Salespeople are always looking for tools that will add to their bottom line, and companies that offer sales prospecting products are lined up to supply that demand.
Among the tools is ERISA ONLINE, a Web-based sales prospecting database created by PensionPlanet.com and offered by Manulife Financial, Boston. The product provides brokers with methods for sorting information, says Paul Henry, director of strategic planning and market research, Manulife.
The information in the database comes from the 5500 forms, filed by pension plan administrators, that give the status of their retirement plans, Henry says.
A broker who wants to know which plans are based in her area might do a zip code search, notes Henry. She could also sort the information by name of provider.
A broker could also use this tool to find out whether a provider is leaving the business. She could then call the participants that had been served by that provider and offer her services, Henry says.
Another search available is of companies that have a certain number of employees or amount of assets, says Henry.
Instead of a traditional payment plan, the cost to the broker is that he or she register on the site and bring on one plan with Manulife.
What sets ERISA ONLINE apart from other prospecting tools, notes Henry, is its ability to track historical information.
“A lot of tools will only show the most recent (5500) filings, we have 5 years of 5500 filings,” he says.
“It allows brokers to identify trends so if you have a plan that is increasing in assets, levels of contributions and employees, those people might welcome a broker calling to see if their current provider is meeting their needs.”
ERISA ONLINE was launched Nov. 12, 2001. From that date to Nov. 30 there were more than 3,800 hits to that part of Manulifes www.my401ksales.com site, Henry says. By the end of December that figure grew to more than 7,300 hits. About 2,500 people are currently registered on the site, he adds.
Among them is Kevin Reynolds, executive vice president, EJ Reynolds Inc., Pembroke Pines, Fla.
Reynolds says he finds that ERISA ONLINE is easier to work with than other search engines hes used. Part of that comes from not having to use the exact name of a company, he explains.
“With some of the search engines you have to have the exact name as it was filed in the 5500,” Reynolds says. “With this you can use approximations.”
The only drawback Reynolds has noticed is that at times the system “times out,” forcing a user to log off and back on. Other than that, ERISA ONLINE is “user-friendly,” he says.
DataQuick ProspectFinder, by DataQuick, San Diego, Calif., offers two products that can affect a customers bottom line by increasing revenue and making operations more efficient, says Amy Rukamp, product manager for DataQuick.