This is the fourth in a seven-part series about selling technology and software into the financial markets sector.
Colin Slight of The Realization Group, Alastair Rutherford of Ascendant Strategy, James Hounslow of Harrington Starr, Carl Rogers of Finceler8 and Debbie Brown of Broadridge Financial Solutions discuss why it’s essential that vendors evolve their messages to stay relevant to their target audience.
The events of 2020 and the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic are evidence of the fact that we live in a rapidly changing world. So how can firms selling and marketing financial technology better identify and understand both the immediate and the ongoing challenges that their customers face over time, and, as situations change, adapt their messages appropriately?
“You’ve got to do everything you can as a vendor to stay credible,” maintains Alastair Rutherford, Managing Director of Ascendant Strategy, a consultancy firm specialising in post-trade infrastructure transformation. “That means you’ve got to know what is going on, and what the real issues are, as opposed to the general industry buzz phrases, which may or may not be applicable to certain groups or certain participants.”
“Staying relevant and credible is hugely important,” he continues. “Maintaining knowledge of what your clients are actually doing, engaging across different parts of those organisations to really hear the stresses and strains. And it may be that you have to piece that together from multiple conversations. But that should give you a better picture of whether your offering is relevant to that organisation or not. From a buyer perspective, you very quickly form an opinion on whether a particular vendor understands your problems and your issues or not.”
Carl Rogers, Director at Finceler8, a London-based fintech accelerator, agrees. “It’s essential that you keep that ongoing dialogue with your potential customers, and keep fully abreast of what’s happening in the market, so that you can adapt your messages appropriately to suit your customers’ changing needs but also to market changes. Some of those changes will be across the wider market, but you’ve got to keep your eye on the changes specific to that particular customer.”
The only way that you can do that is by having constant communication with people, and actually listening, says Hounslow. “You need to be gathering and understanding the information first, before putting your messages out there. And then once people are receiving those messages, you can go in and have the conversations. If everything is set up right and somebody clicks onto your LinkedIn profile, they’ll look at your last couple of posts and see that you’re credible, so they’ll be happy to have a conversation.”
This is a constant ongoing process, adds James Hounslow, Managing Director at Harrington Starr, a global specialist in fintech recruitment. “The messages that the marketing team put together based on feedback from salespeople in the field, should be changing constantly, they’re not fixed in time. And no two companies’ problems are the same, so having solutions – and messages – that are able to adapt is crucial.”
Are You Able to Pivot?
This is part of being agile as an organisation, and being able to ‘pivot’, by moving quickly to adapt to changing conditions, says Colin Slight, Co-Founder and Managing Director of The Realization Group, the specialist financial services and fintech marketing agency. “Are there plans for regulatory change, for example? To what extent are they going to influence how you’ll need to operate over a long sales cycle? Have you planned for that? Are you doing the research? We all know there are movements in the market that happen as a consequence of politics, of regulation, of innovation. You have to be ready to move with that. Because the size, shape, and value of your solution may be different when you are eighteen months into a programme.”
How to achieve this?
Do Your Research
“We do a lot of research on a regular, formal basis, but we also do more informal, pulse surveys, and run working groups with clients, just to get an understanding of how they feel about something. Particularly in the regulatory world, things at the moment are changing quite rapidly,” says Debbie Brown, Global VP Marketing Asset Management at Broadridge Financial Solutions, a financial services technology company.
She explains that one good way of getting real-time feedback is to host a webinar on a piece of legislation that’s coming out. “While we’ve got everybody on the webinar, we run a Q&A session and gather a feedback that way. That’s a good way of getting a real time check on how clients are feeling about something, do they really understand it, how can we help them, and how can we educate them? We can then use that to build more content based upon the intelligence we’ve gathered. So it’s constantly feeding the content machine. It’s a feedback loop.”
Part five in this series will focus on whether or not it’s a good idea to be seen as a ‘disruptor’.
Check out our Financial Markets Insights report on “Addressing the challenges of selling software and technology into the Financial Markets sector”