Design to Double: Effectively Tackling Sales Pipeline Management

Control what you can, which is your output. And the outcome will take care of itself

401k, retirement, sales, clientsStay free of distrac ...oh look, Skittles!

The No. 1 distraction for advisors, says Rick Shoff, managing director at Captrust, is their pipeline. Sure, everyone’s focused when the pipeline is full.

What about when it’s not?

Wouldn’t you love to have a decent number of prospects in your pipeline at all times? Join the club. However, pipelines are rarely consistent. Some quarters, the pipeline appears full. Other times, not so much. What’s up with that?

Any experienced gardener knows you should plant certain bulbs in the fall, six to eight weeks before the ground freezes.

Prospecting is no different. My results this quarter were mostly determined before the quarter started. Prospects today were from seeds planted in the past. Some seeds may take months to mature, while others take years.

The number of prospects I have varies from quarter-to-quarter. Aside from an event where I touch numerous suspects, I can’t always explain why the pipeline differs so much.

Building prospecting into your schedule, like any other goal, is essential, according to Chris Barlow with KnowHow 401(k). View prospecting as an exercise for your business. It’s a must do, so schedule time weekly. Be selective as to the plans you want to pursue.

Mark Gutrich, with Fi401k Advisors, says a robust pipeline is a constant challenge for all advisors. He agrees with Barlow about reserving time in your schedule. Gutrich manages both passive and active campaigns. While referrals are wonderful, there is no substitute for good old-fashioned cold calling.

Ever heard the saying, “It worked so well we stopped doing it?”

I certainly identify with that remark. 401(k) Marketing’s Rebecca Hourihan believes the keys to prospecting are effort and focus. Put a system in place and work it.

Hourihan sees big prospects as a potential distraction. Advisors can become fixated on a few big fish. They try to craft the perfect voicemail, email, or pitchbook and cling to the hope that they’ll get a shot.

Pipeline management is not about giving particular attention to any one prospect. It’s about consistent marketing and doing the same work. Eventually, some prospects become clients.

Why? What was the trigger? Was it the regular email campaign? Maybe your monthly newsletter or social media posts?

Hourihan believes in all of the above. A marketing campaign should transcend small, medium, and large prospects. Build inclusive campaigns to promote your expert 401k advisory services, and you’ll build a focused pipeline that will naturally convert prospects into clients.

In other words, control what you can, which is your output. And the outcome, meaning more prospects, will take care of itself.

Ross Marino, CFP, CPFA, CeFT, contributing editor to 401(k) Specialist, is the founder and CEO of 401(k) Rekon | Excel 401(k). He can be reached at [email protected] 

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