National Sales leadership is focused on addressing industry trends and disruptions, and is evaluating how organizations should evolve in the modern asset and wealth management ecosystem. National Sales Managers from approximately two dozen asset managers recently attended our National Sales Manager Roundtable, and indicated a real shift in the way National Sales is looking at their role within the organization and the industry – a few key takeaways included:
- Asset Managers expect to employ fewer external wholesalers.
- More sophisticated uses of data and technology enable efficient sales.
- Asset Managers are making a concerted effort to diversify the salesforce.
Asset managers expect to employ fewer external wholesalers
Attendees agreed that there will be fewer external wholesalers in the future. While National Sales Managers recognize that external wholesalers are their most valuable salespeople, they are looking for ways to add efficiency to these roles to generate more production with fewer people - with a focus on retaining the best-of-the-best sales talent.
Some asset managers have already jettisoned large numbers of externals while others are simply not actively recruiting for external wholesaler roles. The distinguishing factor among the remaining externals is competency with data and analytics, an acceptance that times are changing (i.e. a willingness to adapt) and a focus on key performance metrics other than gross sales production. Additionally, National Sales Managers acknowledge that the capacity to measure opportunity and spend their time wisely is going to be a distinguishing factor for top-performing externals. This means there will be less emphasis on the road warrior mentality, and more on optimizing customer engagement through all forms of communication. For example, digital sales technologies are not exclusive to internal desks or less senior sales staff. The most effective external must-have digital competencies that can assist with managing a more efficient territory.
More sophisticated uses of data and technology enable efficient sales
Asset managers have a better handle than ever on the data needs of their sales organization and are now focused on streamlining their analysis of this data and finding technologies to enhance the delivery of the data to their salespeople.
When asked about the technologies at the 2016 National Sales roundtable, sales leaders were focused on rolling out CRM and training applications. While those were important steps and have been fruitful, 2019’s technology discussion included references to technologies that capture notes for the CRM, automate content, and allow salespeople to have meetings via video. The Sales Enablement ‘data and technology stack’ is quickly evolving and Sales Managers across the asset management spectrum must sharpen their knowledge and understanding of the various data sources and technologies that will best assist and power the evolution of their sales organization.
As the data environments at some asset managers have become cleaner and more robust, several organizations are once again experimenting with predictive/propensity analytics to drive advisor engagement. The errors of the past are being used to improve analytical models as National Sales Managers realize data science is essential to the wholesaler alpha equation. Using data and analytics to personalize content, engagement, and even resource deployment to strengthen relationships and advisor satisfaction, is a must-have capability.
These investments in technology have already allowed some asset managers to reduce travel for externals, tie in specialists more easily, and in some cases, cover entire territories remotely or digitally.
Asset managers are making a concerted effort to diversify the salesforce
While many asset managers have launched enterprise strategies to diversify the workforce, sales managers have been challenged to do so. The attendees of our Roundtable acknowledge this is a long road that requires commitment and support throughout the entire organization. National Sales Managers are focused on building a more diverse team, but are also considering how to do this using the most fair and productive methods available.
What are asset managers doing to increase diversity?
- Working with educational institutions to increase awareness of opportunities in the industry in an effort to increase the diversity of the recruitment pools.
- Formalizing mentoring and leadership programs that focus on preparing diverse hires to take on roles where it’s been traditionally difficult to find a more diverse slate of candidates.
- Prioritizing diversity to overcome the fear that changing the way sales is done will have a drastic impact to the bottom line by focusing on building a strong culture across all employees within the organization.
Attendees were asked how their organizations might be different in 2025. Collectively they painted a picture where:
- Sales is more data-driven through segmentation strategies and customer journey mapping.
- Data analytics is more available to wholesalers through dashboards/portals.
- Technology is leveraged to reduce costs while increasing production and client satisfaction.
- A more diverse, more prepared, more motivated workforce is less encumbered by organizational silos as sales and marketing become more integrated.
- Sales compensation is based less on gross sales and more aligned to the firms’ profit drivers.
- Engagements are more focused on portfolio construction rather than product selection as sales become more consultative in nature.
National Sales is evolving quickly – this cannot be denied. What used to be a ‘lone wolf’ sales culture is quickly becoming something more sophisticated, but also more efficient and effective.
Written by Jason Dauwen
Sr. Business Research Analyst