Certainly, a case can be made that salespeople have the toughest job in an asset management firm. Amid constant pressure from management to produce and natural resistance from prospects, they spend their days calling and trying to covert leads into prospects. They schedule, conduct and follow up with meetings, orchestrate the team to bring to the table, and travel extensively.
You certainly wouldn’t want to make their jobs even more difficult if you didn’t have to. After all, the sales team is the linchpin of the firm’s revenue growth – for some firms, they are the key to their survival. Yet, some firms still manage to compound the sales team’s difficulties by not providing what they need most, which is real marketing support.
Optimizing Prospect Contacts
Show me a firm that doesn’t provide concerted and coordinated market support to its sales team and I’ll show you a firm that is probably leaving new clients on the table. It’s not as uncommon as you might think. By the very nature of the industry, many asset management firms are more sales driven than they are marketing driven.
They understand the importance of sales. They understand that, if salespeople make more calls, they will make more sales. They don’t understand that salespeople are naturally going to work with prospects most likely to close, which limits their follow-up to a small segment of their funnel. They then become frustrated when their salespeople don’t close enough sales or generate the amount of production to justify their generous compensation.
The Engine that Makes Their Job Easier
What they don’t understand is that it takes marketing and a robust lead nurturing program to create more leads and keep them engaged as they move down the funnel. It is through marketing that a firm increases its brand visibility, helping its salespeople open doors and start warm conversations. It is marketing support that salespeople truly value because it makes their jobs much easier and helps them focus on what they do best which is to close more business.
The extent of marketing support for some firms is to equip their salespeople with fact sheets and pitchbooks, neither of which are of value in competitive sales situations. Fact sheets are nothing more than a regurgitation of information that can be found from other sources and pitchbooks are typically too standard or generic to be used in a customized sales presentation.
For marketing to be effective, it needs to provide high-value support that starts above the funnel and continues through the process of cultivating a lead into a qualified prospect. The salespeople can take it from there.
Here are three areas in particular in which firms can provide the kind of value that translates directly into increased ROI:
Nothing positions a salesperson’s firm more favorably with prospects than high-profile, third-party endorsements from leading news publications. Asset management firms need to increase their brand visibility and establish their authority by getting their story out through the media. Salespeople find great value in reprints of their portfolio managers sharing their opinions. Or, being able to contact prospects to let them know of an upcoming TV appearance by their portfolio manager. Media exposure can not only turn cold calls into warm calls, it instills confidence and boosts morale in salespeople.
Publishing Expert Commentary
Most asset managers are proficient at producing commentary on their portfolio performance; but that is to be expected. By taking it a step further and producing commentary beyond the portfolio, firms can elevate their portfolio managers as thought leaders. There’s significantly more value to advisors in content that describes what portfolio managers are thinking and doing and how they make money in all market environments. For an extra push, attempt to publish your content in news publications read by your target audience.
Gathering Digital Analytics
Many firms are conducting email marketing campaigns as a way to cultivate leads and prospects. But, their rudimentary analytics still leave salespeople in the dark as to who is engaging and their level of engagement. As a result, salespeople still spend valuable time chasing down questionable leads. Google Analytics alone can’t tell you if your website content is attracting the right audience.
To be more advanced, you can not only identify who is opening your emails, you can observe how they interact across all your digital channels, including visits to specific web pages, what content they are consuming, and social media interaction. It then allows salespeople to prioritize leads that have engaged heavily at the top of the funnel and tailor their approaches based on the known interests of the lead.
For firms that need to focus on retention, digital analytics can alert you when the engagement behavior of existing clients turns negative. That is, if they were highly engaged at one time and they begin to wander away, which is an indication your client may be moving on. You can pinpoint opportunities for your salespeople to contact your clients to see what’s up.
In this digital age, salespeople cannot compete without marketing support that is both proactive and responsive to their needs in developing an abundance of qualified prospects. They need a competitive edge, which comes from your industry expertise, high-value content, and lead intel and analytics. Otherwise, they are working much harder than is necessary.
Dan Sondhelm is CEO of Sondhelm Partners. He helps asset managers and mutual funds grow. To read his previous Insight articles, click here.