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How do you handle cold calls from potential clients? Signal Splitters (HW)
Old 1st February 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Talking How do you handle cold calls from potential clients?

Being a smart studio owner and/or studio manager must also include proper handling of all questions and answers when "potential" clients call for the first time. It's not just about the security of your gear and lives, it's also about your future by way of outside intelligence gathering.

Every now and then, we get calls that sound too nosey to be a real client. They seem to ask the most interesting questions. One question that comes to mind is, "I need to book a truck for (let's say) October or November, and we were wondering which days you got free within those months?" Huh, which days are free? Instead of asking, "I need the mobile unit for 10/10 & 11/02, etc." And when you have a question or two for them, they never seem to have the information available for you...

If we cannot get the four "W's" answered; Who, What, Where & hoW, we don't take the caller very seriously and handle it accordingly.

The "where are you located?" stuff really scares me when they don't want to give you any important information back. To me, it smells like trouble everytime.

How do you handle it? Or, does it even matter to you?
Old 1st February 2003
Here for the gear

I just send them straight to Remoteness himself. Much better than HAL 9000.

Old 2nd February 2003
Gear Maniac

Re: How do you handle cold calls from potential clients?


A lot of my live work (not necessarily remote recording) is with the grittier element. Dancehall Reggae, HIp Hop.

Getting tech details to properly do the job is a full time occupation.

Ditto on getting people to be on time for their own load in/sound check / show!

Ditto on getting paid in a timely fashion.

A lot of these fellows appear to be pooling family money, their own savings, or proceeds from the sales of pharmaceuticals.

Having lived on the underbelly of law and order in a prior life, these characters don't give me the willies, but I'd rather not expend as much energies into self preservation...nor towards collecting my remaining 50%.

So how do I deal with "cold calls" and the likes?

How did you hear about me? From whom? Are you an officer in a corporation that seeks to employ my company's services? Who's your sponsor? Where exactly was your last event (in the past 4 years?)??.

etc etc
Old 2nd February 2003
If they ask my studios daily rate, I know instantly that they dont understand how I work, which is with a per song charge.

So then I back track, ask how they got my number, from what friend / associate and see if I CAN be of any assistance to them.

Mine is a 'private' studio - I only rent it out per day to close engineer chums.

I dont like 'where is your studio located' questions from strangers / 'cold calls' either...

Old 2nd February 2003
Lives for gear
Steve Smith's Avatar

I find the worst is when the caller does not first ask what gear is available, or what I have done but go straight to rate.. IF money is thier sole motivator, I have found that more often than not they are not so keen to part with it on time ( read: getting pmt is a PITA) Our place is in the city, but in a very secluded wooded area, I get the super willies when I get the location questions, I generally say i am within "x" minutes of whatever landmark, downtown, airport, etc.

Does anyone have any "horror" ( or just not so cool) stories from this sort of situation? hopefully not, but it may be good for some folk to see what happens if you are not careful.. Either a bad occurance criminally ( theft, non pmt, etc, or even a breach of confidence, ie: reporters showing up, closed sessions getting crashed... Tell us your experences!
Old 2nd February 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
In the late 70's, early 80's, I included my street address in all my correspondence. Business cards, letterheads, magazines, everything, even the directory listings.

Well, one day at 8AM in the freakin' morning a really strange dude appears at my door....

In the old days, my shop, office and apartment was in the same space. Kind of like, 20 lbs of stuff in a 7 lb bag. Anyway, this guy didn't go to the front door and ring the bell, he went onto the property and walk to the back of the house and rang my rear doorbell. I just happened to go to sleep about two hours earlier and was not ready to deal with the world. This guy kept ringing the bell like it was a toy. I got up and thought, who could this be at 8AM in the morning? I managed to get over to the door. When I opened the door, this dude says, "I'm looking for a job." I said, "How did you find this address." He said, "Mix Magazine." I said, "Do you know what time it is?" He said, "Yeah, I wanted to get a jump on the day" And I replied, "8AM is too early for unsolicited walk ups, please go away." At that moment, I stayed up, took a shower, went directly to the Post Office and got a PO BOX number. The rest is history.

Man, about a year or so later, I was in a large electronics store in my area called "The Wiz." Guest who was one of the salesmen? Yup, that really strange early bird dude... He even remembered me and the situation. I wonder if he went down to the Wiz for a job when I threw him off my property?

Luckily, the only thing I lost that day was my sleep!
Old 2nd February 2003
Gear Addict
Curious G's Avatar

"How much does it cost to..."

Before my first studio job I was doing inside sales at a record pressing plant. As the 'new hire' I had to field all the calls that came in under the heading: "How much does it cost to make a record?" Normally they only wanted to make 1 record so I'd just refer them to the Jersey shore boardwalk booths that were still cutting 1 offs at the time (sort of early Karioke).

Then later as a studio dubber/gopher I was blessed with the same job when my boss didn't have the patience to deal with non-customers (guess I should've kept my mouth shut about my previous experience).

This may sound odd but I've been in business for 14 years and never had a business listing in the phone book. I never thought it was worth all the time that was wasted. As a result all calls are referrals and I find out at the start of the call who they're referred by. I doubt this would work as a business model for most studios but it has been fine for me.

I don't like posting my address either and I have a BIG Chesapeake Bay Retriever (he's a nice boy but kinda scary) who doubles as my door bell/security system.
Old 4th February 2003
One with big hooves
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
I won't give the address out until someone needs to come by for a tour or for their session. I used to have the address on everything but I feel better when it's not as easy to get. Until they get serious about booking time I'll tell them I'm in Morris Plains and a few minutes off Route 10 which is a pretty big stretch of road.

People that usually ask what the rate is as the first question usually don't book time. I try to tailor that to each client (within a certain range) and well, without knowing something about the project I can't really help them. The less they tell me the higher the rate I quote is.
Old 5th February 2003
Lives for gear
David R.'s Avatar

I had two buisness cards printed, one with my address and one without. 95% of the time I give the one without.

Same as Jay, I only give out the address when they are at the point of the tour or the session.

The only calls I have ever received from the Mix directory are from kids looking for a job.
Old 11th February 2003
Lives for gear
Fibes's Avatar

I've had to use call blocking on several occasions. I live in a community where, for whatever reason, i get inquiries about my record company (I have a studio not a label) and a request for auditions on a daily basis. There is also a plethora of calls looking to have a meeting before we lay down the tracks.

Where you located? what you got? These questions go unanswered until I have some serious background and/or a deposit. My studio is in midtown. End of story...

I've always wondered about the dudes who have home based studios, it creeps me out to think some of my clients would be able to check out my digs (and wife) while I was concentrating on the 6k on the nu-metal guitar sound.

Good topic, tricky line to walk but the real pros knows...

I wish i had recordings of some of the voicemail auditions I've heard.
Old 11th February 2003
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
Originally posted by Fibes
Good topic, tricky line to walk but the real pros knows...

I wish i had recordings of some of the voicemail auditions I've heard.
Really, people have left vocal auditions on your voicemail?
Old 11th February 2003
Lives for gear
Fibes's Avatar

Yes. 50% are children but the other 50%, damn.

One of my faves was the B.E.S.T. group. Pardon the spelling: Betsi, Evita, shaniqua and Taniqua. It wasn't a joke, i had a heart to heart with the parents. True brilliance.

Why do some people think recording studios are record labels?

If i had a dime for every time i heard: How much to make a record? I've got two three minute songs, how much for 10 minutes studio time? Can you make me famous?
Old 13th February 2003
Here for the gear

I remember fielding a call from a school who wanted a live recording of a school production. It was the "how much for an hour and a half's recording ? - there's 20 songs and we want it on CD ". They were expecting maybe $70-$100 an hour which equated to $150 max - for the final product (they could supply the blank CD - to keep the costs down)
After scraping myself off the floor I gave them a quick run-down of the process. "Oh, . . . " was the reply "Maybe next time . . ."

We ended up writing a "Recording Guide" which we put on the website. We advise these type of callers to read and digest this info before ringing back to discuss their options.

Old 21st July 2003
Because of my web page and a phone number only listing in the yellow pages I get calls. I usually ask how did you hear of me. I get phone numbers and addresses for the client before they have any idea of my actual location.
Also I ask what kind of project it is. If its rap music, I tell them I dont really do it and I refer them to a friend who does. Steve Remote King of hip hop
Old 25th May 2004
Gear Nut
Inky Goddess's Avatar

You guys obviously aren’t into sales. Here’s some advice that I hope helps.

I like to use a similar introductory sales rap on incoming cold calls as I use on outgoing cold calls. There are always certain bits of information that you want any prospective client to know up front, and this should be the information you give them first, regardless of the question(s) they initially pose. The concept here is that unlike outgoing cold calls, the client is calling me for information, and if they’re serious, they’ll hang on for a reasonable amount of time, say an extra minute or less, until I get to their specific inquiry. This “introduction” includes basic facts that all clients will want to know anyway if I get the sale, so they’re apt to listen. This is also where I get at least their first name and the entity they’re representing. This is the first step I use to qualify any prospective client because it helps me gauge their prowess and prior experience with my service or product, as well as their level of seriousness. It also gives me a few seconds to formulate an answer to their question and jot down things like their name, the date, and the time of their call.

Mr. Remote stated that he received inquiries to the effect of, "I need to book a truck for (let's say) October or November, and we were wondering which days you got free within those months?" This obviously suspect question might have any number of motives behind it; there’s also the chance the caller just has crappy communication skills. In cases such as these I simply tell them that as a policy, we do not freely provide that information due to the fact that our commitments aren’t solid until we’ve received signed, accepted proposals with an accompanying check for the deposit. If that doesn’t stop a seemingly-bull**** caller in her tracks, one could go on to ask her legitimate questions about the gig she wants your services for. If you’re convinced she’s not on the level and you want to get rid of her, say something like, “Miss Jones, I’m sorry I have to cut this call short but I have a staff meeting in five minutes. Can I reach you later at (reading from the caller i. d.) 867-5309?” Conversely, you can ask for her contact number. This technique is a great “weeder-outer,” because if she is on the level, you haven’t necessarily lost the sale.

As for those callers that want to know what gear you have or where you house it, it’s perfectly acceptable to counter with questions that will help you determine which gear you’ll need to do what they want done, and then offer that information if you think it’s safe. If they’re reluctant to be specific, explain to them as pleasantly as you can that different tasks require different tools and that you’d be more than willing to give them an answer as soon as they can provide you with more details. If they press for an inventory or an address, say no, blaming the conditions of your insurance policy or a recent bulletin circulated by the police. There’s no way they can check these things, and if they’re casing you, they’ll probably give up and go for an easier mark. It’s also wise to make a note of suspicious calls on your desk calendar and by e-mail to yourself, including the date and time of the call. If there is a theft or break-in, that information might be vital in catching the bastards and recovering your beloved gear.

Originally posted by Steve F:
[For persons with no concept of what remote recording entails] We ended up writing a "Recording Guide" which we put on the website. We advise these type of callers to read and digest this info before ringing back to discuss their options.
This is an excellent idea and I’m going to adopt it. It’s also an excellent addition to your standard press kit for prospective clients that require such information.
Old 25th May 2004
Lives for gear
hollywood_steve's Avatar

I won't give the address out until someone needs to come by for a tour or for their session.

Isn't this the REMOTE forum? Why would anyone care where we're located? We come to you.....

(I was only half - joking, those of us who only do location work really don't have this kind of problem)

When I shared a studio with two partners, it was a ground floor operation on a busy street and I tried to limit access to our address. But now that I have my own place, and I'm strictly remote, I'm in a much more secure situation. My little studio is just one of a dozen or more studios in a major studio complex. I can give out the address and meet prospective clients downstairs at the reception desk. If they pass the 30 second personality test, I can choose to invite them upstairs to listen to some recordings. But if things don't seem kosher, I can hustle them outside and they haven't a clue where my room is inside this mammoth complex.
Old 4th November 2007
Super Moderator
Remoteness's Avatar
How are you folks handling the cold calls today?

Are the calls from potential clients or something a bit more deceiving?

We're nearing the end of 2007 and it seems like nothing has changed when it comes to this situation.

How about you?
Old 4th November 2007
Lives for gear
Jim vanBergen's Avatar

I tend to immediately suggest we schedule a conference call with key people- if they have a producer, artists (usually management) and production manager- this usually cuts out half the inquiries, and provides solid clients the rest of the time.
Old 4th November 2007
Lives for gear
rockstar_josh's Avatar

I built a double-duty rehearsal studio that lets me pull channels out of two rooms, so I it takes me almost twice as long to set up as it would in a fixed studio environment - much like mobile recording, except I only have to wheel my gear through my building. I also have to book that time in lieu of rehearsal hours, so it takes some juggling. Anyhow, it does me a lot of good to find out what exactly people are looking for before I commit to doing any work for them. If I can't get a clear picture of what they're after then maybe it's not a good idea to proceed. Honestly, the majority of calls I get are from people who have no idea what they want. The "got some beats", or they just want to lay down a few songs. I have to learn to weed out serious callers and usually, if you ask for some show of initiative or contact info and they're not on the level, they'll back down first. If it looks like they're trying to scam something, I set hard and firm boundaries and let them waffle on it. If I finally say "Why don't you come by and we'll talk about your project" I think 85% of those people never show up. And I don't give my address out until that point in the conversation. I'm pretty generous and I can be trusting of people, so I've had to learn to put my guard up in business. It's definitely a trying experience!
Old 4th November 2007
I've never had a cold call from a potential client. The few cold calls I have always been one fo the following:-

1. I've/My son has just graduated from audio school can you employ me/him?

2. Will you sell me your domain name?

Time for bed now,
Old 5th November 2007
Gear Maniac
CaptCrunch's Avatar

Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post
How are you folks handling the cold calls today?

Are the calls from potential clients or something a bit more deceiving?

We're nearing the end of 2007 and it seems like nothing has changed when it comes to this situation.

How about you?
Great thread to revive! I have a private studio that is by invitation only so I don't have the exposure a commercial operation might have. However, I have recently been considering the purchase of a building in our downtown area and relocating there so the issue of security is of great interest. The building I'm looking at is about half a block from a police sub-station but strangely, that doesn't really make me feel more secure. The cops I have encountered in recent years have been anything but there to "protect and serve". The insurance company loves the idea, but I'm afraid the benefit may end there. I also realize that with the amount of information available online for a more professional criminal to make use of that I really need to consider two classes of criminals: opportunist amateurs and professionals. The opportunistic types are more likely to be violent because the professionals will usually avoid confronting someone directly. A calling service or voicemail that only allows numbers to be left so you can return calls later is useful. If you subscribe to a reverse trace service, you can identify the number's owner and location. This doesn't always work with cell phones so you would need to request a landline number from the caller, either work or home. Remember to #67 before you call or use a disposable phone to call new prospects back as they can trace you if they know what to do. If the caller is cell only, that should initiate a greater threat potential. Here, a scanned and emailed driver's license might help if the person seems evasive on the phone. Seems cumbersome as a process, but it's personal safety at issue.
Old 10th April 2009
I got a call the other night about 10 pm. The caller wanted to know my address and a list of equipment we had. It was not a normal cold call and it sent shivers up and down my spine especially when he asked "so when are you there?" Sounded to me like someone was doing some shopping by phone.

I also have had my share of weird phone calls.

Our company name is Acoustik Musik, Ltd. and we get people who want to buy sheet music, or schedule a guitarist for their wedding or get lessons. We also get people who want to come over and do a 3 minute demo tape and ask if they can come over right now and how much does 3 minutes of time cost. We have also had our share of really weird calls including one from overseas from a person who saw our advert on line and wanted to have us record him via the phone because he could not travel to the US. He also wanted to know if singing and playing over the phone would have detrimental effects on the quality of the recording.

The calls I hate to get are the ones that want estimates but they don't want to tell you anything about the project or they talk in broad general terms. The other calls I hate to get are the ones that want to know if you are free on such and such a date months in advance and when you start talking deposits they say "well I am only checking on the date but I will get back to you later on". Then one week before the gig they call back up to "don't forget you agreed to do our show next weekend when I called you six months ago" Of course I already have something else planned and I never "agreed" to do the concert. If you ask for a phone number or contact information they say "well I am only checking on the availability of the date and don't really want to give you that information. One person called me up on a Monday morning screaming at me saying " why didn't you show up for our concert we spoke to you about it months ago" I had NO contact information and they never actually scheduled the date. The lady was really really pissed. I tried to calm her down but she just got more and more hysterical and finally slammed the phone in my ear. To this day I don't know who she was or what the concert was that we were "suppose" to record.
Old 10th April 2009
I got a cold call the other day, and the group was interested in making a CD of their church's choir singing Christmas music as a "fundraiser" so they could raise money to make some repairs to the place, replastering the interior, like that.

They had the right idea, getting started on the project in the Spring, but I think she was stunned to hear that the recording alone would run into at LEAST the mid three figures and each packaged, color artwork copy would be one figure, the mid one figure if they were talking about a booklet and all.

She liked the sound of having a memento/keepsake (I said the booklet could include pictures of the church and a history, because this year is the 100th anniversary of its founding), but the fact it was anything other than FREE was a shock!
Old 10th April 2009
And don't forget about cold emails. Every now and then, I get one that looks something like this:

"Hey, I'm lookin to record

Call me ASAP xxx-xxx-xxx."

Two lines?! No introduction?

I just respond with my website and tell them to look around for more information and send me details on the project. No responses yet...
Old 10th April 2009
Lives for gear

All of the business I get is either through word of mouth, I used to put up flyers down at the college when I was doing a lot of recital/concert work there. They were really successful. I also used to put flyers up at the music stores, but that was more BS than it was worth. I didn't get a single gig from those calls, and they were all mostly the type of calls that you guys alluded to.

The calls from the college were 'cold' in the sense that I didn't really know who they were, but since the price was right on the flyer I only got calls from interested parties. We didn't have to talk rates or anything like that. We'd just go over instrumentation and date/time.

The only akward phone calls I ever got were from the school recording guys who were probing me to see what kind of gear I had and what my experience was. (They were upset that I was cutting in to their work)

Good Luck Guys!
Old 10th April 2009
Lives for gear
Corran's Avatar

My first thought was "I wish I got cold calls!"

But I do actually get cold emails, which are the same I guess. I think out of 10-20 so far not one has become an actual client. Some clients were friends of friends, but i don't count that.

My best story so far - this guy wanted me to record and produce a whole album for free (and of rap to boot...shudder...), and I would get 50% of the first $1000 he earned when he "made it big," and then 10% of everything after that or something. Clearly he did not quite know how things were likely to work out for him. Also, rather funny that $1000 was "making it big" .
Old 30th April 2009
Lives for gear
Man I get a lot of cold calls. Between the yellow pages ad & spending a few bucks on google adwords our phone rings and rings. We're not big enough to have regular hours or administrative staff yet, so if I'm there during daytime hours I try to answer the phone when it rings.

A lot of the time it's someone wanting to make a vanity record or young hip-hop/RnB dreamers (or their parents) wondering how much we charge and if we have track producers & session musicians. I'll talk to them for 2 minutes and if I can't get their name & address to send them a demo reel I'll make a polite but hasty exit. A lot of the time giving a ballpark figure for a start to finish album production project with hired-in musicians will be a good gauge of how serious they are. That, in addition to "oh, and make sure you budget a couple grand for mastering when we are finished here" at the end of that conversation will often result in telltale silence, I imagine most of them think the whole thing is going to cost less than that. If that advice doesn't scare you off, then I think we can do business.

Then there are the fully sketchy calls about where we are and what are our hours... "Close to downtown and there's usually somebody here, who's calling and what can I do for you." Also, reading back their number off the caller ID "Is xxx-xxx-xxxx a good number to have someone follow up with you?" also reminds people that they are not anonymous, we are paying attention, and sends a subtle message to someone if they are considering planning something shady.

Of all the incoming cold calls, it is a small percentage of them that turn into actual business, so I won't spend a whole lot of time yapping. There are exceptions, if someone is genuinely needing help and advice, I'll help them out as best I can, that sometimes turns into business or referrals.

95% of our work comes in word of mouth, friends of satisfied customers, but we have gotten a couple sweet gigs via phone & email inquiries so you can't totally write off all cold callers.
Old 1st May 2009
Lives for gear
Plush's Avatar
The typical and real call usually goes like this:
(no hello, no greeting from the caller)

"How much it cost to make a record?"
Old 1st May 2009
A somewhat typical cold call on a Friday.

Do you do recording

ANSWER: Yes we do.

I want to do a recording.

ANSWER: GREAT when do you want to do it.

Well I have sometime tomorrow. I have thirteen songs I want to record. They are about three minutes each so I figure I will need about 1.5 hours to do the recording. What will that cost.

ANSWER: Have you ever done any recording before? It usually takes about 10 minutes for each 1 minute of finished product so for your session it will take about 6.5 hours to do the recording assuming that you are the only player, If there are more people it will take longer. And if you need to do a mix-down afterward it will take even longer. If you got your information off our website you probably noticed that we do not have a studio so all of our recording is done remotely. Do you have a space to record in?

Well how much is all of this going to cost me?

ANSWER: Our normal rate is $XX.XX per hour plus materials.

So it would cost me about $XXX.XX for the recording? That is kinda expensive isn't it?

ANSWER: That would be a good approximation but there are lots of things that could change the final amount. Can you come over and we can discuss the project and maybe listen to some of your material that you have recorded previously. Our rates are comparable with others providing the same level of service.

Gee I don't know I will ask my Mother and see if she can drive me over to your place.

Old 4th May 2009
Gear Head

Originally Posted by Remoteness View Post

>>If we cannot get the four "W's" answered; Who, What, Where & hoW, we don't take the caller very seriously and handle it accordingly.<<
Steve, this is funny as it's almost exactly what me and my partner used to use as our "potential client" questionnaire in London back in the 80's , but slightly different ,
"Who" "What" Where" & "When" !!! I was "pleasantly" surprised to see "your" sim comment just now..
I am readopting this mantra for my new mobile business (website is only a temporary one I designed in iWeb,,,,, new site any day now!!)

In the 80's we used to hang up if we didn't get those 4 Q's answered, a bit rude but so was the 80's ,,,lol!!!

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