The 500 day war (for rookies)

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Jun 10, 2007 11:28 am

This is some advice that I would give to someone starting out for their first 500 days as a producing advisor.  A new broker with no substantial contacts/connections; someone who is willing to put in the sweat equity to survive and eventual prosper.  After all, survival is the key as any successful veteran broker will tell you.  Some of these may appear somewhat controversal; it is simply my experience/view and what I would do.  In no particular order:


- Speak to 25,000 people via telephone; business owners and corporate directories only.  It will amount to 2500 leads and 250 new accounts (households). Average account should be 100k; that's 25 million @ 1% paying you 250k gross on an annual basis.


- Make an effort to open all accounts over the phone; discourage appointments (we'll revisit this theory later on) unless it is high 6 figures or a million dollar prospect.  Takes too much time.  With the travel, meeting time, etc; we are solely focusing on the numbers here. Eventually you'll meet with them AFTER they become clients.


- Purchase a laptop for your contact management; have this in front of you at all times and place the firm workstation BEHIND you.  Too distracting and you will rarely need it anyway in the first two years.


- Have all of the compliance approved marketing material as well as new account/ACAT documents available via email to send to prospects.  Make every effort to utilize this at all times to speed up the process.


- On a monthly basis, send a blast email as well as a paper-based copy of some idea/market related info to all of your prospects.  This is to be done on Saturday unless you can afford to hire someone to do it for you.


- If there is no "sale" on the first follow up call, make every effort to (politely) try and disqualify them.  This is done to prevent clogging up the pipeline with nice people who are (in reality) not interest or not qualified.  Or both. 


- Don't consider spending any of your time on seminars, networking, wholesalers.  Too much time/effort with unpredictable results.  These activities can be initiated after you've survived and have built a base to build on.


- Make 3 cold calls for every follow up call during the day.  It insures you are always talking to new people and not getting comfortable/lazy speaking only with existing prospects who will likely treat you in a kinder manner.


- Don't solicit or accept friend or family accounts. In addition, politely let them know that you are not to be called at work before 6 pm unless there is an emergency.  No time for idle chit/chat and friendly calls often turn into long conversations.  Keep up contact evenings/weekends.


- Plan the next day (in particular you call list) before you leave.  30 minutes after arriving to work you should be on the phone.


- Do not take active traders for clients, especially fee-based traders.  Takes too much time and interferes with prospecting.


- Ask every prospect if it would be ok to call them on Saturdays; great day to call/reach people in a relaxed state; this is the only time I would call home #'s and only after they've given you permission.


- Use regular mail and email to keep your name in front of prospects on a regular basis.  However, ALL outgoing phone calls should be dedicated to asking for orders.


- During the week, gather all research/articles/etc and put it in a pile; this is to be read on Sunday when you have time, and not interfering with prospecting efforts.


- Keep diligent notes on conversations with prospects; quickly peruse them before following up and mention previous things they've said.  Sets you apart and will impress any prospect.


- Promote referrals immediately after the first sale is made.  Something along the lines of sending them an additional brochure for someone they may know.  Do not ask for specific names, simply let them know you would appreciate any introductions.


- Be the first to arrive and generally the last to leave.  Do not socialize with fellow brokers as they want you to fail.  Bust your tail and impress them via your work ethic and results.  You are the only one who decides your paycheck.


- Find a city that you would like to visit often, preferably on the opposite coast (different time zone).  Spend 1-2 hours calling this area every day.  If you are on the East Coast and calling SF, this can be done in the evening (your time) while it's still afternoon out there.  Conversely, West Coast people can be calling east at 6 am. 


- Keep a daily scorecard and be diligent tracking activity/results.  Set ambitious (yet reasonable) goals and exceed them.  Time management is crucial; waste one hour a day and you have just wasted 25 working days a year. Yeah, it's that much.


- Assume everyone has caller ID and always leave messages for existing prospects; no messages on cold calls. Leave one message a week for a prospect.  And when you get a new prospect, ask them what time and what # they prefer to be contacted.


- Work for today but keep tomorrow in mind.  Try and build a business that is primarily fee-based/recurring revenue.  It's a great feeling to come into year 3 with 250k already "done" and to see dividends for years to come as a result of the 500 day war.


So there's a start and I'll try and add more as I think of them.  In addition, I'll post some ideas on what a broker in their 3rd year should start considering doing to grow the business.

Jun 11, 2007 9:54 am
The Judge:

This is some advice that I would give to someone starting out for their first 500 days as a producing advisor.  A new broker with no substantial contacts/connections; someone who is willing to put in the sweat equity to survive and eventual prosper.  After all, survival is the key as any successful veteran broker will tell you.  Some of these may appear somewhat controversal; it is simply my experience/view and what I would do.  In no particular order:


- Speak to 25,000 people via telephone; business owners and corporate directories only.  It will amount to 2500 leads and 250 new accounts (households). Average account should be 100k; that's 25 million @ 1% paying you 250k gross on an annual basis.


- Make an effort to open all accounts over the phone; discourage appointments (we'll revisit this theory later on) unless it is high 6 figures or a million dollar prospect.  Takes too much time.  With the travel, meeting time, etc; we are solely focusing on the numbers here. Eventually you'll meet with them AFTER they become clients.


- Purchase a laptop for your contact management; have this in front of you at all times and place the firm workstation BEHIND you.  Too distracting and you will rarely need it anyway in the first two years.


- Have all of the compliance approved marketing material as well as new account/ACAT documents available via email to send to prospects.  Make every effort to utilize this at all times to speed up the process.


- On a monthly basis, send a blast email as well as a paper-based copy of some idea/market related info to all of your prospects.  This is to be done on Saturday unless you can afford to hire someone to do it for you.


- If there is no "sale" on the first follow up call, make every effort to (politely) try and disqualify them.  This is done to prevent clogging up the pipeline with nice people who are (in reality) not interest or not qualified.  Or both. 


- Don't consider spending any of your time on seminars, networking, wholesalers.  Too much time/effort with unpredictable results.  These activities can be initiated after you've survived and have built a base to build on.


- Make 3 cold calls for every follow up call during the day.  It insures you are always talking to new people and not getting comfortable/lazy speaking only with existing prospects who will likely treat you in a kinder manner.


- Don't solicit or accept friend or family accounts. In addition, politely let them know that you are not to be called at work before 6 pm unless there is an emergency.  No time for idle chit/chat and friendly calls often turn into long conversations.  Keep up contact evenings/weekends.


- Plan the next day (in particular you call list) before you leave.  30 minutes after arriving to work you should be on the phone.


- Do not take active traders for clients, especially fee-based traders.  Takes too much time and interferes with prospecting.


- Ask every prospect if it would be ok to call them on Saturdays; great day to call/reach people in a relaxed state; this is the only time I would call home #'s and only after they've given you permission.


- Use regular mail and email to keep your name in front of prospects on a regular basis.  However, ALL outgoing phone calls should be dedicated to asking for orders.


- During the week, gather all research/articles/etc and put it in a pile; this is to be read on Sunday when you have time, and not interfering with prospecting efforts.


- Keep diligent notes on conversations with prospects; quickly peruse them before following up and mention previous things they've said.  Sets you apart and will impress any prospect.


- Promote referrals immediately after the first sale is made.  Something along the lines of sending them an additional brochure for someone they may know.  Do not ask for specific names, simply let them know you would appreciate any introductions.


- Be the first to arrive and generally the last to leave.  Do not socialize with fellow brokers as they want you to fail.  Bust your tail and impress them via your work ethic and results.  You are the only one who decides your paycheck.


- Find a city that you would like to visit often, preferably on the opposite coast (different time zone).  Spend 1-2 hours calling this area every day.  If you are on the East Coast and calling SF, this can be done in the evening (your time) while it's still afternoon out there.  Conversely, West Coast people can be calling east at 6 am. 


- Keep a daily scorecard and be diligent tracking activity/results.  Set ambitious (yet reasonable) goals and exceed them.  Time management is crucial; waste one hour a day and you have just wasted 25 working days a year. Yeah, it's that much.


- Assume everyone has caller ID and always leave messages for existing prospects; no messages on cold calls. Leave one message a week for a prospect.  And when you get a new prospect, ask them what time and what # they prefer to be contacted.


- Work for today but keep tomorrow in mind.  Try and build a business that is primarily fee-based/recurring revenue.  It's a great feeling to come into year 3 with 250k already "done" and to see dividends for years to come as a result of the 500 day war.


So there's a start and I'll try and add more as I think of them.  In addition, I'll post some ideas on what a broker in their 3rd year should start considering doing to grow the business.



This post should be required reading for every rookie as well as vets looking to get off the plateau.

Jun 11, 2007 10:12 am

That's a great post from The Judge.  I agree with most of it, but the point that I would make is that it is really most appropiate for someone whose business model is that of  a wirehouse asset gatherer.


For other business models, this is not the best way to approach things.  For instance, it's not the way to work if you are going to make your money on financial planning fees or if insurance is a big part of your practice.  For those of you who are building business where face to face contacts are important, I would give two rules to follow:


1)From 8:00-4:00 do absolutely nothing but see people and fight to see them.  


2)Get referrals at every appointment.  This means get them before the person is a client.

Jun 11, 2007 1:10 pm

Ignore the guy beside you who brags about his moster piece of institutional business 'in the pipeline.'

Jun 11, 2007 2:35 pm
The Judge:
Find a city that you would like to visit often, preferably on the opposite coast (different time zone).  Spend 1-2 hours calling this area every day.  If you are on the East Coast and calling SF, this can be done in the evening (your time) while it's still afternoon out there.  Conversely, West Coast people can be calling east at 6 am.

Thanks as always judge.  Just not sure I understand this one above... should this one be held back until local market numbers are exhausted?

Jun 11, 2007 3:20 pm

His point is that you can find numbers to prospect at almost ANY hour of the day...


I know a guy at MS who did this in his early years. Had some family in Boston and he used to cold call from So Cal.... He would call starting around 6am West Coast time for a couple hours. He was amazing on the phone and opened up dozens of good accounts over the years. Used to travel back 1-2X per year and meet with these people face to face... Now, he probably has 30-40% of his book back in MA...

Jun 11, 2007 4:40 pm

Never opened an account on the phone.  If I had a choice (which I probably do) I would rather open 100% over the phone.  Can anyone with experience in this area explain how it is done?  Does it take multiple follow-up calls, etc?  Are visuals used at all (my current pitch is based on MPT which I use some charts to illustrate efficient frontier, etc).

Jun 11, 2007 5:30 pm

I have two clients back east that I have never met before- both referrals from my best client there.


Basically, I made the initial call, had a good convo. Sent firm material, followed up to simply set the 2nd conf call for a week out. Had the second call where I detailed my services and value prop. Client agreed to send statements and other info back with a financial profile I mailed to them.


Got the info back, ran an analysis and called to set third conversation. Emailed analysis an hour before. Explained everything in detail, and closed them over the phone. They had new account forms and ACAT's in their hands the next day. I have since been back to visit them face to face twice now, and the relationship is now like any other that I may have here locally.


Hope that helps...

Jun 11, 2007 6:47 pm

Good stuff, Judge.

Jun 11, 2007 7:39 pm
The Judge:

- Make an effort to open all accounts over the phone; discourage appointments (we'll revisit this theory later on) unless it is high 6 figures or a million dollar prospect.  Takes too much time.  With the travel, meeting time, etc; we are solely focusing on the numbers here. Eventually you'll meet with them AFTER they become clients.



I thought your post was absolutely right on Judge, except for this one exert which I don't see how it can happen.  How do you get all the paper work signed?  Branch Mgmt. sign off?  Check for proper identification?  Insure the person you are talking too really is who they say they are? over the phone????  I am sure there are some you can "close" over the phone, but compliance would make it very difficult to close everyone over the phone. 

Jun 11, 2007 7:47 pm

The account and ACAT paperwork wouldnt be a problem. If they were opening a Trust acct, you simply have them stroll into the nearest branch (if they live a distance away) and have the local notary handle the trust cert. That, and any real firm has an exhaustive back office that conducts "Due Dili" on all new accounts being opened...

Jun 12, 2007 10:51 am

Drewski- keep it simple.


Here is the way we do it:


Call/mail/call.


Call- with a product. As Judge and others have said, know it cold. A product with a closing date works best as it forces action. For example ING just came with a PFD stock. Munis work well, as do Strategy UITs. Strong closers can use open ended mutual funds that they are excited about.


Mail- info about the product


call- you have a choice here. You can close on the product orrrrrr back off a step and go for the interview.


There are no wrong answers beyond not making the calls. There are dozens of variations on this technique. All work.


Jun 12, 2007 11:19 am
BullBroker:
The Judge:

- Make an effort to open all accounts over the phone; discourage appointments (we'll revisit this theory later on) unless it is high 6 figures or a million dollar prospect.  Takes too much time.  With the travel, meeting time, etc; we are solely focusing on the numbers here. Eventually you'll meet with them AFTER they become clients.



I thought your post was absolutely right on Judge, except for this one exert which I don't see how it can happen.  How do you get all the paper work signed?  Branch Mgmt. sign off?  Check for proper identification?  Insure the person you are talking too really is who they say they are? over the phone????  I am sure there are some you can "close" over the phone, but compliance would make it very difficult to close everyone over the phone. 




We open most of our accounts over the phone. I admit to keeping it simple, but opening accounts over the phone has never been a problem. The paperwork gets completed, the money comes in, and off we go to the next one. Compliance has no probelm with this. It's a matter of being set up to do business this way. As long as you know up front what the compliance process is for processing accounts opened by phone it's a simple matter of following that process. As a salesperson, I don't have to worry about the details. My service assistant has to know all the forms, processes etc to make it happen. And happen it does.

Jun 12, 2007 7:23 pm

In the Series 66 we learned that the NASD requires us to verify identification of clients.  For very least purposes of determining they are not terrorist.  I am new at this so maybe I havn't been taught how to check a photo ID over the phone, but please tell me how, that would really speed-up my business. 


Please note, I am not trying to discredit the Judges post at all ( on the contrary, he is THE most helpful and knowledgeable of ALL the posters on this site).  I am just trying to see how you guys "close" the paper work over the phone. 

Jun 13, 2007 7:01 pm
BullBroker:

In the Series 66 we learned that the NASD requires us to verify identification of clients.  For very least purposes of determining they are not terrorist.  I am new at this so maybe I havn't been taught how to check a photo ID over the phone, but please tell me how, that would really speed-up my business. 


Please note, I am not trying to discredit the Judges post at all ( on the contrary, he is THE most helpful and knowledgeable of ALL the posters on this site).  I am just trying to see how you guys "close" the paper work over the phone. 



 You are making this a lot harder than it has to be. I doubt your training qualifies you as a document expert. In fact, there is someone else at your firm who has that job. Let them do it and you stick to sales.


Bull, I not advising you to go against your firm's compliance rules or the NASD rules when I say this, but you are getting way too caught up in the red tape. Find out what your firm's rules are for opening accounts over the phone. If they tell you they don't have a process for getting that done it's time to move to a new firm because they are BSing you. Use your firm's process. better yet, let your service assistant get it done.


Also, find a way to take yourself out of the paperwork process and increase your selling time.

Jun 13, 2007 8:29 pm

That's gold Judge, I want more.

Jun 13, 2007 10:03 pm

thanks for the vision and enthusiasm judge and Bondguy, much appreciated

Jun 14, 2007 10:44 am
The Judge:

- Make an effort to open all accounts over the phone; discourage appointments (we'll revisit this theory later on) unless it is high 6 figures or a million dollar prospect.  Takes too much time.  With the travel, meeting time, etc; we are solely focusing on the numbers here. Eventually you'll meet with them AFTER they become clients.


What type of accounts are you looking for at this point?  If these accounts are coming from cold calls my experience is that you would have to be talking about a bond, stock, or other single investment.  


- Find a city that you would like to visit often, preferably on the opposite coast (different time zone).  Spend 1-2 hours calling this area every day.  If you are on the East Coast and calling SF, this can be done in the evening (your time) while it's still afternoon out there.  Conversely, West Coast people can be calling east at 6 am. 


What type of value do you propose that would convince these people (unless they are referals) to invest with you as opposed to someone local? 



Great post, but as you can see from my questions I am curious what you do to set yourself apart that would cause people to invest with you in a relatively non-personal manner.  The trend in the industry seems to be focused on touchy-feely dreams and aspirations garbage.   

Jun 14, 2007 1:31 pm



Thanks Judge for putting that together

Jun 14, 2007 3:10 pm

Great info Judge.  Read it several times.  Printing it now.