From the September 2012 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

August 23, 2012

Cold Calling 2012

Let’s get up-to-date on what’s working.

I need your help to find out which cold calling scripts and lists work best and what unique strategies may be out there. From time to time in these pages, I have made an offer many of you have not been able to refuse.

My offer was: Send me your best cold calling script. I will personally review each one and I will send you the ones I would use if I were in your shoes. It is time to do it again. Email your scripts to billgood@billgoodmarketing.com. Please provide the following information: name, address, broker-dealer and phone number. We need to be able to identify that you are in fact a financial advisor or work for one. Just as soon as I compile the best scripts, I will send you a copy … but only if you send me one.

There’s more! I have designed a survey for people who are cold calling, or who were and quit, or who are thinking about it.  In exchange for this information, when you finish answering the survey, I will give you “Cold Calling Today,” a compilation of Research articles on cold calling, updated with new material. You can take the survey here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ColdCalling2012.

Also, anyone can go pick up the “16 best cold calling scripts 2009.” I posted them to our website at www.billgood.com/coldcalling. They are free. If you don’t have a good script, this is a great place to start.

Interest First

I recently talked to a relatively new producer who lamented that he had found millions of dollars in assets but couldn’t get it to move. His focus on the first call was to uncover assets. He had a pretty lame opening line “I’m calling to introduce myself and let you know blah blah blah.” If the prospect would talk to him at all, he asked them questions about their portfolio. That’s how he uncovered the assets. But he couldn’t get appointments, and without appointments, he certainly couldn’t get sales.

Looking only for assets is so egregious it almost qualifies as: Cold Calling Mistake No. 1. When you are cold calling, there are three things you’re looking for that are necessary to qualify someone as a prospect:

  1. Can this person make a decision?
  2. Do they have any money to invest?
  3. Are they interested in talking to you?

Key question: Which comes first? Decision maker? Qualified? Or interested? My answer: First look for interest. This is not just something I made up. It evolved in the process of training tens of thousands of rookie brokers, mostly in the 80s and 90s.

Interested in what? A product. (Gasp. I’m a financial advisor, a consultant, I don’t hawk products.) A problem. A strategy. But not a service! (I’m calling to introduce myself … sigh.)

Here’s the opening line of a classic script of mine. Substitute any product. “I have some important information about what’s called a tax-free municipal bond fund. Have you ever heard of these before?”

Right here, many prospects will say, “I’m not interested.” You bail with a “Thank  you very much” and go look for someone who is interested.

One reason you are not successful in cold calling is that you spend the vast amount of your prospecting time doing what I call “pit polishing.” As a cold caller, your universe is made up of cherries and pits. A “cherry” is someone who is interested, qualified and willing to receive information.

A “pit” is anyone who is not interested, not qualified or both. At least 90% of the people you call are pits. It is a screaming waste of time to attempt to overcome their objections. Quit pit polishing!

How do I know? I know because I’VE tested it. A few months ago, I went to a client’s office and tested a cloud dialer. (This is awesome technology. We are exploring the compliance implications.) I was calling a list of business owners. In a half hour, I made 44 calls. I set an appointment with a man who was troubled because he did not have a 401(k) and knew he needed one. Before hitting this “hot prospect,” I spoke to nine other business owners. Average length of the calls to “pits”: less than 30 seconds. They weren’t interested; neither was I.

First look for interest. Then money. “If you like us and our strategies, we are accepting accounts with assets in the range of $250,000 and above. Would that amount pose a problem at this particular time?”

The ABC Close

One reason you don’t have more appointments is that you don’t have a good appointment close that you can rattle off in your sleep. In every prospecting-selling cycle, there’s a time to bring it to a conclusion. You conclude the lead development phase by asking for the appointment.

If you fail to close and just keep talking, your pipeline will bloat with interested, qualified fence-sitters. After a while, because you have so many people you are talking to, you will stop prospecting. What’s the point of adding more new prospects when you have too many as it is?

A good solid close solves the problem. It shakes the fence. Sometimes they fall down on your side of the fence. Sometimes not. But you move on. The pipeline has to flow.

When should I close for the appointment? First answer: When the prospect sounds more interested than previously. Better answer: When the prospect asks a question. Best answer: Right after the prospect says, “Can you explain the fees?”

The only way to learn to close is close too soon, too often. After executing the close I’m going to show you 50 or 100 times, you will learn timing. There’s no other way.

Action. We’re done thinking about it. It’s time to do something. Your first statement is positively and affirmatively to recommend that they do something. “Why don’t you and Barbara grab your last two years tax returns and meet me at my office?”

Benefit. Now give them a reason for doing it. “I am reasonably certain I can show you how to ease the pain volatility has introduced into your life. And I’ll do my best to show you how you can do this in a cost-effective manner.”

Commitment. Ask them to do it. ”I have a spot in my calendar on (DAY) at (TIME). I’m also free on (DAY) at (TIME). Which of those works better for you?”

Two Closing Rules

Rule No. 1: When you ask the closing question, shut up. You know this rule, right? How long do you stay shut up? Until your prospect says something.

Rule No. 2: Once you start a close, don’t stop talking until you finish the commitment question. This controls whether you get a big objection or a small objection. Most likely, you will get an objection after the close.

You are either not closing for appointments at all, or you’re not doing it right. Otherwise you would have lots of appointments. If you are closing at all, you’re most likely doing it like this:

YOU: “Mr. Loblaw, I recommend you and Barbara get your last two years tax return and come down to my office.” You stop talking here. Wrong place to shut up! This is not a close. It’s just a statement. And you will get your guaranteed objections.

BOB LOBLAW: “We’re awfully busy now.” How are you going to deal with that? Try and convince Bob he’s not busy? Now let’s replay it.

YOU: “Mr. Loblaw, I recommend you and Barbara grab your last two years tax returns and meet me at my office. I will do my best to show you how we can reduce the pain that volatility has introduced into your life. I have a spot open in my calendar on Wednesday, Nov. 6 at 1:30 p.m. and I’m also free on Thursday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Which of those would look better for you?” (Forced choice close)

MR. LOBLAW: “Neither of those will work.” You got an objection, right? But this one you can handle.

YOU: “Why don’t you stop by my office Friday morning on the way to work? I’m here by 6:30. How do you take your coffee?” This is called a “secondary question close.”

Here are your marching orders: Qualify for interest first. Close too soon, too often. Send me a script. Take my survey. And thank you very much.

View Bill Good's 2009 article for Research magazine, Winning Scripts for Cold Calling.

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