5 Cold Calling Mistakes Financial Advisors Must Avoid to Improve Results

For many financial advisors, cold calling does not play a dominant part in their marketing plans. Many feel it can be replaced by other prospecting methods, such as email campaigns, social media networking, or trade shows. But would it surprise you to know that cold calling still generates better results than those other methods? When you ask advisors why they avoid cold calling, you often get responses like, “It’s not working for me,” or “It’s a waste of time,” or “no one wants to talk to me on the phone.”

No one ever said cold calling is easy. But if your efforts aren’t producing results, have you ever considered it’s not the method, but how you’re executing it that’s not working? Hitting a fast pitch baseball is hard. But if you’re not connecting, is it the bat’s fault or the way you’re swinging it? If you want to hit the ball out of the park, using a baseball bat is the best way to do it. But if you’re doing it wrong, you won’t get the desired results. That’s why professional ballplayers constantly work on their swing. They can’t walk away from it because it’s their livelihood, so they work at improving it. They do that by understanding what they’re doing wrong and avoiding those mistakes.

Cold calling is your livelihood and, unless you have a well-established book of A-list clients, you can’t walk away either. But you can improve your game. You can start by avoiding these five critical cold calling mistakes.

1. Not researching your list

In the pre-internet days, we would purchase a list of “qualified” prospects and start dialing away because it was all we could do. These days, anyone who shows up on a qualified list—be it business owners, C-suite executives, or high-net-worth individuals—can be researched. Before starting a cold calling campaign, schedule an hour to go through each name on the list and google them. Then find them on Facebook and LinkedIn. You will invariably find critical pieces of information on your prospects that can be incorporated into your call, including their age, background, career path, industry, interests, and possible mutual connections, among other valuable nuggets. Your cold prospect will appreciate your taking the time to learn about them, which can quickly warm up a call.

2. Not using a prepared script

Using a prepared script is essential, even for experienced advisors. When you master a well-prepared script, you are free to concentrate on your prospects—what they say, how they say it—and listen for voice inflections that reveal tone and temperament. You can’t do that if you are focused on the words coming out of your mouth. And it prevents your professionalism from showing through.

3. Not asking the right questions

The first objective of a cold call, from the beginning to the end, is to get the prospect engaged with the call so you can build rapport. The most effective way to do that is by asking questions. If you wait too long to ask a question, your prospect will zone out. Asking the wrong kind of question can give your prospect an easy out. Never ask closed-end questions that elicit a closed “yes” or “no” response” which can end a conversation. As part of your list research and prepared script, have a series of probing questions ready that begin with “What,” Why,” “How.” Then shut up and listen. When the opportunity presents itself, follow up with “Tell me more.” That’s how to make a call more interesting to your prospect.

4. Not having a follow-up strategy

One of the worst mistakes you can make is to neglect the call follow-up. Numerous studies have shown that it takes between six and twelve contacts to turn a warm prospect into a client. That’s where your CRM system comes in to ensure timely follow-up. However, with the tools and technology available today, you should have a full-scale strategy that combines email automation and social media to turn a warm prospect into a hot, qualified lead.

Your primary objective on follow-up calls is to encourage your prospect to opt-in to your email newsletter and join you on LinkedIn. From there, the natural course of cultivation takes over, allowing you to build more rapport and differentiate yourself.

5. Not investing in your craft

When done right, cold calls do work. However, like any skill set, be it swinging a bat or honing your phone presence, there’s always more you can do to master your craft. Record your calls and have a colleague critic them. Listen to advisors who make cold calling appear effortless. Be on the lookout for effective phone scripts, and practice like your livelihood depends on it—because it does.

Related: 3 Situations When Financial Advisors Should Use a Prospecting Script