If you’ve been in this business for any length of time—one day to ten years or more—you know one thing to be an absolute certainty, that prospecting is your lifeblood. You understand the critical importance of filling up your pipeline and keeping it full of qualified leads that can be continuously converted into qualified prospects. But to identify someone as a qualified prospect, you have to contact them. So, you make the phone call.
If you don’t reach them the first time, you call back in a few days. After a third and fourth try, you dare to leave a voice message. Nothing. So, you recycle them in your CRM for a call two or three months from now. Meanwhile, your potential prospect has blocked future calls. Your CRM is now full of candidates who have refused and will continue to refuse to take your call. Where does that leave you?
If you are still counting them as potential qualified prospects, you are probably deluding yourself and diluting your pipeline with people who have no desire to talk with you. But what was your big mistake?
Mistake #1: Assuming people don’t like colds calls and not understanding why.
The first mistake advisors make is just to assume people don’t like to get cold calls. That’s true, but do you know why? Of course, people don’t like to get cold calls, primarily because they don’t want to get sold something they don’t need or want. But you are offering a valuable service and the opportunity to improve people’s financial lives. Still, they don’t know that. They don’t know anything about you or what you can do for them, so why should they risk wasting three minutes of their life to take your call?
Mistake #2: Assuming people prefer communicating via their phones.
The second mistake advisors make is to assume that people prefer being contacted and communicated with via the phone. Today, in the digital age, phones are becoming an inconvenience. Not that they aren’t effective in prospecting—just not as a primary form of communications.
In reality, an increasing number of people, especially the younger generations, hate making or receiving calls. They prefer texting or emailing because they provide a buffer, and it can be done at a time of their choosing. They will take a call eventually, but only when they’re ready, and it’s on their terms.
The Biggest Prospecting Mistake: Calling people before they’re ready to be called.
I’m not suggesting that you give up the phone and start pounding out emails. That can be as damaging as making a bunch of indiscriminate phone calls to someone. People can block emails too.
What I am suggesting is that the big mistake advisors make is to start calling people before they’re ready to be called. How much different would your life be if you knew when potential prospects were ready to be contacted, and they even told you how they’d like to be contacted? Even better, they give you permission to contact them. Simpler? More productive?
Contacting people before they are ready and neglecting to find out how they prefer to be contacted is the surest way to burn through your pipeline. They’re in your pipeline for a reason. Because you know something about them and because their profile seems to match your profile of an ideal client. Maybe they responded to a mailer or an invitation to a seminar. Perhaps you met them at an event or were introduced to them at a party. But you have yet to engage with them. You’re still a stranger to them. Why would they take your call?
Solution: Engage your prospects before you call them.
What if, instead, you put all the leads in your pipeline into a marketing automation program? You can segment your leads in any number of ways, including demographics, occupations, and interests. Then create email content tailored to the different segments. In your emails, you include links to your website, social media account, blog, or a free download such as a report or ebook. You will know who is opening your emails, what links they’re clicking on. You’ll know who visits your website, blog, or social media accounts.
Before any calls are made, you will be engaging with your leads, providing them with value, and learning their interests so you can tailor your content even further. They will be learning more about you, how you work, and how you can help them.
Prospects will let you know when they’re ready.
The program will track their level of engagement and even score it, letting you know when someone is ready to be contacted. Your next email will include your acknowledgment of and appreciation for their interest along with an invitation to answer their specific questions—if they’re ready. The email asks how they prefer to communicate and, if they want to schedule a call, what’s the best time.
Marketing automation software is not inexpensive. You can spend anywhere from $30 to $250 a month, but the return on investment can be greater than any other marketing dollar you spend. And with it, the phone can once again be your friend.