The need for growth is leading family wealth advisory firms to stronger sales cultures and reinvigorated sales efforts, according to a study released last week by Family Office Exchange.
The FOX study, “The Enterprise Sales Process: Best Practices in Business Development,” identified several trends prompting firms to prioritize sales:
- An anticipated influx of liquidity over the next several years will boost industry growth prospects and yield many sales opportunities.
- Firms need to grow in order to attract and retain top talent.
- Many firms will soon find that dedicated sales resources are necessary to sustain even modest growth rates.
- Executives who also own their firms, and in particular those nearing retirement age, are motivated to ensure that their organizations remain strongly growth oriented.
Sales responsibilities are becoming more formal, and sales roles more specialized, according to FOX. Seventy-six percent of firms assign business development responsibilities to relationship managers, and those that do this most extensively are strengthening incentive plans for business development activities and providing new sales training and coaching tools.
Sixty-five percent of firms employ at least one business development officer to work exclusively with ultra-wealthy families, and others are considering this model to boost sales.
Wealth advisory firms continue to depend on their top talent to close business; at 88% of firms, most or all prospective clients meet with senior managers during the sales process. Involving senior managers and service team members in sales is likely to continue, given the importance of strong interpersonal connections to wealthy individuals.
At the same time, firms are becoming increasingly judicious about how they deploy top-level executives in sales, especially as they grow. “More sophisticated marketing and referral efforts, combined with early sales cycle qualification and vetting efforts, ensure that senior and star talent spend their time meeting with higher-quality, better-fit prospects,” FOX's managing director of research, David Lincoln, said in a statement.
However, family wealth advisory firms are unlikely ever to marginalize their service-first ethos, Lincoln said, “but with greater balance between sales and service, a niche financial services business may yet realize its full potential.”