In a survey conducted by FSS (Financial Service Standards Marketing Effectiveness Survey) asking 401k advisors what methods have been successful to bring in new business, telemarketing, otherwise known as cold calling, was voted one of the least effective.
However, most advisors have at some point in their marketing efforts tried this strategy and many continue to use this method for reaching out to plan prospects.
Since any method can work to bring in new business if done correctly, including cold calling, I thought I’d share with you some ways you can increase the effectiveness of your telemarketing efforts should you choose to include this as part of your prospecting strategy.
1. Grab a copy of “There’s No Such Thing as Closing the Deal: A Brief(case) Guide to Successful Sales” by Jane Murphy.
Jane Murphy was responsible for growing sales in Fidelity’s small-to-mid sized 401k division from $100k to more than $2 billion in new assets every year (all over the phone with her call center!). She is the expert at how to grow a 401k business through telemarketing and her book, while a short read, is chock full of tips and ideas you should know if you want to succeed at growing your business through outbound calling.
2. Identify your niche/unique value.
It’s important to be clear on who you serve and how you’re different; understanding that “companies that offer a 401k plan” is not a defined niche and neither is “companies that have more than $10 million in plan assets.” You need to be a clear choice to a clear type of client or plan or challenge, and then you need to be able to define how your process is different or better than that of your competition.
3. Identify a wish list of 50 prospects that fit the picture of your ideal client type and do your research.
Research the prospects you’d like to talk to online using various sources of information such as the company’s website, LinkedIn profile, and Brightscope report. Research helps you understand what challenges the business and plan might be facing, who the decision makers are that you need to reach out to, and how you might connect with them prior to calling on them.
4. Create a cold-to-warm lead pre-sell strategy.
Think about how you can get your name in front of your prospects and start to build credibility, value, and goodwill before expecting them to give you anything, including their time. Examples might be connecting in groups on LinkedIn and adding value to conversations they’ve responded to or sending them something in the mail that provides value and gets your foot in the door.
5. Build a relationship.
As you connect with your prospects, focus your conversations on identifying their goals and value drivers and always be working towards the next appointment that allows you to offer additional value and build a relationship rather than a quick jump to try to close the deal. The 401k business is a relationship business so spread out your sales process to allow time to earn trust and show value.
6. Create a pipeline management process.
Create a process that helps you to systematize your pre-sell, appointment, and post-meeting procedures. Include an ongoing drip process to continue to add value and build credibility to keep hot prospects from turning cold since the sales cycle in the 401k industry is a long one and 12-18 months is often the length of time it takes before a prospect becomes a client.
Will it work?
Ultimately the success you have will depend on many factors, including how well you’re able to create and follow a prospecting strategy that includes the steps we’ve just discussed.
However, if you don’t enjoy cold calling (I know of few individuals that do), I’d recommend either outsourcing the lead generation and calling to a firm like Acceleration Retirement that has the resources and track record of helping advisors build a 401k business through their experienced call center, or find a different prospecting method altogether.
In the next couple of articles, I’ll help you understand how to make content marketing and referral marketing more effective if those are methods that you’d prefer over telemarketing.
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