As I mentioned in my last column, I have begun tweeting.

I did it in part because I like it, but more so, I did it to practice what I preach. I’ve been telling clients of Bill Good Marketing that they need to have an online brag wall. In short, if someone searches for you on Google, make sure that first page on Google is good stuff about you.

I am well aware of the restrictions placed by securities firms against blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. However, you are a citizen and used to have First Amendment rights.

Example: A client of mine is passionate about “social entrepreneurship.” I told him he needs to have a blog on that subject. And he needs to update it frequently. He can also have a Facebook page dealing with hobbies, or whatever.

Now, when he gets referrals, and people Google him before calling, they will not only find his firm-sanctioned homepage, but they’ll find out something about him.

So read on as I give more explanation than the 140 characters allotted in a tweet.

If a prospect is not interested, it does not matter how well qualified. Don’t argue. Say “Thank you very much” and move on.

To put it another way, “Pick the cherries, not the pits.”

In the years since I introduced this concept to countless rookie brokers in the 1980s, there is no question that I have done some damage to the foundation of the “old way” of selling: “The test of the macho or macha sales professional is the ability to persist in the face of objections.”

No! The test is how many good prospects you can find per hour of invested time.

At a point in the 1980s, practically every top new account opener in every single company had attended and implemented the “cherries and pits” strategy, which I had developed.

As times and markets have changed, this truth has not. When you contact a prospect, whether that prospect comes from a cold call, seminar lead, referral, Web registration, trade show or whatever, you first qualify for interest. If there is no interest, nothing else matters.

Yes, I’ve heard your objections. “There was a time when I persisted through 27 consecutive turndowns, and then set the appointment that opened a $2 million account.”

Yes, and that’s one of the worst things that ever happened to you. Because getting you to hang up when someone says “We decided we’re not interested” will now never happen.

It’s easier to rewrite than it is to write, which is why sales people profit from model letters, e-mails and scripts.

Many moons ago, when today’s veterans were rookies, I posed the question: Is it possible to teach financial advisors to write good letters in a reasonably short period?

To answer, I rounded up about a half dozen advisors and conducted a weekend seminar. After looking at the results, there were only two possible conclusions: no, it was not possible, or I could not teach them. In any event, the practical answer was: no, it is not possible.

So I tested something else: If you provide model letters and scripts, can advisors rewrite and adapt? The answer to that was a resounding yes.

Where then do you get these? Some years ago, to make a point, I took an excellent article in a mutual fund brochure, and with permission of the fund company, made it into a direct-mail letter.

Need some marketing material? Look around you. Find something you like. Call and get permission to use it. Simple.

Lead development is the process of increasing the prospect’s desire until he or she is interested enough to set an appointment with sales.

In my book Hot Prospects I have a section, “Lead Development: The Missing Link in Sales.” The missing link is the period between the moment the lead is generated and the first appointment begins. The sale begins with the first appointment. Before that, you have lead generation and lead development.

It’s too often in this “big middle ground” of sales that too many leads get lost because no one is solely responsible for them. In the team model I have built, lead development belongs to the “sales assistant.” And for those who have followed my work, you will recognize that the primary mission of the sales assistant is to ensure the financial advisor always has plenty of interested, qualified people to talk to and see.

The art of managing a sales pipeline is to stay in touch with all, while focusing on a few.

A decent-sized sales pipeline should have a few hundred prospects in it. The majority, at any one time, is caught in a root ball or otherwise trapped in a pipeline bubble. They are not moving toward a sale. Only a few are moving today. But if you only focus on the ones today, the others disappear.

That’s why dripping is so important. By using letters or e-mails, plus periodic phone calls, you can keep your name in front of those who are parked. And once your pipeline reaches critical mass, every month, a few of them will be reactivated.

Naturally, focus on the prospects in motion. But always be working to get others in motion.

The first 15 seconds of a prospecting phone call prove you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

In the process of coaching countless thousands of people how to prospect, I have monitored countless thousands of phone calls. Sometimes just getting a person to smile when they talk, immediately changes the outcome of an entire campaign. Possibly those first 15 seconds are more important than anything else you say or do.

Two types of lead generation: relationship marketing & mass marketing. Master relationship marketing. You may not have to mass market.

When most people think “relationship marketing,” they think referrals and introductions from professionals. These are each separate channels. But you know a lot of other people. One very interesting category, often your entrance point into the fabled high-net-worth sector of the market, is your social connections.

How do you prospect them?

The truth is that people like doing business with people they know.

Another truth: You dare not solicit your social connections or you violate an unwritten law undoubtedly created by some stuffy old etiquette maven.

Both of these principles are true. So how can you then solicit your connections if you can’t solicit? Answer: Who said you had to solicit?

Just consider what I call a “no-key” campaign. If “low key” is low pressure then “no-key” is no pressure. This type of campaign does not ask for anything, so it does not violate the rule.

By now, perhaps you are befuddled. Just lower your IQ a few points and realize that all you have to do is stay in touch with your connections. Just make sure you use your firm’s letterhead. That’s how you continually remind your connections what you do in real life.

At a seminar, I met a young man who, earlier in his life, had been a champion equestrian. His connections knew him as a champion rider. They did not know him as an investment executive at a national firm. So for some months, he wrote to the wealthy people he grew up with about horses. But he did so using firm letterhead. That was the bridge he needed to enable his connections to see him in a different light. If the social lords decree, “don’t solicit,” then don’t.

But that doesn’t mean “don’t communicate.”