Many advisory firms don’t have organized sales strategies, never mind an actual sales department or vice president of sales.
In these companies, the sales responsibilities and strategies usually fall on the shoulders of people at the highest level of the organization. As a result, time management and prioritization become major factors.
Rather than try to tackle all things at once, firms need to organize their efforts most effectively.
Here are three things that are low-hanging fruit:
1. Create a “sales department” within the organization. This department is figurative, not literal. The reality is that everyone in the organization has to embrace the sales culture.
New sales are essential to sustain and build the business. Even if an independent advisory firm doesn’t have the capacity to employ a dedicated sales department, it can still implement the infrastructure.
Here are some things to keep in mind with this department:
Have separate, mandatory sales strategy meetings. This allows firms to squarely focus on an agenda that includes actionable items that will support sustainable sales strategies. Every business is fueled by new revenue, and one that takes better control of its sales organizations has the upper hand. Even small firms can benefit from an hour per week focused on revenue generation.
Know the competition’s playbook. Because most firms compete with a small group of other firms, it is important to communicate frequently the positive attributes that make the firm the better choice. This doesn’t mean the firm has to acknowledge a specific competitor within the sales process, but it is helpful to position the firm with that rival in mind. The firm’s brand message should take this into account.
Use a customer relationship management system for more than just email blasts. A firm’s list of prospects and existing clients is its lifeblood. An efficient system to identify, organize and address opportunities is essential. A moderate investment in a CRM system such as Salesforce or Wealthbox CRM will help advisors to know how to best invest their most valuable asset: time. These systems will take a little time upfront to learn and a daily discipline to update, but it is worth it. Those who are already engaged with the firm as prospects and clients should be the simplest and most efficient to maximize.
2. Maintain contact with “older” leads. Many advisors stop aggressively pursuing leads after a few calls. But the reality is that penetrating a consumer’s buying habits takes time and multiple calls.
Just because a prospect from a seminar hasn’t returned a call or email for a few months doesn’t mean that he or she isn’t still in the buying cycle. It certainly doesn’t stop competitors from calling them.
Don’t discard prospects quickly.
According to a TeleNet survey, it takes eight phone calls to get through to a prospect, and according to a survey by Sirius Decisions, the average person stops trying after the second call.
This means that the firm’s personal sales metrics may not be in line with reality.
So before discarding old leads and investing money in finding new ones, consider implementing a strategy to pursue the prospects that are already in the funnel. It is the most efficient use of time and money.
3. Increase share of clients’ wallets. A recent Pershing study showed that the average wallet share per client for registered investment advisors was about 60%.
After the initial enrollment, it becomes much more difficult to recapture a client’s missed assets. Not only is the pursuit of additional assets time-consuming for the advisor, it is also a lower priority for the client and is in danger of being deemed “nonessential.”
Because organic growth can come from either new or existing clients, it seems that investing in a strategy to increase wallet share among existing clients should be a priority.
Create a plan that begins with why people should move all or at least more of their assets under one roof.
It might be to organize and consolidate orphan accounts, save money on fees, realize tax benefits or just increase convenience. But the specific benefits need to be clearly articulated.
Only after the benefits are clearly defined can a strategy be put into place.
Within the firm, the strategy should include these elements:
Identify the opportunity. What is the amount of assets that are available? This will help make the goals more tangible.
Name someone to be responsible for administering the plan.
Establish a realistic cumulative goal.
Break the goal down by month. Set a minimum number of weekly appointments to discuss the advantages of consolidating portfolios.
Create a simple but specific communication or marketing plan.
Track progress both in terms of meetings and closed business.
This focus on wallet share will not only help to increase revenue considerably within the first year, but it will also help develop the sales “muscle memory” to initially pursue a larger share of wallet when dealing with new prospects.
For firms determined to improve their focus on sales, it is helpful to remember that it takes discipline to execute a plan, even if they take on one new initiative per quarter from the items above, set goals, put someone in charge, measure and measure progress, and celebrate successes.
Michael Schaffman is account manager at Lone Beacon Media, a sales and marketing company for advisors. John Capuano is Lone Beacon's co-founder.
This story is part of a 30-day series on smart ways to grow your practice. It was originally published on Oct. 19, 2015.