Even though email and other electronic means of communication are so important in both finding and converting leads these days, eventually in most cases a good old-fashioned phone call will enter the picture. However, speaking to someone in real-time over the phone can be a great help in building that all-important basis of trust that all great financial advisor relationships need.
Every time a lead answers your call, you have an opportunity that won’t come around again. This first impression is all-important as you can’t take it back and start again. Of course, your own experience, confidence and general demeanour will be key to success, but knowing what opening line to use can really be the make or break moment.
Here are seven great ideas for you to use as an opening line.
1. “How have you been?”
Chris Orlob’s Gong Labs has carried out extensive research on opening lines that work, and according to its data, “How have you been?” comes out on top. The company used its database of over one million sales call recordings, of which 90,380 are outbound connected cold calls, and analysed them with natural language processing algorithms. The simple enquiry as to how someone has been enjoyed a 6.6 times higher success rate than the baseline, and even cold calls that opened this way boasted a 10.01 per cent success rate, compared to the 1.5 per cent baseline.
The psychology behind the fact that this works so well is called “pattern interrupt” and essentially means that it is unexpected behaviour that “scrambles” the prospect’s brain – but in a good way, of course. It’s a simple phrase that in everyday interactions can be asked of a complete stranger who you meet in a certain set of circumstances, so it isn’t presumptuous or something that could easily offend. In fact, it doesn’t necessarily sound like you’ve met the person before, but it is subtly implied that you are on friendly enough terms to enquire about their wellbeing.
2. “The reason for my call is…”
Another striking result from the Gong Labs research was that by using the phrase “The reason for my call is…” as an opening line, success rates increased by a factor of 2.1. Starting off the interaction with a proactive reason for your call is a good thing to do because human beings want reasons for things – it is how we are wired to understand the world around us. They don’t even have to be strong reasons – there just needs to be something that can satisfy that need and allow the process of conversation to move forward.
Quite simply, using this opening line early and often puts the other person’s mind at rest and means that you can once again take things to the next stage by building on an initial feeling of trust. Sourcing qualified leads for financial advisors is hard enough in the first place, so any tip or trick that helps you move past the first hurdle is always a good thing to have in your skillset.
3. “My name is…”
Introducing yourself is always a good idea, even if you have been in email contact before the call. Clearly identifying yourself means that you immediately come across as open and transparent – a vital element in building relationships with prospective clients. Not only that, but it also humanises you, not quite “putting a name to a face” but making you an individual who is connecting on a personal level. Everyone knows how annoying it can be talking to a customer services operative who says that they “aren’t allowed” to give their name, so by providing your name right off the bat, you can score important points.
4. “How are you?”
Although this might seem at first glance to be the same as “How have you been?”, it’s actually quite different. This one is about your current state and can be especially useful for pension leads as it focuses on the now rather than the past. In the Gong Labs study, opening calls with some version of “How are you?” correlated with a 3.4 times higher likelihood of booking in a follow-up meeting against the baseline figure. Asking “How are you?” is really little more than polite social behaviour, and so it adds a certain authenticity if you ask it in the right way.
5. “Could you help me out for a moment?”
Asking people for their time often means that you get a negative response, but perhaps strangely, when talking to a finance lead, if you ask for help, they will most likely be receptive. People get a good feeling from responding positively to a request for help, and using this approach is simple psychology. MarketSource’s Director of Inside Sales Jason McElhone suggests that since you’re just asking for help, they will most likely say “yes” and be curious to know who is on the line and what you want from them.
6. “Did I catch you at a bad time?”
The theory behind this one is that people like to say “no” because it makes them feel as if they are in control of a situation. When you ask “Did I catch you at a bad time?”, they want to answer “no”, and that opens the door for you to follow through. Once again, this can depend on your tone of voice and whether or not you really did catch your investing lead at a bad time.
7. The all-important pause…
Knowing how to use a pause is not an opening line in itself, but it is something that can make all the difference to your success or failure in chasing a lead. It’s important to pause because it gives the lead time to ease down and assess their response to you. Tonality is a close cousin of the pause as ultimately it’s not really what you say but rather all about how you say it. If you talk to a lead as though they are just another name on a contact sheet to get through, then you’ll not find much success.
However, if you engage them as if you were speaking to a friend and you are relaxed, sound confident and make your call a conversation rather than a sales pitch, then you’ll be well on the road to conversion.