Tech Tools for Sales (Part 1)

If you’re like most asset managers, you’re probably spending a considerable amount of your budget on sophisticated research and trading technologies that give you a competitive edge in identifying and exploiting investment opportunities.

So why shouldn’t your sales team be given similar opportunities? There’s no need for them to be spending endless amounts of time researching RIA and broker-dealer web sites and conducting fruitless email marketing and cold call campaigns to advisors who are unlikely to use your strategies and mutual funds.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of technologies that can improve the quality and efficiency of your sales and marketing efforts. In the first of this two-part series, I’ll summarize services that can help you identify growth opportunities in different channels and discover insights around fund flows and specific customers.

In the second article, I’ll discuss tools that will help you keep your sales team on track, add efficiency to your content production and strengthen your digital communications.

Intermediary databases

Building sales pipelines of financial advisors can be arduous and time-consuming. Third-party intermediary databases can simplify this task. Using data from the SEC, FINRA and other sources, these tools provide background information on hundreds of thousands of registered investment advisers, brokers and other investment professionals and the firms they work for.

Most have powerful search filters that let you instantly generate lists of prospects you can filter by location, clearing firm, and AUM. The two most popular tools are Discovery Data and RIA Database.

Sales data aggregation tools

Do your sales teams really know how effective their efforts are in generating fund inflows and minimizing outflows? Web-based sales data aggregation tools can provide the objective answers. These tools automatically consolidate asset and transaction feeds for your funds from transfer agencies, brokerage, RIA firms and more. Dashboards and mapping tools can display AUM and transaction activities in aggregate or broken down by distribution channel, region, and/or producer. This provides ample opportunity for targeted customer communications. Broadridge is the largest player. But  Celera SalesStation and MARS from SalesFocus Solutions are the leaders for boutique firms.

Advisor insights

How do you know which funds are already being used by RIAs and brokers you’re targeting? And, more importantly, how well do your funds stack up against similar funds offered by your competitors? This kind of competitive intelligence is almost impossible to find out on your own, but, fortunately, companies offer intermediary analytical resources than can provide this information.

Tools like Broadridge’s Opportunity Hunter can help you estimate your ability to generate sales among your target firms. It reveals how a firm’s AUM is spread across the funds it uses with clients (including yours). It can also rank these funds against your comparable offerings based on a variety of Morningstar performance, risk and fee attributes.

If you’re looking for a higher-level view of asset flows and trends, BNY Mellon’s Intermediary Analytics provides web-based dashboards and reports that provide intelligence on assets, sales and net flows for mutual funds, separately managed accounts and ETFs based on data feeds provided by dozens of their affiliated wirehouses and national, regional, and independent broker-dealers.

401k plan intelligence

If you’re targeting the 401(k) market, you don’t want to waste time knocking on the doors of companies that are satisfied with their plans. You want to focus your efforts on companies whose plans offer poorly performing fund options, higher costs, substandard participant education and lackluster support. That’s where a 401(k) plan research platform like Brightscope can help.

Use Brightscope to view ratings for thousands of corporate and government 401(k), 403(b) and 457 retirement plans. Ratings are based on a proprietary algorithm Brightscope uses to analyze more than 200 data points for a plan covering areas such as matching contributions, the breadth and quality of investment options, and plan-level and participant costs. It also ranks a plan against comparable peers in the same industry with similar numbers of participants and plan assets.

Which tools do you need?

While over the long run these technologies can make your distribution efforts more time- and cost-efficient, most do require a significant up-front investment of time and capital, as well as a potentially steep learning curve.

That’s why it makes sense to start small, choosing the tools that offer the biggest bang for your technology buck. For example, if yours is an early-stage fund company with a relatively small number of intermediaries using your products, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to invest in a sales data aggregation tool that will tell you what you already know-that your current market penetration is limited.

In a growth stage you’re better off focusing your initial spend on intermediary database tools that can help you build a prospect list focusing on the kinds of advisors most likely to use your funds. You can then add an application like Opportunity Hunter to identify which firms on your list are using similar funds and how well yours stack up against them in terms of performance and fees.

Combining these prospecting and competitive intelligence tools can boost the efficiency of your sales team by focusing their efforts on firms where your products may have a competitive edge.

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.