Qualified Plan Prospecting — Identify Meaningful Opportunities

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Ernie Guerriero, CLU®,ChFC®,CEBS,CPCU®,CPC®,CMS,AIF®,RICP®,CPFA

As you look to create new opportunities and consider your business plan for 2021 place Qualified Plan prospecting in your tool kit.  When looking for retirement plan prospect opportunities, the quality of an opportunity depends on a plan’s performance, associated costs, and the plan sponsor’s established relationships. These are also areas of consideration for new plans.  Because of the nuanced differences among plans, indicators that a plan sponsor may be open to a conversation can look different by plan type.  As you identify your opportunities, you will want to get as much information as you can on each plan to see the full picture of the plan sponsor’s pain points and needs.

  • The Starting Point – Your Current Client Base

What opportunities for growth exist within the organizations you are currently serving, where you already have strong, established relationships? Perhaps, you have a relationship through past sales (life, disability, college funding, etc.) you are advising on a sponsor’s 401(k) plan, and there is an opportunity to offer guidance on further income deferral options. Or, maybe the sponsor also has a pension plan, and you see an opportunity to move into advising on both their DC and DB plans.  A pain point and good conversation starter is guarantees.  What guarantees are currently in place in the existing plan?  Consider life insurance and annuities.

  • Existing Service Provider Relationships

How long has your prospective client been working with the current plan provider or advisor?  While a longstanding engagement can point to a successful working relationship, it could also indicate a willingness on the part of the plan sponsor to entertain fresh ideas.  For instance, a decade with the same administrative outsourcing provider could indicate an opportunity for a due diligence discussion.  Many existing plans do not provide for life insurance or the advisor has not mentioned this opportunity to the plan sponsor.  What a better way to protect employees than to have life insurance offered through the plan.

  • New Decision Makers

Have there been recent changes in a company’s leadership? If new decision makers have joined the ranks of an organization, they may be interested in introducing a fresh set of eyes to their plan(s). 

  • Communicate Your Value

Once you have gained a precise understanding of a prospective client’s pain points and plan challenges, you will be well positioned to more effectively communicate your value as an advisor.  To get the attention of prospects’ and clients by showing that you’ve done your homework, understand their experience, and are available to discuss solutions specific to their needs.

  • Demonstrate Knowledge

Share helpful, relevant resources that you think may be of use to your prospective clients to demonstrate your commitment to helping them stay educated on their plan options and emerging industry trends.  Go to professionals who are in this market and talk to them.  Reach out, professionals are available to help and share their experiences and expertise.  This is the value of a professional organization.

  • Offer value

You don’t have to do everything on your own. Leverage the resources you have and your network to provide additional value to your clients. Utilizing access to plan experts can help you build credibility in your prospects’ eyes while offering additional solutions to differentiate your practice.

  • Leverage your network

An effective follow-up strategy is key to any communications practice. Consistency and transparency can go a long way toward earning client trust, and data suggests that the majority of sales are the result of numerous touchpoints and multiple follow-up attempts.

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