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The Role of the Wholesaler in Digital Distribution


Among asset managers considering or currently using some form of digital distribution to raise assets, there remains confusion about the wholesaler’s role in this rapidly-evolving model. I address that issue in this discussion.

I have highlighted in previous posts how the traditional internal/external wholesaling model has been upended. Advisors’ propensity to use online content to educate themselves on solutions to their challenges and to conduct due diligence on investment options has changed the distribution landscape.

Gone are the days when an internal wholesaler would make 50-60 dials to advisors to pitch a new product or schedule meetings for their external wholesaler. Few advisors respond to wholesaler inquiries today, and in fact, the growing use of digital channels would suggest the traditional asset management distribution model is on its last legs. Just consider:

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Our online appetite for information will likely only increase, so where does the wholesaler fit in today’s asset management distribution model?

More Essential Than Ever

I want to put one myth to rest right now, and I can’t emphasize this enough. Digital distribution is not about eliminating your wholesalers from the organization or putting wholesalers out of work. Instead, digital distribution has everything to do with making your sales team more focused, efficient, and productive

Image saying "Digital distribution has everything to do with making your sales team more focused, efficient, and productive."

But the new model requires wholesalers to embrace a data-driven mindset that informs them which advisors to engage with who have the greatest likelihood to do business, when to contact them in their journey of discovery, and with what message. And the source of that data that equips wholesalers with these insights comes from the signals you capture as part of your digital distribution strategy.

How Signals Drive Digital Distribution

As a quick refresher, Inbound is the roadmap and step-by-step process for how you grow your business in a digital world and is the first leg of the digital distribution strategy. Inbound helps you reach the right prospects with quality and relevant content throughout their “buyer’s journey” and to build trust so they ultimately become clients.

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By monitoring and measuring the progress of a prospect's digital engagement activity on your website and social platforms, you’re able to assemble and score these “signals.” With that data in hand, wholesalers know where the prospect is in their journey when it is most appropriate to make contact, and what they are most interested in learning more about.

A signal can be any number of activities, including downloading an eBook or checklist, requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, or scheduling a meeting. Each activity helps to tell you where the prospect is in their journey.

Image saying "A signal can be any number of activities, including downloading an eBook or checklist, requesting a demo, registering for a webinar, or scheduling a meeting."

So, in digital distribution, the wholesaler is still responsible for prospecting, building trust, and owning the relationship with the advisor. The difference now, however, is they are much more strategic and informed.

By interpreting the digital signals generated by an Advisor’s activity and prioritizing those signals, wholesalers can now put the numbers back in their favor. Instead of 50-60 dials and hoping someone picks up the phone, a data-informed wholesaler may make fewer calls to the right advisors and therefore increase the probability of having meaningful conversations.

From Signals to Sales

Signals rely on all three pillars of digital distribution to help make today’s wholesalers more productive.

  • Inbound is the digital distribution process that generates the signals essential to informing the wholesaler of a prospect’s potential.
  • Technology tracks, measures, and interprets a prospect's activity as they progress through their journey to the point where they need the wholesaler.
  • People –the wholesaler plays a vital role as before, enhancing the relationship with the prospect and ensuring the investment process is seamless.

Empowering the Wholesaler

As I mentioned, digital distribution is not about eliminating wholesalers from the distribution process. It is about helping wholesalers focus their time, energy, and resources on the right advisor at the right time with the right message, therefore increasing the probability that they raise more AUM, more effectively and efficiently.

Register for our complimentary video series here to explore how you can transform your distribution strategy.

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Topics: Digital Marketing Content Digital Distribution Website Asset Management Sales Enablement CRM Lead Generation Automation Case Study