It’s not a secret. The retirement plan business is relationship-based. Most of us have said this before and intrinsically, we understand; however, let’s find out what the data says. In a recent survey, Fidelity found that plan sponsor introductions came from these primary sources:
- Business professional (29%)
- Existing professional relationship (23%)
- Existing personal relationship (13%)
- Attorney or CPA referral (6%)
This means that 7 out of 10 plan sponsors were introduced through a trusted relationship.[1. Fidelity. Plan Sponsor Attitudes 2015. Sixth Edition.] Therefore, by strengthening your relationship muscles, you can boost your 401(k) referrals and favorable introductions.
Take a look at your calendar and block off an hour to ask an influential community member to take a meeting. You could suggest coffee, beer, wine, or pick your poison. Keep the meeting to an hour. Be courteous of their time. During the conversation, ask them questions about their business, listen to their responses, and always ask, “How can I help you?”
Watch as they return the question and ask you, “How can I support your business?” Be ready and prepared, and don’t give an elevator pitch. Instead, share a powerful story about a recent plan sponsor client and the great work you did. Remind them that you are a Retirement Plan 401(k) Specialist Advisor who works with [insert your ideal prospect’s business size] business owners.
One last thing: Relationships take time. At the end of the hour, don’t expect immediate referrals. Rather, ask another question, “Would you mind in the future if we met again to continue our conversation and learn more about each other?” This opens a window of opportunity to contact them again, while continuing to build your relationship.
2. Social Media
Want to reach a lot of people immediately and have it go viral? Post on LinkedIn information, articles and content relevant to the plan sponsor community. Right now, there is an endless amount of material to write a short snippet (50-75 characters) of why the plan decision-maker should read the article and then post it as suggested reading. Some ideas include the DOL conflict-of-interest rule, retirement readiness infographics and fiduciary best practices, just to name a few.
Strive to have your content go viral. Yes, it is possible. Think of your centers of influence and send them a quick email saying, “Hi, I just posted a blog on LinkedIn. Would you mind liking, sharing and/or commenting? It would mean a lot to me. Here is the link for easy viewing. [Insert link.] Also, if you think of a plan sponsor 401(k) retirement plan topic that you feel I should write about, let me know. I appreciate your insights and ideas. Thanks!”
This should give your article(s) the boost they need to multiply on social media and get lots of second, third and possibly fourth degree views, likes, and continued sharing.
Here’s the tip: Have it printed and mailed. You’re busy, right? Yes, we all are. Sometimes we have the best intention of reading the article, but it sits unopened in our inboxes for months. Maybe you even print it out to read later when you are on a plane, waiting at soccer practice or sunning at the beach. Then, you finally have that (ah) moment to read it. We all do that.
Therefore, by you taking the initiative to print and mail the newsletter to clients, prospects and centers of influence, you are providing a quality reading piece relevant to their profession. It is easily accessible, well-written, well-designed and at their fingertips.
This positions you as a thought leader who provides consistent, high-quality and relevant information to keep clients informed, educates your referral sources (centers of influence), and works to build a retirement plan expert reputation with prospects.
Follow these three tips to increase your retirement plan expertise reputation and, in turn, increase your business. The more people who know what you do, the more they can refer the right prospects your way.
Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing.