9 Effective Appointment Setting Tips for Financial Advisors
A vital part of a financial advisor's success depends on setting appointments. If you follow up, share valuable content and send gifts, and you still don’t book your prospect, you might as well have never reached out at all.
That sounds bleak, but think about it: Without an appointment, you can’t build your business, make more money or help anyone. Besides, you can’t sell financial planning and everything that comes with it without one-on-one time with prospects.
Because of the high-value products and services you offer, they’ll have tons of questions to better understand your business and financial concepts before they can agree to do business with you.
The formula to follow is easy:
Marketing 👉 Prospecting 👉 Client.
Even if you don't convert your prospect on the first appointment, just set another one. The point is you have to get the appointment — nothing happens without it.
Here's what we'll cover in this article:
To start things off, here are nine tips and tricks to improve your technique and set appointments regularly — and the mistakes you make that sabotage your efforts!
1. Call During The "Off Hours".
This tip is especially helpful if you’re trying to reach high-level executives or business owners. These people don’t just punch in at 9 a.m. and leave at 5 p.m. like the gatekeepers do. If you want to reach one of these well-insulated executives, call early in the morning or later in the evening.
In addition to increasing your effectiveness, you’ll earn the respect of those you’re trying to reach when you call during non-peak hours. Keep in mind I’m not suggesting you call people at home during dinnertime; I’m talking about calling an office, where the person who answers the phone will think, “You’re working, too? I like that.”
It shows your dedication to your work, your company and your service. Plus, you send the message that you’re willing to go the extra mile for your customers.
Several old-school sales books and gurus might advise you to call during lunch. While this sounds like a good idea on paper, it doesn’t pan out in reality. James Oldroyd, who taught at the Kellogg School of Management, studied more than one million phone calls and found that if you call between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., you have a 164% better chance of reaching people than you do in the afternoon.
2. Use Your Marketing Leads.
I’ve never understood why so many financial advisors put a lot of money and effort into their marketing, but never follow up with the people who demonstrate interest.
I know an advisor who has a great website. He spent thousands of dollars developing it and getting it to rank high in the search engines for his city and keyword (think: “Financial Advisor Dallas”). He also has a lead capture form front-and-center working for him 24/7, but guess what? Even though people fill out that form (which he paid for!), he neglects to follow up with them.
You’ll have much greater success setting appointments with prospects who have already interacted with you or your company in one way or another. Follow up with everyone who’s filled out a contact form — and if you offer whitepapers, webinars or free ebooks, the list of prospects who download this content is prime for follow-up.
By the way, this isn’t limited to internet marketing. Get the full attendee list of any events you or your company sponsor. Make it easy for people in attendance to fill out a form and express interest in your services.
Using your marketing leads is one of the best ways to make setting appointments as easy as possible.
ALSO READ: 27 Financial Advisor Marketing Tips
3. Realize That It's Going To Take More Effort Than You Think.
You must be patient, professional and persistent. Success isn’t an event; it’s a process. Understand people are busy, and you must keep trying to reach them to break through the noise.
Appointment setting isn’t just about cold calling. It can take as few as one touch or more than 12 to get someone to set an appointment with you. For appointment setting success, I recommend you reach out several times, using a variety of media. This means direct mail, cold calls, handwritten notes, voicemail, email, social media and more.
I’d much rather think it’s going to take 20 contacts to set an appointment and be pleasantly surprised than think it’s going to take three and feel disappointed.
ALSO READ: A Day In The Life of a Financial Advisor
4. Always Ask for Their Time.
I know some of you might disagree with me on this tip because you think it gives prospects an opportunity to shut you down. Maybe it does, but bullying past someone doesn’t exactly set you up for long-term success.
If a prospect says they’re busy, just ask for a good time to reach them. If they aren’t interested, think of it like they’re doing you a favor — you don’t want to waste your time with them, anyway.
Being the nerd I am, I always like to test things. When I was making hundreds of cold calls per week, I tested these sentences against each other:
I found that, out of these six, “Did I reach you at an OK time?” worked the best. “Is now a bad time to talk?” was the least effective, with both of the “Did I catch you” statements coming close behind.
I’ve always felt saying “catch you” is weird. It implies trapping and hunting, which is something prospects don’t want to hear from you. That’s what originally gave me the idea to say “reach you” instead.
However, this has been my experience, so take it with a grain of salt and conduct your own experiment.
5. Focus On Just That - Setting The Appointment.
Being straightforward serves two major purposes: it shows you respect your prospect’s time, and it lets you move on to the next qualified prospect in your pipeline.
When setting appointments, people in sales tend to talk about everything but the appointment. They make the mistake of selling over the phone, or they talk about themselves, their company and their services when all they have to “sell” is the appointment.
Combine this with the prospect’s natural reluctance to meet with you, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Get to the point quickly, set the appointment, and move on to the next one. Save stuff like asking for referrals for later in the process.
6. Anticipate Objections.
Objections aren’t inherently bad — they’re logical responses to an unsolicited request. In other words, they’re just part of the prospect’s conversation with you, and you should anticipate them.
Here are some common objections you might hear:
Keep in mind you’ll hear more than one of these. For example, the prospect might tell you they’re not interested, then say, “Oh, well, I’m happy with who I have.”
Be prepared to address these. I’d never take the first no for an answer. But I wouldn’t spend all day on the phone overcoming objections — it’s just not worth it to fight or argue with a prospect.
I’d much rather move down the pipeline to find someone who’s actually ready, willing and able to do business with me.
7. Use A Script.
Please don’t wing your appointment-setting process. If you do, you will never develop a systematized process that can be tested against. For example, if I constantly winged it, I never would’ve found out that “Did I reach you at an okay time?” was the best opening line for me.
This tip may sound basic enough, but you’d be amazed by how many financial advisors insist on winging their appointment setting. Your script must help you:
ALSO READ: 5 Ways to Overcome Call Reluctance
8. Actually Ask For The Meeting.
Okay, so you’ve used your script to help qualify your prospect. It turns out that it actually makes sense to set an appointment. Great! Don’t blow it here.
When asking for the appointment, be specific. Here’s an example:
❌ BAD: “Would you like to meet with me?”
✅ GOOD: “I have next Friday at 2:00 p.m. Can you do it then?”
Asking to meet on a specific time and date is a commitment. It shows mutual respect for both of your time and changes the question from, “Do you want to meet?” to, “When do you want to meet?”
Whatever you do, don’t use the “either-or” close. I know it’s taught in a bunch of sales material, but it makes a kitten cry every time you do it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s this:
CHEESY REP: “We can do tomorrow at 4:00 or Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. What works best for you?”
As soon as you do that, your credibility goes down the toilet. Every educated consumer will recognize that as a sales pressure line and react accordingly. Don’t do it to yourself.
9. Confirm Your Appointment The Right Way.
I haven’t found any formal studies on the number of financial advisors who confirm appointments, but my experience tells me that somewhere around 30% to 50% of advisors confirm appointments with prospects.
It used to scare me to confirm appointments because I thought it gave prospects another chance to say no, but I had my thinking backward. I also thought “no” was a bad thing, but it turns out it’s a great thing.
Why? Because if you get rid of the no’s, you save time and resources for the prospects who are likely to convert. Likewise, the confirmation serves to insert you, your company and your services in the prospect’s mind, which is always good.
However, there’s a right and wrong way to confirm an appointment:
❌ WRONG WAY: Are we still on for Friday?
✅ RIGHT WAY: Is there any additional information I should bring to our meeting this Friday?
When you confirm the appointment the right way, you eliminate the chance of a canceled appointment and refresh yourself in the prospect’s mind.
I always recommend confirming an appointment via phone two days in advance, but don’t leave a voicemail on the first call — if the prospect doesn’t pick up, call again the next day.
Voicemail should be your last resort when confirming after you’ve attempted to reach the prospect twice. If you’re forced to leave a voicemail, be sure to send an email as well.
Voicemails are a nice touch, but some people (like me) aren’t very good about checking their voicemails.
3 Mistakes Financial Advisors Make When Setting Appointments...
One of my favorite episodes of the "Financial Advisor Marketing" podcast is an episode titled, "3 Mistakes Financial Advisors Make When Setting Appointments". You can listen to that episode by using the player below...
Show highlights include:
Avoid these three mistakes that cause you to miss out on appointments:
👎 Mistake #1: Overlooking Referrals To Power Your Marketing
Look at your client base and your prospect list. Do any of your clients have a connection to your prospects?
This should be obvious to every financial advisor, but an important part of building a referral system is to identify how you can tap into other people's networks. That’s why one of the biggest mistakes advisors make when setting appointments is you don’t leverage potential referrals.
Here’s why: Everyone has a network, and that network is usually filled with people who are just like them. Beyond that, it's much easier to set an appointment with a prospect when they’re referred to you.
Why try to fight an uphill battle when you can just… check for referrals? One of my Inner Circle newsletter members, for example, does a brilliant job of harnessing the power of referrals.
Because he lives in an area with three major hospitals, he primarily works with nurses. Some advisors might assume industry professionals don’t hang out with each other on weekends, but you’ll miss out on a lot of money with that mindset.
Not only do the nurses he works with spend time outside of work together, but they also share details of their lives, which is all the more reason to do what my client does: If he has a nurse prospect in his pipeline, he does some research to find out if they’re connected to any current clients. That way, he can talk to the client and score an introduction to the prospect instead of reaching out cold.
Easy, right? And this works for any profession.
Simplicity is key, folks. When people have a complex problem, they look for a complex solution. But in reality, the rule of thumb is to go with a simpler solution if it exists.
This is all just one more reason why you should have a niche target market — the chances your prospects know someone you already work with is significantly higher.
Don’t waste any time: Go through your client’s networks, and see who they know. If you have a prospect in mind, try to figure out if they have a connection to one of your clients. Maybe they work together, golf together or just have mutual friends; any connection is worthwhile.
Plus, if you can't find a connection and you strike out, you're no worse off than you were before. So, just do it. You’ll be surprised at what you find and how easy it is to set the appointment.
👎 Mistake #2: Pursuing All Prospects
Trying to set appointments with prospects who don’t match the type of people in your target market is a dead end, so always remember this: It’s easier to channel demand than it is to create demand.
Let’s use my Inner Circle newsletter member for another example. His business is set up to capture nurses, so how do you think he’d do if he suddenly tried to target corporate executives? For starters, he’d (rightfully) get a lot of resistance.
That’s why you should stay in your own lane. Your job as a prospector is to figure out who’d be interested in working with you, then you amplify that interest. Because some financial advisors think they can rescue prospects, it might tempt you to set an appointment with people who tell you, “I’ve never thought about planning for retirement,” or, “I don’t like to save.”
However, save yourself the time and take their words at face value — the truth is these kinds of prospects aren’t interested in hiring a financial advisor.
You’re better off trying to sell a watch to a person who has five than someone who has none. Why? Because they’ve done all the hard work for you. The person with watches has demonstrated they find your product valuable, and they’ve proven themselves to be likely to do business with you. Plus, you'll be happier working with them.
👎 Mistake #3: Getting Too Technical, Too Soon
Just because you can decode industry jargon doesn’t mean your prospects will — in fact, it only confuses them.
Unless you want to scare prospects away, don’t get too technical too soon with them when setting appointments. Trust me, they don't want to know everything right away.
That means when you offer prospects a free portfolio analysis or a retirement income audit as you try to sell them the appointment, they’ll appreciate the gesture, but you might as well be speaking a different language.
🔑 Oh, and that brings me to this point: Never say “audit” when you approach prospects about their finances. It’s a scary word that’ll have them wondering what they signed up for.
When prospects ask what you’ll discuss during the appointment, don’t take that as a green light to unload technical terms like, “Identifying gaps in your insurance planning,” “High expense ratios” or, “Triple tax-preferred health savings account.”
Sure, you want to use that opportunity to leverage your education and experience and show that you know your stuff, but you’ll do nothing but lose them that way. Remember: The only thing you need to do is get the appointment.
A better way to frame the conversation? Be casual. Get to know them and learn about their needs to see if you’re a good fit — that’s it; no pressure and nothing too technical.
Look at it this way: Some of the best financial advisors out there don’t even use computers on their first meeting. Instead, they leave the computer behind, and all they bring is a pen and paper, or they have an information packet for the prospect to take home. They intentionally keep things as simple as possible, and they don’t get super technical. And it works.
Setting an appointment is all about learning whether your prospect is a good fit. If they’re not, don’t be afraid to let them walk — that’s not your cue to lean in further with jargon.
How To Get Prospects To Eagerly Set Appointments With You...
In this example, I’m going to talk about email marketing, but these truths can apply anywhere in your marketing.
A lot of financial advisors make the mistake of thinking prospects and clients want information. They don’t — they want ideas, perspectives, stories and entertainment.
One reason my email marketing system works so well is because I’m not constantly trying to “educate!” people by cramming information down their throats.
Too many advisors get wrapped up in trying to become a “thought leader” (or whatever the kids call it these days) that they forget people just want to find someone they can trust.
Without trust, people will never take meaningful action. And who do you trust more: the professor who lectures you on a better way to do things or the friend who sits you down and shares a relevant story with you?
When you approach your marketing this way, prospects connect with you, and connectivity is the fuel that lets people take the next step forward — i.e. set an appointment with you.
Think: how can you make a positive impact on a prospect’s life in a few sentences? When you figure that out, you’ll have unearthed one of the biggest client-getting secrets ever known.
💡 If you want in on this secret, I talk about it in-depth in my free webinar, which you can register for here:
3 Counterintuitive Ways Financial Advisors Can Get More Clients With Email Marketing
Plus, one of the underlying themes in the webinar is taking the focus off you. When most businesses try to communicate with prospects, they fall in love with their own products and services — you’ve got to flip the switch and fall in love with your prospects.
That is one of the biggest keys to setting more appointments as a financial advisor.