Apples to Apples: Selecting a Solution Provider

A slice of apple with an orange inside

At a recent CRM Forum hosted by On Course Advisors, I was fortunate to sit on a panel with three other industry colleagues: David Halligan from SalesFocus Solutions, Aaron Tellier from Merkle, and Matt Reed from BrightScope. Our panel discussed best practices for selecting a solution provider with a group of over 39 asset managers. It was an active conversation, and many good ideas floated through the audience. Here are some helpful tips shared by panelists and audience members.

Make sure you are comparing apples to apples

Often, out-of-the-box solutions fail to address the specific needs of asset managers, particularly those with third-party retail distribution. When you are looking at CRM for the retail distribution channel, know that traditional CRM functionality is required, but so is the ability to manage data feeds, territories, and sales reporting for a three-tier (Firm, Office, Rep) environment. Most CRM solutions do not include all of these capabilities.

Have a strong selection team

The selection team should include a primary project manager, executive sponsorship, and key stakeholder representatives. The project manager can be the single point of contact for all communications, set expectations, and ensure that there is sufficient engagement from all stakeholders so that everyone’s unique needs are addressed.

Leverage your industry connections

Our industry is a small world. Asset managers and the vendors who serve them usually know each other and are willing to help each other out. While considering your options, it is recommended that you:

  • Talk to your peers about their experiences
  • Engage proactively with vendors outside of the search process
  • Ask your existing vendor partners, with whom you have strong relationships, about other vendors with whom they work or about other firms at which they have seen successful results.

Look for red flags

In closing, each panelist was asked for a final tip on what would be a red flag. Some of the red flags identified were:

  • Be wary when a vendor says “yes” to everything, as things that sound too good to be true often are just that. Our industry has unique challenges that don’t always have easy answers. Having the experience to know this is worth its weight in gold.
  • Be on the lookout for hidden costs. This could include data storage charges, limitations on API calls, or the need for third-party solutions to accomplish your goals.
  • Get to know the people who you will be working with, during the sales process. You want to make sure that the folks you will be working with are on the same page with you regarding the deliverables, and that they have the knowledge and experience to help you get the job done.

As you are engaging with solution providers or kicking off a selection process, know that SalesPage is here to help. In addition to providing asset managers with solutions to manage data, focus distribution efforts, and grow assets, we are here to consult with you. We’d love to have a conversation about how we can make your data best work for you—in our solution or in other complementary solutions. Feel free to contact us!

I always enjoy going to industry events such as the CRM Forum. Getting to engage with, learn from, and meet some of the most respected folks from the industry is extremely valuable. I’ll look forward to seeing many of you at future events!