Ways to prospect like a rookie, again

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May 29, 2009 9:20 am

Here is some more stuff from the archives, hope some of you can use it....



Whether you're just starting out—or find yourself mired in a mid-career slump—here are some fresh ideas to generate buzz in your business-building efforts.

No doubt about it, rookies have it rough these days. Cold calling in a do-not-call world can be lonely. As one rookie recently lamented, "Most of the folks I cold-call seem to enjoy hanging up on me."

But cold calling isn't the only way to build your business from scratch. And being a rookie isn't all bad—there's something valuable in all the energy and enthusiasm advisors have as they begin their careers. Here are nine ideas to jump-start your prospecting efforts. Whether you're a newcomer to the industry or want to get fired up again about your business development, consider some of these inspiring techniques:

1.      Get to know your neighbors. In the past, merchants often participated in a service called Welcome Wagon that showered newcomers with hand-delivered goodies and helpful information for navigating in their new neighborhood. You can start your own Welcome Wagon in reverse when you are the newcomer in an area.

When an Arizona advisor moved to a new office location, for instance, he delivered trays of cookies and brownies to every major business within a mile of his office. He also dropped off his business card and information about his firm. "We visited with the company owners and co-workers and shared our excitement at being new neighbors," he explains.

Another great way to meet your neighbors is to volunteer to host a chamber of commerce coffee or business after-hour event, the Arizona advisor says. "It's a great way for area businesses to network and for you to get new contacts in your office." Business coach Jim Rorbach recommends following up with folks you meet by inviting them to a one-on-one coffee or lunch to learn more about their business.

2.      Discuss SIMPLE IRAs with small-business owners. Veteran advisor Bruce Hagan with RAI Investments in Tallahassee, Fla., says if he were starting from scratch, he would visit small businesses and see if they could benefit from a SIMPLE IRA (Savings Incentive Match Plan for Employees). SIMPLEs allow for smaller contribution limits but are less costly than 401ks to administer for employers with fewer than 100 employees. "If you could open six or seven SIMPLE plans with an average of 10 participants in the first few months, it would provide a monthly boost to the commission blotter so you wouldn't feel like you were starting at zero each month—that's a hollow feeling," he says. "You could then go back to those participants for ancillary business and referrals."

3.      Go door to door in neighborhoods. In addition to visiting small businesses in your immediate vicinity, go door to door in established neighborhoods and office parks, advises veteran top producer Dave Workman, with LPL in Logansport, Ind. "Introduce yourself first, write a thank-you note, and come back in two weeks with an investment idea. This prospecting philosophy worked for me in starting from scratch in two different towns," Workman says. One constant concern for many people is paying too much in taxes. "I would use a tax-free bond, Roth IRA, or tax-deferred annuity to try and develop a relationship," Workman explains. Be sure to get to know CPAs, attorneys, and other centers of influence and introduce yourself and your services.

4.      Bone up on annuities to broaden your appeal. These days, as always, retirees worry about market risk. They also worry about outliving their money. To combat these fears, Hagan suggests doing your homework on one or two quality variable-annuity products and approaching retirees with an attractive way to participate in the market yet still protect their heirs. "The death benefit on the annuity product can provide the same sense of security as the $100,000 CD at the bank in terms of leaving a nest egg for the surviving spouse," Hagan says. "Yet these products afford a chance for higher returns." Financial planning editor Elaine Floyd agrees, but cautions: "When choosing your variable-annuity products, consider the financial strength of the issuer and make sure you understand all the contract terms to avoid any negative surprises down the road. The key is to avoid those bad products that are opaque with high fees—there are still a lot of them out there—and focus on the good ones."

5.      Tout the value of high-quality mutual funds. In addition to variable annuities, Hagan contends that now is a great time for your new clients to purchase high-quality mutual funds at "discount prices" because of the recent market correction. He recommends finding several mutual funds with outstanding long-term records and telling prospects that these funds don't often go on sale. "If I were a rookie prospecting right now, I would meet with people and advise them to plop at least $10,000 into a money market fund and start monthly systematic dollar-cost averaging into the equity mutual funds over 12 months. I would explain the difference between A and C shares and would be delighted if they chose the C share. I'd make very little money up front, but I'd be building that residual income for myself."

6.      Improve networking by remembering names. As you meet people in community groups or through your neighborhood walks, make a favorable impression by remembering their names—even if you have to keep a log to jog your memory of their situation. John, a veteran wirehouse advisor in Florida, believes that memory improvement is critical to prospecting success: "One thing I wish I had done as a rookie was to improve my ability to remember names," he says. "People respond to you better when you can call them by their correct name. Many books out today, including Remember Every Name Every Time, by Benjamin Levy, will teach you basic techniques in placing a name with a face. It makes a big difference, and I still need to get better at it." Enhancing your memory will not only improve your business, but also potentially benefit your overall health and quality of life.

7.      Find a prospecting mentor. Regardless of how long you've been in the business, you can always learn new things. Veteran Larry Pampel in Monticello, Ind., says, "My advice to a person starting out: Hook up with the most successful advisor you can find, and set up a mentoring relationship. Spend your time learning his or her philosophy of dealing with people. Learn as many people skills as you can. Speaking of mentors, how about a business coach? Veteran bank-based advisor Pam Malara says she wished she had the knowledge as a rookie that she's gained in the last year from her coach. "If I could turn back time and start over from scratch, I would be more positive and have a morning 'power hour' of positive reading like my business coach Joe Luckas has taught me. I would also measure my activities—how many calls I make a day, appointments, and referrals. This helps me stay focused and not waste time doing things that are not productive."

8.      Tap a successful niche. Focusing on the needs of a particular niche can be the key to success as a rookie—or veteran. Here are some examples of building a niche book from scratch:

High-end physicians. In building his $150 million book from scratch, advisor Rob Wolfe in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., paid visits to CPAs and attorneys who worked with radiologists and anesthesiologists, locating them through web searches and client connections. Hosting an average of one meeting per day, usually over breakfast, lunch, or coffee, he sparked their interest by talking about college funding or asset protection—both approaches that could benefit their high-end physician clients. Within the first year of contacting accountants, he was introduced to 30 of their clients. He continues to receive five to 10 referrals from strategic alliance partners per month. "A niche strategy will allow you to do all right financially in the short term," Wolfe promises. "But more importantly, it helps you become a respected professional who will thrive even after 20 or 30 years in the business."

o        401(k) participants. Atlanta-based independent advisor Rick Kent started his niche from scratch by talking to employees at Bell South wherever he encountered them. He asked them if they understood all their company benefits. He invited them to lunch seminars at his office and had them bring their benefit documents. Over time, he became an expert on the company. Nine months after Kent started focusing on Bell South, the company announced an early-retirement offer to its employees. He suddenly picked up a significant amount of assets from the downsizing event. And, as he has become better known in the niche, he has picked up a substantial number of middle-management accounts and a few executive clients, who combine to account for about half his book. Overall, Kent and his business partner built up their book from just $10 million to $230 million in assets, with more than 500 clients. They added more than 5,000 employee names to their contact database.

9.      Be creative to meet the rich. Do you know who the affluent individuals are in your town? Take a drive through their neighborhoods. Do some library research to learn more about influential members of your community. And then, suggests sales trainer David Cohen, author of the insurance sales workbook Techniques for Prospecting: Prospect or Perish, try something completely different.

Start conducting research for a magazine article or book on a topic near and dear to their hearts. Your article could be "Gardens of Cleveland" or "Historic Homes in Baltimore." Hire a ghost writer and photographer to accompany you if you feel you don't have the skills yourself. Cohen suggests contacting affluent and influential people to talk to them about their gardens (or historic houses) or whatever topic you choose that has meaning for you and them. Spend hours with them just listening and learning about them and taking notes. Once you've finished the article or book, return to give them a copy and invite them to give copies to their friends.

"By the time you're done with a book, you will have spent four to 10 hours with this person," Cohen explains. "You can say, 'If you think I did a nice job with this book, I'd love to share with you what I do for my clients who have entrusted me with millions of dollars in their retirement plans.' It may take six to eight months to develop a business relationship, but you've already made a friend," Cohen concludes.
May 29, 2009 11:31 am

“I would explain the difference between A and C shares and would be delighted if they chose the C share. I’d make very little money up front, but I’d be building that residual income for myself.”

  And unfortunately, that's what this industry is all about:                               Me, Me, Me.
May 29, 2009 12:19 pm

Or the choice of not being locked into a fund company for the next 7 years…

May 29, 2009 12:38 pm
chief123:

Or the choice of not being locked into a fund company for the next 7 years…

  Exactly, use the word flexibility and they will choose C everytime
May 29, 2009 12:53 pm

I agree.  I am at the Big A-share machine, and I do a lot of C share biz.  But I only do it for the flexibility.  And with my larger A-share clients, I almost always use at least two fund families.  I simply cannot use just American.  The only fund company I could use exclusively for one client would be Franklin, as they have a pretty wide variety of funds that I can use.  I like American in the growth & Income/Equity Income space, but not much else.  Although I have pretty much limited my use of American down to CWGI and CIB.

  I have started to do advisory work, so now I use advisory for long-term investments, and c-shares for the stuff we will be withdrawing in the next 1-7 years or so.
May 29, 2009 2:41 pm

[quote=B24] I agree. I am at the Big A-share machine, and I do a lot of C share biz. But I only do it for the flexibility. And with my larger A-share clients, I almost always use at least two fund families. I simply cannot use just American. The only fund company I could use exclusively for one client would be Franklin, as they have a pretty wide variety of funds that I can use. I like American in the growth & Income/Equity Income space, but not much else. Although I have pretty much limited my use of American down to CWGI and CIB.



I have started to do advisory work, so now I use advisory for long-term investments, and c-shares for the stuff we will be withdrawing in the next 1-7 years or so.[/quote]



Seriously… Frankling… Founding Funds…they may have variety but it’s all crap…



May 29, 2009 4:00 pm

I like Franklin and although Founding is a recent disaster they have a strong lineup.

May 29, 2009 9:39 pm

[quote=chief123] [quote=B24] I agree. I am at the Big A-share machine, and I do a lot of C share biz. But I only do it for the flexibility. And with my larger A-share clients, I almost always use at least two fund families. I simply cannot use just American. The only fund company I could use exclusively for one client would be Franklin, as they have a pretty wide variety of funds that I can use. I like American in the growth & Income/Equity Income space, but not much else. Although I have pretty much limited my use of American down to CWGI and CIB.



I have started to do advisory work, so now I use advisory for long-term investments, and c-shares for the stuff we will be withdrawing in the next 1-7 years or so.[/quote]



Seriously… Frankling… Founding Funds…they may have variety but it’s all crap…



[/quote]



Founding Funds is a goofball fund. And if you understood my post, I was referring only to A-share business where you could only use one or maybe 2 fund companies. They are excellent in the fixed income space (Franklin), as well as deep value (Mutual Series). They are above average in International Equities and fixed income (Templeton). They are terrible in the growth space (Franklin). They are acceptable in small-caps. They are good as a total fund lineup because they also have niche asset classes (real estate, commodities, gold, etc.).



Not many fund companies have as complete a lineup. Yes, many fund companies are better in specific areas, but few can be used in every area (if they even offer funds in each area). As a disclaimer - I don’t LIKE using one fund company, but sometimes I just have to. I have been doing more and more C-share business lately, and I use like 5 to 7 different fund families (and use FT for Mutual Discovery, Templeton Global Bond, and their Franklin Govt Securites Fund (GNMA’s)). I had been using Allianz NFJ for Small caps, but they just closed. So I am using FT SC Value until I find an alternative.





May 29, 2009 9:57 pm

I was recently looking through the Dealer Fact Guide for FT and was surprised to see Mutual Discovery is holding about 46% cash right now. B24 you have any thoughts on that ? Seemed a bit strange to me.

May 30, 2009 8:54 am

totally agree that if you have to just use one fund company that FT gives you the most options.  I use Franklin income quite a bit and reinvest that hefty dividend into an equity fund, usually either rising dividends or mutual discovery, and that global bond fund is pretty solid too.

May 30, 2009 9:24 am
Ron 14:

I was recently looking through the Dealer Fact Guide for FT and was surprised to see Mutual Discovery is holding about 46% cash right now. B24 you have any thoughts on that ? Seemed a bit strange to me.



I am always keenly aware of their cash position. That's how they manage. You have to understand that they stick strongly to deep global value. So they are waiting very patiently and only going after the best opportunities - and not getting sucked into value traps. Look at their holdings right now....VERY defensive. I would rather have a great money manager deciding on cash allocation rather than me. Like most deep value/global allocation managers, they will often underperform in up markets, but signifcantly outperform in down markets. Look at their history in down markets. This is how I prefer to manage clients money.
May 30, 2009 10:19 am

How long have they had that % in Cash ? 

May 30, 2009 2:01 pm

I’d have to count back the months, but at least 6-9 months.  They always have a hefty cash position, rarely going below 8-10%.  Last September (pre-full meltdown), they were around 30-35% cash.  Even as far back as January 2008, they were over 20% cash.  They are now at about 40% cash.  However, I would anticipate that cash position coming down inthe coming months.  They always carry about 25-30% in tobacco and liquor - real defensive stuff.  You should read their commentaries sometimes.  Gives you good insight into the markets. 

May 30, 2009 3:39 pm

I will do that. I like what you are saying. To this point I use Temp. Global Opp. Trust or Temp. Foreign for FT international exposure. The only Mutual Series funds I have been using is Series and Beacon.

May 30, 2009 7:06 pm

Shares and Beacon