Defining, Empowering and Rewarding Change in Your Organization

In a recent article, I suggested four ways boutique asset managers can transform their sales and marketing culture.

But before you can implement these change strategies from the top-down, it’s important to create a strong business case, backed by research, that specifies how the changes you’re recommending will deliver the specific results you need to grow your AUM and revenue.

Start with the specific desired results of change

It’s not enough to simply say, “We need to change the way we sell and market to increase revenue.” You need to specify the specific results change is meant to achieve. Use concrete goals such as:

  • We need to increase inflows by at least 15% over the next twelve months
  • We need to reduce outflows by 40% in the next six months
  • We need to increase the number of independent advisers using our funds by 25% this year

When your team clearly understand your goals, they’ll realize that doing “business as usual” is no longer acceptable.

Define, at a high level, the changes that will produce the results

Now that you’ve established the goals of change, it’s important to state some of the steps you envision taking to achieve those goals. For example, for the goal We need to increase the number of independent advisers using our funds by 25% this year you could list specific change metrics and outcomes such as:

  • We will expect each wholesaler to convince 20 independent advisers to add our focused funds to their “recommend” list
  • Wholesalers will be expected to report inflows from each new adviser into our CRM system
  • We will aid in this effort by creating a compelling investment story for our focused funds that will do a better job of convincing independent advisers to add these funds to their “recommend” lists
  • We will provide investment advisers with greater access to the subject matter expertise drives the investment decisions of our best portfolio managers
  • We will do a better job of communicating our success story, our subject matter expertise, and our competitive differentiators through digital marketing

Use industry research to back your changes

It’s one thing to state the nature of the changes. It’s another to convince the people who need to carry them out that this isn’t just another typical Six-Sigma style business process improvement exercise. That’s why it’s important to share research that shows that the changes you’re recommending reflect the needs of your target markets.

For example for the change item of We will do a better job of communicating our success story, our subject matter expertise, and our competitive differentiators through digital marketing you can share some of the research that had been conducted that shows that independent advisers are looking for macroeconomic insights and other data points that drive investment decisions among portfolio managers.

Empower your associates to recommend “change tactics”

Your sales and marketing personnel may be resistant to implementing changes if they feel that they’re simply being given marching orders. Instead, tap into their creativity by letting them brainstorm short-term and long-term tactics that make change happen.

For example, ask your sales and marketing team to suggest better ways to communicate your investment story and subject matter expertise. Short-term solutions may include producing commentaries written (or ghostwritten) by portfolio managers that can be published in industry publications catering to advisers or promoted via email. Longer-term tactics may involve producing podcasts, videos, whitepaper, webinars and conference calls featuring your key portfolio managers or renovating your web site to make it more dynamic and relevant.

Add change to your employees’ job requirements

A good way to implement change is to incentivize it. Consider adding specific “change” metrics to the performance plans of the employees who are expected to implement them. To encourage their buy-in, let them suggest specific, measurable actions they’ll take to carry out the changes they’re responsible for.

Understand that change doesn’t come cheap

As the steward of change, you need to accept that you can’t transform your business on a shoestring. You may need to significantly increase your sales and marketing budget to enable these teams to implement the changes you’ve agreed upon. For example, you may need to increase your travel budget to allow wholesalers to make more on-site visits and attend more conferences. You may want to upgrade your ancient CRM platform to enable salespeople to track their activities and manage their pipelines more effectively. You may need to hire outside firms to redesign and rewrite your web site. Or you may want to use marketing automation software to track the engagement level of investment professionals who respond to your email campaigns and consume your digital content.

Celebrate success

It’s important to acknowledge the positive results of change, both at the individual, team and corporate level. A combination of individual performance bonuses and team-focused recognition (“Our wholesalers exceeded their team goal of up signing 60 new investment advisers by 200%!”) and company-wide pronouncements (“The enthusiasm and commitment of our sales and marketing teams in embracing change helped to increase inflows by 30% this year!”) will show the positive impact of change in your organization.

Keep the momentum going

Once change initiatives are achieved, there’s a naturally tendency for people to adopt a “one and done” mentality and return to their old ways. To head off this recidivism, it’s important to maintain the momentum of change, either by establishing new goals each year or by using the same strategies and increasing the desired results (i.e., “We need to increase inflows by 40% next year.”)

If you clearly communicate the reasons why change needs to occur, and empower employees to become the agents of change-and enjoy its rewards-the chances of achieving these goals will increase exponentially.

Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners, a firm that helps asset managers, mutual funds, ETFs, wealth managers and fintech companies grow through marketing, public relations and sales programs. Click to read Dan’s latest Insight articles and to schedule a complimentary consultation.