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Warm Prospect > Cold Lead

Sales & Marketing

How many sales are won on the first meeting? Not many, right? As an advisor, you put in the work to earn new business, and that could take 4, 5, 6 or 14 meetings. Retirement plan sales are not transactions at Starbucks; they are well thought out, long-term commitments. Deep down, we all know this, so why isn’t every retirement plan advisor implementing a multi-touchpoint prospect nurturing campaign?

There is no better time than now to start. Here are four tips to help you follow up like a pro. 

Don’t Waste Time

Your plan sponsor prospects are busy. They lead companies, manage hard-working Americans and are forced to be continual learners. With each business cycle, they must read, understand and implement endless new rules, regulations, systems and processes. At the same time, they must continuously guide their company toward profitability and sustainability.

As such, you need to be direct and intentional with your follow-up efforts. Spammy or fluffy advertisements will not work on this demographic. However, follow-up content that speaks to the problems (and solutions) your prospects are dealing with today can immediately boost your relevancy to busy plan sponsors.

(Relevant) Content is King

The goal is to relate to their problem, present helpful information and guide them toward solutions (which includes hiring you). In our increasingly digital world, top-performing follow-up content includes:

  • Articles
  • Case studies
  • Infographics
  • Newsletters
  • Plan sponsor guides
  • Podcasts
  • Webinars
  • Videos

To get started, take out a piece of paper and write down the top three questions you get from new prospects. Chances are, other plan sponsors in your target market are wondering about the same topics. Take the time to answer these questions thoughtfully and then put them in a designed format using examples from the list above. Obtain compliance approval and you have yourself distributable follow-up content that answers the questions on your prospects’ minds. 

Now it’s time to share these materials. Start with your existing clients, prospects and centers of influence. Send them one topic at a time via email and explain why they are receiving this information—something like: “Our Top 3 Employer Questions about 401(k) Plans Answered—Part 1.”

As you answer their burning questions, your contact list will be delighted by the new knowledge and insights. Plus, they will begin to view you as a trusted expert. Continue with each of the three topics and soon you will experience a flurry of new conversations and a spark of opportunities to deepen relationships with follow-up activities. Good work!

Don’t Stop When It Starts Working

Often, after a successful follow-up campaign, we hear from advisors, “It worked so well, we stopped.” While this is normal, it doesn’t set you up for long-lasting success. This is why you need to adopt an ongoing process. Something easy, repeatable and actionable.

We all know that sales rarely close on the first meeting; 80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact.[1] Which means consistency is key. By adopting a consistent follow-up process, you stay in front of prospects, building trust over time as they gain the confidence to say yes and hire you as their retirement plan advisor. 

Make a Plan

On average, prospects report reading 13 pieces of content before making a buying decision.[2] This is a huge opportunity for advisors to publish digital content. If you are the source of relevant and interesting plan sponsor content, you will stand out and be the only retirement plan advisor worthy of hiring! 

Whether you create it in-house, curate it through quality news sources, use Home Office campaigns or partner with an agency, you need quality content. Information that is specific and useful for your plan sponsor audience. 

Pro Tip: Quality over quantity. Always make sure to send quality value-add content. Never send an email just to send an email because that will hurt your credibility, and your contact list will unsubscribe. 

As you gather a robust library of quality content, use the power of automation to make marketing easier. Schedule your emails and segment your lists through automated campaigns to strengthen your sales pipeline. Try to make the process of marketing simple so that it’s fun for you, your team and your business.

Read more commentary by Rebecca Hourihan here.

Another best practice is to have an editorial calendar. This powerful organizational tool will help ensure that the materials you send are timely and relevant. Think about when your clients and prospects need specific information and develop your digital content strategy accordingly. Remember the goal is to deliver valuable content that helps your clients and prospects become better fiduciaries and enhances your reputation as a trusted partner. 

Popular topics include:

  • Fiduciary plan governance
  • Rules and regulations
  • Plan design education
  • Financial wellness resources
  • Executive benefits
  • Health and wealth

Put It Into Action

As we enter the dog days of summer, take the lull as an opportunity to supercharge your marketing. Start small by working to gather an accurate contact list, then connect with your list via social media. After that, write down the types of retirement plan topics you believe your audience should be informed about. Then work to create content that answers these burning questions.

Keeping your prospects warm long after the initial introduction is challenging. However, it is easier to convert a warm prospect then it is to identify a cold lead. Nurture busy plan sponsors by educating them about important retirement plan topics. 

By staying top of mind, you will demonstrate your mastery of the retirement plan industry and be their trusted expert. So that way, when they are ready to take the next step, you have demonstrated that you are their solution.

Thanks for reading and Happy Marketing!

Rebecca Hourihan, AIF, PPC, is the founder and CMO of 401(k) Marketing, which she founded to assist qualified experts operate a professional business with professional marketing materials and ongoing awareness campaigns. This column originally appeared in the Summer issue of NAPA Net the Magazine

[1] Clay, Robert. “Why you must follow up leads.” Marketing Donut, sourced April 2021.

[2] Marketing Charts. “B2B Buyers Rely on Vendor Websites for Content,” April 2020.