The technical term is sales enablement tool.
And in the dark ages of wholesaling a cutting edge sales enablement tool was the mobile phone – the kind that had a base unit mounted in the trunk and a hand held receiver mounted on the floorboard of the passenger compartment.
With the advent of mobile, a road warrior could now scream down the freeway engaged in full conversation between advisor appointments.
Today the microchip gives us previously unthought of ways to organize, streamline, prepare, package and present the work that we do.
But what if some of these new(er) technologies are inhibiting your business versus helping it?
For example, we recently worked with a talented young wholesaler who was a product of the digital age. As such, he was an expert in the art of thumb typing on his iPhone.
Unfortunately he chose to use this skill to take meeting notes while sitting with an advisor.
Rather than the technology becoming a sales enabler it became a relationship inhibitor – as the very act of holding a phone and typing notes, while having a conversation with an advisor, made the art of true, active listening – and relationship building – all but impossible.
Over the last few years distribution organizations have made incredible strides in moving their sales forces to a paperless (iPad) sales platform. This technology enables the wholesaler to:
- jettison the laptop which, especially for the wholesaler with larger, flying regions, makes travel so much lighter/easier;
- access an entire warehouse of sales literature, now available to be displayed and shared at the touch of a screen;
- offer an interactive (video, PowerPoint, etc.) presentation experience, on demand.
The danger we see is borne out of wholesalers placing too much emphasis on the “gee-whiz” factor of iPad presentation technology without recognizing the needs of the prospect/client they are sitting in front of.
“With the iPad, the product really sells itself. All we have to do is just put it in the customers’ hands,” is a quote we found from a sales leader at ADT, which while a different industry, underscores the danger – as no product sells itself.
Given that the average age of financial advisors is 50.9 and 43 percent are over the age of 55, according to research from Cerulli, wholesalers need to be mindful of the advisors acceptance and attitude toward the very technology they are trying to impress the advisor with.
While we know that running a practice (wholesaling or advisor) without embracing technology will ultimately stunt growth, there are many advisors that simply won’t relate as well to your pitch when exclusively delivered via digital.
These are advisors for whom your device simply represents all sizzle and no steak.
How We Learn
Aside from any age related technology roadblocks, the fact is we don’t all learn in the same way.
You might be a visual learner while your advisor may be an auditory learner.
You might be comfortable deciphering the fine-points of a product via PDF on the iPad, while your advisor far prefers the tactile satisfaction of having the brochure in their hand.
You’re yellow pad x’s and o’s presenter, while your advisor wants to see a PowerPoint slide.
You’re ability to decipher the advisor’s learning style helps inform how much impact the digital presentation will have – or not.
It Takes Practice
While your firm has invested big dollars in the deployment of mobile technology that is designed to lighten your load and improve your point of sale performance, the onus is still on you.
Your device likely has a host of different applications; those installed by the firm and those that you have added. Being able to deftly navigate those apps, and use them to their fullest capability, while in the presence of your client/prospect, takes some work.
An Investment News Technology Study found that 55% of advisors surveyed said that fully utilizing their firms’ current technology offerings was the most important attribute toward achieving their growth goals.
We suspect the same is true for you and your practice.
Great wholesalers fully embrace the need to leverage technology, as provided by the firm and through their own discovery.
They also have a deep understanding of the tools at their disposal, yet appreciate which technologies work best for whom, and when they should be utilized in order to enable sales.