Improving Sales for a Financial Services Company

BY Kathy Crosett
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Improving sales for a financial services company this year could prove challenging. To meet sales goals, more financial services firms may change tactics to increase sales. New tactics will include hiring reps who can sell in a new business environment. And these reps must be coached on how to sell to the new generation of investors. You can start the process by giving your candidates a sales hiring test for financial services.

Selling in a New Business Environment

Some sectors in the financial services vertical now have a more complex selling cycle. Previously, financial advisors spent time selling specific stocks or investment funds. They may have also pitched insurance policies and been rewarded with solid commissions when they made a sale. With so much investment information now available online, research suggests that financial advisors should cast themselves in a different role.

Today’s savvy investors know that it’s hard to win in a stock market that’s controlled by programmed and institutional trading. They expect their advisors to share knowledge and insights about market trends and projections that justify their fees. They might also expect advisors to suggest unique funds are likely to generate good returns, or to highlight investment opportunities that align with special interests such as technology or environmental protection. Otherwise, investors may hesitate to paying advisors a fee that ranges from 0.5% to 2.0% of assets under management in order to earn the same yield they’d get by putting money into a generic balanced fund.

Selling to a Different Clientele

In the economic turmoil brought on by the pandemic, investors have plenty of fear about what to do with their money. Some investors will seek the safety of cash-​only investments. Others will have sufficient money and fortitude to buy into riskier propositions. Reps will need enough training to determine the difference between these types of investors and adjust their approach as necessary.

Advisors also need to understand how to sell to the up-​and-​coming generation of investors. These prospects have a different concept about investing and managing their money. They don’t go into banks. They don’t use cash. And having lunch with a stockbroker is not a status symbol for them.

However, they still want to understand their options. The financial planning process can be confusing and challenging. People don’t like to talk about money and the long term. And, investing involves understanding complicated terminology. So, advisors must be good with people and detail- oriented enough to explain what they’re selling. They must take time to understand the risk profile of the client. When advisors deliver a great level of personal service, prospects will recommend them to friends and family members.

Improving Sales for a Financial Services Company

Improving sales for a financial services company typical starts with hiring the right people. How do you know who will make the best advisors? You can start by looking for specific attributes such as being conscientious, agreeable and “good at remaining calm during emotional times.” You’ll also need to hire advisors who can influence consumers to consider working with them. Our research reveals that the top complaint reps encounter in the industry when selling to prospects is that people are happy with what they’ve got or they are afraid to make a change (51%).

Last year, financial services firms offered bonuses to entice reps to change jobs and come to work for them. Do those kinds of enticements work? Is there a better way to recruit reps who will stay with the organization for a longer time and who will do a better job selling? You can start by asking candidates to take a sales assessment test that measures aspects like work habits, behavioral tendencies and empathy.

Once you hire your top candidates, review your compensation plan. Our Voice of the Sales Rep survey indicates reps are willing to stay with their current employer and do work they don’t particularly enjoy if they are offered bonuses or some other type of monetary reward (55%).

As managers consider the best way to motivate reps, they also need to remember that the typical advisor handles between 50 and 100 clients. Managers must regularly review how well the reps are doing. Are they spending enough time with the most profitable clients? Have they matched advisors with the right clients? 

The best way to improve revenue is to attract clients who can afford to spend more on these services and to hire reps who are suited for this type of sales work.