Rapid transformation in the asset and wealth management industries is driving a paradigm shift in how asset managers approach sales. Firms can no longer afford to support large, highly compensated sales teams who may not be focused on the right advisor relationships. Instead, leading asset managers are using data to optimize their sales efforts and maximize ‘bang for the buck’ when it comes to engaging advisors, closing sales and growing assets. While field sales remains an important part of most sales strategies, asset managers are increasingly looking to boost efficiency by investing in remote sales.
Remote sales, where the interaction between advisor and salesperson primarily occurs via phone or online, is hardly a radical idea. After all, internal wholesalers have been calling advisors since the dawn of time, or at least the dawn of asset management. What is new is that firms are no longer viewing remote sales simply as support for field sales. In fact, some external wholesalers are starting to include digital meetings in their schedule, often reducing their ‘road time’ by a full day each week. At the same time, firms are continuing to introduce hybrids and elevate the internal sales role, giving internals responsibility for their own advisors and encouraging them to engage these advisors with video and other online tools. Although only a handful of firms have introduced purely digital sales teams, quite a few attendees at our recent Digital and Remote Sales Roundtable said they were evaluating this possibility for the coming 12 months.
To implement an effective remote sales strategy, sales leaders should focus on the 3 “T”s: Teams, Technology, and Training.
When it comes to team structure, there is no one size fits all approach. Some firms have created territory-level sales teams that include hybrid and/or remote wholesalers, with the territory leader (typically a senior wholesaler) using a data-driven approach to manage coverage for advisors in the territory. Others have taken a different tack, creating separate hybrid or digital teams that focus on a specific channel or segment that isn’t covered by the firm’s traditional sales teams. Regardless of which structure firms choose, it’s critical to ensure that responsibilities are clear and compensation is appropriately aligned.
Technology is vital to a successful remote sales strategy. Firms must have the right data and analytics to identify advisors who are likely to be receptive to remote meetings, and determine the stage of the customer journey when these meetings would be most impactful. While remote sales were once reserved for lower-tier advisors, firms are discovering that many high-value advisors actually prefer digital meetings and are changing their sales strategies accordingly.Of course, robust technology solutions, in particular video-conferencing platforms, are also needed for seamless remote meetings.
Firms need to ensure their salespeople get the training they need to conduct remote meetings effectively. Training on how to use the meeting technology is fundamental, of course –especially for more senior salespeople, who are often less tech-savvy than their younger counterparts. However, training should also address broader topics, such as video conferencing protocol and how to combine video with tools, like virtual white boards and screen sharing, to create an engaging advisor experience.
For more details on our research and recommendations on tackling the current distribution challenges, please download our free whitepaper, Shaking Up, Shaking Out: Bold Moves that are Transforming Asset and Wealth Management.
Written by Saadiah Freeman
Product Manager, Research & Consulting