As discussed in our "Cost-Effectively Growing Assets" whitepaper, as asset management firms evolve their distribution models—integrating business intelligence, sales and marketing to customize their value proposition to the advisor community—they must align their distribution resources to support their best relationships and opportunities. This includes aligning both sales and marketing coverage to the value, behaviors and preferences of each segment.
To do this effectively, firms should follow three steps:
- Align customer engagement with a whole journey approach.
- Align talent to customer needs.
- Align the organization to match the opportunity.
Align customer engagement with a whole journey approach
Today, advisors have far more opportunities to engage with marketing-based digital touchpoints—such as the website, email and sponsored content on third-party websites—than they do with salespeople. And they do not care who is responsible for each touchpoint. They care that every interaction with a firm feels like a natural continuation of a single, consistent conversation.
- According to our advisor research conducted in association with Horsesmouth, a third of the advisors that do business with your firm do not want to meet with a salesperson in person. That number is even higher (60%) for advisors who do not do business with you already. But, just 4 in 10 asset managers track meeting preferences in their CRMs.
- Nearly 44% of advisors say that getting emails about products that they have already told a salesperson they are not interested in would deter them from doing business with the firm, yet just 6.1% of CMOs say they deliver real-time, data-driven, dynamically personalized recommendations.
Align talent to customer needs
To grow assets in a cost-effective manner, asset managers need to deploy talent wisely. The most expensive resources should go to the advisors who represent the biggest opportunities for your firm and who want and value engagement with these resources.
In addition to identifying the opportunity each advisor represents to your firm, understanding how those advisors want to engage with you is a key factor in aligning talent to customer needs. This includes two key components:
- Determining the right coverage mix for each segment: Instead of simply deciding whether an advisor merits external or internal sales coverage, firms now need to determine the ratio of in-person and virtual coverage that makes sense for any given advisor population. Make virtual meetings the default goal, and make in-person meetings the upgrade where the opportunity and the advisor’s preferences warrant it.
- Matching the salesperson to the segment: The vast majority of advisors (over 80%) say that as many as half of asset management salespeople they encounter do not really understand their business goals and values. When salespeople do not take the time to familiarize themselves with an advisor’s specific business needs, advisors tend to feel the salesperson is there only to sell, rather than to help advisors accomplish their business objectives—to grow their business.
Align the organization to match the opportunity
Firms need to know their numbers—to obtain a 360-degree view of their current sales footprint, using data related to sales, revenue, costs and competitive opportunity.
- Firms can then use this information to determine which advisors do (and do not) make sense to cover, and therefore, what size sales team makes sense for the firm.
- Before deciding to add (or reduce) staff, firms should first use data to look for opportunities to optimize the existing sales organization. Are you focused on the optimal set of advisors? Are your sales engagements yielding optimal results? Are there opportunities to reduce costs or better align talent to opportunity?
Source: SS&C Research, Analytics and Consulting, Rightsizing Sales Organizations and Managing Territories, 2020
Over the last few years, executives from virtually every asset management firm have mentioned a desire to modernize their distribution operations and compete more effectively in the ever-changing landscape of the asset management industry. Starting to leverage data and technology has helped. But firms also need to make significant changes in strategy and culture—which are often the hardest types of change to create.
The COVID-19 pandemic gave firms the rare opportunity to jumpstart their modernization by forcing them to rely more heavily, or even entirely, on virtual and digital engagement. Now, firms need to institutionalize the practices and processes that proved to be most efficient and effective across their database of advisors to create a new “status quo” of strategy, operations and culture—instead of going back to the old one.
Written by Jason Dauwen
Sr. Business Research Analyst