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Mastering Cold Calling

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In recent columns, I’ve discussed how to cold call and I’ve analyzed calling scripts sent to me by readers. You can pick up your copy of “The 16 Best Scripts of 2009″ at One script was far better than the other “Best Scripts.” It was really much more than a script. It was an entire cold calling system. You will find it at my Web site labeled “The Best Cold Calling Script.”

It comes from a “mystery advisor.” The man who sent it is 25 and is completely defying the expectations one would have for a rookie FA. Sadly, I cannot tell you who he is because his firm has a set-in-stone policy that FAs with less than five years cannot be quoted by national media.

Let’s give him a name. I’ll refer to him as “Bob Loblaw.” (But don’t try to say this name aloud five times fast.) While I cannot give Bob credit, I do quote him with permission, and have been authorized by him to share his script and questionnaire.

When I saw Bob’s script the first time, I thought it was the most complicated script I had ever seen. It was four pages long, and had an entire page of “resistances.” I nearly threw it out but instead I sent Bob an email and asked him what kind of results he’s had to date.

As of end-April, he had opened 22 households (HH), about half from referrals, and some of those from accounts that opened as cold call leads. His goal, which he is hitting consistently, is to open one per week. He is right on target.

He spends 3-5 hours a week cold calling residential names who have not signed up for the do-not-call list. He says he buys the cheapest ones possible, and pays about 10 cents per name. His 3-5 hours of cold calling generates 15-30 prospects a week. And when he comes in on Monday morning, he said he has at least 50 prospects to call back.

These numbers gave me the clue that his script, with all its legs, was not what he was really doing. So I called him.

I asked him if he really used all the “resistances.” He replied, “Well, no. I found that appointments with people I pressured just didn’t hold up. So what I do instead is make about 100 [you read that right] calls an hour and generate five to 10 prospects an hour.”

Important note: I have included all of his original resistance handlings. You can try them if you like. Better yet, don’t bother. But you want to see these because his own thinking is an exact mirror of my own: You cannot cold call and overcome resistance. You will never hit 100 calls per hour dealing with resistance. Let it go.

I’m going to let Bob tell his own story. This is a partial transcript of our interview:

Who do you actually set the appointment with?

These are people I have spoken to at least once. On the second call, if I cannot make an appointment, I will make a judgment call on whether it’s worthwhile to continue to follow up.

What kind of information do you try and gather before setting an appointment?

I will try to get more information about what is motivating them. What is going on from a goal standpoint, whether it is retirement, education or whether it is a risk tolerance issue, and whether what they’ve lost in the market has been a backbreaking issue. And I will try to get some kind of idea of what they own, whether it’s an annuity, individual stocks and bonds, mutual funds or whatever.

I’ll try to get some employment information, and all of this will get put down as notes. I will try to send them out something more specific from an information standpoint. I’ll also try and make some sort of other personal connection with them. This way, when I call back, I’m mentioning something about the wife, the kids or the job.

What is your target new client in terms of investable assets?

I’m getting between $100K and $1 million. My target is $500,000.

What hours of the day do you call?

I typically call during the evenings. I set my Monday evenings to call from 5:30 to 8:30. I typically run appointments Tuesday night, Wednesday night and Thursday night. And then three of the four Saturdays a month I’m here from 10-2 making phone calls. If I have an appointment that cancels or reschedules, say on Wednesday night, I will typically stay and make phone calls for a couple of hours.

Mostly, you are going to see them, correct?

Yes. The rate of rescheduling and cancellations is going to be much lower if we agree on an appointment at their place.

What is the percentage of first appointments that stick?

About 50 percent.

Does this mean they just don’t show up?

No. About 50 percent of them call or e-mail to reschedule.

So you’re going to lose half the appointments?

That’s correct.

Out of the people who keep that first appointment, how many of them become clients?

I would say about 75 percent. For me to average one new household per week, I need to set 4-5 appointments a week. So I have about a 50 percent seen ratio and about a 50 percent seen-to-sold ratio. In order to get my goal, I’m trying to set one appointment per day.

When you’re going to send out some information, is it mostly e-mail? Or do you use both e-mail and letters?

If I have an e-mail address, I will typically send a follow-up e-mail telling people it was nice talking to them and for them to expect something in the mail.

Do you stay in touch with your prospect file?

I do try to stay in touch with my prospects. I grade them. And at the end of the month, I typically send additional material to my A-plus prospects.

What is your sales process?

In my first appointment I typically am going over the profile. [He has already sent them the one-page profile I have posted for you.] But I will first take as much time as necessary to talk about personal issues, what’s going on with the kids, vacations, etc. This typically takes about 15 or 20 minutes. I do ask them in a confirmation letter to please have their statements ready. But I will not spend a lot of time on that. Then we will get more into a goal discussion. I would rather spend time talking about savings rates, when they want to retire, rather than anything regarding investments in that first meeting.

So you gather all this information. Then what do you do with it?

I’m taking a lot of notes. Then we take another 10-15 minutes to discuss how my process looks. I have a three-meeting process in which the consultation is the first meeting, the second meeting is a due diligence meeting in which I will give them a much longer profiling brochure.

We will spend an entire meeting talking very specifically about goals and all their individual numbers. The third meeting will be a solution implementation meeting. Here I will present a completed financial analysis. We will talk more specifically about recommendations. We will typically implement at that third meeting. In this meeting, I will also cover how I’m compensated.

Basically, all I’m looking for out of that initial consultation is a commitment to proceed with the next two steps of the process. At the end of that meeting, I want to get the next two steps scheduled and leave them with the profile questionnaire.

Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing Systems in Draper, Utah; see


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