This blog will not be popular with some. You may think, “Gimme a break! Old school stuff. Out of date. Besides, cold calling doesn’t work. I hate to cold call. I would rather stand in a cold shower ripping up hundred-dollar bills. Gross. Yuck.”

OK, fine. If that first paragraph is you, read another blog. But if you are currently cold calling, or are thinking about it, read on.

As you read this blog, it would be helpful if you have a copy of my “The 16 Best Scripts.” Look through these scripts. Sort them into the three piles: product, concept and service. You will understand more in a minute.

With that out of the way, let me tell you about a discovery I made that changed the way the industry prospected in the ‘80s. By the time the cold-calling era had wound down, my company had trained maybe 50,000 advisors in the U.S. and Canada to cold call.

We built the better mousetrap. While it is much tougher to cold call today, the key discoveries I made in the very late ‘70s and early ‘80s are entirely valid.

A key discovery was the answer to this question: What should you talk about on a cold call?

Here’s how it happened.

In 1979, I was teaching one of my very early classes at E.F. Hutton in Los Angeles. While my students were practicing what I had been preaching and were making cold calls, I was also on the phone testing a script

This particular script offered a free portfolio analysis. Even though I was calling a wealthy area, results were dreadful. On a whim, I dropped that approach and trotted out an early version of a tax-free municipal bond fund script.

The results changed instantly.

By changing my offer, I dramatically changed results. Hmmm.

After much more testing and many more classes, I formulated the following law:

“All things being equal, you get better prospecting results with a product than a concept. You get better results with a concept than a service.”

Product-Concept-Service: What else is there to talk about?

By the way, don’t even think about prospecting for fee-based business, C-shares, managed accounts or wrap accounts — this is just how you charge for your services. It’s not what people buy. No client in world history ever said, “I want to buy some C-Shares.”


When you prospect, you have to talk about something. You get better results generally if you start out talking product.

Here are some examples of phone-script openings.

Product: Tax-free municipal bond fund.

I have a free report available about a tax-free municipal bond fund. The tax-free bonds in the fund have been selected for both income and safety. Would you like to receive a copy of this report?

Concept: Reduce taxes.

“We have some important information available on how to shelter your investment earnings from the ravages of current taxes. This booklet will outline several alternatives you might find of interest. May I send it to you?”

Service: Investment Tax Analysis.

“One of the services we offer here at Reliable Securities is called “Investment Tax Analysis.” We’ll take a look at what you have, what your retirement income objectives are, and then show you how some changes in your tax strategy might benefit you. Could I send you some information outlining this service?”

Without further testing, I would expect to get better results from the Product Approach than from the Concept Approach. And I would anticipate better results from the Concept Approach than from the Service Approach.

And I could also be dead wrong. There are exceptions to the rule. This just gives you an idea of where to start, and a warning to change if your script is bombing.

Again, the principle states: As a rule, you will get better results from prospecting with a product than a concept, and better results with a concept than a service.

Why is this true? Who knows! That’s just the way it is.

If you really study the “Cherries and Pits” theory in my book Hot Prospects, you will see we generally get the door open with a product. We make the sale with service.

A financial planner who prospects with financial planning (a service) will go toes up. Don’t even go there. Offer some product or concept information. Start the dialogue. Establish the relationship. Invite them to a seminar (concept). Then invite them to the office. Ask them to bring their brokerage statements. Run them through a questionnaire. Offer to work out a roadmap to help them get where they want to be (service).

That’s how you do it.

Open the conversation with a product.

Profile gently, then intensely.

Set an appointment.

More profiling.

Find their go-buttons.

Prepare a proposal.

Present it.

Close it.

Do it again.


Bill Good is chairman of Bill Good Marketing. His Gorilla CRM® System helps advisors double their production or work half as much; visit His seminar program, “No More Pies! ®,” helps advisors manage ETF portfolios using technical analysis; see And his blog,, has lots of useful information for advisors who need to beef up marketing. To preview Bill as a speaker, see his YouTube channel here: