top of page
  • Writer's pictureRebecca Hourihan

Mapping Out the Data and Outreach Stages of 401(k) Prospecting

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Successful 401(k) prospecting is about recognizing opportunities and knowing how to advance each stage of the sales relationship. In this article, we dissect the stages of data collection and outreach as part of the process. We cover identifying ideal prospects by collecting data to optimizing effective outreach opportunities.

Collecting data is an essential step and it’s where the journey begins. Then the content influences prospects to learn more. Don't let quality content become an afterthought or something put off until later in the process—it should be integral to everything you do.

You are in charge of your success, so start taking your prospecting strategy even further by creating value-driven content that persuades plan sponsors to select you as their trusted retirement plan advisor.


The data-gathering phase is very satisfying. Once you have established your target market parameters and laid out your criteria for an ideal 401(k) client, the Form 5500 data provides an exact treasure map, which is quite unique. Other industries do not have a central data base to tap into to neatly identify X-mark-the-spot opportunities.

It’s such a nice feeling, knowing which companies, who is the plan administrator, where they are located, how large their plan is, the number of participants and if they are having red flag troubles. It’s almost too easy to think confidently… look at all these plans that need professional help.

That’s the beginning of the journey. Now that you have a map – an Excel spreadsheet – that tells you exactly where the opportunities are, next in line is the arduous trek to earn the business.


Once a target list has been compiled, it’s time for the adventure. To garner the attention of plan sponsors, most advisors rely on referrals, favorable introductions and business development campaigns. Let’s explore different prospecting activities and how they can enhance your approach.


  • Cold calls – Start with a script. What are you going to say? How is it relevant to your target market?

  • Voicemail – Write it down and rehearse your ask. Why would a plan sponsor call you back?

  • Podcasts – Compile a list of questions. Treat the podcast like a play. How are you engaging the listeners? How are you drawing them in?


  • Email – Is your subject line enough to engage a click?

  • Social media – Take a look at your profile and confirm that it’s complete. Review your posts to ensure they represent your experience. Share retirement plan news on your newsfeed to show social proof you work with 401(k) plans.

  • Blog – Demonstrate your acumen with benchmarking, investment oversight, financial wellness, plan conversions, employee education and fiduciary responsibilities by writing about your experiences.

  • Digital ads – Maximize your digital impressions by scaling across the internet through ad placements and remarketing strategies.

Hearing and Seeing

  • Videos – What’s your hook? Write out a script, practice it and press record. Most people are not one-take-wonders, so run through it a few times. Aim to keep the video under 2 minutes.

  • Events – They’re back! Conferences and workshops are great ways to show and tell plan sponsors how you can help them.

  • Webinars – Find a topic and roll with it. Send out invitations and share some knowledge.

Outreach is a key element to gaining new business, and there are several ways of contacting prospective clients. From cold calls, voicemails, email, social media posts, blogs, digital ads, videos, events to webinars, these are all effective methods of marketing yourself and your business. Each of these tactics may advance your prospecting efforts and lead to new business opportunities.


Depending on which types of content you use for outreach, the majority of them will need compliance approval. That’s normal and okay. Use compliance submission as a badge of honor and accomplishment on the path to promoting your content.

Data and Content

Content creation and outreach are challenging elements. There needs to be an understanding of what plan sponsors care about when selecting their 401(k) advisor and then developing content personalized to meet their interests in terms of their particular situations.

Therefore, make sure you're on top of retirement plan news and dedicate quality time to make yourself as attractive as possible; use persuasive content that addresses specific issues faced by plan sponsors in order to make an impact.

Strategic Prospecting Journey

As 401(k) advisors, you should aim to be strategic and thorough. Doing research and collecting data is a necessary and important step in any proper prospecting journey. Once that data has been identified, it’s time to put together a business development plan.

The steps you take to reach out and connect with potential new clients will ultimately win them over and make you stand out from the competition. Content is key: each layer of your outreach campaigns needs to demonstrate knowledge, expertise, creativity, relevance and integrity.

Take the initiative by mapping out your prospect-to-client strategy. Demonstrate your process by developing detailed, specific business development campaigns that highlight your experiences and attract your ideal 401(k) clients.

Thanks for reading!


bottom of page