Engaging the Next Generation in the Sales Process Today…. A Critical Step for Financial Services Firms


sales_processOne of my favorite movies is Moneyball based on the 2003 book by Michael Lewis, which depicts the analytical, evidence-based, sabermetric approach Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt), the GM of the Oakland A’s, follows to build a competitive MLB team on a lean mid-market budget. I love the scene in the movie when Billy Beane’s Ivy League assistant Peter Brand (played by Jonah Hill), quietly challenges the A’s scouting department’s old-school traditions with an extensive collection of player data and analysis.   In preparation for the upcoming player scouting discussions, the following exchange occurs…..

Peter Brand: I wanted you to see these player evaluations that you asked me to do.
Billy Beane: I asked you to do three.
Peter Brand: Yeah.
Billy Beane: To evaluate three players.
Peter Brand: Yeah.
Billy Beane: How many you’d do?
Peter Brand: Forty-seven.
Billy Beane: Okay.
Peter Brand: Actually, fifty-one. I don’t know why I lied just then.

To fast forward, Billy Beane eventually fires one of the team’s senior scouts after he refuses to embrace the new approach and the insightful data analysis Peter brings to the table to assess players.   After a slow start, the A’s eventually go on to win 20 consecutive games and the division before losing in the first round of the postseason.

At Symmetrics Group, we have been facilitating several workshops around the country on the topic of Generational Selling and the importance of understanding generational differences in the workplace and in how we engage and sell to our clients. The stories that have been shared in these workshops have been very enlightening, as we talk about how each generation can impact, shape and influence others’ attitudes, work ethic and decision-making.   The exchange between the A’s senior scout and the GM described above is an extreme example of this dynamic.

It is no secret that this year the number of Millennials has exceeded the number of Baby Boomers to become the nation’s largest population group. In the workplace today, we now have 4 generations working together at one time sharing office space, resources, sales goals and client engagement strategies. The sales process now includes multiple layers and levels of decision makers, so it is more important than ever to understand each other’s similarities and differences in approach and thinking style.

It is also no secret that over the next 3 decades we will see trillions of dollars in assets being transferred from the current generation to the next. How wealth advisory firms are preparing for this massive wealth transfer in the conversations they are having with their clients today is a key factor in the decision family members will make on whether or not to keep assets at that firm.

As sales professionals, we all know how challenging it can be to build, sustain and grow client relationships.   For Financial Advisors, for example, working hard to build these trusted relationships with clients is not enough as a significant portfolio of assets and fee income can quickly walk out the door when a client passes on and the kids are now reviewing what they just inherited with another Advisor.   The problem in maintaining the relationship with the incumbent wealth advisory firm is the simple fact that the heirs may not know the Financial Advisor. For wholesale and investment bankers, to cite another example, building a trusted advisor relationship with only the CFO may not be enough to protect the account, as decision making authority around driving shareholder value and capital raising gets spread across the Finance organization and may rest with more junior executives.

In part 2 of our blog, we will share a few generational selling tactics that can help you successfully navigate generational differences to have better conversations with your financial services clients today.

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