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Prospecting Tips

Turn warm leads into hot appointments with these suggestions.

By Randy S. Schuster

I have been in this business a little over 10 years, and I still phone prospects every week. Actually, it is an appointment on my calendar that is noncancelable. My assistants know they are not allowed to remove this mandatory appointment from my calendar or move it to another part of the week without checking with me first.

My calendar is completely booked for the next 12 months with prospect phone time. I begin the calls every Wednesday at 9 a.m. It only takes about an hour, and I like to get it done early so I can move on to other things.

I would like to emphasize that in addition to these calls, I make sure to see new prospects every week. I also still maintain a calendar of 12 to 15 client appointments per week. I also make sure that my calendar is


at least half full two weeks out. This means that seven to eight appointments are already scheduled, and that three weeks out I have at least three to four appointments scheduled.

Even after 10 years, I still hate making these prospecting calls, but I have learned a number of techniques to make the process easier and more efficient.

When I receive a referral from a client, I routinely ask him to contact the prospect for me to tell him a little bit about me and to expect my call. I always start out with: “Mr. Prospect, (Referrer) said you are a (great guy, good tennis player, very good friend, etc.) and that we should get together.” Let me give you some examples of what I mean.

A very, very cold call
A few years ago, I was having lunch with a client the day after the Super Bowl and he said to me, “Randy, at 11:30 last night, after the game, I went out snowmobiling.” To put this in perspective, it was 20 degrees, and it had snowed about five or six inches. So I said to my client, “What, are you nuts?” Then he added that he had gone with someone who was on my target prospect list. I took the opportunity to ask my client if he would refer this friend to me and, of course, he said he would be glad to.

When I called the prospect, the conversation went something like this: “Hi Jeff. I was having lunch with Steve the other day, and he told me you guys went snowmobiling after the Super Bowl. As I recall, there was about five inches of snow on the ground and it was about 20 degrees. Are you guys nuts?” This evoked a laugh and I continued, “Steve also said that we should meet.” Jeff immediately said yes, and only at that point did I say, “My name is Randy Schuster, and when can we meet?” This phone call later turned into business.

A six-year delay
Dan had been on my target list for six years. In fact, he didn’t realize it, but I had called him three times before: once as a cold call and the other times from referrals that didn’t end up going anywhere. This time I waited for the right referral—from a very close friend of his—before I called. I made sure I followed through with my client about the referral. I called him on his cell phone, and he happened to be at the beach in South Carolina. He said he would call Dan immediately and tell him to expect my call. A few minutes later when I called the prospect I said, “Dan, isn’t it great that our mutual friend took the time to contact you while he was on the beach during his vacation?” This also evoked a laugh; then I asked for the appointment, and Dan is now a client.

Water-cooler connection
A client related to me that he had been at his office sharing with his peers the fact that he had just returned from his attorney’s office to execute a new will with his financial advisor. One of his colleagues overheard him and said, “I’ve got to meet that guy.”

When I called my client’s colleague, I introduced myself as the guy who took his friend to the attorney’s office. He immediately knew who I was, and made an appointment with me. Now he’s a client as well.

The point of these examples is get to know something about the prospect and his relationship with the referrer—let them bond. When I speak with a prospect, I always say something about him and the referrer before introducing myself. That way he is thinking good thoughts about his friend and is less likely to be on the defensive when dealing with me. This has greatly improved my ratio of converting referred prospects into appointments.

Printed with permission from MDRT. All rights reserved.

Remember that good telephone prospecting begins with understanding the do-not-call regulations. For more information, click on “A Do-Not-Call Refresher.”

Randy S. Schuster, of Centra Financial Group in Rochester, N.Y., is an eight-year MDRT member with two Court of the Table honors, and a member of Rochester AIFA. Contact him at 585-899-1200 or


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