Prospecting strategies for financial professionals
Traditional sales techniques, such as cold calling and in-person prospecting, can still win you new clients. But they both have challenges: They can be time consuming, emotionally draining, and potentially done at an inconvenient time for the prospect. They also lack two key insights: knowledge of the prospect’s specific problem they need solved and a common denominator between you (e.g., a friend to introduce you or common interest).
That’s where online prospecting tools and social media, like LinkedIn, can fill the void. Prospecting tools enable you to sleuth and filter through thousands of retirement plans to find ones with solvable problems, highlighting your value proposition. LinkedIn—home to over 194 million members in the United States alone1—can help offer a warm introduction and get you a foot in the door if you’ve built a strong profile, network, and presence.
Turning a retirement plan’s weakness into its strength with online prospecting
Not all retirement plans (defined contribution, or DC, plans, in particular) are created equal, and many employers want theirs to stand out as a competitive differentiator. Exceptional plan metrics—participation, contribution, and income replacement rates, to name a few—provide plan sponsors with confidence that they’re offering employees a valuable program.
Prospecting tools can help you identify underperforming DC plans and give you direction on where the plan is lacking.
- Participation is low—Does the plan have automatic enrollment established or enable employees to sign up online?
- Employee contributions are below average—Does the company offer a thoughtful matching contribution to incent higher employee deferrals?
- Employees aren’t saving enough to replace their income in retirement—Do employees have access to education and retirement planning tools and resources to help them make informed decisions?
Online prospecting tools help enable you to:
- Find businesses in your area with plan types you’re comfortable working with and plan sizes that align with your business model.
- Benchmark plans against others in the same industry, state, or country and of the same size (participant count and plan assets).
- Remotely and efficiently identify opportunities to improve plan metrics with plan design features not currently deployed.
Find prospects that need help, and put together your game plan to make a difference for their plan.
Using LinkedIn as a financial professional
With your game plan in hand, you now need to find a way to introduce yourself. That starts with building an All-Star LinkedIn profile.
- Background photo—Use a landscape-oriented image, such as one with your company branding or something that illustrates your personality.
- Headshot—Add a current, professional photo clearly showing your face.
- Headline—Outline your value proposition.
- Location and contact information—Include your company address and ways to get in touch with you professionally.
- About—Describe your areas of expertise, and use clear, jargon-free language. This section is important. Search engines use it to index—collect, store, and organize information to appear in searches—your profile.
- Experience—Clearly outline your experience with brief descriptions and milestones for each role.
- Licenses and certifications—This can be especially relevant in your field. List any you’ve earned to show your expertise.
- Volunteer—Share your philanthropy and a glimpse of your passions.
- Accomplishments—Have you received any awards or spearheaded notable projects? Outline them.
- Interests—Follow businesses, groups, or individuals who interest you.
If you’re part of a larger financial professional practice, you may want to have a separate corporate LinkedIn account as well. Link to it from your personal profile, so your network can get to know both you and your team.
Engaging with your 401(k) prospects on LinkedIn
Initiating conversations with prospective clients through LinkedIn can have several benefits:
- You can thoughtfully craft a personalized message and reference a common connection: a friend, colleague, interest, or passion.
- The person you’re contacting can respond when it’s convenient for them.
- Both you and your prospect can familiarize yourselves with each other’s background, network, expertise, and other key details.
Your professional, comprehensive profile can help create a level of comfort and trust to build on when you start the conversation. You can always take your interactions back into the real world by setting up time to meet in person.
Identifying prospects on LinkedIn
LinkedIn can become a lead generator, too. Consider making your LinkedIn profile and presence part of your inbound and outbound marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing is a way of attracting prospects by showing your value. You’re bringing clients in. For example, you can share helpful content that your network is interested in (e.g., articles and videos), participate in conversations, target your posts to specific audiences, or grow your network organically.
Outbound marketing does the opposite—you’re going out to them, such as reaching out to people about your services. You can also set automated follow-up messages to keep opportunities moving forward.
Prospecting tools plus LinkedIn: a formula for qualified leads and warm intros
There are many strategies to acquire new clients and build a profitable retirement practice, and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all model. That said, the convenience and insight that some retirement plan prospecting tools offer can make them valuable resources for your business planning. They provide a convenient path to identifying solvable problems and a foot in the door with some businesses. LinkedIn can grease the wheels for initial interactions by giving the prospect room to digest your message and learn about your business before responding. Best of all, you can take advantage of both resources from the comfort of your home office.
1 "About us," LinkedIn, December 2021.
The content of this document is for general information only and is believed to be accurate and reliable as of the posting date, but may be subject to change. It is not intended to provide investment, tax, plan design, or legal advice (unless otherwise indicated). Please consult your own independent advisor as to any investment, tax, or legal statements made.
Use of the tools and resources indicated may be subject to approval by your broker-dealer. Please check with your firm prior to use.