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Advice from a Petrus Expert: Cold Calls 101

Tips and Tricks from Andrew Robison, Petrus President


Q:  Cold calls to prospective donors are really hard for me.  I don't like making them, and I rarely get the results I want.  Are calls a necessary part of fundraising?  How do I increase my odds of success?

A:  Cold calls are hard.  Few development professionals love to make them, but they are an essential part of the job.  To address your concerns, I turn to a series of statistics from sales pros that offer insight into the value of calls and the strategy needed to make calls and schedule more appointments.  Let's learn from them and harness the power of statistics to improve our fundraising success.


8 Sales Calls Stats the Pros Use to Land More Appointments  

1.  57% of C-level buyers prefer that salespeople call them. 

Emails are easy; we all like email.  And, it's rare to get a rejection to a cold email.  But, phone calls are still king.  If you want appointments, make phone calls your first option with email or text as the follow-up.


2.  75% of prospects are willing to make an appointment or attend an event based on a cold call alone.

 Do you think that phone calls won't work for making appointments?  The data says otherwise.  Phone calls work.  Thus, we need to learn how to do them well.  


3.  On average, it takes 6 to 8 calls to secure an appointment.

First call doesn't go well?  Second doesn't either?  Don't worry!  Fortune favors the dedicated.  Be persistent and don't give up.  


4.  Fifty percent (50%!) of prospects never receive a second call.  

Too often, fundraisers make their first call attempt and then never try again.  There is power in repitition.  If you want more appointments, track your calls and make follow-up calls.  


5.  46% more conversions are made on Wednesdays compared to Mondays.

Cleary we all have "a case of the Mondays" more than we care to admit.  You can absolutely make calls every day, but save your best prospects for Tuesday through Thursday calls.  


6. 80% of calls go to voicemail, and the call back rate is 1%.

I've been in the business for 18 years, and I still remember the time that a cold call prospect returned my voicemail.  It's that rare!  My advice:  prepare a 30 second voicemail script, leave the voicemail but immediately follow up with a text or an email, and put the prospect back into your call rotation.  


7.  84% of prospects respond well to referrals.

Prospects love their friends.  If you want to build rapport with someone you've never met, mention their friend who suggested you call.  In the same vein, never leave a meeting without asking, "who else should I be talking to about this project?"


8.  4:00-5:00 PM is the best time to connect with prospects.

Most people book their meetings for the middle of the day.  Knowing this, the last hour of the workday could be the magic hour.  Be sure to schedule your day with calls in the morning and at the end of the day.  


With these statistics, we can work to improve our cold calls to prospective donors.  Again, I know it's not easy to choose to make calls instead of sending emails, but as these statistics show, phone calls are where it's at when you want to schedule appointments with prospective donors.  Phone calls take dedication and planning, but your efforts will pay off in the end.  Be brave, be patient, be persistent, and pick up that phone.  Good luck!




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