Is cold calling permissible?

Just to get me started on the topic of client-hunting, I was recently asked a question:  “I was wondering whether Helen could
clarify the line between establishing first contact with a potential
direct customer and cold-calling; because I have a list of potential
direct customers (from former employments), but was advised against
contacting them directly since it would be cold-calling.”

My take on it:

Hm, good question – there are other ways to make first contact, like attending business breakfasts and various other events, but if you can’t “engineer chance meetings” I don’t see any reason not to cold-call, it ain’t illegal. Surely if you go about it politely it isn’t a problem – one method would be to write to your target contacts first, explain who you are etc. and tell them you would like to call them in a day or two/in the next week, if convenient, and discuss possibilities with them. I like that because it doesn’t take people aback, and if your CV/portfolio is enclosed they at least can prepare and think about your cause.

But if you have a list of named individuals and even possibly know them in person, there is no real problem with cold-calling. If done the right way it isn’t “wrong” and is only perceived as such if your contact really doesn’t want the product, I think. And in the latter case it doesn’t matter if they don’t like it, you won’t hear from them again anyway! Hard selling is the “no-no” for long-term professional relationships in my view.

As long as you aren’t using information from confidential sources and genuinely feel your contact may find your service useful, why not?

2 Responses to “Is cold calling permissible?”

  1. Iwan Davies Says:

    Hi Helen

    I agree that cold calling, while not everyone’s cup of tea, is an option. However, potential cold callers should be aware that companies can also sign up to the Telephone Preference Service, which means that explicitly do not want to receive cold calls. ITI members can check for registration with TPS by going to the website and logging in using the details that can be found in the ITI website Members Section. Find the company that you wish to call, and click View Company Report – there is a field for TPS and FPS (fax preference service) here.

    In practice, it’s doubtful whether one-off cold callers will be prosecuted for calling a number registered with TPS, but there is certainly scope for dealing with persistent offenders.

    All the best

    • helenthetranslator Says:

      Thanks, Iwan, you are of course quite right. There is also a mail preference service, but business addresses cannot register so maybe my suggestion of writing first, then phoning could help there. And your point that individual people making a small number of targeted calls are unlikely to be in trouble is valid. If checks fail to show that a company is registered with TPS it helps just to say “sorry, I didn’t know”.
      Best wishes, Helen

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