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The Advisor #4: Cold Call To Murder

Jun 12, 2011

 

MONDAY

San Francisco  4:45 PM

Jared Golden had just finished teaching  cold calling techniques to the Brokers-In-Training who were now off with the rest of the office to happy hour at Wayfare Tavern.  As he returned to his office, Jared noticed a few sheets of white paper stapled together sitting on top of his desk.  It was a list of neatly typed names and phone numbers.  On the top of the document, the words  “Scrubbed Against National Do Not Call Registry” was rubber stamped in black.  Frieda must have finally come through. He was surprised how quickly she had acted.  But he wanted to see his wife.  After a day like today, now more than ever.  Still, he was painfully curious about this list.  And perhaps his training never to allow a fresh cold calling list to sit unused pushed him to take action immediately before other financial advisors could make their calls.

Jared carefully placed the leads list into an unmarked folder and walked over to the BIT’s Camp Ground.  He decided to sit in his lucky chair by the window.  It was the same desk he had occupied when he first started with the firm several years earlier.  Just sitting in the chair brought back memories of thousands of telephone conversations.  He opened the folder and began dialing for dollars.  Where was he calling? It was so unlike Jared not to have done at least a cursurory internet check on every single prospect that he called. He didn’t know anything about these people.  Where they worked.  Where they lived. He flashed on his early morning bus ride as he lifted his receiver.  What the hell did he have to lose after a day like today? The first number was ringing into voicemail.  The second was a disconnect.  Great list, Frieda.

  “Hello.  This is Darren.”  Jared had a trained ear from his decade of cold calling.  Unlike any other form of sales, there was nothing else that mattered but two voices.   Darren’s voice sounded tired, but relaxed.

“Hi Darren.  How are you tonight?”  Jared spoke slowly, allowing his incredibly rich and soothing voice to do much of his work for him.

“Who is this?”  The prospect sounded curious and a tad grumpy.  Jared could work with that.  After all, no one looks forward to receiving a cold call.  Cold calls are keys looking to find their way into the right lock.  The better the cold caller, the more locks that can be opened.

“This is Jared Golden. I’m an investment counselor at Ignatius Row in San Francisco.”  Jared purposely avoided looking at his watch.  He knew that for the call to succeed that he had to enter into a completely contained world where only his and his caller’s voices existed.  Any other distractions would destroy that world.  Jared braced for the prospect’s reaction. Either he would hang up, excuse himself, or he would enter that hermetically sealed world with Jared created by their two voices.

Darren snarled into the phone.  “Pretty damned late for a broker to be working isn’t it?”  This was the second cold call Darren had received from Ignatius Rowe.  Normally, he would have cut Jared off at the legs with that, but tonight was different.  Tonight, he needed to talk.

“I like to work very hard for my clients. Isn’t that the kind of professional you’d want working for you, Darren?”  Jared realized that he had been given a small opening and he pushed himself inside.

“Well, I might have some major money to invest in a few weeks.”  Darren lowered his voice.  “Assuming I live ’til next week.”

“Stressed out at work?  I hear ya.  So, how much are we talking about here, Darren?”  Jared hadn’t made thousands of cold calls without knowing that rule one was pre-qualifying your lead.  A lot of money to one person might be ten thousand bucks.  Jared was looking for households with a minimum of $250,000 to invest.  Some of his colleagues had far higher minimums, but Jared felt that those high barriers precluded accounts that might develop into something far greater over time.

“Five million.  Meet your minimum, Mr. Cold-Calling Broker?”  Darren’s tone of voice mocked Jared’s question as the prospect followed his words by stuffing a cigarette between his lips and igniting it with the flick of a lighter.

“I think five million works.  What do you do?” Jared had nothing to guide him.  He had to trust his list that this guy wasn’t just blowing smoke up his ass.

“I’m a researcher.  What the fuck—”  The telephone made a loud thud as it dropped to the ground.  There was a whirling sound in the background.

“Are you there, Darren?”  He heard the loud clanging of something falling to the ground.  Darren’s receiver was being dragged along the floor and there was a loud noise which sounded like chairs being shuffled.

Darren retook his receiver.  He was panting.  “False alarm.  I’ve been pretty edgy lately.”

“Because of the market?”  Jared listened intently to his prospect’s voice.  He could sense there was something else troubling Darren.   Jared realized that the more he could prove himself to be a problem solver, the more trust he would command.

“No. Well, yeah, in a way.  Let me ask you a question.”  Darren’s voice took a completely different tone. His business veneer had been stripped away.

“Sure.  Fire away.”  Jared had heard it all.  Guys cheating on their wives.  Trouble with jobs, mortgages, and hundreds of other issues.  Nothing could possibly shock him these days.

“What would you do if you knew something—”  Darren paused and debated whether he would finish his own sentence.  He forced himself to continue—”something that was going down that could maybe hurt or even kill a lot of innocent people?”

“I’d call the police immediately.”  Jared was beginning to wonder whether his prospect was a crackpot.  Five million dollars and some plot to destroy the world? Perhaps this wasn’t a good investment of his time.

“Can’t do it.  Next suggestion?”  Darren’s voice began to crack.  Jared could tell this guy was getting very nervous.

“The FBI?”  This conversation—coupled with everything that had happened today—was starting to get to him.  Why couldn’t anything be easy? If this guy was lying he was a nut.  But if he was telling the truth it was even worse.

Darren paused for what seemed like an eternity.  His breathing was so rapid that it was hard to hear his words.  “By the time I did that, everything, including me, would be dismantled and relocated.”

“Do you want to tell me what’s going on?”  Jared was at the end of his rope.  He wanted to hang up.  But there was something going on that he knew was very wrong.  Once again, his curiousity compelled him to keep listening.

“I can’t.  If they ever thought I was feeling one iota of remorse it would be game over.  And I mean over.”  The phone fell to the ground again.

“Darren are you there?”  Jared thought about the scenario.  Earlier that day, when he was teaching the Brokers-In-Training, Leo had pretended to be a prospect on a call he had placed.  Leo was so good with imitating other people’s voices.  “Leo, is this you again?  If it is, I don’t think that this is funny.”

“Who is this?”  The voice was deep and bone chilling.

Jared didn’t know how to respond.  His pulse was racing as he wondered what was happening on the other side of the phone.  What the hell had happened to Darren? He wanted to help him, but he only had a number.  The list didn’t have any addresses.

Click. Then silence.

© Samuel Rush 2011.  All Rights Reserved.