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7 Do’s and Don’ts for Calling Referral Prospects

by Bill Cates

When calling your new referral prospects, keep these do’s and don’ts in mind to increase your chances of a great first call.

  1. DON’T say “How are you today?” in your opening statement. This screams “telemarketer.”

  2. DON’T ask “Are you busy?”  Of course, they’re busy. When they say “yes” the tension mounts. Open with “I know you’re busy, the reason I’m calling is…”

  3. DO use what the referral source likes or admires about the prospect– if it’s natural and genuine for you. For instance, “George, Mary had a lot of nice things so say about you. Do you want to know what she said?”  That should create some curiosity and maybe even get a laugh.

  4. DO put some benefits into your opening. How you do this can help you stand out or look like everyone else. 

    For instance, telephone selling expert Jim Dominski ( gives this example. 

    Boring:  “We work with business owners by providing solutions to their retirement planning needs.”

    Better: “We work with business owners who are busy and struggle to find the time to do adequate retirement planning and investing.”

    Jim’s example is more targeted and from the prospects point of view.  In fact, the more targeted your opening, usually the better.

  1. DO present yourself as a specialist related to what you know about their world (that you learned from your referral source). The more specialized you are to your prospect’s situation, the more he/she is likely to want to talk to you. Niche and grow rich!

  2. DON’T assume anything … ask them. Don’t assume you have the solution to their problems. Prescription without diagnosis is malpractice. Tell them you don’t know if you can be a resource for them as you were for their friend, but a quick conversation should reveal that. Then ask them some questions. 

    If you want to get a sense of their financial situation on this first phone call (and you probably do – to some degree to make sure this is a mutual fit), then do it by sharing your parameters and not asking them directly about their income, net worth, etc.

  1. DON’T wing it!  Before you ever pick up the phone to call a referral prospect, be prepared. Do your warm research (your referral source) and your cold research (LinkedIn, website, etc.).

    Rehearse what you want to say a couple of times. Be clear on your opening statement. This is not the time to fumble around. Your prospect wants their next financial professional to be confident and clear.

You probably have your own list of do’s and don’ts. I’d love you to share some with me in the comments section below.  Thanks!

Referral Coach