By Sean P. Lee
Prospecting is often a test of patience and perseverance. But what if you could turn this process into a more successful one, establish yourself as a go-to resource of financial knowledge and give back to your community? The solution: knowledge-based prospecting at its highest level – retirement training at corporations.
As more baby boomers reach retirement age, corporations are turning to outside resources for assistance in preparing their employees for their post-working years. With such a high demand for retirement education, advisors have an opportunity to share their knowledge and develop new relationships while positioning themselves to grow their client base dramatically.
Knowledge-based prospecting can substantially increase your success in attracting qualified prospects and converting them into clients. Corporations are home to what I considered my ideal target audience: people in their 50s and 60s who have developed decent nest eggs and are nearing retirement. Positioning yourself as an informational resource in front of this audience could potentially double your business, as it did for mine last year.
Here is the prospecting method that I have used to team up with corporations in my community and help their employees make more informed retirement planning decisions.
The first step is to consider the information you will present at the corporate meeting. A well-thought-out course, along with the proper support materials, will help make your first impression memorable.
Begin with identifying and creating any collateral materials prior to contacting any businesses. This includes the training course itself, as well as the marketing materials describing your expertise and the benefits the employees will receive by participating in the course. In addition, you will need to provide examples of any supporting materials you may use during the training.
I have adapted my workplace training to focus on five fundamentals of retirement planning: income, investment, tax, health care and estate planning. I created a class specifically for corporations that consists of two sessions, each two hours long. The classes are informative, but also concise and efficient.
Our firm has gone a step further and submitted our training program to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) for review and approval. I submit the FINRA review letter in my presentation packet as well. It has proven to be a great piece to help further establish credibility. Not only does a FINRA review letter support your content, but it also takes some pressure off the employer to review your content extensively. However, keep in mind that the FINRA review process isn’t easy and is very time-consuming, so plan in advance and make this one of your top priorities from the start.
When deciding which corporations to target, I recommend reaching out to your current clients and centers of influence, looking for high-level employees or executives (such as CEOs or chief financial officers). Approach them by identifying their problems and explaining how your course can solve them. Explain the premise of your training and ask if they would be willing to make an introduction to their employer or to the owner or human resource director of a local corporation with whom they have a relationship. I also encourage getting involved in your local chamber of commerce and other networking groups, because this will help you develop new business relationships.
After the introduction has been made, we typically set up a meeting for me to come in and present my course to the appropriate parties. At the meeting, I review my materials with the group. I walk them through my step-by-step training and the benefits it provides their employees. I explain the FINRA letter and how the presentation materials have been approved by the financial services industry’s governing body. I emphasize my education and experience in providing retirement training for employee groups. I illustrate the benefits that the corporation and its employees may gain from participating in the training.
Throughout this process, it is vital to position yourself not as someone with ulterior motives, but as someone who can provide valuable information and answer important financial questions. I always emphasize education and steer clear of any sales presentations or jargon. I want to position myself as a trusted resource and provide information to everyone in the organization so they can make more informed decisions about their financial future. The conversations should be tailored around what their business needs, how you can meet their expectations and that the ultimate benefit of this training is to help their employees.
After the corporation has committed to holding a training program, it’s important that you already have begun planning the implementation process. There is still work to be done between the time you get a “yes” and the time you actually present to the employees.
Be sure to tell your contact at the corporation what you will need for your presentation — from technology to time frame to training room preferences. Also, you need an action plan to make the workers aware of the training. Can you add an article to the company’s internal newsletter? Can information be passed out to the employees? Can signage be placed around the office? In order for the employer to maximize the benefits of your training, workers must know it exists. See if you can take an active part in generating interest. By setting expectations and communicating effectively, you will solidify your role as a resource.
There is no need to “sell” your services at the presentation. You simply need to let the audience know that you will make yourself available if they have any additional questions afterward. Their employer already has endorsed your expertise by having you present to the group. You already have illustrated your expertise on financial and retirement planning during the presentation. Someone coming to see you for personalized insight on their financial situation is not a stretch. If they need you, there’s a good chance they will seek you out.
After you have one or two organizations on board for training, it becomes easier to prospect to additional corporations. You have a point to reference and experience you can refer to. Soon enough, you will have corporations reaching out to you for access to your training programs for their employees.
While avoiding sales-type pitches is crucial, positioning yourself as a resource will help catapult you into becoming an expert. As more baby boomers transition into their post-workforce years, corporations continue to be one of the best untapped resources for advisors. By getting in front of your ideal audience and offering important retirement knowledge, you open the door for ongoing opportunities. This will give you the ability to grow your business significantly for years to come.
Sean P. Lee, founder and president of SPL Financial, specializes in financial planning for retirement and assisting individuals with creating retirement income plans. Sean may be contacted at [email protected].