Disruptive industry change can be difficult for leaders to accept. Judging from the discussion at our recent Internal, Hybrid, and Digital Sales roundtable, however, most Internal Sales Managers aren’t shying away from confronting the shifts occurring in the asset management space. Instead, they are using data to sharpen their focus, experimenting with innovative sales coverage models, and embracing the need to attract, motivate, and retain younger and more diverse team members.
Data for business focus and experimentation
The importance of advisor data is not a new theme for Internal Sales. However, at this year’s roundtable discussion, many attendees discussed how their firms are using data to create more tightly focused segmentation models, with several executives emphasizing the importance of knowing what not to do – and which advisors not to cover – in an increasingly resource-constrained environment.
Data is also at the heart of another key theme that emerged from the discussion: business model experimentation. Some firms have used data-driven insights to de-channelize their sales organizations, designing more flexible sales coverage models based on advisor value and opportunity or creating specialized internal teams focused on business development. Other firms, recognizing the importance of data to their future success, have created dedicated teams within internal sales to focus on analytics or tasked select internals with the role of liaising between the firm’s Business Intelligence and Sales organizations.
Technology is blurring the distinction between externals and internals
Changing workforce begins with internal sales
Data is not the only driver of change within internal, hybrid, and digital sales teams: demographic change is also having an effect. Within asset management, the Sales organization has historically been one of the least diverse areas. At this year’s roundtable, roughly half the Internal Sales leaders in attendance were women, a positive sign that firms are working to address historical gender imbalances. Beyond gender, firms acknowledged the continuing struggle to attract, nurture, and retain diverse talent. Firms willing to hire non-traditional candidates, helping them to obtain licenses if necessary, are having the most success in this area.
Another key demographic change that all firms have had to tackle is the rise of the millennial workforce. Internal Sales Managers, with their high percentage of younger team members, have been at the forefront of this shift. In this area, there was a noticeable change in the prevailing attitude at the roundtable. In the past, many internal managers expressed frustration with younger employees, adopting a critical approach. Now, most Internal Sales leaders realize that, with the right management and motivation, they can effectively harness Millennials’ talent and energy. Firms are having success with programs that clearly delineate career paths, for example in Product, National Accounts, and Marketing, and allow internals to take on extra projects to build skills and contacts. While it’s clearly more of a struggle for some than for others, most Internal Sales leaders are even accepting that work-life balance doesn’t equate to laziness and that long hours in the office aren’t the only way to show dedication. As asset managers navigate the stormy winds of change, this flexibility and adaptability will prove to be more important than ever.
Research, Analytics, and Consulting