Over 75% of distribution leaders see sales productivity as a top of mind issue.

Something strange is happening in institutional sales. A study by Deloitte’s Casey Quirk shows that despite steady industry growth, sales productivity for asset managers has seen a dramatic decline over the past several years. As a matter of fact, it is way down: in just five years, while sales and marketing headcount has grown 50%, revenues per employee plummeted 44% and profit per employee was down 54%.

Some of these downward trends can be traced to structural industry changes. Following a massive wave of consolidation among brokers and independent advisors, there are 40% fewer asset buyers today than there were five years ago. As their distribution channels shrink, asset managers must reinvigorate and reinforce their relationships with owners and distributors to stand out from the competition.

Fewer, but more demanding buyers

At the same time, these remaining buyers have higher expectations. In a quest to streamline operations, investment managers are cutting back on the number of products they offer and rationalizing relationships with asset managers. And they want more value for their time and money: 69% of buyers view time constraints as a limiting factor to effectiveness, seeking new ways to make better use of their demanding schedules.

While buyers seek more custom solutions and advice-focused interactions, asset managers seem to struggle with the transition from transactional to advisory relationships. Engaging institutional buyers in the digital age requires a fresh mindset, updated operational capabilities, and new enabling technologies – a transformation that many asset managers are undergoing these days.

How to win over institutional buyers

Conventional wisdom says that winning over institutional buyers is all about investment performance. The reality is that clients consider a variety of factors when assessing investment managers. And while performance is highly important, it doesn’t always provide clear differentiation. Here are five steps sales organizations can take to separate themselves from the competition.

  1. Prioritize the client experience
    Client experience has an outsized impact on sales and loyalty. Firms that invest in client experience applications see a 36% increase in reverse inquiry (inbound) sales, boosting revenues and profitability. Those that prioritize investment in customer engagement technology also gain higher net new asset flow compared to those that lag in their investment. On the flip side, the price of a mediocre experience can be steep. More than three quarters of asset buyers stated client experience as a contributing factor to asset manager termination.
  2. Don’t go it alone
    As buyers seek more customized solutions, they want to consult with experts who can help them navigate and explore new options. Intelligent Appointment Scheduling makes it easy to connect buyers with the firm resources who can provide insight and advice – establishing the trusted relationships that will keep buyers coming back.
  3. Be proactive
    Winning in sales is all about timing, yet asset buyers are more strapped for time than ever. Rather than waiting for them to take action, smart institutional sales leaders reach out with useful information and insight. Intelligent Appointment Scheduling provides an easy way to stay in front of your clients without being intrusive – putting buyers in control of their schedule while providing easy access to the resources they need.
  4. Remove friction
    The last thing buyers want is spending time figuring out where and when they can connect with the resources they need. Intelligent Appointment Scheduling streamlines interactions across all channels – allowing buyers to choose the time and place to connect with you without spending precious time on back and forth emails and phone calls just to schedule a meeting.
  5. Track and monitor
    Keeping a clear view of client connections is easy when appointment scheduling is integrated right into your CRM system. Appointments scheduled through Engageware are captured directly in your organization’s Salesforce reporting, providing clear visibility into the impact appointments have on opportunities and clients.

The consequences have never been greater

Facing a shrinking buyer pool and increasing demands for a superior customer experience, these are challenging times for institutional sales organizations.

Winning organizations will be the ones that put in place a combination of the right people to support their clients, streamlined processes to help them connect effortlessly, and the technology to support them. Those that fail to step up to these new realities will likely see an accelerated erosion of their client relationships and further diminishing sales productivity.

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