For some months, I’ve been taking a close look at the social networking sites to learn enough to advise my clients how to control their online reputations. Since I’m a great believer in practicing what I preach, I’ve created a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Twitter account, MySpace page and a Web site for my book. This is all in addition to the Web presence we have for my company, Bill Good Marketing.

The only one of these for which I have developed a strategy is Twitter. I decided I would tweet on prospecting, organization, sales and strategy. On May 8, I began tweeting. As of September 7, I had posted 39 tweets, hardly a drop in the twitter tsunami. I had to un-follow some people simply because they were doing 39, 50 or 90 tweets a day. They buried more thoughtful tweeters, mostly with “I had a cup of coffee” type of nonsense. My tweets, then, are paltry, if not downright stingy by comparison.

Nevertheless, with very little promotion, I picked up 127 followers. I might even have sold a book or two. My strategy has been to provide my “followers” with bits of wisdom they can use in their businesses.

As you may know, tweets can only be 140 characters. So in this article, I will explain some of my tweets, give you the “rest of the story” so to speak. If you would like to see all of my tweets, you can follow me at http://twitter.com/BillGood01.

There are three phases of selling: lead generation, lead development and sales presentation. Of these, the most critical is lead generation.

Let’s define some terms. “Lead generation” consists of the promotional actions taken to get someone to respond for the first time. “Lead development” is the follow-up actions taken to increase desire to the point that the person is willing to have an appointment. The sales presentation begins with the first appointment. It is the sequence of steps taken to further increase desire to the point that the person wants the benefits of your product or service more than he or she wants to keep their money.

If I had to make a guess, over half of financial advisors take zero action to generate leads. They wait for referrals, hoping. Sadly, hope is not a strategy.

The primary tool in B2B lead generation is cold calling. Some authors report it no longer works. They are wrong. Promote their books.

A client of mine is doing an outstanding job with a cold calling campaign to very high net worth investors. He told me, “Bill, you’ve got to promote these books that talk about how cold calling doesn’t work anymore. Convince more people not to do it.”

At his request, here goes: if you are a believer in cold calling, refer advisors you know to Cold Calling Is a Waste of Time: Sales Success in the Information Age by Frank Rumbauskas. This is a CD set. Even its table of contents can discourage people from cold calling. Consider these items: “Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work,” “More Reasons Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work,” and even “It Just Doesn’t Work.” As fewer people believe it doesn’t work, it will work even better.

A sales person who does not qualify a prospect for interest AND money will waste time talking to pleasant people who can’t buy.

Oh my goodness. Failure to qualify a prospect for money is the elephant graveyard for sales professionals. It is littered with the bones of departed FAs who spent their selling time talking to poor people.

Lots of people are interested. Many also subscribe to that fool Web site, listen to Jim Cramer, read Money Magazine and don’t have two pennies to rub together. The most valuable asset you have is your time. I have said countless times, “Do not discriminate against the poor. Just don’t speak to them during business hours.” Other social agencies deal with the poor. Don’t even let them get into your pipeline, much less your client book … unless of course there are extenuating circumstances, such as the penniless young man referred to you by your wealthiest client.

There is no better way to separate the fisher persons from the bait cutters than to ask, “We are accepting new clients who have a liquid net worth in the range of $250,000. If you like us and our strategies, would that amount be a problem at this particular time?”

Basic Marketing Mistake #1: Get a bad idea & stick to it. Mistake #2: Get a good idea and change it. #1 destroys rookies; #2 hobbles vets.

Starting in the 1980s, my team and I trained perhaps 40,000 mostly rookie brokers in the major firms in the U.S. and Canada. When you’re dealing with that many people in a compressed time, you see patterns.

One of the most fascinating patterns I ever saw was how some (mostly young) new advisors locked into a failing strategy. The more they failed, the harder they tried. I saw countless rookies with disastrous ideas crash to earth. After a certain point, there was little that I or anyone could have done to avert disaster. They were going to ride that bad idea all the way down and out.

I have often wondered if some of the great motivational concepts in sports have thoroughly infected the sport of sales.

In sports, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.” How true! But in prospecting, “Win by finding the one winning campaign. That’s the only thing.” To find the campaign that can make you a superstar, you may fail at dozens or even hundreds of lead generation campaigns. In lead generation, one expects failure. Most people just don’t fail enough. The name of the game is to fail quickly, throw out the losing campaign and crank up another. Keep failing until you take the cover off the ball. But beware: when you find your winning campaign, Basic Mistake No. 2 may kick in.

Some years ago I had the pleasure to sit through two seminars by one of the industry’s superstars. They were several months apart. They hardly differed by a word.

After the second one, I ask my friend, “Don’t you get tired of giving the same old seminar. Why don’t you change it?”

He looked at me as if I had asked the world’s stupidest question, smiled because he knew I was baiting him, and said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

Basic Marketing Mistake #3: Get a good idea and don’t do it enough.

I am convinced that “the one thing” separating the superstars from the merely successful is the scope of the vision. Those who make it all the way to the end of the rainbow think BIG. The merely successful think big.

When you have found the prospecting idea that will bring leads to your door, figure out how to do it in such overwhelming size that your competition cannot survive. Think BIG.

First law of prospecting lists. The easier a list is to get, the more of your competitors have it, and the less likely it is to be any good.

When designing a prospecting campaign, my first decision is: which list?

In my books and training seminars, I recommend that you contact a list broker to buy your first list. That gives you something to work on. But know this and know it well:

If you rely only on a list that can be bought, guess what? Your competitors have already been there, bought it, mailed it, called it and hammered it into dust motes.

In the patchwork quilt of several hundred million families with 401(k) plans, IRAs and other investment accounts, plus 13 million private businesses, countless foundations, churches and others, there are some niches that have not been mined.

Go there. Be quiet. Test. Reap the rewards