The great mystery of our industry is that we hire outgoing, social, talkative and charming people. And these very same people don’t seem capable of setting enough new appointments per week to improve the national rate of 2 appointments per week. Which is pathetic.
Most agencies are asking new people to schedule between 8 and 10 new, confirmed appointments per week. Yet the number of people who cannot achieve this is astounding. In fact, it’s easier to count on one hand the number of new agents who are able to do it. Few are able to do it every week for months at a time. There are hills and valleys in any business, but the problem of having enough appointments never seems to change.
An experienced producer might need only 2 new fact-finds a week to make a good income. But the more experienced you are, despite better phone skills, the more tasks and distractions you have every week. So industry veterans, too, are not scheduling enough initial appointments.
And I am not referring to the on-going sales appointments that are created once a prospect agrees to meet the agent and embark on a fact find and its requisite appointments. I’m talking new client appointments or new appointments with existing clients who have not been seen in a long time.
There are several possible reasons for this problem:
(1) Lack of leads. Probably the primary reason most agents fail to create enough appointments per week is that they don’t have enough people to call. And I mean good prospects, not cold lists you can buy from the predators that stalk the sales world for those who consistently have this problem.
(2) Not sure what to say. Verbiage is key! If someone cannot phrase what they want to say in an eloquent way that makes them sound smart, they will hesitate to do the activity at all. Remember, we tend to hire smart people who have to pass hard tests. And they rarely like to do an activity they think makes them sound dumb. Giving them better words usually solves this problem for a lot of agents.
(3) They don’t find the time to make their calls. Unless you have a rookie who has to attend group dialing sessions as part of a weekly activity, it is hard to find time to make calls. I know because I have the same problem! It must be a proactive thought when you run a busy financial practice. Therefore, “I have to stop what I am doing now and make my calls” is a hard sentence to execute.
(4) No one picks up. The lower contact rate is a distinct and real problem in our society. If the contact rate was 45 percent in the early nineties and now it is 28 percent, you have to compensate for that. Two ideas (not rocket science here folks) are: (1) dial faster to try and reach more people per hour, and (2) be strategic in when you choose to make your calls. I am always fascinated by agents who call home phone numbers during the day. Duh.
(5) They’d rather type than talk. Most people prefer to communicate through their fingers instead of their mouths these days. Many younger recruits are lacking communication skills that are not keyboard based. And the argument that folks respond to emails faster than phone calls is not a lie. But since we are in a relationship-based business and are looking for long-term relationships with families throughout the generations, we need to present ourselves, not our typewritten words. At some point, the phone is the more human connection and we need to be able to make a call.
(6) No phone training. Unfortunately, this is a serious but true problem. Agency managers who do not have a structured way of teaching a new member of their agency how to make phone calls is seriously inhibiting that person’s success. Phoning is not instinctive. Talking may be, but making this special type of call needs to be taught. Not just demonstrated —taught.
(7) Lack of good leads. Oh, did I say that already? If so, it’s because it’s probably the most critical reason agents are not getting enough appointments.
Looking at all of these reasons, you need to ask yourself: Which ones am I guilty of? Maybe you need to rethink your marketing and put yourself in groups of people who are your favorite type of clients. Or you need to find better scripts so you say better words when you reach people. Or you need to analyze when you are calling and switch up your times and days.
Whatever the reason, being passive and just saying “dial more” is not the answer. A strategic look at why a producer doesn’t have enough appointments is the best way to truly come up with a diagnosis and proper treatment plan for the problem.
Keep Dialin’ and Smilin’
Read also this column by Gail Goodman: