Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn! All are excellent networking sites for the aspiring advisor. Yet, augmenting these efforts with good old-fashioned cold calling can get the results you need.

All too often managers find younger advisors scouring the Internet for potential leads and not spending nearly enough time on the telephone. To be sure, if you aren't actively — and I mean telephonically or face-to-face — communicating with your leads and pipeline, sales will rarely follow. Calling by day and researching by night helps to guarantee success in the brokerage business. Now that we have the order down, take some advice from a seasoned pro on how to make the most of your calls.

While the adage of smile when you dial always holds true, if you don't know the goal of the call then you probably won't get very far. I get so many calls at my firm pitching everything from print cartridges to investments, that I know within 20 seconds of initial contact whether I will ever be speaking to the person at the other end of the line again. Sadly, more often than not, I won't. Simply put, most callers don't know their goal. While one of the main goals is to get someone to sign on the dotted line, qualifying your lead and developing a long-term happy customer is the key to success.

For instance, I recently received a call from "Jay", an advisor with large investment firm in the suburbs of New Jersey. Jay was attempting to pitch all the wares that his bank had to offer, and his approach was so unfocused that I almost became confused. Considering that I recruit advisors for a living, that really shouldn't be the case.

When I mentioned this to him and asked what office he was in, Jay simply hung up. A quick FINRA search and a few minutes later I had all of Jay's stats. Talk about a call gone bad. I had all of his info when he should have had all of mine.

I have three goals. My first goal is to build long-lasting relationships with top-notch financial advisors throughout the country. Second, I become an information source to most of the advisors with whom I come in contact; and third, I become a broker's advocate, along with maintaining the best management Rolodex on the street. If I keep all three goals in mind, the other physical goals of getting qualified people to meet with qualified managers fall into place.

Whether you are selling investments or people, they can read into your intentions. If you are all about one particular trade and your prospect is looking for a life plan, it's just not going to work.

The Direct Approach
As for cold calling I think honesty is the best policy. Saying it is a personal call or a private business matter has never worked for me and will get people mad at you. When screened, I say I am a recruiter. As a result, I have had people that I can never get a hold of call me back. Be direct, don't try to be something you're not.

People trust people who are honest. If they aren't interested, don't just say okay and give up. Cold calls should turn into warm calls. You want to build a relationship.

And how do you that? Be friendly, talk about weather, sports, kids, and take good notes. But also get the business information such as assets, production. Remember there is a point to the call; it's business.

Your demeanor should be non-assuming yet confident. If you appear scripted, too animated, slicker than the prospective client or insincere in any way, you will be automatically shut down. Keep it real.

Also, remember that not only are you selling your company, but you're also selling yourself as an individual. Work to set yourself apart.

In a world of empty suits, it pays to have a personality; just don't be overbearing. I have a system that allows me to track my employees' calls. I can tell the number of calls, who they are calling and how long the calls last. You can have 150 calls but if they last five seconds, chances are you didn't get through to anyone.

Qualify Your Leads
Why speak with someone and keep him or her in your database when you can't help them? Either that prospect is not your target demographic or otherwise requires something that you can't offer. If the lead continues to go nowhere, it just isn't a lead. In fact, leads have never been easier to qualify. Whether it's just running an initial Google search, or checking out their credentials on LinkedIn, you can go in with information on your side. Have an updated pitch book so that you are able to handle questions with ease. Try to use an example or a story to relate to your prospect.

Keep in mind that the longer you have been in the business, the less cold calls you are going to make. And the only reason you make less calls is that you have worked hard on the calls you have made to build, build, build your database. The cold call has become a warmhearted one.

Carri Degenhardt-Burke runs Degenhardt Consulting in Jersey City, N.J.
For further information, call 201-395-0222 or, go online at www.degenhardtconsulting.com.

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