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The No. 1 Prospecting Mistake

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Fact:  Many advisors who have relied on referrals alone for years know they have to prospect again.

Some will actually do something.  Others, sadly, will lie in a quiet pool of warm water hoping a food particle floats by.  If that’s your plan, this article is not for you.

This article is for those who are willing to re-energize prospecting.

As you shake yourself back to life, you must be ever alert for and not commit:

Basic Mistake Number 1

Get a bad idea and stick to it.

The way never to commit this mistake is to constantly test and evaluate your prospecting campaigns.  To help you, I have posted “Testing Campaigns” on my “Financial Advisor Prospecting Resource Page.”

While I have seen this one committed by rookies and veterans alike, it’s more common among rookies and is probably the most common reason they wash out.

Let’s consider the worst script anyone can use:

“Hi, my name is Anita Cathider.  I’m calling to introduce myself and let you know some of the services we have available.”

You would think that after cold calling a few days with this dog of a script, Anita would give it up and try something else.  But no, someone had told her, “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  So she tries harder. 

Failure deepens.  She cold calls more.  She begins to question her abilities.  Her attitude dims.  After a few months of pounding out 150 calls a day, she has a handful of prospects.  Her manager occasionally comes around to see how she’s doing.  Then comes around less often.  She starts checking job openings on Monster®.

What’s the real problem?

She got a (very) bad idea and stuck to it. 

Successful prospecting is built on failure, lots of it.

Anita should expect to go through 30 or so scripts until she finds one that works for her. But to get there, she would have to test all of them and discard them when it’s obvious they don’t work.

Obviously, it can’t take weeks to determine that a script is a failure.  It really just takes a few hours.

Discarding a Bad Idea

Here’s an example of not sticking to a bad idea.

A client of mine sent out 3,500 seminar invitations.  Four people replied.  That’s a 0.11% response. Not profitable. Bad idea.

We immediately tried another invitation. That pulled 0.8% response.

The first invite was a bad idea. We dropped it. Hot potato.


The solution is always, test (and test … and test!)

How long does it take to determine if, say, a cold-calling campaign is a bad idea? A few hundred calls.

What about a seminar invitation?

One mailing that produces a 0.11% response is all you need.  Maybe two or three more as you try to tweak response into a profitable range.

Anita’s problem?  She didn’t fail enough.


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: