Blog Deploying Cyborgs May be the Way to Save Sales Organizations

Posted November 30, 2017 by Jason Dauwen

I believe asset manager sales executives must start deploying cyborgs to survive.

Let me be clear. I’m not advocating that robots should replace humans in sales roles. Humans are and will continue to be essential in asset manager sales organizations. The human element is at the core of relationships, which is at the core of consultation and ultimately closing sales. However, the distribution landscape has changed considerably over the past few years as we’ve seen:

  • Growing prominence of mutual fund alternatives.
  • Hundreds of billions in AUM leaving active mutual funds and active ETFs and over a trillion pouring into passive mutual funds and ETFs in the past 2.5 years.
  • The emergence and adoption of digital advice platforms.
  • Increased interest in TAMPs and third-party models.
  • Increased significance being place on digital interactions .
  • Increased expectation for advisors to take direction from the home-office.
  • Significant decreases in AUM where financial advisors make their own investment decisions (53% decline in the past six years according to DST Advisor Insights in association with Horsesmouth, 2016)

The terrain for salespeople is unrecognizable from just a decade ago; it is simply harder to sell active mutual funds than it used to be. Salespeople are essentially finding themselves in unchartered territory, and they cannot be expected to survive this new terrain using methods that worked in the old one. Something has to change.

These Are Not the Cyborgs You’re Looking For

This is why I believe cyborg sales is the answer. Now, I know the word cyborg invokes images of Robocop or the Terminator. But that’s Hollywood’s version of a cyborg. The original cyborg was an astronaut in 1960.

The term “cyborg” was coined in a paper written in 1960 by Manfred Clynes and Nathan Kline for a NASA conference on space travel. The duo explains that in order for astronauts to survive the harsh conditions of space, they required an exogenous adaptation that would sustain hospitable conditions. And it should do it without too much effort from the person in the suit. They noted, “If man in space, in addition to flying his vehicle, must continuously be checking on things and making adjustments merely in order to keep himself alive, he becomes a slave to the machine.“

So, think about your salespeople trying to survive in this new and changing distribution landscape. They’re going from advisor to advisor continuously checking on things and making adjustments. But, what if there were some exogenous adaptation that would make the conditions of this new environment more hospitable to them?

The Cyborg Salesperson

Asset managers who are thriving in the new distribution environment are doing so by enhancing their human salespeople with information and technology. They are arming them with one essential exogenous component that their flailing competitors have not: effective, forward looking business intelligence.

Leading asset managers are imbuing salespeople with data-enabled insights about which advisors can be influenced – and of those from which can the salesperson expect a high level of value (potential for growth and revenue) and a high level of opportunity to sell the firm’s competitive products?

This exogenous adaptation still expects the human qualities of the salesperson to be deployed but with enhanced intelligence that provides confidence in where to spend their time to effect the most profitable sales.

While other salespeople are guessing about which advisors are their best leads, Research, Analytics, and Consulting Deploying Cyborgs illustration cyborg salespeople know which advisors represent the most strategic opportunities.

The cyborg salesforce knows how advisors prefer to be contacted. They know which activities generate lift. They know what content and consultation to provide. They know when and what to sell to whom and they understand why and how to sell it to them. And they are outperforming their competitors who are still deploying their human to fend for themselves in a new, harsh reality.

My recommendation: try a little cyber upgrade to your salesforce. Provide them with the insights and technology they need to navigate the landscape without having to continuously check in at advisors to see if everything is still working, which will allow them more time to spend on creating value for their customers.

Jason Dauwen
Business Research Consultant
Research, Analytics, and Consulting

categories: business intelligence, distribution products, key accounts, mutual funds

The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of DST Systems, Inc. or its affiliates, subsidiaries, joint ventures, officers, directors, or management.

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