7 Door-to-Door and Cold Knocking Tips for Financial Advisors
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Door knocking and cold canvassing is a popular prospecting activity with one investment company.
Okay, I’ll come right out and say it – Edward Jones.
Edward Jones loves cold knocking and door-to-door prospecting!
I have written tons of articles, done podcasts, written books, and put together audio programs, but I’ve never addressed door knocking in any of my materials.
Edward Jones has thousands of financial advisors and they are taught the lost art of door-to-door prospecting. That also means that I get tons of emails from new Edward Jones advisors who want help on how to become more effective prospectors.
That’s because the life of a young advisor, who’s told to go door-to-door, can be grueling. I can’t tell you how many advisors have contacted me and told me that after practicing at the Edward Jones headquarters, were sent back to their hometowns to walk the streets every day.
I love Edward Jones. I think it's a great company and I have a HUGE amount of respect for the people who have put in the time and effort to become successful. Not much makes me happier than seeing a successful financial advisor. Plus, Edward Jones must be doing something right because they have been growing fairly rapidly.
This article is written for financial advisors who want to get better at knocking on doors.
Types of Door-to-Door Prospecting and Cold Knocking
Farming Door Knocking
This is popular among real estate agents and insurance agents. It’s the idea that you are “farming” a geographic area by “planting seeds” with the neighborhood.
The farming strategy usually involves a lot of communication strategies. They’re all designed to keep your name and face top of mind for people in that town or community. When door knocking is used, it’s just the icing on the cake.
A “farmer” will be running several forms of marketing, and then door knock to solidify him/her as the go-to person to call.
When farming, plan to knock the entire farm every two to three months. This will make you visible to people and position yourself as the obvious expert over time.
Continuous Door Knocking
This means prospecting from one street to the next, with no intention of re-knocking on any given door. This is clearly different from farming, because there’s no intention of doing repeat visits.
Here’s how it works: you pick a neighborhood you like, you park, you get out, you go to the first door, and you start knocking. Then you continue going around different blocks until you make your way back to your car.
Does it work? Sure, but unlike farming, it’s all about raw numbers. How many doors can you knock and how quickly can you do it?
How Do People React When Door-to-Door Prospecting?
The biggest reason people resist door knocking is because they’re afraid of looking rejection in the eye… literally.
But like I’ve said in a few other articles, think about what you would do or how you’ve responded in the past. Have you ever been in the middle of something – washing dishes, reading, cooking – and someone knocks on your door? You answer, feel slightly frustrated that you were taken away from your activity, and say “No thanks”.
You’ve forgotten all about it by the time you get bake to your book, TV show, or beef fried rice.
When it comes to door knocking and prospecting, you should see something like this:
So understand that if you haven’t had a rude person and you’re at door #97… you’re due one! But despite having 80 neutral contacts and 17 positive contacts, the 3 negative responses are the ones that financial advisors let stick in the mind and haunt them for the rest of the day.
Door Knocking? Can’t I Just Buy Leads?
Picture me rolling my eyes right now.
Bought leads are the worst leads. I do private consulting with financial advisors and the minute that they seem as if they’re dependent on bought leads, I thank them for their time and end the relationship.
The assumption, especially among insurance agents, is that you should work warmer leads and attempting anything less is sprinting towards failure.
Not true! Some people want to build their pipeline organically and others just don’t have the capital to buy tons of leads. Building your own list just means that you need to weed through the cold prospects.
When you’re door knocking, you are the point of contact instead of a cold call or a direct mail piece. You are essentially sorting through leads.
Pros and Cons of Cold Knocking
Pro: Less overhead
Door-to-door prospecting is darn near free. If you’re on a shoestring budget, you can walk outside and start talking to people within a relatively short period of time. The biggest expenses would be your gifts, door hangers, business cards, and comfortable shoes.
Pro: Less competition
It takes a rare breed of person to venture out into the world and bang their knuckles against someone’s solid oak. Hint – friends knock, strangers ring the doorbell – remember that! Which also means you will stand out, because even though your prospects have probably gotten direct mail or phone calls, you’re probably the only one who knocked on the door.
Pro: You get to work outside
This can be a motivator for people who don’t like working in an office.
Pro: Greater brand recall
I faintly remember a Harvard study done years ago that found that a face-to-face interaction results in over 10X greater brand recall than a message delivered through other channels.
This means that if you’re door knocking, you are making an impression that a letter just can’t make.
Pro: You avoid the Do Not Call (DNC) list.
The Do Not Call list has forever crippled your ability to facilitate quality conversations with homeowners over the phone. Door knocking completely skips over this.
Oh yeah, and there’s no ad blocker or spam filter either.
Con: If you live in a rural area (like I did), it can be tough.
The best door knocking comes from relatively affluent neighborhoods, where you can just loop around a cul-de-sac and talk to rich folk all day. But if you’re in an area where the next house is a mile away, it isn’t exactly a viable strategy. Plus, it’s mighty uncomfortable hiking up someone’s long country driveway.
Con: Physical exertion
Exercise is great, but not everyone is cut out to walk a few miles a day. You don’t want to show up at someone’s doorstep sweating and out of breath. If you want to prospect door-to-door make sure you’re prepared to be on your feet all day.
Local weather essentially dictates your door knocking schedule. It’s not good business to knock on doors when it’s 100+ degrees or pouring rain.
Door-to-Door Prospecting and Cold Knocking Tips
1. Understand your emotional response to door knocking versus other prospecting methods.
I know that seems like vague advice, so let me explain…
In my experience, people fear rejection from all forms of prospecting, but door knocking is a different beast. When they first start door-to-door prospecting, people are often worried that people will be rude directly to their face.
I haven’t found this to be true, with the exception of a few jerks (hey, that’s life).
You have to understand the pros and cons of each. For example, cold calling allows me to reach way more people in a shorter amount of time, but people are much more likely to be rude and/or quickly end the call. With door knocking, I’ll reach fewer people, but I’ll have some quality conversations.
Plus, the same people who are tough guys over the phone tend to be soft kittens in person.
2. ALWAYS have something to leave with the prospect.
Bring SOMETHING, preferably branded, to leave with the homeowner or business owner. If all you have is a pen or some business cards, that’s fine, but everybody does this.
Bring cookies, a calendar, a pair of tongs, a coffee mug, or even donuts. In fact, an email on one of my autoresponders has the subject line, “The $500,000 Donut” – I’ll let your mind wander with that one…
In my opinion, it would be amazing to leave a branded coffee mug with each prospect, but that gets awfully expensive. The item that will give you the biggest bang for your buck will probably be a refrigerator magnet. Here’s why:
Note: If you’re doing any form of direct mail and can include a refrigerator magnet in your envelope/package, do it. Almost everyone will end up trashing your direct mail (that’s part of the game) but a few percent of people will stick the magnet on their fridge. At that point, you might have lost the battle, but you haven’t lost the war.
3. Dress professionally, but for your market.
When I first started off in the business, I was with a company in upper Delaware but wanted my market to be lower Delaware. Chances are that 99.99% of the people reading this don’t know anything about Delaware, but here’s something you should know: upper Delaware and lower Delaware are like two separate states.
Upper Delaware is more urban and liberal. Lower Delaware is more rural and conservative. That’s the best way to explain it. The company wanted me to wear a suit and tie when I was meeting prospects. Now, that would’ve been fine for downtown Wilmington (“big city”) but for rural Sussex County and the beaches, I would’ve been a laughingstock.
Please, please, please make a judgment call with this one. Don’t wear a suit and tie just because your “mentor” tells you to wear it. Casual slacks and a polo or light dress shirt are usually good enough.
Here’s another pro tip: wear a lanyard or name tag. It shows professionalism and it helps to quell whatever feels the prospect may have about someone knocking at the door.
4. No more than 20 minutes per house.
I picked twenty minutes for this rule, but you can pick whatever you feel is appropriate. Here’s the idea…
I already explained that most people will reject your services. They won’t reject you personally (and it’s important to understand that), but they’ll reject your services for right now.
But a lot of people are polite. That’s nice and all, but they want to talk to you even if they have no interest in moving forward. That’s a problem because as a professional services provider, your time is your most valuable resource. You cannot waste it by staying too long with people who won’t commit.
That’s why you make the rule: no more than 20 minutes per house.
5. Bring a clipboard or a binder.
Please, for the love of everything holy, bring a clipboard or something to write on. I don’t think it’s possible for anyone to look stupider than when they’re attempting to write on a quasi-flat surface.
Do not use a briefcase. Some financial advisors think it’s more professional to bring a briefcase, but what does the prospect see when you show up with a ton of materials? One of their top fears – wasting a lot of their time! Carry something neat and minimal.
6. End the day on a positive note.
I got this tip from a wealthy realtor, who got a lot of listings by knocking door-to-door. I think that this is pretty good advice and it’s applicable to the financial services industry…
He told me to always end the day on a positive note. If you get a negative person at the end of the day, knock on another door. Keep going until you get a positive person and have a good experience. This helps make sure that the last door you knock on is a good lead. Plus it helps to reinforce door knocking as a good thing in your own mind, which helps a lot.
7. Look busy and stand sideways.
This advice comes from Paul Shakuri of Door to Door Mastery. He tells people to look busy and stand sideways because it has an unconscious effect on your prospect, coming straight from the animal kingdom.
What happens when an animal is scared and/or about to attack? They look formidable in order to scare away any would-be attackers. This is akin to looking straight ahead at someone’s door. I know that this seems like a little thing, but do it.