advisor or broker on telephoneLike roulette, where every spin of the wheel has approximately aneven chance of coming up red or black regardless of previous spins,each cold call a person makes has the potential to be a winner.(Photo: Shutterstock)

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Consumers don't want to be called. Ask a person in sales andthey will tell you they detest cold calling. The national Do NotCall registry has 229-plus million numbers on it. To put that intosome kind of perspective, according to Statista, in 2017 there were about 126 millionhouseholds in the US. Approximately 138 million people voted inthe 2016 general election. Apparently a lot of people don't want tobe cold called.  Why do people do it?

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Because it works.

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It's often said prospecting in general and cold calling inparticular is a numbers game.  If you usedthe logic that the chances of success are so low that it'sa waste of time and money, then no one would play the lotteryeither. Yet according to Gallup, in 2016 about half of all Americans saythey have played their state's lottery.

Minimal cost, substantial payoff

Lotteries and cold calling share two characteristics: The cost is minimal and the payoff is substantial.

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If your business comes from finding new clients, you need somekind of prospecting strategy.  Cold calling is cheap andeasy: You smile and dial.

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Although 229-plus million numbers are on the Do No Callregistry, others are not. The DNC rule was designed to protectconsumers, but business-to-business calling is lessregulated and many people in sales transitioned to callingbusiness owners.  According to the Small Business Administration,  in2010 there were 27.9 million small businesses. Over three quarterswere non-employers. Calling business owners can be very similar tocalling individuals.

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It's true, advances in technology provide ways to duck calls.Over the years, screeners, answering machines and voicemailprovided barriers. Yet many business owners still answer their ownphones. In 2008 Jack Simplot, the Idaho potato farmer who in the1960's was the biggest supplier of French fries to McDonalds, died.The Economist ran his obituary and noted “he oftenanswered the phone himself and his number was neverex-directory.”

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Business owners are also known for making quick decisions withthe information on hand. They often work long hours and come in onweekends. In their eyes, a ringing telephone holds the opportunityfor future business.

Simple advice for people who cold call

It's easy to overthink cold calling. Hang ups can bedisheartening.  Like roulette, where every spin of thewheel has approximately an even chance of coming up red or blackregardless of previous spins, each cold call a person makes has thepotential to be a winner.

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Also, as the CBS drama NCIS tells us regularly, “Old schoolworks.”  You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Still,there are certain do's and don'ts that a cold caller needs toknow.

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Cold-calling do's:

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1. Use a script. When you use ascript, you sound professional, as if someone with lots ofexperience put it together. You aren't “winging it.” If you getflustered, you can get back on track.

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2. Try to put them at ease. You are agood person. If you smile when calling someone, it comes across inyour voice.  It's amazing.

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3. Use closed-ended questions to get the conversationmoving.  Examples of such questions include “Doyou feel you are saving enough for retirement?”  “Are yousatisfied with your insurance coverage?”  “Do you workwith an insurance professional?”

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4.  Move on. You know if they areinterested or not.  If not, move on. There are lots offish in the sea.

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5. Help them see they have a need. They have aneed or they don't.  People want solutions toproblems.  If they don't think they have a need, it'sdifficult to convince them otherwise.

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6. Realize that timing iseverything. It's the right time or it's not. Theymay not have the funds right now. They mightlater. If possible, find out when and be in touch a few weeksbefore they need to make a decision what to do.

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7. Draw them out.  Scripts are good,but when an opportunity presents itself, you should use yourinitiative.  “Tell me more” is a classic strategy.

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8. Know that neither of you wants to wastetime.  Many people admire a businesslikeapproach. Get to the point.

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9. Have a modest goal.  It might be anappointment at your office. Maybe it's mailing literature.Professionally printed material helps build credibility. Figure out what happens next or when you will callagain.

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10.  Online research. Encourage them to check you out online. They will anyway, and manyindustries have databases for disciplinary actions against licensedprofessionals.

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Cold calling don'ts:

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1. Don't insist you are right. Youthink they have a need. They don't. You shouldn't argue because youwon't win this one. Move on.

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2. Don't talk too fast or too much. The “fasttalking” salesmen is a stereotype. Listen much more than youspeak.

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3. Don't lie or hide facts. They willfind out. Nothing is really free. They can tell when you areholding information back or telling a biased story.

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4, Don't press. Going for the closeand wanting money on the first call sets off alarm bells. There are usually laws in place allowing people to back out withina few days too.

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Unlike robo-calling, cold calling has the human element. Peoplehave needs and problems., but often they don't put finding asolution top of their priority list. They often wait for a solutionto come to them. That might be you.

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Bryce Sanders is president of Perceptive BusinessSolutions Inc.  He provides HNW client acquisitiontraining for the financial services industry.  His book,“Captivating the Wealthy Investor” can be foundon Amazon.

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Bryce Sanders

Bryce Sanders, president of Perceptive Business Solutions Inc., has provided training for the financial services industry on high-net-worth client acquisition since 2001. He trains financial professionals on how to identify prospects within the wealthiest 2%-5% of their market, where to meet and socialize with them, how to talk with wealthy people and develop personal relationships, and how to transform wealthy friends into clients. Bryce spent 14 years with a major financial services firm as a successful financial advisor, two years as a district sales manager and four years as a home office manager. He developed personal relationships within the HNW community through his past involvement as a Trustee of the James A. Michener Art Museum, Board of Associates for the Bucks County Chapter of the Fox Chase Cancer Center, Board of Trustees for Stevens Institute of Technology and as a church lector. Bryce has been published in American City Business Journals, Barrons, InsuranceNewsNet, BenefitsPro, The Register, MDRT Round the Table, MDRT Blog, accountingweb.com, Advisorpedia and Horsesmouth.com. In Canada, his articles have appeared in Wealth Professional. He is the author of the book “Captivating the Wealthy Investor.”