It's the one thing which strikes fear in to the hearts and minds of most people. Cold Calling, which is calling someone on the phone who doesn't know who you are or why you are calling. Your call is unexpected and possibly unwanted, and you need to ask them if they are interested in your product or service. The possible outcomes are scary. You could get yelled at, scolded or threatened. Remember how it feels when you get a cold call from someone else? Likely a little annoyed at least. So why in the world would you ever do this?
The answer is because it works and you are a Voiceover entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur you have to use every trick in the book. No tool can be left in the shed. Cold calling is still a valid process and if done well can yield good results.
I don't like cold calling either and it took me a little while to build my comfort and confidence. Here is a little secret I will let you in on. I've had no one yell at me or be rude so far. Your milage may vary but I think it's rare that anyone would explode on you. Why? You aren't calling to sell insurance or some random product nobody wants to hear about in the middle of their day. You are calling with a service that is very relevant to what the video production company or ad agency does. They need voiceover people and you might just be the fresh voice they have been waiting for.
So step one is to just do it, knowing that it is unlikely that anyone will get angry at you. It will feel very uncomfortable and you might even be a little awkward at first. But if you persist, you will become more and more comfortable and you'll hone your pitch. It just won't be a big deal anymore. The hardest part is picking up the phone that first time but you can do it!
Step two is to have a piece of paper or somewhere to write things down. When I first started I was so nervous I forgot to write things down and even forgot to ask some of the important questions. You are going to be asking for the person who hires Voiceover actors. If you are very lucky, you might hit the right person straight off, but that's very unlikely. The person who does answers might try to transfer you which is great, but you need to ask for the person's name they are transferring you to before they do. The transfer could fail or any other issue could leave you right back where you started. Plus, having the name of the person in change of Voiceover is gold. It's the single most important piece of information you can get. If they offer to leave a message for that person, that's fine but ask for the name! As long as you're asking, it's also good to ask for their email address.
Step three is where things get fun. You have the person on the line or you're leaving a voice message. What in the world do you say now? The most important thing to remember is to keep it simple. As with your emails, nobody wants to hear your life story or irrelevant information. Consider this an elevator pitch in which you have about 10 seconds to get your point across and they better have a good idea of what you do and what you are asking for. Go through this pitch several times and practice it on a friend until you can get through it quickly and smoothly. And be a Voice Actor, don't make it sound rehearsed.
If they say ok, send me your info you can do a little dance. Now you're going to get that elusive e-mail address. Make sure you follow up in a week to make sure they got the email and ask if they have added you to their roster or if they have questions.
If they say flat out no, we're not taking on any talent, thank them profusely and move on. And get used to it, you'll hear it a lot. It's not personal and you've got plenty of other fish to fry.
So take a deep breath, believe in yourself and pickup the phone.