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Practice Management > Building Your Business

Get a Bigger Assist From Your Sales Associates

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Looking for new ways to educate your sales support associates?

In-depth knowledge and overall awareness of available sales support tools not only helps address investor needs but can create a more valuable and efficient business.

Sales assistants play a vital role in the success of your business. They help with key tasks that aid in critical relationship building as well as business development opportunities. Sales support associates are on the frontlines—frequently handling daily administrative and operational duties, as well as interacting with clients.

In addition, firms that employ sales support associates can benefit from increased revenue. To illustrate, the average annual gross for advisors with sales support associates is $283,141—15% more than the average for advisors who do not use sales support associates, according to a 2011 study by Cetera Financial Solutions.

Given their benefit to the firm, an investment of time in sales support associate training could lead to a significant payoff in firm productivity and profitability. Surprisingly, however, some firms provide limited training opportunities to maximize sales support associates’ productivity. Fewer than one in 10 sales support associates have ever received any formal, structured job training to help them do their jobs, acoording to

During the market downturn in 2008, budget tightening restricted educational opportunities for sales support associates even further and attendance at career development conferences dropped dramatically. Today, the pendulum is swinging back. They are working harder—but now it may be time to help them work smarter as well.

Consider how your firm could increase productivity with enhanced training for sales support associates in the following areas:

  • Technology. Many financial firms don’t fully leverage their technology. Training sales support associates to maximize the technology they use day-to-day can help boost their efficiency, enabling them to more effectively troubleshoot and address investor questions.
  • Client onboarding and maintenance. As the client’s key point of contact, sales support associates are in a prime position to ensure a smooth and seamless introduction to the firm. Accurate account setup can also help reduce or eliminate errors and delays down the road. Sales support associates need to know how to maximize automated features such as prepopulated apps, electronic signatures and straight-through processing applications.
  • Moving and depositing assets. Wires, ACH transfers, check processing and other service transactions are common requests that sales support associates receive from advisors and clients. Sales support associates who have the skills to deliver fast and timely service can free up your time, allowing you to focus on deepening your client relationships.
  • Managing operational activities. Sales support associates are capable of managing far more than daily transactions. As platforms offer increasing data mining capabilities, your sales support staff could help with analytics, including generating reports to help you pinpoint new opportunities to grow your businesses and meet a broader range of client needs.
  • Trading and order management. Sales support associates can benefit from a deeper understanding of how to handle every step of the transaction cycle for each asset class, as well as processes such as block trading, modeling and rebalancing.
  • Managing client relationships. Sales support associates typically spend more time on the phone and exchanging e-mails with clients than anyone else on the team. Maximizing the management of these tasks and using automated tools can help them react to—and better yet, anticipate—clients’ needs more quickly.


Cirrotti is Director of Retirement Solutions and Nuppnau-Singh is Vice President of Financial Solutions, both at Pershing.


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