Growing your 401(k) business: Writing effective prospecting emails

Image: Growing your 401(k) business: Writing effective prospecting emails

Of course, most business owners and prospective 401(k) plan sponsors have a reason for why they’ve postponed starting a retirement plan for their employees. Their reasoning tends to center on a lack of time and not having the budget to deal with expenses involved in starting and running a 401(k) plan. When you’re reaching out to potential 401(k) clients via email, it’s important to use the right framing and tone to convey your genuine interest in helping them to achieve their goals. This can be a difficult task to accomplish because of the nature of sales and prospecting.

3 prospecting email tips any professional salesperson should know

Success in sending engaging and effective prospecting emails starts with knowing the basics. There are certain “must-do” and “please don’t” tips that can keep your email from sounding canned or over-the-top. Checking all these boxes before hitting the send button might mean the difference between a new client and an email that’s deleted before ever being opened.

Tip 1: Focus on what the recipient cares about

At the end of the day, anyone who opens an email from a salesperson knows that the sender wants the receiver to contact them. But telling the reader right away to make a phone call can be an immediate annoyance.

Instead, try to open the email with something that lets the reader know you care about what they have going on or that you understand their struggles to find time to explore new business opportunities. Sure, there are a lot of benefits to what you are offering them—but if you don’t relate to them at all, they may pass on your offer and reach out to someone they had a more personal connection with.

You might also be interested in:
How to build relationships with clients as a financial advisor

When it comes down to it, you can be selling the best product out there, but if you don’t seem human and trustworthy, the average business owner (who may have invested their entire life into their business) is not likely to take a risk or engage in a conversation.

Tip 2: Establish your value before mentioning the call to action

When you send an email, especially to prospective clients, you’re hoping they will read it and then feel compelled to reach out. However important it is to sell a plan to a new client, it’s even more important to make them feel like what you’re selling is valuable to them. And you should aim to establish why your service is valuable before you ask them to give you a call or email you back.

It’s easy to get caught up explaining who you are and what you want the reader of the email message to do, but if they don’t already believe what you are selling is valuable, it can come across as pushy or annoying. Think of it this way: you’re providing a solution, but if you don’t give the reader a reason to believe there is truly a problem that needs solving, they won’t view your services as the answer. They’ll write it off as a luxury or unnecessary expense and send your email right to the spam or trash folder.

Once you’ve explained how they could benefit from your services, you can then sweep in with your contact information and offer to set up a conversation.

Tip 3: Resist complimenting yourself or your company

While highlighting what the potential client cares about and establishing your company’s value as a solution to their need for a retirement plan, it can be very easy to make the mistake of bragging. When the focus is on you, you’re basically telling this prospective client that they’re boosting your name by choosing to work with you. Avoid complimenting your service or product and offering, and put more focus on how your solution could benefit the client. While there is value in the “we have a bunch of satisfied clients, so you should get on board” type of phrasing, it’s much more effective to persuade potential clients by focusing on how your services will help them to meet their goals.

If you have the reputation in the area for being a great company to work with, there’s no need to tell prospective clients all about it. Let your follow-through and attention to their needs and goals show them what to expect from you. Keep the email focused on them and give them a reason to compliment you, rather than feeding them a list of your achievements up front.

What are retirement plan sponsors looking for in a financial advisor?
Read more

How to write personalized prospecting emails to grow your small business 401(k) client base

When it comes to attracting 401(k) clients through prospecting emails, there are some specific industry patterns you can use to your advantage. There isn’t always a magic word that will get them to open your email or a specific statistic to share to pique their interest. It really comes down to highlighting their need for your service and interlacing that need with how you can answer and eliminate their concerns about starting a 401(k).

Overcoming Business Owner Objections
Free downloadable resource

Consider the following questions when creating a prospecting email:

  • What time of year is it? What are small business owners focused on during this quarter?
  • How are small businesses generally doing in the area where this prospective client is located?
  • Do I have a specific 401(k) solution in mind for this prospect? How can I use what I know about that specific solution to engage my prospect?
  • Do I have any information or background on this client and their industry that I can use to write an email that speaks specifically to their needs?

Now, it’s also important to do all of this without sending a 1,000-word email or badgering your potential client to call you before they’re ready.

So, how do you go about prospecting for 401(k) business? Use the basic tips mentioned above, and combine it with your experience and knowledge of the financial industry to get the timing and value proposition right. When you’re sitting down to write out a personalized prospecting email (or, let’s face it, several prospecting emails), consider aspects from these two general outlines:

The “short & skimmable” prospecting email: 

Step 1: Greeting.

Step 2: Highlight a timely topic (focus on potential business owners’ struggles or priorities like time investment, cost, or lack of information/guidance).

Step 3: Follow up with a short list of 401(k) plan benefits and features.

Step 4: End with an invitation to connect and an open-ended question to spur a potential conversation.

Step 5: Wrap up with your signature and contact information.

Example email:

Hi Phil,

Small business owners have a lot on their plate. I just read an article stating 80 percent of small business owners work nights and weekends. With so little time and a tight budget, it’s probably tough to imagine finding the time or financing to start and run a 401(k) plan.

Could the benefits make the time investment worth it?

Here are a few potential benefits of an Ascensus 401(k) plan for your business:

  • Convenient and secure online platform available 24/7
  • Customer service available to answer questions
  • Proactive alerts and resources to keep plan participants on the path to retirement readiness
  • Easy online setup and enrollment
  • Increased employee retention and recruitment

Im here to answer any of your questions about whether an Ascensus 401(k) could be the right fit for you and your employees.

Could be missing out on an opportunity to support the health of your business by not offering retirement benefits?


[your signature]

The “relatable” prospecting email:  

Step 1: Greeting.

Step 2: Open with something that is specific to them or their industry to peak their curiosity. Share an article you thought was interesting, mention something they’ve done recently that helped to grow their business, or highlight something they shared online or on social media that inspired you.

Step 3: Transition with a question that might lead them to wonder if starting a retirement plan is their next step to future success.

Step 4: Then, set up the next paragraph to outline the benefits of a 401(k) for the potential plan sponsor in a friendly and relatable way.

Step 5: Wrap up with a question that they can answer if they choose to respond to your email, rather than trying to get them to set up a call. Your contact information should be in your signature so they have easy access to call or reply if what you said sparks their interest.

Example Email:

Hey Dianna,

I saw your post on LinkedIn about the Food Drive Initiative that you participated in last week. What a great way to support your local community!

I’m always impressed and enjoy seeing local business thriving and growing like yours. I couldn’t help but reach out to ask whether you’ve considered the potential benefits of a 401(k) plan.

Setting money aside for later in life might not be near the top of your priority list for today (and trust me, I know you’ve got a lot on your list of to-do’s), but setting up a flexible retirement plan could help you attract and retain loyal employees and save money on your taxes every year.

Do you have a plan for your financial future that supports the growth of your business and your life’s work the way that a 401(k) could?

I would love to hear more about the great things you’ve got going on and discuss retirement plan options that were made specifically to fit the needs of small businesses like [business name]. 

Looking forward to hearing from you,

[your signature]

Looking for other ways to connect to potential clients or create a referral network? Reach out to our team to discuss ways to collaborate. We’re always happy to help you make a great first impression with future clients. Give us a call at 800-345-6363 or explore our Advisor Toolkit for more helpful resources.