Unlike a lot of sales and marketing opinion pieces you may have seen published lately, I don’t think the old school, in-person lunch and learns are dead. I also don’t think the value of salespeople in the financial services industry is a thing of the past. In fact, I think we’ll probably see a lot of the same in terms of sales approach from advisors, money managers, and other financial institutions in general – with relative success.
But relative sales success isn’t what sets an advisory firm apart. And it certainly isn’t the key to taking your book of business to the next level.
For better or for worse, the ability to meet, educate, and sign on clients is essential to our livelihood. And the sales process we’ve lived by has been put under a lot of pressure from a number of sources—the pandemic that halted in-person meetings, the rapid innovation and adoption of advisor-centric marketing technologies, and the continuous battle between client trust and financial services altogether.
These factors change the game, but not in eradicating the usefulness of salespeople. Rather, I think these pressures will create a much more subtle change that will benefit advisors and their clients.
The future of sales in the financial services industry isn’t automation and sophisticated marketing technology (though that will play a larger role). It’s greater emphasis on relationships—true relationships built on value, trust, and mutual respect.
Consumers across industries have been given, and now demand, greater control over their buying process. Think about when you make a significant purchase. What do you do?
If you’re like me, you pull out your smart phone and Google the product or service. For the most part, we figure out what we want and what we need to know before engaging a sales professional. And when we do engage the business we aren’t looking to be sold to. We are looking for guidance.
This natural progression of consumer control in the sales process, paired with a stable mistrust of the financial services industry, creates an ever growing need to rework our sales process to revolve around value, rather than product education.
How to Build (and Maintain) More Business Through a Relational Sales Model
Adopting a helpfulness mentality reality isn’t a difficult leap. With a little planning, I believe any advisors can effectively adopt a more effective and prospect-appreciated sales and marketing model.
Here are a few things to consider:
1) Think Backward
One of the biggest hinderances to helpful sales and marketing strategies is an acute focus on the products and services being sold. The traditional model includes thinking about your products and services and planning how to use them to attract clients.
I think sales and marketing organization should flip the script.
Think about the relationship from your target audience’s perspective. What do they care about? What are their fears and challenges? Then walk backward and draw connections with your products and services. How can you meet their goals or solve their challenges? By building bridges between clients and your services this way, it’s easier to identify opportunities to position your firm as a value-add option.
This mindset is helpful in creating content that resonates with your audience, and positions your firm to generate a greater level of interest than a product/service focus would.
2) Join Forces
When thinking backward and working to add value to your target audience, it’s important to break down the classic marketing vs. sales mentality that plagues so many organizations. Marketing and sales aren’t two separate functions. Each brings different skillsets to the same game.
The key is to establish common ground. By establishing a set of shared goals and working hand-in-hand toward them, providing consistent value to your target audience becomes much more manageable.
And it’s important to realize that each group is equally important to the process. No one understands clients and prospects like the sales team. But sales lacks the time, and often the technical know-how to effectively distribute messages and manage longer, value-add nurture programs. But when each team works together, building relationships with clients becomes easier.
3) Embrace Complementary Technology
While I don’t think the traditional lunch and learn or in-office meetings are going anywhere, embracing modern marketing technology can help you deliver educational, helpful, and interesting content to a wider range of prospects. Not to mention it legitimizes your organization as a modern business that’s equipped to meet your client’s increasing preferences for digital engagement.
There are a ton of marketing platforms available to financial services firms today—from simple email design and distribution tools and CRMs to full-service plug-and-play advisor marketing programs. Look at your internal resources and integrate the technology that best suits your environment.
I think the key here is to view the technology as a facilitating agent for your message, not a differentiator in and of itself.
4) Be Long, Not Short
Building valuable relationships in the sales process is a lot more practical when your funnel is longer. And with the evolution of marketing and CRM technologies, it’s easier than ever to manage a longer lead lifecycle.
When the focus is placed on education, insight, and value delivery, your prospects will not only be more receptive to your messaging, but they’ll also begin to develop trust in you.
This goes back to the work backward idea – start with your target audience’s goals, questions, and challenges. Equip them to meet those goals. Answer those questions. Provide resources to overcome those challenges.
This takes longer, but it’s also easier to gain traction and build positive relationships—at least that’s what I’ve seen in my financial-advice-selling career. The best client relationships have been those built on value.
Relationships Support Relationships
Any advisory firm can make these changes, but it’s not enough for a single salesperson or marketing professional to buy into the program. This is a true cross-departmental shift. The relationship model relies on sales collaborating with marketing, and marketing collaborating with subject matter experts. Without marketing, sales is going to have a difficult time delivering helpful messages. And without SMEs, marketing is going to have a difficult time creating helpful content. People don’t like to be called cogs, but this really is an instance where every cog has to do its part—in tandem with the other cogs.
Advanced Asset Management Advisors is a fundamentally-rooted investment firm that’s designed around accessibility, collaboration, and transparency. If you’re interested in discussing your advisory business and how we might be able to help you develop more positive client relationships, contact us today. We’d love to speak with you.
The information and opinions in this report have been prepared by the investment staff of Advanced Asset Management Advisors (AAMA). This report is based upon information available to the public. The information herein is believed to be reliable and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but AAMA makes no representation as to the accuracy or completeness of such information. Opinions, estimates and projections in this report constitute AAMA’s judgment and are subject to change without notice. This report is provided for informational purposes only. It is not to be construed as a recommendation to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy or sell any financial instruments or to participate in any particular trading strategy in any jurisdiction in which such an offer or solicitation would violate applicable laws or regulations.
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