Digital! Digital! Digital! Does everyone have that? Great! The word “digital” induces an array of emotions from excitement to fear to utter annoyance. It’s become as ubiquitous as the Ps (people, process, philosophy and performance) within the asset management industry. In fact, nearly all distribution executives are working towards digital advancement in their sales/sales enablement strategy in some form.
This is no surprise as we have been discussing the need to modernize the distribution model within the asset management industry for years. Advances in data, analytics and technology all point towards a digitally enabled, more efficient, and more effective operating model—at least that’s the plan!
There are a sufficient number of challenges, however, in the digital evolution of asset managers. And perhaps the biggest challenge is defining what “digitally enabled” actually means. After all, despite many similarities, most asset managers are actually quite different, and digitally enabling can mean different things to different asset managers. It is our firm belief that each asset manager needs to develop their own unique digital strategy that fits their firm, their culture, and their strategy. While there are many things to learn from others, simply copying others can be a needlessly expensive endeavor with no guarantee of success.
At SS&C, we believe that it is critical to first define what you are trying to achieve and then to identify where you are today in your digital journey so that you can define a plan for where you need to be. Just remember, a digitally enabled sales strategy—or digital-first selling as we define it—is about much more than applying robust data and advanced technology to traditional sales and marketing thinking. It’s about transforming the firm’s go-to-market approach, converting practices that are currently built around the salesperson to a broad set of strategies built around the customer’s journey and preferences. This last part is key. Digital-first selling is about meeting your customers where they are in their relationship (lifecycle) with your organization AND where they want to consume information and engage (omnichannel).
Digital marketing is critical to this, of course, and salespeople continue to be too. Salespeople should be the masters at effectively using virtual sales tools, engaging advisors wherever they choose to interact and dynamically adapting their approach to advisors’ shifting needs and preferences along the way. In fact, digital-first strategies are intended to free salespeople from the kinds of tasks that technology can do for them so that they can focus on their true value: building and growing the relationships that are most valuable to the firm. That is the ultimate goal and end state. However, in order to get there, distribution executives must identify where they are in their digital journey—from “human-centric selling” to “optimized digital-enabled human selling” and chart the right course to process in their digital maturity.
In order to do this, it requires distribution executives to embrace a more holistic strategy, as outlined along with our thoughts and vision for digital advancement in our "Leveling Up Distribution in a Post-COVID World" whitepaper.
Written by Matt Fronczke
Senior Director, Strategic Business Consulting