Many practitioners have found success by taking a team approach to selling. The way this works is that a number of professionals form a group–often with each member having a specific area of expertise–to provide financial planning for the same client.
“We see it as a growing trend,” says Amy Dewey, director of agency and association marketing for The American College, Bryn Mawr, Pa. “Rather than working as a lone wolf, you can surround yourself with other experts and have a good team approach to selling.”
Dewey says she sees many companies modifying their distribution structure to adopt the team selling approach.
One of those companies is New England Financial, Boston, Mass. For the past six years, New England has been integrating a team selling approach into its advanced marketing firm agency structure.
Working in sales teams provides a number of benefits for clients, says Jack Pini, vice president of field marketing for NEF. “Now, rather than have one person managing and servicing your business, youve got a team of people that all have a vested interest in assuring that your financial portfolio is in good shape.”
Furthermore, the team environment encourages agents to become specialists in different areas of planning, adds Cathy Baron, second vice president of field marketing for NEF. “Instead of trying to be all things to all people and trying to keep up with everything in this very sophisticated market, agents can specialize and go to experts within the firm–so clients receive more expertise than they would if the agent was working alone.”
While sales teams are most often found at the retail sales level, at The Phoenix Companies, Hartford, Conn., wholesalers work together in sales teams when marketing their products and services to distributors.
Phoenix started using wholesaling teams a few years ago when it introduced a new annuity product line. Phoenix already had established business relationships with distributors through its life insurance and asset management wholesalers. By teaming up the annuity wholesalers with the other product wholesalers, “it was a way of leveraging those existing relationships,” says Mike Gilotti, executive vice president, wholesaling distribution and marketing for Phoenix.
Gilotti notes that the primary reason for taking a team approach was to build the annuity business, but now the company has seen many ancillary benefits from this action. “We discovered the power of teamwork,” he says.
Since many distributors have specialists in each of these areas (life insurance, annuities and asset management), it is a natural fit for working with a wholesaling team representing all product lines. “We see the multitude of teams that are forming in many different types of distributionwere starting to see more specialization,” he says.