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6 Steps to Organize Your Cold Calling

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If you are thinking about starting a cold calling campaign; if you had one and quit; if you have one now that is bogging down—then the odds are you need to get organized.

As always, I have many of the tools you will need here: All free of course.

Without some simple systems into your prospecting, you will begin to lose prospects. You will miss opportunities. You will start spending time looking for things. It will take too much time to “process” a new prospect. You will quit and probably tell a bunch of your friends, “Cold calling doesn’t work.”

So before you throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater, read and heed.

Be prepared to work longer, harder, earlier.

A 747-400 jet carries about 57,285 gallons of fuel. It uses about 5,000 gallons to take off and get to cruising altitude. But at cruising altitude, it only uses about five gallons to fly a mile.

Believe it or not, this has a lot to do with you.

Right now, you know someone who seems to open enough accounts with apparently a little effort. That person’s campaign is, so to speak, off the ground at cruising altitude. Your campaign is not there. Otherwise, you would not be reading this article.

It takes more effort to get a prospecting campaign off the ground than it does to maintain it. It will be hard. Slow going at first. Lots of effort. So plan on it.

1. Organize Your Day

When you are starting or restarting a cold calling campaign, I would budget about four hours a day. Within three months, you can scale that back to about two hours a day. But if you start with only two hours a day, while you work your way through the complexities of a prospecting campaign, you won’t generate enough prospects to keep you interested and, once again, you will quit.

I recommend the following schedule:


11:45–12:45 (You may have to tweak this a bit. What you are looking for in this time block is an executive or business owner who will pick up his or her own telephone.)

4:00–5:00 (You also may need to tweak this. It depends upon the commute schedule in your city or town.)

2. Develop or Adopt a Lead Classification System

A prospect says, “Send me some information.”

What is your process? Do you have to think about it? Are you (gasp!) treating each prospect uniquely? Or, can you quickly identify this prospect as a B-prospect. You fire off a canned “Here is the info letter.” You then schedule a call back either three or seven days later depending on whether the material is sent by email or letter. And you do all of this without thinking about it.

If you do not have a lead classification system, it will take you 10 or 15 minutes to process each lead. If you get your leads per hour up to three or more, it will be taking you almost as long to process your leads as it does to capture them. You have very little time left to do anything.

On my “Cold Calling Page,” I have posted a “Lead Classification Cheat Sheet.” You badly need to know what to do for each lead type. Start here.

3. Develop and Organize Your Lists

You need at least three different lists.

Business owner list. The bigger your market area the more qualified it could be. You are looking for a combination of revenue and years in the business.

Residential list. Yes, I know all about “do not call.” But you can still get names of people at home address who were not on the do-not-call list.

For your general business and residential lists, I recommend CIS Marketing. Marcia Glasser is, in my opinion, the best list broker in the industry. Call CIS at 800-678-1480.

Specialized lists. You have to develop these yourself. You need groups, businesses in the same industry or individuals in the same profession.

One place to get these is your trusty Yellow Pages. No, not the big old book that nobody looks at anymore. But their online website at Check it out.

People are more likely to be interested in something they know than something they do not. The more tightly you can define your lists, the more likely people on them will have a common interest.

Suppose you read in your local business paper that masonry contractors are having a banner year. (I just grabbed this category out of thin air.) Are they more likely to be interested in retirement planning or concrete?

Correct answer: concrete.

Opening line of script: I have a free report on the ready mix concrete industry I think you will find very interesting. It will give you an idea of what’s happening to the companies that supply one of the key components to your business. Would you like to take a look at this report?

Foot in the door. Snout under the tent.

It took me about 15 minutes to find a simple report on ready mix concrete. My next step would be a phone call to see if I could reproduce the report. Most likely, the answer would be “Yes.” Then compliance. Then cold calling.

4. Develop and Test Several Scripts

I cannot tell you which script will work best on which list.

When you are calling, you are constantly monitoring your number of cherries per hour. If you are very far off three per hour, you are questioning whether your list is bad, your script is bad, your time of day is off, if you sound like you’re sucking a lemon, or if you are just not making enough calls.

One obvious thing to change is your script. On my cold calling website, you can download lots of scripts. Test several. Have at least three you like.

5. Decide on a Drip Strategy

Probably your biggest marketing problem is out of sight/out of mind. If someone tells you, “We are not going to retire until January 2018,” and then they don’t hear from you until January 2018, any mental trace of you is obliterated. Dripping between personal contacts keeps your name alive. So you need a drip strategy.

My very earliest drip strategy was to have an advisor call every client once a month at the time the client was not likely to be home and leave a voicemail message.

The second strategy was to call half of the group one month and send the other half a short message with some educational material. The message was handwritten and said simply:

Dear Bob: Here is some information I thought you could use. Sincerely, Roberta.

My current strategy, given modern computer capabilities, is a bit more sophisticated: (a) Send every client a letter every month and often a duplicate email. (b) Make certain every client receives a phone call at least every 90 days from someone in the advisor’s office. (c) Send every client and every spouse a birthday letter. Make sure the letter changes every year. (d) Send lots of etiquette letters. These are the thank you, congratulations, get well, condolence, have a great trip, welcome back, etc. etc. letters that your mother wanted you to write. Or at least my mother did.

6. Develop an Educational Library

In my book “Hot Prospects,” I wrote that “lead development” is the missing link in sales. It takes someone from a wisp of interest to the point they are interested enough to set a first appointment. That may take months, or even years.

You should always have a group of very desirable prospects that you are focusing on. Between calls, mail or email something uniquely tailored to that person.

So you need a library of compliance approved educational materials.

Assuming your firm has a selling agreement with MFS, I would start there. The materials they have assembled are AMAZING.

Best bet: Google “milestone marketing MFS.” Get at least 10 pieces you like approved by compliance. Keep adding from whatever resources and partners your firm has. Remember, you are not looking for product information. This is educational material that will help increase the interest level of your prospects.

There you have it. Now you are organized. Start cold calling.


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