How interesting that the two columns I've written, that generated the most, and most negative feedback have been on using the telephone to develop new business. Prospecting by phone.

The first was advice on cold-calling. - Cold Call Success with 68 comments and the new one last week, Using voicemail to grow business.

I can understand the disdain for blanket, untargeted cold calling to generate leads. Such as demographic or phone book calling for mortgages, computers, insurance. I'm at fault for not adding this to the original article - talking targeted that is.

However, I can't understand NZ business reticence to pick up the phone when you've done your research and created a targeted list of companies to contact that you know do use the services / products you provide .

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Let's look at the alternative way of generating new business.

What if you're brand new in business and do not have a large customer base. Or like my business - your services are not a commodity to be used over and over again. Rather purchased once every few years (and effected by the economy).

Database marketing relies on having a database. If you read my articles regularly, you'll know my pet love for generating new business is to work your database well. However you can't work it too much, requesting business that is. You can give away tons of free advice and content. But when you start asking regularly, you'll end up turning people off and having them unsubscribe or simply stop reading your emails.

Next we move to networking. At least $35-$85 a pop and you have to eat, prey and work to try to find a prospect. How many times have you walked away successfully from a networking event?

You ask existing clients for referrals. You'll get a few at best. This might not be enough for many businesses depending on the income generated from one sale and the length of their sales cycle.

You can of course write articles, blogs, comment on others. This will generate interest - but it's passive instead of proactive.

You can spend heaps of time on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, doing the great content that is required to generate interest. However how much business will you get in comparison to the time spent? I've never got business from those avenues and I worked them daily - doing all the right things.

Linkedin is a great place to find prospective clients to contact. But tell me, how different is finding someone on Linkedin, then emailing them to calling them? Why is this unsolicited email more acceptable than a targeted voicemail message?

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So far we made 12 first calls in our office. Researched, targeted calls. We got two call backs from the first lot. We're now onto our second voicemail. I'll let you know how it went next week.