Sales are the lifeblood of asset managers, especially for those struggling to get to the next level. Why then do many firms actually practice sales prevention? Granted, it may not be an overt or conscious effort, but many firms are actively impeding their own sales efforts nonetheless and it’s been showing in asset growth numbers.
Here are the ways firms are inadvertently hindering their sales efforts and how they can break through the barriers.
Compliance: The Original Sales Prevention Unit
For as long as compliance departments have existed, there has been a natural tension with sales and marketing. Compliance is viewed as the “business prevention unit” that uses a cold-hearted approach to kill ideas while sales and marketing are viewed by compliance as undisciplined hotshots always trying to push the envelope.
In reality, compliance officers really do want their firms’ sales teams to succeed and they are generally respected for the job they have to do. The problem is there is a general lack of understanding on both sides about each other’s challenges.
However, because sales and marketing need the approval of compliance for their efforts, it is up to them to take the initiative to close that gap.
Schedule a meeting with your compliance officer to show your interest in building a partnership. Use the meeting to develop a clear understanding of how compliance views the world and what in particular they look for when reviewing your materials. When you build a relationship with compliance, they will likely return your calls more quickly and your materials may receive priority treatment.
You should come out of your meeting with a compliance checklist of key rules and requirements that can be reviewed before creating any materials. It should also include documentation and disclosure requirements as well as firm-approved style guidelines.
Before embarking on a new campaign, enlist the help of compliance to provide their perspective. By involving compliance early in the process, you can more quickly get to “yes.”
Misusing (or Not Using) Data Analytics
Most asset management firms now recognize that data analytics is the key to their future growth. Without it, sales teams are left to their own devices to generate sales opportunities, which usually means grazing among the low-hanging fruit. Once that is gone, there’s no telling when the next sales opportunity might come along.
Firms that effectively utilize data analytics are able to create interdependence between sales and marketing that drives more sales opportunities into the funnel with the business intelligence to identify high-value targets and close them more quickly. The result is a more proactive and productive sales team that values the firm’s marketing efforts.
Most firms utilize the technology needed to generate the data needed to create all the analytics they need, including a website, marketing automation platform, a CRM system, sales reporting, among other things. All they need to do is leverage that technology to connect the data points. Syncing these tools will create an endless loop of analytics to feed their business intelligence, providing marketing and sales with actionable information.
Portfolio Managers Not Ready for Prime Time
Like it or not, the portfolio manager is the face of your firm. I say that because some portfolio managers are just not ready for prime time. Yet, their ability to woo your critical audience – the gatekeepers and investment consultants – is key to making any headway with asset growth. That same critical audience is typically what stands between your salespeople and any new sales. I’ve heard sales people say, “I’m not bringing our portfolio manager to this important meeting.” Portfolio managers who are able to create the right impression with this audience can make it much easier for their salespeople to close an opportunity.
To do that, portfolio managers must become actively involved in the marketing and sales process, putting themselves out there as the face of the firm in the media and in face-to-face meetings with your prospects and clients. However, in many cases, you may have just one chance to put your best face forward. So, it would be important to work with your portfolio managers on their communication skills. It may be well worth the investment to hire someone to coach them.
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.