What is the best way to reach out to potential clients? What are the biggest mistakes in cold outreach I’m seeing across the board? On today’s episode I’ll be discussing cold outreach: the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Welcome to the Same Side Selling Podcast. I'm your host, Ian Altman. One of the most common questions I get in our Same Side Selling Academy Coach's Corner sessions each month has to do with cold outreach. It usually comes in the form of what's the best way to have cold outreach to a client or prospect?

Well, the best way is to not do cold outreach at all. Instead, have some sort of warm introduction. But what I want to focus on today is, what are some of the worst ways that you can start with cold outreach, and why are those ways so bad? So that hopefully, you can determine if, maybe you're doing some of those things, that those aren't a good idea. And then, I'll give you different ways that you can reach out to people instead.

So, the first way is, people reach out listing their services. I had an email just the other day, and for those people watching on video, you can see a screenshot of it that says, "Hi, I'm reaching out from such and such a company, and here are all the services that we offer: web design, HTML, Java. You name it. They listed like every type of electronic technology out there. Then they said, "So you won't even know that we're in another country," which was kind of odd that they would lead with that and then proceeded to talk about how maybe we should set up a time to talk. Well, the problem is, the easiest way to commoditize yourself is to just throw out there a bunch of services that are very generic in nature. Now, if all you do is say, here are the services I provide, then why would I hire you other than if you were the least expensive option? And the reality is, if I really needed those services, I want someone with deep expertise, not someone who can just list a bunch of bullets on an email. That's a horrible way to do it. So, the first one is listing yourself as a series of services which commoditize yourself.

The second horrible thing is people who reach out based on price. So, they say, "Oh, we would love to talk to you because we're a cheaper alternative for doing x, y, and z." Now, if the first one is commoditizing yourself, the second one is just underselling or undervaluing what you do. In essence, what you're saying is we may not be good, but we're certainly cheap. And that's a terrible way to approach things because the message you are sending to potential clients right away is it's all about price.

The third way that is a horrible way, as well, for reach out is dishonesty. Meaning, I've seen this recently peeking its ugly head on LinkedIn and in emails, where someone reaches out and says, "Oh, do you have capacity for additional clients?" And people say, "Well, yeah, how can I help you?" "Oh, well, we actually sell marketing services. So, if you have capacity for additional clients, then we don't really need your services, but maybe you could buy our services for marketing." So, it's kind of a bait and switch. Hey, I might be interested in your services. Oh really? Well, not really. Now, in my case, I pretty much operate at capacity, not really an issue, so I kind of play with these people and say, "Well, I'm kind of at capacity right now. What kind of help are you looking for?" And then, of course, they usually either don't respond. Or they'll respond and say, "Well, actually, I'm looking for people who might need our type of services to help them find clients," which is, once again, they start with something dishonest.

And years ago, in my prior business, I would get cold calls all the time, people who snuck through the gauntlet of our administrative assistants, and oftentimes when people would say is, they would either lead with, "Oh, I'm a friend of his from school," which means that we get on the phone and find out they weren't. Or they would say, "I'm calling from his child's school." So now, of course, I would immediately pick up the phone. And then they'd say, "Well, actually, I'm calling from such and such a company. I want to schedule an appointment with you." To which I would say, if the way you first reached out to me was dishonest, what makes you think I would ever do business with you again? So, this notion of these types of outreaches, or the notion of "Hey, can I schedule a time with you on Tuesday at 10 am? On Thursday at 4 pm?" whatever it happens to be, these are desperation moves. It's all about "Hey, can I schedule time with you to pitch you on my company's products or services?"

So, what should you do instead? Well, what you want to do is you want to think about what types of problems or symptoms do you treat that these individuals might be facing? Do your research in advance. Look for, in essence, triggering events that might create a necessity for what it is that you do. And then, if you cannot get a warm connection from someone who knows them already on LinkedIn, then your cold outreach would be, we work with people just like you, in your industry. So, and I want you to be specific in that way -- not something generic like that. But we work specifically with chefs in multi-unit restaurants. We work specifically with IT directors in enterprise companies. We work specifically with lawyers who are running large legal practices, whatever it happens to be. They often come to us when they're facing one of these two or three challenges, boom, boom, boom. And though we've delivered great results for many of them, not everyone's the right fit for how we approach that. But if you know someone who might be facing one of those issues, I'm happy to schedule a few minutes to talk to you to see whether it might be worth a closer look.

And so, the idea is we're disarming the notion that we're just there to sell something. We're acknowledging that other people come to us to help in those areas, but we may not be able to help that individual. It creates an authentic way of connecting to somebody because now you're saying here are the kinds of issues that we solve, but not everyone's a right fit.

So once again, we want to make sure that when you're reaching out to people, that you're not falling into one of those first three traps. First, you want to make sure that you're not commoditizing yourself by just listing out your services. The second one is you want to make sure that you're not leading with price because then you're telling people, all it matters is price. And third, make sure that you're reaching out with integrity and honesty. So, don't use some deceptive practice, don't use these silly ideas like "Hey, can I get on your calendar at 10 am, tomorrow, or 3 pm on Tuesday?" Those are horrible approaches.

Instead, reach out by describing the types of challenges that you solve. You can even share case studies of different companies. And what I would suggest is, come up with several different steps in a sequence. You see the first one. You send out this message. Then you send out a second one that says, you know, "You didn't respond to this other one. Here are a couple of the things we've been hearing lately. How common are these?" You're trying to start a dialogue. And as soon as someone picks back and gives you some level of interest, don't just jump into a pitch. Say, what was it that caught your attention? I want to make sure I fully understand what you're doing because I don't want to waste your time if we can't help. Because fundamentally, you want to focus your time on the people you can help the most and not waste your time or their time if it's someone you can't really help all that much.

And these are the types of things that we see in the Same Side Selling Academy, every month, every week, these types of interactions, these types of ideas that people kick around to come up with different strategies that we share together. And if you feel like that might be a community that you would benefit from, feel free to reach out. We'd love to talk to you. For now, it's Ian Altman. I'll see you on the next episode of the Same Side Selling Podcast.