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How to Master the Second ‘Cold’ Call

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This is the second of a four-part series on cold calling. In my September article, I went in depth on why you have to qualify for interest first. I also covered how to close for an appointment. And I made a very special offer, which I now repeat: If you email me a copy of your best script, I will send you a copy of the best scripts I receive—but only if you send me one. Email your scripts to [email protected].

I am also collecting information on the “state of the art in cold calling.” If you take my survey, I will send you a compilation of my Research articles on cold calling, updated with new material. You can take the survey here: ColdCalling2012.

Finally, in 2009, I did a similar script harvest resulting in “16 best cold calling scripts 2009.” Along with other valuable (and free) information, it is posted at

The biggest problem in cold calling, of course, is picking up the phone. This is abundantly clear from early respondents to my survey.

The second biggest problem is doing it right. What people tend to do is get a bad idea and stick to it. 

The third biggest problem is having a great second call.

If you get over the hurdles of just doing it and then doing it right, you can still blow it with a poor second call. Here’s why this is a problem.

One valid approach to cold calling is to offer people information. I have called this “cherry picking.” Instead of trying to sell something or even set an appointment, you offer investment literature and then qualify. Obviously you have to call these leads back.

Another valid approach is to try to set appointments on a first call. I have personally tested this. It works. But it also generates about five times as many call back leads (cherries) as appointments.

So in both cases, you need a second call script.

A Failed Approach

When I am talking to someone who is having trouble cold calling, I always ask, “What do you say on the second call?”

A huge percentage of struggling FAs give me a version of the following. (This little script is right out of my book Hot Prospects, so I’ll just quote myself.)

FRED: Jackie, it’s Fred Smithers over here at Acme. How are you?


FRED:I sent you that information last week. Did you get it?

JACKIE: Doesn’t ring a bell.

FRED:Remember the big package? Brown envelope?

JACKIE: Oh, yes. I’ve got it. Haven’t had time to look at it yet. It’s about number six down from the top.

FRED:When do you think you’ll get to look at it?

JACKIE: Try me next week some time.

What a waste of time! 

Second Call Objective

We have one primary objective of the second call: determine if this person is in fact qualified and interested enough to set an appointment.

If not, is he or she is qualified? If so, keep the conversation going to give us time to increase the interest level enough for the prospect to set an appointment. Failing that, find out when an investment decision could be made.

You can accomplish all this in less than five minutes—if you can get five minutes. To get the time, we have to get the prospect to lower their guard and mentally open the door. And to do that we have to get around the problem of “Nope. Didn’t get it. Can you send it again?”

Solving the Problem

We have a two-stage process for solution.

First: Send the requested information in such a way the prospect at least has to look at your name several times. Here is an adaptation from a few pages in my book.

Take your business card, flip it around, upside down and backward, and write on the back, “Here’s the information I promised.” And sign only your first name. Then, using a paper clip, attach the card to the upper right-hand corner of the material. 

When the information arrives, your prospect will open the envelope, see your first name on the back of the card, won’t have a clue who you are, will then have to take the card off and read it. This forces your prospect to get physically involved with your business card. She has to decide what to do with the card. This earned you several “impressions.” Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. 

Of course you lose this step when you send information electronically. 

Second: When you get the prospect to the phone for your second contact, don’t ask “Did you get it/did you read it?”

Instead say, “I sent you that material last week, but before I recommend you get involved, there are two or three questions I would like to check with you. Do you have a moment or two?” I call this “the bypass principle.” Just bypass whether they got it. Assume they did.

One problem. Two solutions. Do they work?

In late August, I had several conversations with a client of mine who is prospecting “the good way.” He is currently opening about five new client relationships a month. He’s down from about 10 per month. Why is he down? He has lots of clients to take care of. In the last five years, he has built a $650,000 book. His clients came from cold calling or from referrals from clients who were initially cold called. He’s 35 years old.

When I asked him about the “bypass principle,” it was like asking him if gravity still works. “Of course,” he said. “That’s the only way to start a second call.”

The Self-Introduction

With the bypass principle, you buy 15 seconds of prospect time. Use it to demonstrate good manners and establish credibility. I call this section a “self-introduction.”

Again, I am quoting from my book.

“Since we’ve never met, I’d like to tell you a little about myself and the kind of work I do. My name, again, is Bob Loblaw. I specialize in (INFO SENT), tax-advantaged investments and retirement planning. I’ll answer any questions you have and stay in touch with new ideas and needed information. But I recognize that you’re probably busy, and I’ll respect that by keeping my calls brief and to the point. Does that sound fair enough to you, Mr./Ms. _____?”

It’s really hard for the prospect to say, “No, that’s not fair.” The prospect has opened the door a smidgen. Now let’s see if we can at least get him out on the front porch.

Bridge to Profile

This next little section, which I call “Bridge to Profile,” can alone disqualify. That’s a good thing. The biggest threat to your survival is spending your selling time with unqualified people who just want to talk. So some people will bail right after the “Bridge to Profile.” In many cases, it will buy you 5-10 minutes.

“For me to do a good job for you over time, I’ll really need to know more about where you are financially, how you got that way, but most important, where you want to be in the future. We can do that one of two ways. We can set up a time to get together, or I can run some questions by you right now. How would you like to proceed?”

That’s a classic forced choice closing question, isn’t it?

If the person doesn’t have the time right now, we of course respect that. Best bet: set a telephone appointment. This question will often also flush out people who just can’t make a decision right now or do not have the funds available right now. These are our classic “green cherries.” They go in the pipeline.

Next Steps

Doggone it. I’ve run out of space. There are two next steps: (1) Mini-Profile and (2) Appointment Close. So what I will do for you is post a copy of my “Second Call Script” over at I will put it in Microsoft Word so you can make such changes as you require. 

Read Bill Good’s September article “Cold Calling 2012.”


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