When Opposites Attract: How to advance social sales in financial services
Social selling, digital selling, social sales enablement, social sales engagement, or just plain sales – whatever you call it, it was the hot topic of discussion at our first-ever client symposium earlier this month. Held at Cluny Restaurant in Toronto's beautiful Distillery District, the two-day event hosted some of the brightest minds in digital and sales from North America's largest financial services firms. Over 40 attendees gathered to discuss best practices for building successful social selling programs. Topics included: maximizing ROI; building an authentic content strategy; managing risk; influencing and supporting your field force; and measuring success. Here are some highlights from two of the conference's panel discussions.
Banding together as an industry can change the way regulators think about social media
One of the biggest themes to emerge during the first panel discussion, titled Aligning Marketing and Sales to Maximize ROI, was industry solidarity – the idea that a rising tide lifts all boats. By working together, it will not only make the industry more innovative but will also allow companies to hire smarter people – including the next generation of smart individuals who want to work for innovative companies.
From compliance and marketing to the end user, advancing your social engagement program to the next level is not easy; it requires education, communication … and relationships.
Build relationships first. When implementing something this big and this transformative, it's imperative that you build strong relationships within your organization to ensure the success of your program. When sales and marketing are in alignment, the company will see you as a united front.
When educating your field force about your new program, don't forget to focus on the softer skills of sales, like networking. To use a dating analogy: you wouldn't ask someone to marry you on the first date, so your advisors shouldn't try to sell someone online before they've built a relationship with them first.
While strong internal communication is imperative to the success of a social selling program, communicating with industry peers can be equally beneficial. Reach out to your network for advice on navigating the nuances of social selling tools.
Harnessing the power of social media to build relationships
While the first set of panellists discussed how working together as an industry can achieve greater success with social media, the second panel considered how social media can be used for the betterment of the industry. Day two's panel discussion on Building a Successful Enterprise Social COE to Support Your Field Force examined how to harness the power of social media to build relationships.
Social selling in financial services has come a long way since the days when only five approved Tweets would be shared by 500 advisors. Yet the restrictive, regulated nature of financial services continues to be at odds with the open, engaging and authentic concept of social media, and as such there's still progress to be made.
Social is not about selling; it's about relationship building
Social media should be used as a way to connect. Even when everyone has a lack of time, social media enables advisors to stay connected and keep people informed by putting out the right content at the right moment. Social media is not just about selling; it's about expanding their boundaries.
Yet despite all the evidence of how social media is a natural fit for improving sales, people are resistant to change.
How do you get buy-in?
Target your sales leaders first and get their endorsement. It's important when selling your program internally not to lose sight of who the end user is; your end users should be part of your business story. Their stamp of approval is powerful for increasing internal engagement.
As with any new program, people will like using it if they can see the value in it. Tying attribution to activity can help advisors see how much business they are getting based on their actions.
So what does the future hold?
The destination is not as important as the journey. Without a crystal ball to predict the future of social sales engagement, embrace change and be flexible along the way.