Is your calendar filled with appointments every week? Are you cherry-picking your client base because of time? Are you still doing your own scheduling?
Scheduling is the most important component to grow your business. But in most offices, scheduling does not get the proper attention it deserves. If the advisor is making the calls, one week is full and the next week is empty. If a team member is making the calls, they usually procrastinate getting on the telephone. Either way, scheduling is not a priority or consistent.
Regardless of who is making the calls, scheduling appointments must be done daily. As an advisor, you have three options: make the calls yourself, have someone in your office make the calls, or outsource the scheduling.
Many years ago, I worked with an advisor in Chicago. He had been in the business only a little more than a year, so being in front of people was crucial. When I first started making calls for him, I called only his existing clients. He believed referrals were the doorway to the future and he didn’t want to lose them. However, within three months, his calendar was so full, he didn’t have time to call the referrals. From that point forward, I did all his scheduling.
I’m a firm believer in the delegation of all scheduling so you can stay in front of people. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: “Nobody is as good on the telephone as I am.” I disagree. If you have the right scheduler, they can make calls daily and be available to intercept the returned calls.
It’s a waste of your time trying to reach people to schedule an appointment. What if you used those hours to be in front of opportunities? How do you make that happen? Let go of scheduling! You’ll be amazed with the results.
There are two common obstacles most advisors struggle with: cherry-picking the client base and getting calls returned. Cherry-picking happens because you do not have a system to routinely work the client base or you do not have time to make the calls.
Most of you are truly sitting on a gold mine. When you have a routine process to work the client base, you will turn prospects into clients and clients into referrers. You also can overcome the lack of returned calls by leaving brief messages. In other words, don’t tell them you want to schedule an appointment; call them every three days to create a sense of urgency.
Every Six Months
To eliminate cherry-picking, you can create a process to work the client base so every person, client or prospect pops up every six months. Why every six months? One call is to schedule an appointment and the other is to touch base. By doing so, you will uncover opportunities, nurture relationships and get new referrals.
Going back to my early years of calling, our system was to pull names based on a birthday — so, names popped up every six months. In other words, we followed the Granum One Card System. If we didn’t have a date of birth, we put in the month and year we met with the referral to be sure they didn’t fall through the cracks. This is how prospects became clients and clients gave us more referrals.
Let me give you an example. A prospect meets with my advisor for the first time and during that meeting, the prospect decides he’ll stay with his present advisor. Six months later, I call to touch base and usually nothing has changed. However, one year later I make another call to touch base and try to schedule an appointment. Again, most times they push you out again. Then, six months later, I finally get them to make another appointment. How did I do that? Consistency! In fact they would normally say, “Gina you call me more than the advisor I’m currently working with.” I responded with, “Just think of how well we would care for you if you were a client.” Boom, the appointment was made!
On the flip side, our clients would come in at least one time a year for a review or get a check-in call. During the check-in calls, I would simply touch base to see if there were any changes. Most of the time, all was good. However, there were times clients needed a review because of a certain life event. Either way, they felt cared for because of those semiannual calls. It also became an opportunity for them to provide us with referrals.
Now that you understand how to work the client base, here are some additional ideas to keep the calendar filled every week.
» Be clear about the number and type of appointments you want per week. It’s easy to say, “I want 10 appointments.” However, filling the calendar with existing clients is not going to grow your business. Ideally, you want a variety of appointments: follow-up meetings, referrals, prospects, clients, etc.
» On the 22nd of each month, print a list of names — clients and prospects — to be called the following month. Review the list to determine the outcome of each call. Do you want an appointment or do you want to make a check-in call.
» Confirm appointments before making outbound calls to schedule new appointments. If by chance someone cancels for the following day, you may be able to replace the open slot.
» Be ready to make outbound calls by 9 a.m. daily! By doing so, the calls get made and people have all day to get back to you. Check-in calls can be made in the afternoon.
» Prioritize the order of the calls to have a variety of appointments. I suggest the order of priority as follow-up meetings and second meetings, followed by referrals, prospects and then clients.
» Leave a message and make it brief. When you leave a long-winded message, people usually zone out or delete the message before they get to the reason for the call. Or, if you tell them you want to schedule an appointment they may think they are too busy or feel they don’t need an appointment, so they won’t call back.
Leave a message every three days. Most people wait at least a week to leave a message, which is too long. Calling every three days — Monday, Thursday and then the following Tuesday — creates a sense of urgency. If you don’t get a response after three messages, don’t give up. Try an email or text.
I know some of you believe sending an email is the best way to schedule an appointment. Ideally, an email should be used only if you can’t reach someone by telephone.
Let me strengthen my point about emails. I was talking with a friend of mine, who is a successful mortgage broker, on scheduling tips. As I was sharing my ideas, he said, “I find your suggestions very interesting, especially calling versus sending an email. My advisor only sends an email to schedule an appointment, which seems impersonal to me so I don’t respond. I haven’t seen him in years.”
That’s what I call cherry-picking or not taking the time to truly work the client base. Don’t think of scheduling as a quick fix. Let the scheduler build on the relationship to help the clients, prospects and referrals feel connected and cared for.
Keep in mind, the goal is to turn prospect into clients and clients into referrers by working the client base.