SAN DIEGO, CA—January 22, 2014 — The nature of face-to-face sales is fundamentally changing for financial services organizations. A new study, Transforming the Advisory Experience, released by Profitable Channels, a leading sales enablement programs and solutions consultancy, and sponsored by Seismic, found that an increasing number of financial services organizations are investing in a rapidly maturing set of sales enablement technologies – notably predictive analytics, solution selling tools, mobile applications, and presentation automation solutions – to dramatically improve sales performance. These solutions harness the unique capabilities of mobile devices – combined with the power of analytics, content management and CRM solutions – to dramatically improve sales performance.

The research, which includes a survey of more than 60 financial services firms, revealed that the sales enablement initiatives that were generating the most immediate tangible return on investment were focused on increasing sales capacity, reducing sales cycle times, boosting conversion rates, and eliminating hard costs. A handful of leaders in the asset management, insurance, wealth management and banking industries reported savings thousands of man-hours in sales preparation and follow-through time per year, and shrinking the time it takes to create complex client presentations from weeks to seconds. Others reported they were using sales enablement solutions to reduce the number of discovery meetings needed to generate a plan or proposal and improve sales effectiveness four-fold.

“Progressive financial institutions are investing in sales enablement tools because they offer the potential to solve some long standing selling challenges – executing consultative selling processes, cross selling, and adding value during regular financial reviews and policy renewals,” said Stephen Diorio, the study’s author and founder of Profitable Channels.

The research found that early adopters in the financial and insurance industries are using technology in three consistent ways to generate measureable sales results:

• Leveraging Existing Sales Assets from Across the Enterprise – To achieve measurable sales results, best in class sales organizations are finding ways to leverage selling assets and information from across the enterprise to solve their biggest selling problems. They are combining customer information, third party research, sales content, and data from operating systems to create tools that improve conversion rates, free up sales capacity, decrease cycle times, deliver client insights and enhance presentation quality and consistency. By utilizing these four core content and data sources, sales leaders have the ability to create analytics, presentations, data-driven sales recommendations and customized client experiences. These include solution selling tools and next generation content management solutions offered by Seismic that help advisors, agents and bankers quickly create customized client presentations drawn from systems that store customer data, such as, content repositories like Dropbox and external research such as Morningstar.

• Better Managing, Packaging, and Organizing Sales Content – Managing, packaging, and organizing sales content is crucial to sales effectiveness because it represents a significant sales and marketing expenditure and determines the effectiveness of investments in sales training, coaching and programs to support go-to-market strategies that incorporate solution selling, challenger selling, social selling and multi-channel sales programs. The study found the “garbage in-garbage out” data problem that plagued early database marketing efforts also applies now applies to the highly targeted sales playbooks, presentations and solutions content that fuel sales enablement programs. In response, fifteen percent of firms surveyed in this report have created cross functional project teams to set up a centralized content “hub” with the goal of repackaging, reorganizing and systemizing the delivery of their sales and marketing content to better support solution selling, mobile devices and sales playbook programs.

• Reinventing the Face-to-Face Relationship Model – The primary goal driving sales enablement investment was the desire to disrupt the status quo by reinventing the advisory experience with high value clients – notably high net worth investors, mass affluent consumers, commercial and institutional clients. Leading financial and insurance institutions are reinventing the face-to-face relationship model by using advances in mobility, analytics, solution selling, presentation automation, content management and CRM solutions to redefine six high value face-to-face client interactions including: relationship reviews, policy renewals, new business meetings, investment reviews, and customer retention interactions. They are setting a new standard for the client experience by delivering highly interactive, intuitive and consultative buying interactions for in-person sales meetings, including: relationship reviews, policy renewals, new business meetings, investment reviews and customer retention interactions.

Despite these results, Profitable Channels found the majority of financial services organizations lag far behind the automotive, medical, manufacturing, retail and technology industries in adopting these powerful tools. For example, only two of the top 100 company sponsored iPad deployments were made by financial institutions.

Financial institutions are not fully realizing the growth potential of sales enablement because of a variety of very solvable problems including compliance bottlenecks, poorly packaged selling content, industry demographics, and an over-reliance on internal development.

“People are struggling to use the abundance of sales and marketing materials at their disposal because it’s disorganized and does not integrate with the systems they use most, like or SharePoint,” said Seismic CEO, Doug Winter. “Using complex and disparate systems should be a thing of the past. Next generation sales enablement technologies will be fully integrated platforms that empower sales teams to easily access the collateral they need to close more deals faster.”