Unlocking Real Value Blog

How To Succeed In Institutional Sales …..

FundFire ran a series of articles last week that chronicles the woes currently facing many institutional money managers and in turn their sales people – fewer searches, smaller searches, a longer sales cycle, more emphasis on alternatives at the expense of traditional managers, etc., etc. Don’t forget widespread under performance as well, and the recent “bashing” of active management. It’s also become harder to get and keep the attention of the gatekeepers.

Against this backdrop, institutional sales professionals are struggling. While many of these macro issues account for these woes, there were some definite opinions cited from those interviewed about lack of marketing support from their firms, personnel turnover, etc.. These issues did pale in magnitude, however, to the more macro battles to most.

So how does an institutional sales professional succeed in this environment? There are a few things that come to mind:

1) Make sure that your firm’s brand is strong and that you are clearly articulating the distinct factors that differentiate you from the competition. Internally, get with your marketing people and portfolio managers and make any adjustments that are necessary to highlight your competitive advantages – in your website, marketing materials, client presentations, etc.

2) Educate the rest of your firm on today’s environment and garner support for your efforts. This might be a little CYA – but the more your firm recognizes your challenges, the more willing they will be to help you as necessary. For example, the reluctant portfolio manager might be willing to come to a presentation that you feel he should. OR more marketing dollars might be budgeted.

3) Be patient – you won’t be able to change the world tomorrow, but in the words of one of the people quoted in the article’s – be professionally persistent. Confirm with the gatekeepers that you are giving them the information that they want, how they want it and when they want it. Relationships take time to build, and while you may at time frustrate some of these gatekeepers, by being persistent they will remember you and your firm when an appropriate opportunity arises.

I’m not going to sugar-coat this and say that it is easy out there today – it isn’t. But there will always be opportunities and movement in the institutional money management world – those patient enough and smart enough will succeed, while those that blame others and throw up their hands will not; this is the way that it always is after all.

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