Few among us look forward to making cold calls. We know what it’s like to be on the receiving end.

When someone cold-calls me, he is intruding on my life without an invitation. He is interrupting whatever I may be doing. This can bring out a side of me that is abrupt, perhaps rude: the cold-caller brings out my inner “anti-telemarketer.”

If you too hate being cold-called, then ask yourself, why would you spend any part of your day doing to others what you so very much do not want done to you? Taking abuse is not what you signed up for, at least not repeated self-inflicted abuse. But you may have been told that this is what this business is, “dialing for dollars.”

I disagree.

When I say, “Don’t cold-call,” what I mean is “Don’t cold-call complete strangers.” Your odds of success with this approach are going to be remote. Sure, cold-calling is a numbers game. So is looking for a needle in a haystack. I would sooner look for hay in a haystack and a needle in a needle stack.

The Exception to the Rule

The one exception to the rule is cold-calling potential referral partners. These are people to whom you have something of high and immediate value to offer. They are in business themselves; they are interested in more clients, more earnings, just as you are. And this turns the heat up from zero to at least a level one on the dial.

For instance, you can offer home insurance offices, life insurance salespeople and financial planners an independent referral source (you) for their clients’ mortgage needs. Make it clear to them that the service you are offering their clients is also a service to them. Because you are purely mortgages, you are not going to compete with what they offer their clients, as a typical financial institution would. You can provide a layer of protection between that company and their clients to help prevent their clients being poached by full-service competitors.

The same applies to a Certified Financial Planner. You are able to be a part of their team-based approach. You can take care of the clients’ mortgage needs and limit client exposure to bank employees trained to bring investment accounts in house. Independent planners will soon realize that the mortgage transaction is just another opportunity for a financial institution to steal all of their clients’ business.

In fact, most banks would likely (happily) exit the mortgage business if they could. The mortgage division is not a profit center. It is a tool for lead generation and client retention, and an opportunity to cross-sell clients on things such as investment portfolio management. Mortgages are a thin-margin business with significant risk built in, but a great conversation starter for the banker to get deeper into a client’s financial affairs.

Once you are able to articulate this threat to a CFP clearly, the CFP often becomes much more interested in meeting with you and working with you.

Hone your scripts on what you have to offer Realtors as well; for instance…

“I offer guaranteed availability and access for you and your clients. Rate is the easy part; the completed approval is the hard part, and I never take a day off until a file is complete. My goal is your clients being approved as smoothly and quickly as possible. I don’t own golf clubs or a boat; my hobbies include processing mortgages and answering your and clients’ calls on the first ring. I am always on!”

How long have you been in this business?

“I am glad you asked this question, as it is my greatest advantage. I am only two weeks in. I have only three active client files and can easily handle ten more. I am based in an office where I am surrounded by expert Brokers with a collective 137 years of experience, and they have my back as well. I may not have all the answers, but I know exactly who to ask to get the answers.

“Nobody will work harder to win your clients’ business than me. And if you become my first genuine Realtor referral partner, I am going to be loyal to you until I leave this business, decades from now.”

So yes, cold-call. But cold-call prospective referral partners and be prepared with strong scripts. Focus on the value you can deliver that individual—how you will be there for them and their clients.

Getting past your own call reluctance is easy if you genuinely believe you have something of value to offer the people you are dialing.

And when a referral source gives you the number of a client, that is the time to truly get over your call reluctance. That client is waiting for your call, is waiting to do business with you, and is waiting to ask you the questions that you will have the answers to.

The client is eager to hear from you.

Are you eager to call him or her? You had better be.