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Know When to Hold 'em and When to...

Sales Process Development

Have you ever experienced the rush of winning? The excitement, glee and anticipation that comes from signing that BIG retirement plan client – one of those “larger than your eyes can image” deals? Wow, you feel amazing. Your sales preparation, value proposition and service level commitment won the deal. Your emotions range from happiness and joy to fear, but mostly accomplishment. You did it. 

Well, what happens when you take on a new client and you experience the opposite? The sunken lip wrinkle, slightly annoyed “favor.” The new client who doesn’t meet your threshold. As your business has grown, you’ve outgrown accounts and clients of a certain size. That’s okay – and it’s normal. It’s actually healthy when businesses outgrow their existing base. It means that your business is successful and growing.

Understanding Client Segmentation 

Many business coaches encourage client segmentation in an effort to identify your most profitable clients. They recommend placing clients into categories (e.g., A, B, C) based on relationships, then into quadrants: high maintenance, low maintenance, high revenue, low revenue. Finally, business coaches will ask you to resegment your book of business and only work with profitable A-list clients.

Oftentimes, when this idea is first discussed, there is immediate recoil. Shouldn’t you work with everyone? The idea of turning business away is terrifying.

You’ve Been Here Before

As a retirement plan specialist, at some point in your career, you did this. You drew a line in the sand and said, “I’m a retirement plan advisor” and as a result, you turned away business – and your business benefited! 

We are highlighting this experience because if you want to grow, you need room. Meaning it may be time to review your current book of business and make some adjustments, allowing you the opportunity for growth. 

Getting in Tune

In addition to client segmentation, we challenge you to take this step further and assess the way you feel about your clients. If you genuinely enjoy working with certain clients, great, continue to build those relationships. But what about the more challenging clients? If you experience any of the following, we encourage you to explore some of the remedies and options described below. 

You Feel this Client is a Chore

You dread creating the agenda, reports and materials that will be discussed at upcoming meetings. To remedy this, look internally. See which team members enjoy working with the client. Maybe you could pair another advisor with this client who is a better personality fit, or maybe this is a mentoring and learning opportunity for a junior advisor. 

You Think You’re Doing Someone Else a Favor

You were referred to a client because they are someone’s brother, niece, godchild, spouse or cousin’s best friend twice removed. In such a case, they are related to someone that is a very important relationship. You want to do a great job and help them, but your heart just isn’t in it. 

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here.

To solve this dilemma, think about who you respect. If this retirement plan falls within their wheelhouse, then that could be a quality introduction. Another idea is to provide a complimentary conversation. Hear the plan sponsor out and what they are looking for. Maybe it’s something small (like a service issue) and one phone call or email could solve their problem. Retirement plans are not their business, so sometimes having someone on the phone who actually knows what they are talking about is all they need to navigate the landscape and get the help they need.

You Feel Uninspired

If the very thought of doing the client project deflates you, then don’t do it. For example, some retirement plan advisors adore employee education meetings. There is the excitement of public speaking and influencing retirement outcomes. Whereas other professionals enjoy the auto-reenrollment program and reporting to the retirement plan committee the boost in participation rates. It’s about personal preference. To solve this scenario, seek out complementary partners. Find the internal team member, recordkeeper partner, DCIO wholesaler and/or TPA who feels inspired. Partner with them to accomplish the project.

Keep in mind that client delegation is not always be the best solution. However, having a game plan in place is a way to protect your time and business. This way, as you grow, your clients are growing with you – because in order to grow successfully, you need room.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing! 

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing