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Building Trust and Collapsing Time

One of the frustrating things about selling DC plans is that it can take a long time to close.

Bad timing is an issue that can’t be controlled — the plan sponsor might have just hired another advisor, for example, or there may be corporate events or changes that force all decisions about the DC plan to the back burner. But there are some issues that an advisor can control that can shorten the time it takes to close.

When an advisor meets a plan sponsor, there are a lot of questions on the prospect’s mind:

• Does this advisor have the experience to help me?
• Is this advisor credible and honest?
• Do they understand my plan size and company type?
• Are there any inherent conflicts of interest?
• Is this a person I would enjoy working with?

These questions are accentuated for people who don’t understand the DC industry and are not experienced at running a DC plan — a common situation in small and mid-sized plans. These issues can immobilize a person, causing them to keep gathering more information and meeting with more advisors in hopes of becoming more knowledgeable. Often, however, this has the opposite effect.

It all boils down to trust, which is both a rational and emotional challenge. When an advisor is referred by a trusted source, the time it takes to close collapses. And if a credible third party can validate that an advisor has the experience and training, the time to close collapses even further.

How can you replicate a situation where trust is built quickly and the plan sponsor is at the right point in their buying cycle? Answer that question and you can significantly collapse the time it takes to close. And remember: HR people can be valuable internal supporters — if, that is, you can build a bond with them.