Alternative investment product sponsors deeply understand the truth of “nothing happens until something is sold” as they rebuild their selling groups and base of advisors with each new offering.
In today’s world of major market disruptions, public health issues and personal distractions, the job of wholesalers to gain or even maintain advisor mindshare and raise capital can be more difficult than usual. By taking on a new role in the sales process, marketing can help strengthen advisor relationships and contribute to capital raising efforts.
Marketing’s Old Role
Before we talk about marketing’s new role in helping the sales team, let’s take a look at the role marketing departments often play at alternative investment product sponsors.
They fulfill orders. Sales leads the charge and tells marketing what they need. And marketing produces it – no questions asked. After all, sales knows what they need, right?
Wrong…and right. When sales requests a specific marketing tool, they have identified a gap in information either for themselves, or more importantly, for advisors. When sales translates that gap into a particular marketing tool vs. sharing the why behind the request, marketing doesn’t have the opportunity to explore and develop the best solution.
This is not an ill intention of the sales team – but rather an extension of who they are. They are idea people, people-people, problem solvers, and capital raisers.
And it’s not ill-intended on the side of marketing either. Oftentimes, marketing teams are not resourced with the time or experience to dig further into the root of the sales request, so they simply fulfill it and move on. Over time though, this approach can further strap marketing teams for resources as their load of ongoing, one-off marketing pieces to update grows, leaving even less time to plan strategic marketing programs.
Marketing’s New Role
In its new role, marketing works collaboratively with sales to understand the advisor’s experience and improve it, removing friction points and helping sales build stronger relationships. Marketing often makes the first – and most critical – impression of the firm on advisors. They control how easy it is for advisors to get information, the timeliness and consistency of critical updates, and the translation of a product into stories that resonate with both advisors and their clients.
How Does Marketing Move into Its New Role?
The first step in marketing assuming a strong and prominent role in the sales process is to gain a deep understanding of advisors, their challenges, successes and perceptions/opinions of product sponsors.
Marketing can gather some of this information by meeting with both internal and external wholesalers, but it’s critical for them to also have firsthand experience with advisors, sitting in on sales calls and meetings.
Then, marketing can evaluate the experience they create for advisors. How easy or hard is it for advisors to build a relationship with the firm and do business with you? And how easy or hard is it for wholesalers to develop strong relationships with advisors?
With the rough spots identified, marketing can develop plans and programs for a smoother and more streamlined advisor experience.
Where Should Marketing Start?
While marketing works on a longer-term plan to move into a more strategic role focused on partnering with sales and refining the advisor experience, there are steps they can take to start heading down that path immediately.
- Communicate with sales. Let them know about the new role marketing is starting to take to better serve advisors, to become a more collaborative partner to sales, and to help raise more capital.
- Tap into sales knowledge. Until marketing can get a firsthand understanding of advisors, tap into the knowledge of the sales team on the advisor experience. Oftentimes friction points for the sales team will also be friction points for advisors. Focus on the top three to start creating a more positive experience for advisors.
- Ask why. When sales requests a particular marketing piece, seek more information to uncover the problem sales is trying to solve. Consider the problem and what the best marketing solution is to improve the advisor experience around the issue.
- Reduce materials. Take a hard look at all the pieces marketing maintains and discuss with sales to determine if any can be eliminated or combined.
The experience an advisor has with your firm can be the difference between never offering your products and becoming a loyal producer. Marketing plays a critical role in making sure the advisor experience is streamlined, positive and positioned to bring in capital.
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