By John Pojeta
Cold appointments are challenging, even for seasoned advisors. The challenge is especially acute for advisors who have spent years building their business on referrals.
Although they’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge, credentials and wisdom in servicing accounts, one valuable skill has often slowly declined: communication, especially when it comes to sales.
With a referral, the prospect is there because they already believe in your ability to help. There’s less demand to sell the reasons why you’re the ideal advisor to work with. But in a cold appointment with a new prospect, the deck is shuffled differently. Unless the prospect has done extensive research into your company and looked through each online review, there’s less knowledge of your brand and even less reason to trust you right away.
For many, it’s a simple matter of falling out of practice. Most were trained under the idea that once you have a certain number of clients under management, your income and practice stability are in place via residuals and referrals.
But between the combination of downward fee pressure and aging clients (leading to clients who gradually step away, retire or die), the stability is not as firmly in place as one desires.
In some practices, the business actually contracts because they can’t bring in enough referrals to replace the outgoing business. If many are being honest with themselves, they do not work as hard at marketing and sales as they used to. In the beginning, survival required it but that gradually changed over time.
Instead of relying on communication best practices in the sales process to guide them through cold sales appointments, many fall back on their laurels, focusing on their credentials and achievements as sales tools. But achievements and credentials are not the only factors prospects look for. They also want an advisor who’s going to listen to their concerns as well as guide them in the decision-making process.
Prospects seek an advisor who has the ability to help them make decisions they otherwise would not make without your guidance. This is a quality that’s hard to demonstrate if you’re accustomed to working with referrals who don’t need to be convinced you’re the right person to help them with their problem.
Advisors, even experienced ones, need to be in front of cold prospects frequently enough to sharpen their swords and refine their processes. Without those opportunities, they fall into the trap of spending too much time focusing on the presentation and insufficient time on answering and asking questions.
Without a clear process in place, these advisors are failing to turn the cold appointment into a second meeting — which moves the prospect further down the sales pipeline. As a result, their success rate on cold appointments is lower than it should be, leading to frustration and often abandonment of cold meetings.
The clients we work with in our appointment setting services are regularly overcoming these cold meeting struggles. To increase their success level, they:
- Work with sales coaches. By training with sales coaches, they develop the skills necessary to succeed in cold appointments, empowering them to generate higher conversion rates and increase profitability.
- Follow the 85/15 mentality. They realize that 85% of their success comes from the 15% of the job that isn’t By hiring team members to focus on the technical side of the business, these advisors focus on building up their soft skills to succeed in cold conversations — skills such as their ability to communicate, negotiate and lead.
- Embrace more cold appointments. The No. 1 growth tool to succeed in cold appointments is working through more cold appointments. More experience gives an advisor more opportunities to work through the nuances of an appointment, using the techniques learned from their sales coaches.
Although referrals are still important to their business, they capitalize on every cold opportunity that presents itself. They truly look at cold conversations as an opportunity. When they get knocked down, they go looking for the next opportunity.
- Get feedback. There are many resources for you to tap into: managers, your team and your clients. With questions catered to each demographic, ask them how you’re performing in these cold appointments and see how they recommend improving.
Like a first date, cold appointments are uncomfortable, but they’re important for building a bigger relationship. With the right strategy in place, we can take these meetings and turn prospects into longtime clients who help our business grow.
You have the talent, skills and wisdom to wow your clients. Remember: Most of you build your practice this way. It’s not a question of whether you can succeed at it. It’s a question of putting in the time and effort — and having recent and relevant experience in running cold appointments.
John Pojeta is the vice president of business development at The PT Services Group. He previously owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years. John may be contacted at [email protected].
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