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Savings and budget with piggy bank
November 5, 2020

Meeting Financial Services Goals With a Zero-Based Budget

Savings and budget with piggy bank

It’s the ninth inning of 2021. How are you going to meet your year-end goals?

Time to get enough quality touchpoints with the prospects you’ve been dripping on all year. But do you have the resources to do so and are your client-facing teams up to speed for a final push?

Senior leadership must plan how to help wholesalers stay in touch with clients and keep growing—for the next quarter and into the future. Zero-based budgeting has changed the game for anyone managing client-facing teams. Besides operating in an increasingly complex, fragmented environment, you’re now expected to consistently quantify the value of your growth tactics.

Many companies, especially financial services firms, use zero-based budgeting to plan for the upcoming year. This approach starts from a “zero base” and all expenses must be justified for each new period. Instead of rolling over revenue and expenditures from the previous accounting period, every function within an organization must take a fresh look at future needs and costs.

The advantages of zero-based budgeting from an overall organizational perspective are long-term growth and a positive balance sheet. From an executive’s perspective, though, the practice can make life more difficult. You must provide a rationale—and secure approval—for every activity in your budget. Before launching a new program or trying a new tactic, you must make a convincing case for how it will help the business.

Budget Planning in a Pandemic

Budget planning this year is even more difficult. COVID-19, social unrest, and the election cycle have made 2020 of the most unpredictable years ever. You can’t make the same assumptions you did before when so many exogenous events have thrown plans out the window. No one thought they’d be working remotely into 2021.

To succeed with a zero-based budget, you need to either reallocate resources to where you think you can pull more business or make yourself more efficient. But how do you know what’s working? One answer lies in taking a closer look at the return on investment of your learning and development initiatives.

Having access to content in the “moment of need” ensures wholesalers have the information to stay relevant and gives them a reason to talk to advisors.

Doing More With Less

Asset management firms face some of their toughest challenges in decades, with historically low interest rates, regulatory uncertainty, product proliferation (including ETFs) and increasingly knowledgeable clients. It’s more difficult than ever for client-facing teams to articulate their value and differentiate their products. You need new tools to stay in the game.

I was an early adopter of some of the newest financial services tech and saw the difference it made in my team’s performance. Developing skills that can track the client’s needs in a constantly changing environment means becoming agile and keeping your best foot in the game. Using mobile and video can transform how organizations prepare their client-facing teams to be agile and responsive in an overall effort to improve productivity.

Although many firms have designed and implemented high-quality sales enablement programs, many fail to demonstrate the value of these programs to senior management—to measure and quantify the return on investment (ROI). Without hard numbers to showcase the business value of these initiatives, enablement leaders may find it difficult to obtain adequate resources for future programs and ideas

Measuring ROI and Meeting Goals

For many organizations, anecdotal evidence isn’t enough to justify the investment in sales productivity solutions. If your firm has sales enablement software in place, you’ll be able to access platform analytics to measure ROI, although you can gauge the revenue gains produced by any learning initiative.

The good news is that many of the numbers you need already exist in your data. They simply need to be compared over time as you implement new programs. All of these measurements will provide empirical before-and-after evidence of revenue changes powered by your sales enablement initiatives, including:

Time to first deal (for new hires)
Decreasing the time to achieve full productivity means that your cost of hiring goes down and your first-year revenue per person goes up.

• Number (or percentage) of reps who make quota
Although other metrics provide a more precise measurement of financial impact, an increase in quota attainment often leads to greater job satisfaction and lower employee turnover.

• Average selling price (ASP)
If you close 500 deals annually with an ASP of $50,000, increasing that number by even two percent will produce a revenue impact of $500,000.

• Deals Per Capita
Another rough number, but the number of per capita deals, especially while maintaining or increasing your ASP, is a clear reflection of employee productivity.

In the face of tightened budgets and growing market complexity, there’s never been a greater need for accurate measurement of productivity efforts. By showing your initiatives are producing a solid ROI, client-facing teams improve their chances of getting the funding they need for the next budget cycle.

Acing the “Moment of Need”

It’s no secret that client behavior has changed radically over the past decade. Clients have become accustomed to researching their options online before ever meeting with an advisor—and expect the same exceptional experience across all touchpoints, in-person and virtual.

This makes it more important than ever for client-facing teams to be able to continually add value throughout their relationships. One of my contacts noted, “You have to invent ways to stay in front of them.” He’s constantly looking for resources and content he can pull from to use in conversations.

Sales enablement technology makes queries intuitive, facilitates discovery, and gets your people one step closer to decisive and productive actions in ‘real time’.

Client-facing teams need easy access to the most relevant and up-to-date sales content. They must be trained appropriately on how and when to use it. Having access to content in the “moment of need” ensures wholesalers have the information to stay relevant and gives them a reason to talk to advisors.

Modern mobile and video technology offer a way around these hazards. The flexibility and convenience of mobile can help client-facing teams enhance current relationships, find new opportunities, cross-sell more effectively and uncover new clients. Using mobile also allows them to find critical information quickly rather than spending time ‘off-line’ in meetings, sorting through old documents in search of nuggets.

Think of how you search for information in your daily life to inform your well thought-out decisions. You touch an app on a phone, search a keyword, or go to a thread that’s relevant to your inquiry. Similarly, sales enablement technology that makes such queries intuitive, facilitates discovery, and gets your people one step closer to decisive and productive actions in ‘real time’.

Modern sales enablement platforms help sales teams accelerate revenue growth by improving training effectiveness and supporting client facing teams in their everyday selling activities. When firms can prove that their tactics are persuading clients, they will generate the ROI to overcome the challenges of zero-based budgeting and meet their year-end goals.

Learn More

To learn how to accelerate your results with modern sales enablement, download our eBook: Demystifying Sales Enablement: How to Plan for the Next Normal.

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