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Failing to Plan is Planning to Fail

Sales Process Development

It’s the big day: finalist day! You’ve prepped, you’re prepared, and now you’re ready. But is there anything else you could do to increase your chances of winning? I’m not talking about game day superstitions like your lucky tie or trusty pen. While these may give you little boosts of confidence and self-assurance, preparation and good marketing are surefire ways to stand out from other finalists. 

Everyone has experienced at least one cringeworthy presentation in their life. Whether you were frantically skipping through slides or watching a presenter stumble through their words, it is an equally painful experience for all parties. These five tips will help you avoid game day fumbles and help you win more finalists meetings. 

Tip #1: Host a Prep Call

A prep call could be the difference between chaotic disaster and organized success. 

A week before the presentation, invite all the presenters to a screenshare for a practice presentation. Build your agenda and discuss which sections each team member will present. Walk through the presentation deck, giving each presenter the opportunity to practice their section. Also, if you need more bench strength, invite your recordkeeping relationships, TPA partners, and/or DCIO wholesalers to join the finalist presentation. 

Tip #2: Assess the Design

When you’re walking through each section, make a point to step back and assess the visual representation of your slides. How do they look? Do they match your companies branding? Do they properly communicate the level of professionalism your company reflects? If they look amazing, then it’s showtime. If they need a little adjusting, then it’s time to ask/task those slides for a design update. Your services are worth thousands of dollars per year – and your slides should reinforce the value of your expertise. 

Tip #3: Pre-Game Huddle

The last thing you want to do is throw off all of your preparation. So, what is your game day plan? During your prep call, hash out your day. Whether you decide to carpool together or drive separately and meet 30 minutes beforehand in the parking lot or at a nearby coffee shop to work out any last-minute kinks, set a plan and stick to it. And be sure to share this plan with all participating partners such as your recordkeeper relationships, TPA partners and DCIO wholesalers.

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here.

Tip #4: Add Some Flexibility

The agenda your team built during the prep call will serve as your game plan, but it’s important to allow for flexibility. One tip we’ve found very helpful is to build the following questions into the agenda’s opening remarks: 

  • “Before we dive into today’s agenda, is there anything you would like to add or remove?” [Pause; wait for response.] 
  • “Is there anything on the agenda you would like us to address first?” [Pause; wait for response.] 

The overwhelming majority of times, the committee will allow you to proceed as planned. However, these opening questions allow the committee an opportunity to voice topics they consider top of mind and critical. Give the committee this opportunity and you’ll see them become more relaxed and receptive immediately. 

Tip #5: Technology Check

What about technology? That’s always a gamble – especially when you’re relying on someone else’s digital infrastructure. 

Whether you are using a traditional projection system, casting on an Apple TV or handing out individual iPads, it is important that you are comfortable with the technology and prepared to troubleshoot any problems with it. If you’re bringing your own devices, test them out a few days in advice to confirm that they are charged and the presentation looks good on them.

Do Great

When you take the time to prep with your team, you lay out a great game plan. Then by practicing together and walking through each section, it helps build the confidence of each speaker. Thinking ahead and preempting tech glitches will create a smooth presentation experience for everyone. By doing these things, it demonstrates to the retirement plan committee that you didn’t just show up – you came prepared to win. 

Thanks for reading, and Happy Marketing! 

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing. This column originally appeared in the Summer issue of NAPA Net the Magazine