If you’re looking to grow your 401(k) book of business, cold calling is probably going to be an unavoidable part of your strategy. Here are tips to help turn a cold call into a warm lead or your next new client.
Fine tune your call list. Do you have insights or expertise in specific types of industries or organizations? Have you had extensive experience with nonprofits? Or medical technology companies? That knowledge could make you a valuable asset to certain prospects or give you a competitive advantage when trying to land their retirement plan business. Jump-start your cold call strategy by using your call list to home in on your ideal clients.
Do your homework before you dial. In addition to perusing the Form 5500, research your prospect online. Read key executives’ LinkedIn profiles and posts to see what’s on their minds. Pull up some GlassDoor reviews to get a bead on the employees — and their concerns. Rather than asking for “whomever handles your 401(k),” try to learn who the decision-maker is and request to speak to him or her by name, even if that means making an additional call. And then do a little more research on your point of contact. This could boost your conversion rate.
Tailor your approach. Many advisors wonder about the best angle to take for cold calls: lower cost, better performance or a higher level of service. The answer is … it depends on your prospect’s needs, which you won’t know when they pick up the phone — unless you ask. This is why a one-size-fits-all strategy isn’t ideal.
The last thing you want to do is sound like a robocall. Rather than working off a rigid script, prepare flexible talking points based on individual needs. And be prepared to pivot as the conversation unfolds. Work to quickly build rapport by asking open-ended questions to identify pain points.
Not every sponsor is looking primarily to lower fees — different issues may be top of mind, such as:
- Lackluster investment performance
- Risk of a 401(k) lawsuit
- Failed discrimination testing
- Relief of fiduciary and administrative burdens
- Efficient distribution and loan processing
- Participation education and support
Be prepared to discuss your prospect’s specific pain points and tailor your approach accordingly.
Keep the focus on your prospect. While it can be tempting to tout the benefits of working with you as an advisor, resist talking about yourself too much. And when you do, make sure what you say directly relates to their requirements. Keep the emphasis on your potential client and avoid being overly derogatory or critical about their existing plan, as that could feel like a personal criticism.
Offer rather than ask. As a PlanFees subscriber, you’ll enjoy a tremendous advantage in any cold call situation. Your access to this revolutionary fintech platform allows you to make the focus of the conversation what you can give a prospect — as opposed to asking something of them — when you propose a quick, complimentary benchmark. You can avoid a high-pressure sales pitch by framing your offer as a way to help ensure their fees are in line with comparable plans, while leveraging the opportunity to review the report at a later date to engage with them further.
Be patient and persistent. While you might hope that the outcome of your call is a meeting tomorrow, it’s often easier for people to agree to something they won’t have to do right away. So, another approach would be to inquire when the plan comes up for review. Ask if you could circle back a few months before that date to gather information and submit a proposal to compete for their business. Follow up with an email confirming a future conversation. Nurturing leads can take longer for retirement plans than for individual accounts.
Play the long game — even if you don’t get their business this year, they may be in an entirely different situation next year. No matter the outcome, be sure to ask if you can get back in touch at a later date in case their needs should change and retain your notes of the conversation in a follow-up file. You may find that your persistence pays off.