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3 problems asset managers face with sales, content automation

The asset management industry continues to be ultra-competitive as firms fight to survive by consolidating, slashing fees and even paying investors to buy.

Never in the past 15 years has there been more urgency to streamline processes, cut costs and create brand differentiation.

In order to be more competitive, firms are making strategic investments into sales enablement and content automation technology. The goals are to create efficiencies, scale sales and marketing processes, reduce risks and increase AUM. While some firms have been successful in achieving these goals, others have failed.

Here are a few key issues managers should be aware of when looking to implement content automation and sales enablement tech.

1. Systems don't integrate on their own, creating siloed experiences
There is not a single product that provides full-featured content automation and sales enablement wrapped up into one great package. The products that claim to do both can't do both well. The reality is that a firm will need to buy at least two systems to cover the full scope of these needs.

I recommend considering needs from a data and process flow perspective and then vetting vendors on their system integration capabilities and experiences.

Do the vendors have APIs? Does a vendor work well with content or data that is controlled or is originated elsewhere? Does the vendor really solve for the data problem, or is that concern largely outside their borders? Getting these systems to talk to each other and other systems in the tech stack is essential to operational efficiency.

To realize true efficiency, sales enablement and content automation technologies need to be integrated seamlessly with each other, as well as with other essential systems in the ecosystem, such as CRM platforms and marketing automation systems. Figuring out how to do this can be a challenge already in place.

2. Implementations take too long, causing a negative ROI
Technology implementations must be run and implemented efficiently. This takes real effort from the firm to ensure they're selecting the right approach to solving the problem, whether it be outsourced, DIY or hybrid.

When implementation stalls, the firm must foot the bill to keep the status-quo solution going while simultaneously paying for the new technology and implementation team. This can create budget overruns.

A couple of years ago we saw a firm that took over two years to implement a DIY-style sales enablement solution, while still paying for an outside agency to produce their pitch decks manually. The whole project ended up taking three times longer than expected and drove costs up more than double what they had budgeted for. As you can imagine, the TCO figures didn't go over well with the executive team.

It's important to pay close attention to the details around the data and compliance integration aspects of the solution. If a vendor claims theses are easy to handle and that you'll only need a week of consulting time, run the other way. Underestimating the work and expertise required for the setup and ongoing maintenance can really throw a wrench in the implementation time line.

3. Lacking data and compliance features are causing risk
One of the long-standing issues with content automation and sales enablement products is they're often built for multi-industry use. General-purpose technology often has major functionality gaps when it comes to the needs of an asset manager. Features such as data handling and error reporting are real assets, as well as compliance workflows and audit trails. In fact, the two of these go hand-in-hand.

We recently worked with an asset manager who was using a sales enablement platform that had the ability to customize presentations and automate data updates. Integration with their data mart was difficult to achieve and spotting errors was not very difficult.

In addition, the solution didn't have built-in approval workflows or audit trails, making the integrated data functionality useless. While presentations could be created in the system, they had to be exported, reviewed for errors, then sent to compliance for approval before being re-uploaded to the sales enablement and compliance systems. These manual processes and workarounds introduced risk and added time to the process that was supposed to have been streamlined.

The big takeaway is that asset managers need specialized functionality when it comes to content automation and sales enablement technologies. The right solutions for our industry include rich feature sets around compliance workflows, audit trails and data handling. Implementations must be done by an expert team that can execute quickly, taking into account integrations with other systems in the tech stack. Firms must do their due diligence to ensure internal and external teams can deliver these important requirements.

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