Mike Mathies, Brand Strategist, recently had the opportunity to sit down with our founder and CEO, John Gulino, to explore the factors driving the increased interest in Inbound among asset managers, insurers and retirement plan providers.
Mike: John, you’ve observed the sales and marketing efforts of our industry from a variety of seats over the last 18 years. Why are you so emphatic that we’re at a critical inflection point for providers marketing to financial advisors?
John: You’re right, Mike. I’ve had the good fortune to see the world as an advisor, a wholesaler and a sales executive. And it’s just become painful for me to watch so many fine organizations fail to evolve to meet the needs and behaviors of today’s advisor.
Mike: Expand on that bit if you would.
John: Sure. For the past two decades, the sales model for product providers revolved around what’s called an outbound strategy. That means making cold calls, trying to schedule appointments, using blast email and even flooding advisor with direct mail. The intent with outbound is to get in front of as many prospects as possible by aggressively promoting your product of service any way possible.
That’s the main reason we’ve seen the predominance of the internal/external wholesaling model as a way to reach financial advisors. Internals would make 100 dials a day with the hope of scheduling 1-2 appointments for their external counterparts. Not exactly efficient and very, very expensive. The problem with this, however, is that this approach doesn’t fit the way advisors are researching and making decisions today. That’s all changed thanks to a little company called Google.
Mike: Could you describe this new behavior and explain why you believe inbound is the approach the industry needs to adopt?
John: Think of it this way. 10 years ago, if you wanted to buy a new car, that meant wasting a few weekends of your life going from dealership to dealership and test driving cars while a sales person sat in the passenger seat and told you about all the features and benefits of that particular car. We had to do it that way because the sales person had the information we needed to help us make an informed decision about which car was right for us. The salesperson was in control of the relationship because they controlled the information.
Today, you hop online, search for the car you want with all the options you desire and find the best dealership with the best price on the exact car that meets your specs. You then walk into the dealership and hand the sales person a print out of the car you want and negotiate a few thousand off of the advertised price and you drive away a few hours later! The evolution underway is really simple. The consumer or client today is now in control because information is readily available when they have a need. And it’s up to companies to recognize this shift and provide the most enjoyable and compelling content in order to inform and educate their potential clients who are researching solutions to their problems/needs.
It doesn’t matter what industry, what product, or service is being researched. While the time it takes to make a decision may differ based on the complexity of the solution and the channels that clients go to to research and become informed will be unique, the process is the same.
Financial advisory firms have ready access to research any need they have and if you are a provider and you’re not showing up with relevant content addressing their needs, you won’t be considered. And the same thing goes for Financial advisory firms that are looking to grow their business as well! It’s that simple. And it’s that real. I’ve said many times, today, relationships begin on the other side of a Google search, website visit, or social media post, and Inbound is a methodology and provides a roadmap for companies to capitalize on this strategy.
Mike: What are the hurdles that providers are facing when looking to adopt Inbound?
John: Two things. One, legacy investment in large wholesaling structures. It’s very difficult for organizations to think about downsizing their sales force and instead, deploy dollars towards things like paid search, white papers and educational videos.
Second, there has yet to be a clear break-through leader in the space. You know, a premier company that simply busts up the traditional model and goes all-in with something new like Inbound. Trust me, that is going to happen. And when it does, you’ll see others follow, rapidly.
Mike: Are you saying that Wholesalers are going away?
John: Absolutely not! What we need to do is arm our Wholesalers with the right information and we have to put them in front of prospects that are already educated about our firm, our products, and how we can help solve their problems.
Mike: Tell me why you’re so confident Inbound isn’t just the latest fad, and that there won’t be something else tomorrow?
John: First, I go back to the reality of today’s wholesaler-advisor relationship. It’s extremely difficult for wholesalers to get time in front of advisors today. Advisors are too busy, and they don’t need to be ‘sold’ another product. They have access to more products than they know what to do with.
Second, advisors, are consumers of content. They make decisions on who they’ll work with and what solutions they’ll use the same we do. What’s that? We research online, we learn, we come to trust and then we make a decision. The traditional wholesaling model doesn’t align with this new behavior. Will things change in the future? Quite likely, but I can tell you for right now, if a provider is not reaching prospects online with great content that attracts them and ultimately earns their trust, the sphere of opportunity is ridiculously small.
Mike: John, thanks for your insight and for spending time with us today.
John: My pleasure.
Want to learn more about Inbound? Download our latest Ebook, 7 Reasons To Consider Inbound Marketing: What Every Asset Manager Needs To Know