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December 23, 2013

Can This Advisor Be Saved?

Someone needs help with prospecting and selling

Photo: © Matthieu Spohn/ès/Corbis Photo: © Matthieu Spohn/ès/Corbis

I am going to rescue an FA who should be prospering and is not. The resources I provide him will be posted online. If your troubles match his, you are welcome to use them.

CW has almost everything going for him. He has survived, 12 years so far. He is disciplined. He has an excellent work ethic. He has an engaging personality. He is passionate about his work.

The only thing standing between him and outstanding success is prospecting and selling. It’s all in the numbers he sent me below. This email prompted my decision to save him:

From week ending 10 August to week ending 9 November (14 weeks)

7,563 total calls spread out among:

6,740 cold calls, 481 avg per week

660 callbacks, 47 avg

163 client calls, 12 avg

Producing

553 contacts (I didn’t collect the numbers for the first week of 698 total calls but corrected that mistake in the subsequent weeks.)

48 cherries, 3 avg per week

19 greenies, 1 avg per week

16 prospect meetings set. 1.1 avg per week.

And 7 prospect meetings held. Or a .5 avg per week.

Zero financial plans or accounts opened.

Total hours spent as an SA [sales assistant]: 83.75 with a 6.44 per week average.

The Breakdown

The first point of breakdown is “cherries per hour.” To extract this figure, we have to read between the lines a bit because the stat “Total hours spent as an SA” includes cold calling as well as call backs.

He says he is making 481 calls a week, and is averaging 6.44 hours a week as an SA. If the number of hours reported is correct, he has to be pounding out 100 dials an hour. He’s not. But let’s assume he is. That’s 4.8 hours spent cold calling per week yielding, on average, three cherries per week. So his “cherries per hour” stat is .62. Since no one does 100 calls/hour without a robotic dialer, the actual “cherries per hour” stat is much worse.

Assuming all his other numbers were in the “cold call success zone” (which they are not), to generate $5 million in 2014 will take 40 hours of cold calling a week plus another 21 hours of selling time. Clearly, this dawg don’t hunt.

The second point of breakdown is persuasion or selling or closing—call it what you will. Only half of the meetings he sets are sticking. And of those that do stick, not a single new client. Even if he were really tops at bringing the horse to water, if he cannot get the horse to drink, what’s the point?

To save CW, we have to improve prospecting and selling, simultaneously. There’s nothing new here. There are really only three reasons most FAs fail: work ethic, poor prospecting skills and poor selling skills. Work ethic is not it for CW.

Improve Selling Skills

CW needs to completely overhaul his sales procedure. To do that, I recommended he first buy and read How I Raised Myself from Failure to Success in Selling by Frank Bettger. First published in 1949, this is the best single book on sales that I know.

I also told him to download and read, “The Good Way to Sell.” This is a series of eight articles I wrote for Research in 2007. It’s what you do, each and every step, discovery to proposal writing to presentation to question answering to closing. According to me, “Sales is a step-by-step process designed to increase the prospect’s desire to the point it significantly outweighs fear of change.”

Hopefully, with these two assignments, CW’s selling skills will ratchet up enough for him to start closing leads generated from mass marketing. As we progress through this year, we will continue to work on selling skills, but if he reads and applies this material, he should start closing new clients.

His Prospecting Problem

In my book Hot Prospects (and before that in Prospecting Your Way to Sales Success), I outlined what I call “The Basic Mistakes.”

Basic Mistake #1: Get a bad idea and stick to it. Here is what I told CW: “When it comes to sticking to a bad idea, you are no slouch. But in direct response marketing, not only is this not a virtue, it is a curse. You have to keep changing things until you find something that is working. At that point, you vigorously apply ‘If it ain’t broke don’t fix it’—which of course enables you to avoid Basic Mistake #2: Get a good idea and change it.”

CW stuck to the same approach for 6,740 cold calls. He was prospecting for MLPs. He sent me his script. It was well done, following my classic “phone-mail-phone” style.

Some scripts work. Most do not. I don’t care how good the investment idea is, if it does not generate enough leads that sell, you have to abandon it. I would have thrown that turkey overboard after no more than 500 calls.

Why do sharp, otherwise intelligent people drag these gasping, wheezing turkeys through their marketing lives? I suspect it’s an infection from sports. “Winning isn’t everything. The will to win is the only thing.” CW is a champion athlete. He competes in some of the toughest contests in the world. Persistence, even pain, doesn’t faze him. And so he persisted in a failing campaign in the hopes that sheer persistence would convert failure to success.

Well, it didn’t.

CW wants a double in one year. He currently has $13 million in AUM; of that 75% is fee-based. To hit a double, he has to produce roughly $150K/year from existing clients and $150,000 from new clients. Assuming the commission is 5% on the 25%, CW has to raise about $7.5 million in new assets. He has to average 1.5 cherries per hour (or one appointment every two hours.) His new accounts need to average about $200,000.

Anything less WILL FAIL. It’s in the numbers.

By the time you read this, CW will hopefully have developed a prospecting channel that will produce these numbers. If not, we will keep testing. We are throwing out all preconception. We do not know what will work in his market today.

We are going to start out with two tests: cold calling and cold walking. In each case we’re discussing a tax saving retirement account.

Cold Calling: Objective: Set five appointments per week. Four stick. Of those that stick, at least one will close. I personally tested this script. I can set appointments on first calls. We’ll see if CW can. If not, we’ll try something else.

Style: Cold call for appointment. Send info if requested.

Info to send: “IRS Publication 560” or “A Look at 401(k) Plan Fees” if someone already has a 401(k) account.

Why those publications? Look them up. If you are a business owner, could you handle these without some help?

List: Small business owners with $1 million or more in revenue.

Script: “Tax Saving Retirement Account.” We are looking for business owners who “do not have a 401(k) or other tax saving retirement account.”

Time requirement: Nine hours cold calling. One hour calling back anyone sent info.

Cold Walking: Business owners are notoriously hard to reach. Even if the first script delivers results, I want a fallback. So let’s go visit. We are not canvassing office parks. This is targeted cold walking.

Objective: Five appointments/week.

Style: Ask for owner. Try for 15-minute appointment right now if available. Mostly owner will not be available. So we will leave IRS Publication and handwritten note. Call back for appointment.

List: Same.

Time requirement: Six to seven hours walking. Three to four hours calling back.

Additional information: To plan your route, you will need a mapping program. You can then easily see where your target businesses are clustered and plan your route to minimize travel time. See my “Save This FA” page.

Testing, Testing

For CW to succeed, we need one prospecting program. Two is better, but right now I will settle for one. I would like five appointments per week.The ONLY way to create this campaign is to mercilessly avoid Basic Mistake #1. We have to keep good stats and toss marketing turkeys. Stay tuned.

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