This article is the first in a three-part series from guest contributors Eric Brand and Kevin Kasper, Principals at BK Communications Group. To contact Eric and Kevin directly, please email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The investment management business is more fiercely competitive than ever before, making it difficult to de-commoditize and stand out from the pack. Regardless of a manager’s track record, pedigree, or organizational excellence, investor decisions often hinge on the meeting, the in-person contact that leads them to trust – or not to trust – the manager with their money. Yet managers commonly minimize the importance of meetings, and are thus often either ill-prepared or ill-behaved.
What’s more, many non-sales personnel lack the natural presentation skills or requisite experience to successfully navigate a meeting. Clearly, ineffective prospect meetings can be an obstacle to winning assets. Yet that’s not all. Poor client service meetings are a business hazard as well, since they can add to client dissatisfaction and the cost of lost assets is so great.
So what’s a manager to do? Our most recent Strategic Commentary, “It All Comes Down to the Meeting,” takes a look at the problem and offers specific solutions. The first thing is to recognize reality: any company that needs to solicit clients – and keep them once attained – is a sales organization, regardless of the product or service offered. That makes every hedge fund, wealth manager and service provider a sales organization. And during a meeting with a potential or current client, it makes everyone involved a salesperson.
As salespeople, we must take to heart that great adage of sales, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust.” In other words, good relationships are the goal because they help secure and retain clients. This applies across the investment management landscape. A recent Preqin survey of family offices, for instance, found an increasing number insisting on “a close relationship and good communications with fund managers.”
Building relationships is a process, of course, not an event. In our experience, there are two pillars of relationship building: credibility and rapport. A lack of credibility will give potential investors a reason not to do business with you. Strong rapport will give them every reason to do business with you.
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