Year-end numbers are being tallied for organizations and leaders will soon know how their results will shake out. Regardless of the outcome, a structured approach to your sales journey is essential to accelerating your focus on the right types of leads, getting to a faster “no” for non-optimal opportunities, and ultimately, driving more efficiency and profitability into your growth equation. After overhauling our wealth management sales experience at Private Advisor Group earlier this year, here are a few key takeaways and areas where we’ve found high success.
Essential #1: Defining the Sales Experience at all Levels
A major focus of our growth at Private Advisor Group is recruiting new advisors to join our leading RIA community. Without a properly defined and executed sales experience, we’ve found that sometimes prospective advisors can become slightly confused/overwhelmed and they may not receive all of the relevant information necessary to make informed decisions about the future of their practice. Consequently, a big driver of our decision to formalize a sales experience was predicated on simplifying things for us, for the prospective advisor, and potentially for centers of influence or referral sources.
The business of recruiting advisors is a complex B2B process, oftentimes involving multiple layers of decision-making criteria. So, our experience focuses on a sequence of milestone due diligence activities aligned to Key Decision-Making Criteria (KDMC) of the prospective advisor. Interspersed with these milestones are checkpoints that allow us to continuously validate and re-assess how we’re doing relative to the KDMC of the prospective advisor. All this takes place before C-suite discussions; admittedly, a step that was often skipped prior to having a defined sales experience.
Like many organizations, we leverage and utilize a team selling approach. In creating our sales experience we found it valuable to solicit input, feedback, and buy-in from key stakeholders and participants before formally launching the experience. This allowed everyone involved to not only know their roles, but to fully understand how they are additive to the experience we are delivering to the prospective advisor. So, while we are demonstrating their technical competence in areas such as operations, transitions, and compliance, we are simultaneously showcasing their ability as storytellers and value sellers for the firm. This is a much more enriching and empowering role for the team member versus just being “the tech person” or the “investment person.”
As you consider the development or refinement of your own sales experience, we would suggest incorporating some of the lessons we learned above, and once launched, revisit as needed or at least annually. Here’s a snapshot of our experience.
Essential #2: Prep Your Partners on Your Journey
As part of your defined sales experience, you’ve identified key decision-making criteria for your prospect. Be certain your partners within your organization are fully prepped so they may revisit and validate these criteria throughout their discussions with the prospect. Additionally, share some insights you’ve gathered from personal discussions. The journey for the prospect should feel natural (like getting to know a friend better and better) vs a full re-introduction of themselves each time they meet someone new in the sales experience. And, any commonalities in alma mater, hobbies or aligned interests are a bonus! The way we’ve addressed this is through the development of a formal “briefing template.” This is a document that outlines pertinent business and personal information that we want our value sellers, founders, and/or CEO to know in advance of a discussion with a prospective advisor.
Essential #3: Responsiveness
Response times vary greatly by industry, but in a B2B environment like ours, we strive to reply to all relevant inquiries within one business day. That said, what’s more important than fast response times is being proactive with your prospect. Too often, sales professionals will wait for the phone to ring or delay their response to an inquiry when a key essential to success is being persistently proactive and diligently following up. In my experience, prospects appreciate knowing when you’ll be in touch and what to expect in their next interaction with you.
Essential #4: Agility in the Sales Experience
As we all know, sales are fluid and there will be times when “exceptions to the rule” will need to be made. Knowing when to make them and when to hold your ground can and will save you and your team a lot of unnecessary work and stress. Be agile, make exceptions when warranted, and operate with the discipline to pass on the opportunities that you know deep down are not the right fit (i.e., don’t hold on to “false hope”). And regardless if it’s a yes or no, leave every opportunity with a great impression of your organization or how it might be a great fit in the future.
Having a defined sales journey coupled with an outstanding value proposition has helped our organization have one of its most successful recruiting years to date. So, whether your numbers exceed plan, are tracking to target, or perhaps may fall short of goal, it’s our hope that some of the guidance within this article will help your 2022 yield even stronger results.