A Flexible Workplace is a Fragmented Client-base for Field Sales

We discuss in our investor deck the decline of field sales displaced by inside sales and digital. For a move like this to take place, there are a series of contributing factors learned through the pandemic. What we believe will accelerate this shift is the increased fragmentation of the client workplace. Organisations are now learning about this as employees return to the workplace with much more flexibility around when they will be in the office. Those times that all employees are in the office together will be for internal meetings, not for meetings with sales reps of their suppliers (product partners).

So, this presents additional challenges for the B2B field sales model not specifically discussed in our last article . In this article we looked at demand drivers; the changing preferences of business buyers and the pressure on them from their customers – consumers. We see the B2B model evolving to B2B2C with the enabling tech of Forum 360. But there are also supply side pressures and the investment management industry is a great case study to discuss.

Supply side influences for investment managers that existed pre-pandemic include margin pressure and the fragmentation of their distribution partners caused by regulatory disruption. Regulators in our target jurisdictions found too many intermediaries were driven by sales commissions rather than products in the best interest of their clients. The remedy included penalties, more oversight and either a ban or improved disclosure of sales conflicts. An increase in cost to service while removing a source of revenue that has lead to the unwind of vertically integrated models and the departure of advisers from large wealth groups. Fragmentation was underway pre-pandemic.

Having customers (financial advisers) in the one office traditionally enabled product partners to do more with fewer resources. We are now seeing investment managers with coverage ratios over 300 advisors per account manager for their premium service. That is within the 20% or less of their customer base that is the most economic to serve and does not account for the vast majority of customers where coverage ratios are much higher. These high coverage ratios can work when the account manager can swing by the office, aka ‘drive by meet the manager’ and meet a group of advisors per visit. Workplace flexibility now makes this far less likely, effectively accelerating fragmentation.

So, why is Forum 360 a great solution for use by B2B sales representatives. Key differentiators include:

  • More scalable than video conferencing across customer firms and more intimate than webinars – designed off the small group meeting experience;
  • Empowers sales people to be very personal in their meeting invitations at scale;
  • Simple to use sales platform where it takes less than 5min to set up an event complete with features that matter to sales reps (branding, distribution, product information, fulfilment);
  • Secure registration with access gates;
  • Elevates the role of their customer (intermediary) by co-branding reach to the end investor (customer) and respecting PII / IP ownership;
  • Analysis to help sales people prepare for their meetings (Build the story based off: prior event analytics, attendee profiles, network behaviour);
  • Helps sales people get to what their customers want to discuss early in the meeting;
  • Plenty of opportunity for participants to learn more about the product and invest;
  • Sales tools (available to the Sales rep and intermediary) to identify attendees most likely to invest post meeting;
  • Benchmarking analytics to establish credibility on ESG in each meeting and measure sales process performance against a peer group.

We see broadcasting experiences evolve into communication experiences. For sales representatives this means email, short video, voice mails evolving in to two-way communication such as chats and virtual meetings. That blast email will come with frequent access opportunities for distribution partners and their clients to meet with a range of experts across the firm, including the sales representative herself.