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THE PROSPECTING FLOW: The Discovery Meeting

Past articles in the Prospecting Flow series discussed starting the conversation with a 401(k) prospect plan decision maker, posing your initial questions to confirm the research you have on the plan, managing their objections and obtaining their opinion on improvements for the company 401(k) plan. You are now able to decide whether to move forward with them and set up the Discovery Meeting.

The purpose of the Discovery Meeting is to continue the process of understanding what you need to know about the company, the employees, and the 401(k) plan to enhance the probability of being selected to serve. Your objectives to accomplish during the Discovery Meeting include:

  • Show your value-added service with your Positioning Presentation.
  • Ask questions and solicit quality responses to fully understand the decision maker's goals for their plan.
  • Develop a thorough understanding of the hurdles and or objections that you will have to overcome during the upcoming sales presentation.
  • Answer any questions the decision maker asks about you and the services you can provide.
  • Schedule a follow up meeting to present your recommendation, a sales presentation if appropriate.


Conduct the Discovery Meeting at the employer's location. By being on location you will be better positioned to gather other information besides the answers to your questions. You can review their office walls for family pictures, diplomas and awards. You will certainly gain a clearer understanding of them and their company by visiting them.

There are four categories of Discovery Meeting questions to get answered:

  • Plan Demographics
  • Plan Operations
  • Plan Investments
  • Plan Service

I encourage you to end with plan service questions because service is what you have most control over. By asking the Discovery Meeting questions you will learn about problem areas and features other Advisors may have spoken to them about that they are interested in.

Final questions posed can include a trial close. You want an understanding if the prospect plan decision makers will move forward if they are presented with a better option. You are not in the proposal publishing business. Here is a sample trail close question, "You have provided a great deal of information, with plenty of opportunity for me to suggest improvements when we meet next. If after our next meeting you agree that my recommendations will provide the 401(k) plan that works better than your current plan will you be at a point where you are ready to make the upgrade?"

And a final question to ask as you conclude the Discovery Meeting seeks their assistance setting up the agenda for the next meeting when you will present your recommendations. Ask, "Prioritize for me what will be important to discuss at our next meeting when I present our recommendations. And if necessary, "Would all other decision makers agree on that prioritization?"

As you close the Discovery Meeting ask for a copy of their 408(b)(2) Fee Disclosure Form and an Enrollment Kit which includes a Summary Plan Description and investment overview. A thorough Discovery Meeting enhances the probability of serving the plan. Look for the next article in the series, when I'll review the Sales Presentation Flow.

Christopher Barlow
Managing Director
KnowHow 401(k), LLC

Chris is the founder of our 401(k) Sales Champion program. Click here if you would like to learn more about this FREE sales development program that we offer to advisors interested in launching, growing, and improving their 401(k) business.

This blog post is reproduced with permission from Chris Barlow.