CNBC just called, but your portfolio manager is "unavailable." Your head of sales wants your expert to talk in a due diligence conference to hundreds of advisors. "Sorry."

Maybe they're busy "managing the money," or they're uncomfortable or too introverted, or maybe they're simply not interested in the topic. Regardless, how can you get your portfolio managers to better participate in the sales and marketing process?

Big budgets and a lot of marketing and sales people simply can't substitute for your portfolio management team.

Portfolio manager participation in the sales and marketing effort is a good thing, but sometimes all you can do is beg or plead. At many firms, marketing is not really the portfolio manager's job. So, what's a marketer to do?

CHANGE THE JOB DESCRIPTION

Consider an upfront agreement. For example, some firms require 10% of their time each month to be spent on sales and marketing activities. Other firms tie compensation or equity to sales and marketing effort or assets under management.

HAVE A STRATEGY

Engage the portfolio managers during the planning phase of your yearly or quarterly strategy so they are engaged from the start. Foster a spirit of trust, stressing, we are in this together.

FOCUS ON STRENGTHS

Not all portfolio managers are created equal. Some are great writers, but pale at the sight of a camera. Others are terrific at verbal communication, others in sales situations. Know your managers, their strengths, weaknesses and need for handholding or not.

OVER COMMUNICATE

Share what you'll need from your portfolio managers and when you'll need it. Develop a creative brief that spells out the entire campaign, so the manager can see how much of their time is needed and the value that will come from their participation. Provide reasonable lead times. Always give feedback to your portfolio manager and ask for feedback so sales and marketing can learn to make the participation more efficient.

TRAIN AND COACH

While portfolio managers are smart people, they may not be the best communicators. Work with them to stay on message, increase their energy, or tell better stories. Video tape the sessions and offer feedback. I tried to learn how to play golf in an afternoon session once. It didn't work. Continue to coach your portfolio managers on how to better communicate over time. Consider hiring an outside professional who may have more credibility with your team.

DELEGATE

Use portfolio specialists who can be CFA-types, junior portfolio managers or analysts. These experts know what's happening with the portfolios and can sometimes be substituted to develop materials or communicate with clients and other audiences. On-staff or outsourced writers can translate the words into newsworthy content. Portfolio managers can write first drafts or can be interviewed for commentaries.

THIS OR THAT

If portfolio managers participated in all activities the sales and marketing teams requested, they would never manage money. So how can they be used most effectively? Advisors want to engage with the portfolio managers who are in charge. They want to hear stories and real life anecdotes. They lend credibility across lead generation, prospect nurturing and client encouragement.

Use the portfolio manager as the subject matter expert for a given campaign-perhaps creating the first paper-then slice/dice and repurpose into a regular newsletter, a video series, media interviews and social media posts. Advisors fact check before ever talking to a sales person. Showcase your portfolio managers' thought leadership on your website, in social media and in marketing emails. News media can be invaluable in building validity for the firm way ahead of a first meeting. Many advisors find new managers through Morningstar and other Internet research before they ever hear from them directly.

Ensure portfolio managers are part of institutional finals presentations, but also large prospect calls and group client due diligence meetings. Even an introvert can shine when talking about their day-to-day passion.

MEASURE RETURN

Of course, no marketing discussion is complete without a conversation about measurement. In an environment where every dollar and every minute matters, understand your audience, where they go for information and how to better engage them. Unfortunately, not all programs lend themselves to a traditional ROI assessment - especially in the world of gathering assets where sales and marketing efforts and dropping a ticket can be miles apart. Instead, measure the results from incorporating your portfolio managers with data and through stories. Two examples include attracting leads you wouldn’t have had and speeding up your traditional sales and marketing process. A third is fewer headaches from dealing with portfolio managers who resist participation.

Dan Sondhelm is partner and senior vice president with SunStar Strategic.

Subscribe Now

Access to premium content including in-depth coverage of mutual funds, hedge funds, 401(K)s, 529 plans, and more.

3-Week Free Trial

Insight and analysis into the management, marketing, operations and technology of the asset management industry.