State Street Research of Boston has announced that it will increase its sales force by more than 50 percent. The increase, from 19 to 29, is part of an overall restructuring of its retail national sales operation, the company said.

"What we're really doing here is tiering' our sales approach to focus on areas where we expect to have the most success," said Robyn Tice, a spokesperson for State Street Research. "Instead of being everything to everyone, we want to be smart about our sales strategy and maximize our sales efficiencies."

"Areas of success" means those brokers and financial planners who have and will continue to promote State Street type funds.

"In order to be successful at wholesaling, you can't spread yourself too thin,"said Tice. "There are certain firms and planners where we've had more success. There are decisions that [they] make which can tell us where to focus our energy."

Although State Street's focus is narrowing, it is important for the company to be aggressive in those strongholds across the country, a major reason for the increase, according to Tice.

"In order to really cover the country in a very broad way, we want to be certain to have a staff that's big enough to do that," said Tice.

This makes a lot of sense for them," said Jim Folwell, a consultant with Cerulli Associates of Boston. "The industry is relationship driven and brokers, distributors and financial planners need to know about your funds. [They] want to know how prevalent your sales force is and what you're doing to promote your funds."

Getting the attention of the brokers and planners is as important and competitive a task as ever. Earlier this year, Financial Research Corporation of Boston reported that 90 percent of fund assets are held by 10 percent of funds.

The top firms obviously have bigger budgets and a bigger staff," said Folwell. "In some ways, it looks as though the big are getting bigger and leaving the others behind. There is a disparity between upper tier and second tier firms and if you want to position yourself in that upper tier, you need to be competitive with the people you have out in the field."

Sales is a "contact sport," said Kevin Wilkins, executive vice president and head of retail marketing and the client service group at State Street Research. "We've developed a sales model that enables us to establish more contact at all levels across various territories."

Part of the restructuring is the creation of a new position - regional sales associate - which was introduced to focus on initiating new business opportunities and developing additional territories in targeted areas, according to State Street.

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