In my first article of the series, I discussed a variety of market intelligence tools that can help asset managers and fund companies identify their business development “sweet spots” across regions and distribution channels.
In this article, I’ll discuss additional tools that can automate the production of marketing materials, deliver greater efficiency, transparency and accountability to your sales processes and boost the effectiveness of your inbound marketing initiatives.
It’s not a question of whether your sales team needs a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, but which one? All CRM systems allow your salespeople to enter and qualify leads, track different kinds of sales cultivation and client retention activities (calls, email contacts, on-site visits, baseball games, etc.), and move them through your sales pipeline. CRM systems offer robust reporting and analytical tools that give sales managers a bird’s-eye-view of their team’s effectiveness in converting prospects to customers as well as the activity level and closing rates of individual salespeople.
Today’s best CRM systems can be integrated with other technologies such as Microsoft Outlook or other email platforms. This can help sales teams automatically track every single one-on-one or email contact, meeting and activity for each client or prospect. Compliance departments love these features, since they provide an easy way to document sales activities during regulatory audits.
Beyond sales, CRM is also an essential tool for customer retention by providing a central database for all customer touch points and account details. They provide integrated customer reporting, key performance indicators (KPI’s) and help drive superior service and retention.
While Salesforce is the most well known player in the CRM space, many investment companies are turning to specialized providers like Satuit, whose solution is designed specifically to meet the needs to institutional asset managers, hedge funds, and wealth management firms.
Sales and Marketing Enablement
One of the most expensive, time-consuming and labor-intensive areas of fund marketing is the ongoing manual updating and production of pitch books, fact sheets, prospectuses, shareholder reports and website information. Fortunately, fund companies can simplify this process by using sales and marketing enablement tools.
These applications allow marketing departments to build modular libraries of user-selectable content – such as sales presentation pages – that salespeople can leverage to create customized pitchbooks.
They’re particularly useful for generating and publishing fund-related marketing materials. Pre-defined templates for fact sheets, brochures, prospectuses and commentaries can be automatically populated with performance, holdings, fees, footnotes, disclosures and managers’ updates drawn from a central fund data repository.
These tools can also automatically update fund-related information on your web site or generate printable PDFs you can produce in house or outsource to digital printers offering economical print-on-demand capabilities.
With intermediaries being constantly bombarded with irrelevant online messages, you can’t afford to waste time – and risk undesirable “opt outs” and a low email reputation – using ineffective one-size-fits-all marketing approaches. But it also takes a great deal of effort to figure out which kinds of products or information each prospect is interested in and manually send each them a steady “drip” of content to gauge their interest in your firm and its products.
Marketing automation solutions can remove the guesswork from these processes. The category encompasses a wide variety of applications, but at their core they’re designed to automate and optimize your inbound marketing programs and provide valuable data on those who engage with your firm on your web site or respond to your social media and email marketing campaigns. The data can be used by your sales and marketing teams for more customized communications.
Here’s an example. Say an advisor requests your new whitepaper on small cap investing, either in response to a marketing email or a promotional link on your web site or Twitter feed. A marketing automation tool can automatically send a link to the whitepaper followed by a series of follow up email offers, such as an invitation to view a recorded webinar by the small cap fund manager or notifications when updated performance information is available. The tool can track specific responses (opens, clicks, ignores) and use them to assess whether the advisor could become an actual prospect or is simply “window shopping.” If the advisor continues to engage through this process, you sales team can follow up with a phone call.
The best marketing automation systems can record the outcome of these campaigns in your CRM system, providing your sales team with a valuable record of the advisor’s level of engagement with your firm. High-engagers can move to the top of your sales pipeline, arming a salesperson with the kind of intelligence that can make a first “live’ contact with an advisor more productive.
Salesforce users may want to consider Pardot, despite the high expense and learning curve, because it is Salesforce’s proprietary marketing automation platform. Hubspot and SharpSpring are two platforms that are a bit more usable by boutique firms, but still complex to use on your own. So follow the best practices so you don’t waste your money.
Don’t sacrifice creativity for operational efficiency
Some companies make the mistake of offsetting the costs of these technologies by reducing their marketing headcount. This may make sense in certain situations. For example, if you’re using a marketing and sales enablement tools to automate the production of pitchbooks and boilerplate fund marketing materials, you may no longer need production specialists who churn out these materials manually.
But If you want an investment in these technologies to deliver positive returns, you should think twice about laying off your marketing creatives and strategists. While these tools can help you make sure every client and prospect receives the right message at the right time, they’re only effective if the content they’re delivering is compelling and relevant. And at this point in time, there’s no technology out there that can replace the skills and expertise of your best content creators, designers and marketing strategists.
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.