While the definition of sales enablement can certainly be debated, the desired outcomes of customer acquisition, retention and cross-selling are indisputable. As a result, financial services firms need to provide their sales executives and customer-facing teams with a solution that not only drives new business, but also helps expand existing client relationships.
However, the growing trend toward best-of-breed system environments, multiple sources of data and complex architectures makes it difficult for firms to provide their reps with immediate access to all of the information they need to sell more effectively.
In response, many leading financial services firms are starting to leverage unified information access (UIA) software as they construct their next-generation sales enablement capability. UIA technology enables firms to integrate and correlate multiple sources of internal and external data and content, regardless of the source or format. Here are five key requirements to consider as you explore this new type of innovative solution and strive to more effectively enable your sales team:
1. Prioritize effectiveness over efficiency:
There are multiple tools available in the market that can help you improve sales efficiency. Salesforce.com, Hoovers and OneSource immediately come to mind. However, the goal isn't to increase your volume of average calls, but instead to heighten the quality of each customer and prospect interaction. Leveraging a solution that correlates and presents the most relevant content, such as targeted product recommendations or news about investment holdings, will enable your sales reps to "elevate the conversation" and drive business results.
2. Know Your Customer (KYC):
While every financial institution is familiar with KYC from a regulatory perspective, very few actually know their customers and have a deep understanding of client satisfaction, interests, likes and dislikes. Conducting sentiment analysis across multiple communication channels, both internal (email, IM chats, surveys, phone transcripts) and external (social media, blogs, online resources), is a critical component when trying to gain this understanding and prove to your customers that you are in fact listening. Furthermore, when armed with in-depth knowledge about customer sentiment, sales reps can more clearly identify up-sell and cross-sell opportunities.
3. Break down the silos:
Providing your client-facing teams with a technology solution like UIA that integrates structured data, such as positions, transactions and product information, along with unstructured content -- such as emails, IMs, social media, analyst reports and news feeds -- offers a true 360-degree view of the customer. This type of holistic account management not only helps retain business, but also drives increased "wallet share." Financial institutions already have a tremendous amount of information about their existing customers. Unfortunately, many are unable to leverage this content because it resides in multiple disparate systems. Next generation sales enablement platforms readily unify these sources and provide a complete view of each client.
4. Stress agility:
This much is certain -- five years from now your sales enablement requirements will be different than they are today. Whether driven by new technologies, additional products or a change in market focus, the data sources and functional requirements of your sales enablement solution will change over time. As a result, it's imperative that you employ an agile solution that can change with them. Rigid applications that entail extensive data modeling are decidedly not in this category.
5. Integrate additional tools:
Prioritize effectiveness, but don't forget about efficiency. Offering your sales agents all of the functionality they need in a single portal will not only decrease the time they need to prepare for meetings, but also enable them to react quickly to ad-hoc customer inquiries and requests. Core capabilities including CRM, investment research, advanced search and trade execution should all be integrated, depending on your organization's lines of business. Providing this functionality within the sales enablement desktop will increase productivity, reduce frustration and drive new sales.
About The Author:
Randy McLaughlin, Director of Financial Services, Attivio
McLaughlin brings more than 12 years of experience in the financial services and software industries to his role at Attivio. Previously he was a lead analyst at CutterAssociates, a research and consulting firm focused on asset management technology. McLaughlin received his BS from Tulane University and holds an MBA from Suffolk University.