The Dreaded Cold Call

cold-call-300x205Does the very phrase “cold calling” send shivers down your spine? A September 2014 Forbes article, 10 Sales Techniques To Never Cold Call Again, notes that “cold calling is a dreaded and daunting task that strikes fear down the backs of even the most fearless of marketers.”

I’m not a stranger to cold calling. As a fairly new college graduate, I worked at the Volunteer Legal Services in Oakland, CA, where part of my job was to call attorneys and ask them to accept pro bono cases. Most of them said no. But since then, I’ve had very little need to cold call—and frankly have avoided it, believing that it was simply inefficient. When Mark, one of my first unofficial business coaches, yelled at me because I wasn’t making enough cold calls to drum up business, I blatantly ignored him.

Nothing Else is Working!

When the print version of my book, How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile, became available in November 2015, I had a dream that the book would be snapped up by every college bookstore in the country. But I soon faced the harsh reality that this was not happening—not even slightly.

Without a publisher and its attendant publicity machine, I had a challenge: How would I let college bookstores know about the availability of my book? One thing was for sure: My dream would not be realized if I didn’t do something.

I reached out to my resources for help. A friend who has connections to college career services failed to return my emails and phone calls. “Contact the National Association of College Bookstores (NACS),” said my business coach. So I contacted NACS and discovered, after 3 months of waiting, that “We don’t have a good means of single title promotion.” I tried going to the marketing department at the distributor of my book (Ingram), who came back with, “It would be up to you as the ‘publisher’ to promote and market your book and direct people to our distribution partners to place an order.”

Gee thanks.

Biting the Bullet—Picking Up the Phone

Finally, it got through my thick skull that there was no easy way to do this. So I started cold calling. First, I walked into the University of Wisconsin Bookstore in my home town of Madison. They ordered two copies. Encouraged, I called the Yale Bookstore (my alma mater). They ordered two copies too! Not only that, but the Barnes & Noble in Madison was happy to order a couple of copies for their shelves!

I called some more college bookstores. Some of them said no. Others, to my great joy, said yes! Here’s where my book will be carried as of this writing:

  • Yale University
  • NYU
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison (downtown and Hilldale)
  • University of Chicago
  • Evergreen State College
  • Alabama University
  • Iowa State University
  • University of Utah
  • Barnes & Noble, East Towne Mall, Madison, WI

Here I was looking for a broad solution that would not require the work of making individual phone calls to individual bookstores. I was so stuck in thinking there must be a better way that I missed out on the opportunity to do it the old fashioned way. Once I started calling, I started getting results.

1Of course I can’t possibly call every book store in the country and ask them to carry my book. But I can call a lot of them, and if people buy the book, at some point I trust the balance will tip. Coach Mark, if you’re reading this, guess what?! I’m making cold calls. And it’s working.

If you like How to Write a KILLER LinkedIn Profile and want to see the print book in your local Barnes & Noble or other bookstore, please let them know about it and let me know if I can add to the above list! And if there’s a situation in your life where you’re waiting for a magical solution, maybe that solution is simply picking up the phone, and dialing.

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