How Strategy Helps You Adapt to a Changing Financial Landscape
Sales technology can be hugely beneficial in any vertical, saving you time, solving relevant business problems, helping you achieve goals, and positively affecting your bottom line. Few industries have more to gain from correctly and fully utilizing these solutions, though, than financial services.
From wealth management to lending to banking, many firms within this vertical today are leveraging lots of sales tech solutions. So, what’s the problem? They’re not doing it with enough strategy and planning to see the most efficient, most cost-effective results.
With that in mind, here’s why your financial service firm needs sales tech and why selecting those solutions strategically is the best way to see a positive return on your investment.
How Financial Business Used to Be Done
In the financial realm, the way business is done has changed. The established model for financial service firms included mostly face-to-face interactions. With that came lots of road time and even more expenses.
Digital technologies, including call center solutions, have reduced those costs significantly. Today, the only time the client meets with a sales rep is at the final stages of the sales cycle—if at all. Companies who have acknowledged these changes and capitalized on the tech solutions that facilitate them have seen financial gains.
It’s important to remember, though, industries are constantly changing. If you want to continue to thrive and to prosper, you need to quickly adapt to changes in best practice and be nimble enough to adjust your strategy when necessary. That very much includes your approach to sales technology selection and implementation.
Lead from a Place of Strategy
Successful sales technology selection, for any industry, requires strategy and planning. Too many companies identify a problem they’re having, see the functionality of a sales tech solution that could address that problem, and then purchase a license for every seat at the company. This reactive approach contributes to unused, incorrectly used, or underused solutions—and lots of wasted money. (In a report by 1E, US and UK companies contributed to $34 billion worth of software waste.)
How do companies avoid this problem and see tangible, effective return on investment? They must follow a detailed and strategic road map.
1. Engage stakeholders and establish goals.
Identify your relevant stakeholders, and learn everything you can about their pain points and needs. Make them a meaningful and ongoing part of the conversation, or you’ll see poor adoption. Know what overarching goals you’re trying to accomplish so you know where you’re headed. This all contributes to the vital first step of identifying your priorities.
2. Identify technology gaps.
Know where your existing technology fails to address your challenges, needs, and pain points. This can be part of a broader technology audit strategy.
3. Audit capabilities and gaps.
Determine the capabilities of your individual stakeholders and organizational infrastructure to implement different sales tech solutions. Find where those gaps exist in your capabilities, and determine if it’s cost effective to address them.
4. Select vendors to consider.
Only after all that groundwork should you begin to look at potential vendors. As you examine the functionality and features of these solutions, you should still be thinking about your priorities and capabilities.
(Ready to start narrowing the field of vendors? Check out this free sales technology selector tool.)
5. Analyze solution fit and ROI.
From your list of potential vendors, make any final analysis about how this solution fits into your strategy, addresses your priorities and needs, and maximizes your potential ROI. Be cognizant of less-considered aspects of ROI, such as functionality overlap across solutions, which can lead to unnecessary spending, and the cost of training and implementation.
Over this entire process, make sure you’re very focused on the customer journey. This is where your questions should be coming from. How can you understand your customers better? How can you enable engagement with your customers? How can you determine when they want to be engaged with? Having a 360-degree view of your customers at the foundational level allows you to build that important information into your broader sales tech systems and strategies.
Make sure you also have a highly defined sales process. You can’t hope to effectively drive customers through your pipeline if those channels aren’t well understood and implemented.
(To read more about why a digital strategy is so imperative to the sales technology selection process, read our article here.)
Why Should a Financial Services Firm Invest in Sales Technology?
Implementing the strategy necessary to see success with your sales technology solutions is an involved process. It takes time, effort, and resources. So, why do so many companies attempt this undertaking? Because, done correctly, it pays off.
Lower the cost of doing business.
As just one example, say you’re conducting a financial consultation. Doing this face to face requires not only the obvious expense of road time for your rep, but it also takes time required for coordinating schedules and a meeting place. Now say you conduct that transaction via Zoom or other video conferencing solution. It’s easy to see that the cost of a licensing fee is quickly offset by lowering the cost of doing your everyday business.
Reap the benefits of greater personalization.
Engagement with a sales rep used to be limited to once a year or however many times that field rep could visit a given client. With sales tech solutions, clients can engage with reps whenever they want. They also have greater ease of access to resources related to their accounts.
Technology allows for a more connected, personalized experience. That leads to a greater sense of client satisfaction. This, in turn, gives you more opportunities to capitalize on the lifetime value of that account. Whether it’s upselling or cross-selling opportunities or simply keeping that account for a longer time, your revenue opportunities increase when your clients become your advocates.
(Want to take a deep dive into account management? Check out our webinar about enhancing account strategy to maximize growth.)
Save yourself time.
In the most pragmatic way, sales technology solutions help with the transactional side of business. It allows you to do tasks like processing transactions more quickly, or it can automate that process entirely and outright remove those manual hours. This allows your sales reps to spend more time doing their job of selling and less time handling administrative tasks.
Every benefit of sales tech comes back to the same idea. When implemented and leveraged correctly and efficiently, these solutions can improve your processes and increase your revenue potential.
5 Sales Technology Solutions for Financial Firms
Going back to that underlying strategy, no sales tech solution is an automatic fit for any company. The right solution for you comes back to your stakeholders, priorities, goals, existing gaps, and capabilities.
Given all that, here are five potential categories of sales tech solutions that financial service firms could leverage:
1. Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is an increasingly popular technology for those in financial services. It’s one of the more advanced solutions, so make sure you have buy-in from your stakeholders and the capabilities to implement.
Assuming you have that, AI can help you gain invaluable insight into your sales and marketing relationship. It can help you qualify leads for both marketing and sales, which can contribute to your quota-driven strategies. You can also utilize it in something like conversation intelligence software, which uses AI to analyze text or speech and then derive insights from client and sales rep interactions.
AI gives you data-driven insights, which are a quantifiable, reliable way to make business decisions.
2. Learning Management System (LMS) Technology
LMS tech is a type of software that aids with education courses, training, or learning and development programs. It handles administration, documentation, analytics (reporting and tracking), and more.
In the financial services industry, this can be particularly helpful for internal training of reps or agents. Financial policies change quickly, and an automated, easy-to-navigate way for your employees to stay educated on mandatory material offers tremendous savings of time and money over in-person trainings.
3. Sales Enablement Technology
More and more organizations are maturing into having a sales enablement role within their firms. Financial service teams who want to get the edge on their competition should seriously consider sales enablement, which is essentially the totality of your efforts to get sales reps the information, tools, and content they need to sell effectively. This includes everything from logistics (sales tech solutions and tools) to more holistic process and mind-set shifts (aligning your stakeholders and removing siloed departments).
Financial service firms, in particular, can be quite entrenched in their ways of doing business, but those that are open to change and a nimbler approach to today’s selling environment will quickly surpass firms that refuse to change.
4. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)
Many financial service firms have their data stored in customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and that’s accurate to a point. For greater insight, functionality, and accuracy, though, an ERP is superior. This provides data points like year-over-year activity for customers, which gives a better window into account management. An ERP can create awareness and visibility into an account, offering opportunities for proactive growth rather than reacting as problems or issues arise. For large accounts at a financial services firm, the impact of that ability can be financially significant.
5. Blockchain Technology
For companies that have the capabilities and internal knowledge, they can go beyond the functionality and capabilities of AI with blockchain technology. These solutions are becoming a major leader in technology and growth, especially in the financial sector. Popularized for its association with Bitcoin, this technology is still relatively new and often misunderstood. For a broad overview of blockchain, refer to this high-level article.
Competition within the financial sector is high. If you want to differentiate yourself and reap the financial rewards of leapfrogging the competition, you need the right tools at your disposal. If you want a partner who can help get you there, check out what our consultative services entail. We’ve helped lots of clients in the financial vertical identify the strategy and implement the tools they needed to take the next step.