise to them. Wouldn’t the incumbent accountant be concerned that you will steal their client? You won’t steal if you want more referrals from them going forward. You created a referral source from a competitor. That’s pretty good to do!

E. Is it picking up the phone and making some cold phone calls from the warmth of your office? Yes.

F. Is it sending out target emails saying you would like to contact them to discuss their business and your accounting services? Yes.

Cold calling may provide more new business opportunities than COIs or your own client base. And yet, cold calling is not on the bucket list for most people. But the returns and rewards could overflow any bucket.

So if you walk past a cemetery and hear laughter from a grave, it may be laughing at professionals who buried themselves too early to do any cold calling. The positive results of cold calling will outnumber the “why should I cold call?” questions.

Nicholas D. Keseric Jr., president of The Marketing Seeds Co., is a provider of outsourced marketing and business development initiatives and services for banks, accounting, law and investment management firms, and can be contacted at (708) 508-8503 or nick@themarketingseeds.com.

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