Cold calling works today! When it doesn't work, you are doing something wrong.

It’s time for another “script harvest.” The last one was 2012. In a script harvest, you send me any cold calling script you are using. I want good ones and bad ones. I will reply personally to any script you send. I will give you a grade based on lots of experience.

Plus, I have two checklists: “Good Script Characteristics” and “Bad Script Characteristics.” Each script will be graded with these two checklists. When you send me your script, I will check off the items you did right, and also indicate characteristics that need improvement.

In a future issue of Research magazine, I will show you current examples of good scripts and bad scripts. Please email your script to:

Please believe me when I tell you: Cold calling works today! When it doesn’t work, you are doing something wrong.

I have created a “Cold Calling Resource Page” on our website. There you can get some scripts from previous harvests, and, very importantly, you can use our calculator to see if your stats put you in the cold calling success zone or the failure zone. It’s all right here:

The Biggest Mistake

Your biggest mistake is: Get a bad idea and stick to it.

Let’s assume your opening script goes like this (an actual “worst script” from my previous harvest).

Hey [Mr/Ms Prospect Name], I’m with [CompanyName] and my name is [AdvisorName]. I manage people’s finances, and I wonder if you have a minute to talk with me?

IF Yes: One of the ways I help people is listening to them to discover their goal for their future, and how planning their finances can help them achieve that goal. How would you describe your investment experience?

Let’s assume you are with a wirehouse. You have to bring in $5 million AUM your first year. Failing that, you are in the penalty box or worse.

Using this script, you might generate a cherry every two hours. Let’s further assume it takes you five hot prospects to close a sale. Worst case, you might need up to 10 cherries to get an appointment. We will further assume your average new client brings in $250,000 over the first year. It will take this poor FA 40 hours/week of cold calling just to generate the necessary leads. This does not count the time needed for first, second and often a third appointment. It does not count time spent with current clients.

When the math proves you cannot make the goal, you are failing.

If this is your script and if you are generating anywhere near 0.5 cherries/hour, you are failing. Better change something.

Knowing It’s Broken

Question: How long does it take to determine you have a bad idea?

Answer: In some cases, a few hours.

Question: What is the most important indicator that you have a bad campaign?

Answer: Fewer than three cherries in an hour of cold calling.

Suppose we change just one stat in that failing campaign. Instead of 0.5 cherries per hour, let’s suppose you are generating three. If everything else remains equal, the math is now working in your favor. Instead of 40 hours a week of cold calling, you can get the job done in seven. You can get there from here.

Fix-It Toolkit

To fix a failing campaign, you must keep the following stats for each list called. You must always note which script you are using.

Dials per hour. Hours called. Cherries per hour. (Cherry: interested, qualified, and willing to receive investment literature.) Hot prospects set. (First appointments set with qualified prospect.) Active prospects. (They have kept the first appointment and are working through issues with the intent to make a decision to employ you or not.) New clients. New assets.

There are six variables that determine the outcome of campaign. I’m going to divide these into two groups.

Bedrock Variables

These should never change. If they do differ from best practice standards outlined below, they must be fixed first.

1. Your philosophy and beliefs about cold calling. Of course, you subscribe to “The Good Way.” You are looking for people who are interested and qualified now. You NEVER handle objections on a first call. You immediately move on when someone is not interested.

2. Your “sound” is upbeat, energetic and professional. You pace yourself with the speed your prospect is speaking. You use proper voice inflection, never inflecting up when you introduce yourself or your company.

3. Number of calls. You pound out 60-plus dials per hour when prospecting. Nothing else will work.

Fix-It Tool Variables

Assuming your bedrock variables are executed to professional standards, one or more of the “Fix-It Tool Variables” will solve a failing prospecting campaign. Please note: Right now, we are talking about your lead generation cold calling campaign. You might get this right and still fail. That’s another series of articles.

Right now, we’re going to fix your front-end cold calling campaign.

If your “cherries per hour” stat averages less than three over a several-hour period, you need to begin immediate corrective action by changing one of these variables at a time.

4. Time of day. This is an easy one to check. Sometimes, a change in time of day you are calling produces dramatic results. For most lists, there are three optimum calling time blocks: 8–10, 11:45–1:15, 4:00–5:00. Pound out calls in each of these time blocks. Keep good stats. Determine if one of these blocks is better than the others. Now you just need a campaign for the other blocks.

5. Message. This is your advertisement. If you were going to run a 30-second radio ad, you would agonize over each word. Well, you are running a 30-second ad. The exact words you say—your message, your script, call it whatever—can make a huge difference.

Sometimes a minor change will nudge a cold calling campaign above the magic three cherries/hour.

Suppose you are offering a report on a tax free municipal bond fund. Your current script reads, “The bonds in this fund have been selected for both income and safety.” Let’s say you are getting two cherries an hour. You could experiment with: “The bonds in this fund are exempt from all state and federal taxes regardless of your tax bracket. That includes the alternative minimum tax.” (If true, of course.)

Perhaps this ratchets you up to three cherries. Keep it. But suppose you just cannot get to three cherries an hour on your current list.

One possibility is to throw out your bond fund script and start over. Using that same list, you could go looking for investors with a high risk tolerance.

I am looking for an investor who can deal with substantial risk when there is the possibility of substantial reward. Could that be you?

I have a report on how to invest in the domestic oil production boom in North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana. Would you like to take a look at it?

Suppose this bombs and you are back at 0.5 cherries/hour. I might now keep the bond fund script that worked the best and get a new list. I could also keep the oil boom script and look for another list. Or, I could start over with a new message and a new list.

6. List. Let’s say you have been using your bond fund script on a residential list scrubbed against the DNC list.

Let’s try another list, say, home-based businesses in high-income zip codes.

All of a sudden, you are knocking down 3.5 cherries an hour.

Roll it out. Keep doing it. Buy that entire list in your market area. Don’t tell anyone what you are doing.

Formula for Success

Nail down your bedrock variables.

By testing, testing, testing your “Fix-It Tool Variables,” find a message, script and time of day that produce three cherries/hour.

Lock it down. Keep doing it.

The point: Keep testing time of day, message and list while holding bedrock variables constant. According to me, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

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