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Marketing – Cold Calling

It’s cold outside…so what better time to talk about Cold Calling… Is it still a useful tool or should “Smile and Dial” be relegated to the trash bin of history?  You CAN make it work for you (or kick it to the curb) with the aid of some hard and fast ground rules. Tune in as The BOSSES help you tame the dreaded dinosaur know as Cold –Call-osaurus.


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. Smile and dial works, but only if you have a great ‘phone personality’.

  2. Rejection over the phone or otherwise, requires resilience.

  3. Do research before you call.  Know the person, their industry and what they want/need from you.

  4. The best sales people don’t sell you, they “help you.”

  5. Make sure you have a company name/caller ID that doesn’t make people run for the hills

  6. The phone can be a potential source of stress for the person on the other end, so don’t sell, just chat.

  7. Don’t state the obvious. VO actors who profess to be professionals are often viewed as anything but.

  8. If you are intimidated by cold calling, there are other options. Try a warm e-mail.

  9. Most great sales leads happen through referrals. Name drops never go out of style.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Recorded on ipDTL


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Anne: Hey, Gabby. Before we start the show, I want to talk about a really cool product that we have on the VO BOSS website, and it’s called the Bookout Builder.

Gabby: Yeah, I’m excited that we’re talking about this because there is a little bit of misconception about this product, and I want to clear that up.

Anne: Ah yes. While it was originally intended as a method of communicating with your potential clients about when your studio was booked out or when you were booked out.

Gabby: Regular, we were saying monthly basis —

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: Or quarterly, either one.

Anne: You don’t entirely have to do that for your monthly Bookout Builder.

Gabby: Yes. You’re not restricted to just that. We’ve had people say to us, “oh, but you know, I don’t have dates where I’m unavailable every month, and I don’t travel that much,” and we’re like, “OK.” [laughs]

Anne: That’s fine with us.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: We have got three different options for you: bookout dates, featured videos, and featured clients.

Gabby: As well as topical and seasonal type things that just have to do with what’s current. You don’t have to feel obligated to have a bookout inside of your Bookout Builder.

Anne: Exactly, and this is one way that you can have a consistent way to communicate with your potential clients.

Gabby: Plus, it’s so affordable, guys, oh my gosh.

Anne: Super affordable.

Gabby: Please go to, click on the shop tab.

Anne: The branding and marketing section, yup. And now on to the show. Welcome, everybody, to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with my lovely cohost, Gabby Nistico. Hey, Gabby.

Gabby: Hi, brr.

Anne: Gabby!

Gabby: It’s cold outside. I’m freezing.

Anne: It is cold! What is happening, oh my gosh.

Gabby: It’s cold, it’s December!

Anne: It is December. Right? What is that, what is that noise? Do you hear that Gabby, it sounds like a —

Gabby: Oh, yeah, yeah, that would be my heat. That’s what that is.

Anne: [laughs] Are you kidding? Wait, you have heat, you have heat in your studio there?

Gabby: Well no, I have the heat on in the house because otherwise everybody would freeze, and my toes are really cold right now.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: I mean I could put shoes on, that might help, but my toes are cold.

Anne: You know, Gabby, speaking of cold, that reminds me of discussions that I see almost, I swear on a, on a weekly basis on social media about cold things like cold calling.

Gabby: [laughs]

Anne: I think we should talk about cold calling.

Gabby: Perfect time of year, absolutely.

Anne: Perfect time of year, it’s cold out. It’s cold outside. You’re cold. How can we warm people up to us? [laughs]

Gabby: [scream laugh]

Anne: Using cold calls or cold emails? Or what are your thoughts on that, Gabby?

Gabby: Freaking hate it.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Freaking hate it. Couldn’t hate it any more.

Anne: Wow. That’s, that’s a solid [laughs] solid opinion there.

Gabby: Well, look, smile and dial works for some people. There’s a certain personality type that is totally good with it and can make it work for them. I’m not that person.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: I accept this.

Anne: [laughs] “And I accept this about my personality.” [laughs]

Gabby: Yep, it is a limitation, but I’m OK with that.

Anne: I just keep thinking, and you know because every time we’re on a meeting, right, how many phone calls do I get during one of our meetings, right? [laughs] I would say during any given hour, I’m getting like two to three to four phone calls. And you know, by the time the hour is up, I just, I literally either unplug the phone, or I just want to pick it up and fling it across the room, because they’re either automated kind of calls — and like I said, I do a lot of, you know, telephony and voicemail messaging and stuff, and I certainly don’t want to shoot my own self in the foot, because I enjoy doing that type of work. But when I get a call from somebody that I don’t know, from an unassigned number or something that is not in my contact list, the hair on the back of my neck kind of stands up. And it’s just, it’s going to take a lot to get me to pick up the phone.

Gabby: You’re not alone in that. The new norm is that everyone screens calls. You are guaranteed not to get a call back unless you leave a message, and a lot of folks just don’t prefer the telephone as a way to communicate anymore.

Anne: Yeah, you know, I don’t even know if it is going to make a comeback, I mean, in the way that it used to be, really. I mean I enjoy —

Gabby: It will be retro.

Anne: Well, yeah. I do enjoy picking up the phone and talking to my clients, the ones that I know, right? I think it really helps in terms of, you know, getting quick answers and communicating effectively with your client to find out like what their needs are, but that is if I know my client, right, and I can pick up the phone and just give them a call. If I don’t know my client, there is so many unknowns, so many unknowns on both ends, right, the person that’s making the call, as well as the person who potentially will or will not pick up that call. And I think we really need to — do your research, if that is something that you feel is going to help build your business.

Gabby: I, I always give my clients the option to call me. To go over details, to discuss the job, to talk about what direction they want, whatever it might be. They almost never do. Because it goes the other way. They really, they don’t want to talk.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: Like, I’m OK with that.

Anne: We’re all so busy these days. I think that has a, that has a huge impact on it. Right?

Gabby: There is a perception of that too. There is this perception that we don’t have time to talk on the phone. You could make time to talk on the phone. It’s not that big a deal.

Anne: Yes, and I say that to my friends all the time. [laughs] Nobody is ever that busy. Right?

Gabby: True. I mean you and I talk on the phone, but I do feel like it’s a novelty.

[Both laugh]

Gabby: Like it’s, it’s pretty funny. But now let me ask you, Anne, so how do you feel about the warm lead as opposed to the cold call, because they are very different things?

Anne: Yes. I, I certainly think the warm lead is something that you can kind of grab a hold of and explore and run with. I think that that greatly increases your chances of having a successful communication with a potential client, absolutely. I think that the warm lead, and Gabby, I’m going —

Gabby: How do you define it, first of all? Yeah.

Anne: That is a good question. I was just going to say, your definition of a warm lead is what? Because I will tell you what mine is, if you tell me yours.

Gabby: OK, so — right, I’ll show you — I’ll show me — you yours and you’ll show me yours. I don’t know what the hell I’m saying. OK, yeah.

[both laugh]

Gabby: So I define it as any time I have a referral. If I have a referral from another party, that is acquainted with the person that I’m wanting to communicate with, then I can name drop essentially, find some common ground, and to me, that qualifies as a warm lead.

Anne: Yes, yes. That’s, that’s pretty much my definition as well. As a matter of fact, speaking of that, I just, just had a webinar workshop with a talent agency who goes by referrals only. That’s their number one criteria —

Gabby: Oh yeah.

Anne: — for accepting somebody into their talent agency is they first must have a referral so that they know that you’re a good person first. [laughs]

Gabby: [laughs] So —

Anne: A real person.

Gabby: That has been the L.A./New York top tier agent norm forever.

Anne: Yep.

Gabby: That’s how they do it. Yeah, you can’t even get in the door if somebody on the roster is not willing to go to bat for you.

Anne: Well, I, yeah. I absolutely think that that is, that is the way to acquire clients successfully, I think. You must at least have a warm lead. A mouth to mouth referral like kind of, yes, speaking, “I have worked with this person, and she is amazing, and I think that should give her a call, hire her for your next project,” that kind of thing. I think that that is amazing. I don’t think it gets better than that in terms of a really great lead, if somebody verbally is going to talk to somebody and refer you. Now there’s also a warm lead that can be a warm lead in an email. So I think that there’s, there is also a cold email, right, and then there is a warm email. So I think the warm email kind of follows like the warm, you know, testimonial, from a person’s like mouth of saying, “yeah, she is great.” There is also an email where like you mentioned before, name drop and say, “it’s so nice to meet you, my good friend and colleague —

Gabby: Hold on. My cat just opened to the studio door.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: No [beep] My cat just opened the freaking door.

Anne: That is why I love cats. They’re so smart.

Gabby: No, he’s, he’s Houdini. It’s [beep] up. He’s not right in the head. How the crap did he just open my studio door?

Anne: Which, Ragnar?

Gabby: Yes.

Anne: Oh God, he’s so cool.

Gabby: He opened it. Like —

Anne: He’s so cool.

Gabby: He — no. He’s scary. He’s terrifying.

Anne: Scary cat. Oh goodness.

Gabby: OK. So sorry, continue.

Anne: So yeah, going back to the warm email, cold email, so I think warm email, as you were talking about before, you could in an email name drop and say, “my good friend and colleague Gabby Nistico referred me to talk to you.” And that I think is, is probably the second best opportunity to meet somebody that could end up in a successful, you know, a successful relationship.

Gabby: People are less likely to be a [beep] and less likely to blow you off when they know there’s a mutual acquaintance.

Anne: So true. And especially true in this day and age when we, again — I talk about — I think every episode, Gabby, I talk about this influx of like digital stuff flying at us on any given day. We have so much information coming at us. We need to be able to, to weed through, right, the clutter and find the stuff that means something to us. The same is true with the emails, right? I mean how many times do you look? I don’t open every email that I get every day. I don’t think you do either. We know that I don’t because I have like 700,000 unread emails… in my Gmail. [laughs] But gosh, I don’t, I don’t open things necessarily from people that I don’t know. But if somebody I know sends me an email, I am how many more percentage or times likely to open up that email? If you send me an email —

Gabby: Oh, of course.

Anne: Oh I click on it just almost like 99.9% of the time.

Gabby: Smart business people today are compartmentalizing their emails into different folders. They are setting up rules for their Gmail accounts. They are making it so that they can better prioritize their, the email communications that they receive and know who has to take top priority. God knows I do that, so.

Anne: So, so than in terms of am I going to open that email, right, if it’s a warm email, right, if I can differentiate between warm and cold, warm being I recognize who it is from, I recognize may be something in the subject line or someone in the subject line, referral from a name, right, that helps. And then there is also that header text where you can read a portion of what is, you know, in the email, and that — I use Gmail to read my emails. I am sure everybody has like their own email system, but they usually show like a preview. And so anything in the preview that might indicate that I have knowledge of who this person is, then I am more inclined to open it. And I think that it’s so important to kind of have that competitive leading-edge to be able to get work and to be able to communicate and acquire new clients.

Gabby: I think what is absolutely critical about the cold calling process, and even the warm lead process, is understanding that when you first reach out to someone, you are doing just that, just making an introduction. You should not be out to sell them in that initial contact, and you should not be super aggressive in that initial contact. And you also don’t want to come off as desperate in that initial contact.

Anne: Yes.

Gabby: It really just should be, “hi. This is who I am. We have a few mutual people in common. I thought I would reach out, say hello.”

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And you know, you chat.

Anne: Excellent point. Excellent points. I also think too that it has to be about them. [laughs]

Gabby: Totally.

Anne: Not necessarily, you know, when you are talking about trying to get someone’s attention, you know, I’m, I’m looking at, you know, thousands of emails coming through my inbox every day, and if it doesn’t pertain to me or something that I’m working on or something that I need, right, at the moment, I’m not going to open it. But if it does pertain to something that I need, someone I know, or, or any one of those indicators, then I am more likely to open it up. So if you are cold emailing or cold calling, either way, I think, you are going to have to be very not aggressive, and it has to be I think about them, not about you so much. Because what is going to incline — what is going to make me want to know you? What is going to — if you can help me in some way, that’s great. And I thinkt hat that just shows professionality and a, and a genuine kind of wanting to help you out, and that’s going to make me want to respond.

Gabby: That right there, the wanting to help, right? The best sales people don’t sell you. They help you.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: And you don’t even realize you’ve been sold. [laughs]

Anne: Yeah. Yeah, exactly

Gabby: It’s afterward you are like, “oh my God. [laughs] I spent so much money with that person.”

Anne: [laughs] Where did, what just happened?

Gabby: Because they were so helpful.

Anne: What just happened?

Gabby: And, and they build trust, and they build likability, right, all of these things that are, that are so —

Anne: Know, like, and trust. Isn’t it?

Gabby: Yeah, there we go, that is it.

Anne: Marketing 101, know, like, and trust. And I’ll tell you what, it’s so hard, cold calling, like the old-school cold calling pick up the phone. There’s a certain element of vintage to it where I like to hear that somebody’s a human being on the other end of it. And so in that first split second — number one, actually, think about it, right, a cold, actual, physical call similar to an email, right, the first thing I do is I hear the phone ring, or I hear the email ding that I’ve got — I don’t even, I don’t even do that anymore, but I look at my email, right, and I see something has happened visually, or I hear something like my phone rings. I look at the caller ID. If it’s not somebody I recognize, ohh, I’m very hesitant, very hesitant.

Gabby: Yeah.

Anne: So cold calling too, if you’ve your phone number registered, you should make sure you have a company name that’s not maybe gonna scare people off. Or if you have something like right now I get a lot of invalid numbers. That scares me.

Gabby: Yeah, if you leave a message, it shouldn’t be vague.

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby: I will never call back a vague message. And I get them all the — “hey, Gabby, it’s so-and-so. Just call me when you can.” I’m like, “who the hell are you? No.”

Anne: Oh my gosh, I am so glad that you said that. “Can you just — I’d love to talk to you for a moment. If you could just give me a call back, I would really appreciate it.” And I’m like, “I have no idea who you are, and I have no idea what you’re looking for, so no. I’m sorry.” I just, I don’t really have time to do, to do that.

Gabby: No.

Anne: So good, good advice on that one.

Gabby: I was talking about that earlier. I was, I was having a moment today where the phone was actually stressing me out.

Anne: Mmm yes, yes. You were telling me about that.

Gabby: I mean, my gosh. I don’t get a ton of phone calls not compared to other types of industry, so I can only imagine someone whose job is very heavily phone oriented, like it really does. So you have to think about that. You have to know it’s already potentially a source of stress for the person on the other end.

Anne: Yeah, oh gosh. I feel sorry, I feel sorry for people who have to do those calls. I really do. Sometimes I play them a nice piece of music. I’ll actually answer the phone, and I’ll play a lovely piece. And sometimes it makes them hold on a little bit longer, and then they’ll hang up on me.

Gabby: A nice concerto.

Anne: Yeah, you know. It varies on the week. I will play them music. Sometimes picking up the phone and playing music into it is less insulting to my ear than the phone ringing off the hook. So I hear the phone, I look to see if I recognize anybody that’s calling me, same thing with email, and then, it’s going to be the first few words out of your mouth, right, are going to determine whether I decide. And I hate to admit, but I mean it’s gotten to the point where I hang up on people. I hate to be rude. I try not to be rude, but I will hang up on people if they are not saying things that I want to hear. And so — or if they’re not listening to me. So that’s very similar to how I think an email should be approached. You know? It should be, it should be coming from somebody I know or associated with somebody that I know.

Gabby: My thing with the cold email is try to avoid doing two things, one, stating the obvious, and two, coming across as desperate, because I think both of those are killers. It happens way too much. I see way too many voice actors who — “I’m a professional voice actor!” People who profess to be a professional —

[both laugh]

Gabby: — are usually viewed as anything but.

Anne: Well and again that becomes, that becomes centric, centric on you and not the client.

Gabby: You’re right.

Anne: OK, yes, you are a professional voice actor, great, awesome, good for you.

Gabby: OK. [laughs]

Anne: It’s not, how, how are you going to help me? And I think you just need to kind of think about it and definitely, if you are going to go that route, you need to absolutely research the person that you are contacting, research their industry, research how they might need you and how you might serve them.

Gabby: And I will reiterate what I said at the beginning of this. If you’re the type of person who can smile and dial, and you’re OK with the no’s and the rejections and the time and energy that has to go into cold calling, go for it.

Anne: Yeah.

Gabby: I don’t — if that’s you —

Anne: I don’t completely — yeah.

Gabby: Yeah, that’s great. But if you don’t have that or you’re intimidated by it, why? You don’t have to. There’s other options.

Anne: Well, there’s lots of other options. There’s, you know, the warm email. Either find somebody that you know, find a referral, find something familiar, and then gear that email towards them and how you can serve them. I’d like to give a big, huge, warm shout-out to our favorite sponsor, ipDTL. You too can record and sound like a BOSS and find out more at

Gabby: They are the coziest. We love them.

Anne: [laughs]

Gabby: And if you want to warm up with more BOSS, we can, we can, we can light a bit of a fire under you. We’ve got lots of ways to do it.

Anne: We are hot.

Gabby: Go to the website, Facebook, Instagram, we are hot, I know. YouTube, all of our socials. There’s plenty of ways to engage us, and we are always looking for our next BOSS Fix. If you have questions or something that you want the BOSSes to answer, go ahead and get us an email. We’ll do that.

Anne: Awesome. You guys are amazing. You’re all hot. See you next week.

Gabby: Bye.

Anne: Bye.

Announcer: Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your hosts Anne Ganguzza and Gabby Nistico. All rights reserved, Anne Ganguzza Voice Talent in association with Three Moon Media. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.