Don’t give up on cold calling

By Bryce Sanders | May 26, 2014 | Last updated on September 21, 2023
3 min read

People view telemarketers as intrusive and annoying, hence the popularity of legislation that brought in do-not-call lists. But charities and politicians can still call, and they persist because it works.

Read: Master the art of cold calling

It is mindless work, but it’s not that bad. We waste more energy dreading it. Once you get started, it clips along. You have a fresh chance of success with each dial.

Two general tips

#1. Time block: Set aside an hour a day for cold calling. Get it done early, and think of it as, ‘No dessert until you eat your vegetables.’

#2. Change desks: Swap desks with another advisor for an hour. You’ll be more productive.

Several factors can get an investor thinking it’s time to ditch her current advisor.

  • Accountants: Her accountant explains how her investments are doing and how much she paid in fees. He might also give broad suggestions that get her thinking she may need specialized advice.
  • Newspapers: They tally mutual fund winners and losers. Investors wonder why their advisors didn’t get them into more winning funds. They second guess them.
  • Reflection: Investors see the returns indices delivered last year and reflect on the quality of advice they’ve received. “Did I do alright? Am I getting the attention I deserve? Should I be shopping around for another advisor?”

Changing advisors is on their minds. Your call makes the process easier.

Positive Mindset

You want to talk yourself out of it. You think you’re calling someone who doesn’t want to hear you talk about a product they don’t want.

Wrong attitude.

Believe in what you do. You have the potential to make other people’s lives better and help them accomplish their dreams. You represent a firm with prestige, and these prospects may well be meaning to walk in someday. You’re getting to them first.

Cold Calling Tactics

Let’s assume you’re calling business owners because the do-not-call list focuses on individuals.

#1. Accept the obvious

Executives will be efficiently screened. Voicemail’s a barrier. Some business owners who are called frequently just hang up.

The positive: They aren’t wasting your time or stringing you along.

#2. The kindred spirit

A person responsible for her own success likely had to engage in sales. She’s been in your shoes and admires your ambition. A surprising number will talk with you.

The positive: She knows why you’re calling. Get to the point and determine if there’s any interest.

#3. Choose your time

Successful business owners associate a ringing phone with potential business. They often answer. They keep longer hours than screeners and work weekends.

The positive: You’ll get them directly if you call outside business hours.

Read: How to handle insults

#4. Pick your professions

Many business owners are surrounded by people who compete for their attention. We try calling and can’t get through. But lots of businesses are small operations. Consider consultants: they can make a good living because many businesses choose to outsource training, communications or technology to them. And some businesses are naturally slow. Funeral directors rarely have back-to-back clients.

The positive: Pick businesses and professions where it’s likely your call will be answered directly.

Conversation Starters

Identify yourself and your firm to establish context. Busy people appreciate a get-to-the-point approach.

#1. Draw them out

“You probably work with a financial advisor already. Are you satisfied with the relationship?” Or, “Is the relationship meeting your expectations?”

Why: If she’s happy it’s unlikely she’s going to change. If she isn’t, you have an opportunity.

#2. Establish a need

“When markets experience volatility we try to have portfolio reviews with each client at least quarterly. When was the last time you had a portfolio review with your advisor?” (I was once on the receiving end of this highly effective approach.)

Why: They understand the rationale, but are they getting reviews?

Read: What you need to know about anti-spam laws

Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders is President of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc. in New Hope, PA. His book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor” is available on