Selling investments is no longer as simple as it once was, with an increasingly sophisticated client base able to access a huge amount of content and data to guide their decisions. Salespeople need to offer unique and timely insights that differentiate themselves from their competitors in an ever-more crowded field.
One firm that is helping salespeople overcome this challenge is UK-based fintech company PureGroup. A recent winner at Investment Week's Marketing & Innovation Awards for its SalesAI platform - it took home the Best Use of Data award while receiving a highly commended mention in the Open Innovation category - PureGroup is using cutting edge technology to make a salespersons job much easier.
We caught up with founder Patrick Murphy to find out how his firm is changing the way salespeople approach clients and optimising their market insights.
In what way has the investment sales process changed in recent years?
“In highly competitive markets salespeople need more timely, relevant information to speak to their clients”
"Asset management is unique and selling investments is not a straightforward process. Historically salespeople have had quite a wide and short marketing funnel. They had large numbers of target clients, who they would be able to engage with some nice standardised content and convert them into an investment relatively quickly.
"The challenge is now with a highly competitive market, a decreasing number of target clients, and a smaller number of actual gatekeepers, that funnel is narrower and the sales cycle is now extended."
Do clients want to hear from salespeople as much as they have historically?
"Salespeople need to have a reason to speak to clients, but also to have something differentiated to talk to them about. They can't send the same stuff as they did in the previous quarter. They need timely, relevant information to speak to clients about.
"Salespeople need to have a deeper understanding of the portfolio to engage clients, rather than just explaining a fund's position, its past performance versus peers and so on. The client really wants to know the passion and the story behind the investment and what is resonating with the fund manager. What is contributing into that fund's performance? It's that type of information and insight that a salesperson has to have at their fingertips, so that they can have those conversations with clients. That is important even more so now in a digital first engagement world."
Are clients being overloaded with too much content?
"A one-size-fits-all strategy fails to deliver enhanced client engagement. We conducted research on fund buyers and 73% of respondents would prefer shorter and more frequent insights.
"I often find asset managers are very good at the top and the bottom of the marketing funnel. At the top end, they're very good at thought leadership and macroeconomic views, which is really important. At the bottom end, they're good at providing the RFP, the sales deck, and the 50-page detailed analysis. But what's often missing is the middle.
"The top and bottom ends of the funnel tend to have quite standardised content. But when selling to someone you need to empathise with them. You need to listen to questions and respond. Every client is different, so the content shouldn't be standardised.
"Sales teams need technology that enables content to be templated but is flexible enough to be changed to suit individual clients. This area is in high demand, but asset managers haven't been able to serve it well. This is where we come in."
Are salespeople using the wrong insights?
"Clients don't want to wait two weeks for insights. We're able to offer up-to-date information tailored to clients. We're trying to provide a workflow tool that helps a salesperson do their daily job. It's like a Bloomberg for asset management. It should give salespeople the latest information on the holdings, how the latest news has impacted those holdings, what everyone is saying in the markets, if there are any new mandates out and so on.
"We want to take the burden away from internal resources and to do those insights at scale. We do this through technology. SalesAI writes the performance statement of a fund versus any key competitor in real time. It currently covers over 700,000 share classes of data and 12 trillion data points. It means that as a salesperson, I have an analyst in my pocket. Wherever I am, I am always able to know how I'm doing against my competitor."
How should salespeople keep on top of their customer relationships?
"Customer relationship management (CRM) has been badly implemented by all industries. It becomes a tool that requires constant feeding and that takes time. It's a drag on client teams. We want to banish what's known as ‘Admin Friday'. Around 20% of a salesperson's time is spent writing notes, inputting information into their CRM, using the dropdowns, etc. It's a terribly manual process.
"What we've been able to do very successfully is effectively join up some of these systems. Our application can join with a CRM like Salesforce and the benefit is it can start pushing more structured data into the CRMs, which then in turn can be provided back to the salesperson but can also be used for further business planning by the distribution team and people in marketing.
"We want to banish what's known as Admin Friday. Around 20% of a salesperson's time is spent writing notes, inputting into CRM - it's a terribly manual process"
"There's a real benefit of how we can join up parts of the distribution ecosystem with our platform. I think the modern suite of business intelligence tools, such as ours, are how we can augment and make the salesperson more effective at servicing their clients."
Using your suite of tools, how should a typical day unfold for a modern salesperson?
"As a salesperson, when I start work in the morning, I should be able to open up my dashboard to understand where our products are positioned in the markets, how they're correlated to certain market changes that have occurred. Understand whether we are winning at certain strategies and where the opportunities are. That gives me a good morning overview of where we are with all of our products.
"I should also see what my active engagements with clients are and who I'm speaking to today, as well as the particular information and insights that will help me engage with that client. When I click on the client engagement I should see, already pre-configured to that client, what strategy I'm going to talk about with them against their buy list.
"In addition to that, I should have a feed that tells me that there are changes in the market that have occurred that warrant me picking up the phone to a client that I might not spoken to for a couple of months.
"At the end of all of this, after the call with my client, I should be able to send them a note that explains everything I talked them through over the phone. These must be hyper personalised to the client's specific needs. On the timeframe that they need to be able to review it and that they can then do as little as possible to progress to the next stage.
"Our richest source of information about a client's activity and interest is the sales team's engagement. But if we don't wrap a technical solution around it, you'll never get an understanding of it.
"We need to move to a position where we understand the value of data, we capture it in a clean and repeatable manner, and then we can do analysis on it so we can be much more efficient at deploying resources."