3200_LeadManagment_Blog-1It’s uncanny or coincidental that over the past month I’ve had numerous conversations about lead generation. One executive was lamenting that leads generated from his well-thought-out and slick campaigns were going unattended by the sales team. Another was inquiring about best practices to carve out a territory for marketing. Several deep discussions debating the right time to pass a lead to sales also come to mind. These questions are hinting at two operational issues:

  1. Sales teams have no faith in the quality of the leads and/or no accountability for following up on leads.

  2. Marketing campaigns are not in sync with territory and/or strategic sales plans.

There is a third, more strategic, issue, that the value created by marketing is unclear or is not being communicated clearly. I will tackle this in another post. Today, I want to describe how advisors should run their practices and set the stage for process refinements to address the two issues above.

The current approach tallies up points from advisors’ response marketing touchpoints to create a lead score. When the lead score hits a certain threshold, the advisor is deemed a lead and passed on to the internal sales team for follow up. The lead sometimes includes information explaining the score. For example, “The advisor has shown interest in fund X by clicking through emails and spending time on the product page.” A handful of marketing teams even track the lead after sales follows up. 

 advisor journey


Let me first set up a base model to explain why the issues exist and then suggest refinements to the current approach. Advisors spend most of their time in business-as-usual mode (over a quarter of their time working on financial plans, a third of their time focused on existing clients and about a fifth on business development), as depicted in the left side of the image above. The business-as-usual activities activate a trigger, the need for portfolio or investment product help. Then the advisor goes into problem-solving mode, as depicted in the right side of the image above. Viewed through this lens, asset managers and insurers must stay top of mind with advisors when they are in business-as-usual mode so that they are top of mind when they do go into problem-solving mode. It also raises the pressure on marketers to accurately identify when an advisor is in problem-solving mode. As my colleague Jason Brown has written, getting it wrong puts salespeople in awkward positions.

What if instead, the goal of campaigns was just to stay on the advisor’s radar? This means that every advisor in the database must see brand, product, thought leadership and value-add information at least once every two weeks. Practically speaking, the objective would be to maintain a minimal lead score – think of it as keeping a pulse on the extent to which the firm is top of mind. Leading firms have built followings for their thought leaders as one way of staying top of mind. Very often though, lead scores drop below or rise above a threshold. If marketing tactics are struggling to raise the lead score, could a sales call or meeting be the proverbial trump card? I think so. This creates a nice rhythm of sales and marketing touchpoints with all advisors when they are in business-as-usual as well as problem-solving mode. In fact, this combined effort where each touchpoint (topic, channel, timing) serves as a stimulus for the advisor that yields practical customer insights (for example, if a customer regularly reads outlooks, discards most emails except those about fixed income, or prefers a sales call occasionally). I expect the responses provide clues about what’s top of mind for the advisor and therefore what the next best action could be. 

If you agree with my point of view, then I would further assert that every touchpoint can be treated like a TV commercial, an opportunity to pop up and remind the advisor or teach them about something. In other words, it’s a way to stay engaged and on their radar, only in this instance, the commercial can be delivered by a salesperson, an email, an event or TV. Again, the hypothesis here is that a high level of engagement elevates the brand and its value proposition to the top of the list when advisors go into problem-solving mode. 

Getting back to the two issues, here’s how revising the current campaign approach increases the combined effectiveness of sales and marketing:

Issue

Outcome

1.   Sales team has no faith in the quality of the leads and/or no accountability for following up on leads

There is no pressure for marketers to correctly identify a lead. It’s just a sensible rationale for calling or meeting with an advisor.

2.   Marketing campaigns are not in sync with territory and/or strategic sales plans

Every advisor gets the omni-channel experience.  Focused advisors will get a disproportionately high volume of sales and marketing attention.  Other segments will also get marketing and sales attention, but with varying mix.

 

Implementing these revisions is actually very hard. On the marketing side alone, it takes syncing up processes, content and technology to orchestrate relevant, timely, influential information for an advisor. On top of that, it’s not trivial to negotiate changes to the sales process and culture or how territories are covered. But given the leakage with the current lead management approach, the effort is well worth it.


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Topics: financial advisors, sales performance, Financial Services, lead generation management, lead generation