How Financial Services Leaders Are Making Social Business Profitable Business
There's a saying that in sales, timing is everything. This mantra alludes to how financial services institutions can improve sales win rates by monitoring buying signals.
More than half of consumers considering financial products now begin their purchase evaluations online — asking social circles for their recommendations, consuming unsolicited customer opinions of their FSIs and reading independent reviews and customer complaints — all of which factor into the decision of whether any particular FSI will make their short list. Financial services firms must recognize that their customers are talking with and about them far more on social networks than on any communication or support channel managed by the company.
Consider the staggering volume and upward trend of consumer to consumer social media conversations.
Every day there are over 500 million tweets and approximately half of them are related to companies, products and services. This figure grows exponentially when considering Twitter is but one social network of many. A very small but nonetheless material percentage of this social commenting is related to FSIs and their products. To acquire and retain consumers, you need to meet these customers in the social channels where they frequent.
The below tweet shows how quickly consumers are willing to respond to both friends and strangers with frank feedback and their personal experiences.
Social selling is about applying the information available in social channels to aid your sales strategies and pursuits. This information includes prospect or customer social comments of all types, including questions, frustrations, concerns and inquiries, and tends to be both candid and desirous of a response.
But two important points need to be recognized. First, sellers are not intruding on customers, as they're included in the public community that is broadcast a message or being asked a question. Second, people creating posts don't want to be pitched or sold to. It's okay if you represent a company, but disclose that, be transparent and most of all be helpful. Your participation is normally welcome as long as you are contributing to the social conversation, and not attempting to hijack it for your own interests.
There are many social selling techniques, such as the following:
Social Searching. Consumers seek advice, referrals and online information for retirement plans, mutual funds, checking accounts, insurance products and a broad array of financial services solutions. Extending social listening with social searching can identify these sale opportunities. A good starting point is using Twitter's search and advanced search capabilities to find potential prospects and engage them. Similar to setting up social listening keywords, it will take some time, analysis, experimentation and continuous refinement to separate the signals from the noise and identify the search terms that yield productive results.
Social Prospecting. There are an increasing number of online software tools which leverage your connections and social spheres to create highly segmented prospect lists. LinkedIn offers one of the more utilized tools, Sales Navigator, to seek out prospects and create target lists using largely demographic search criteria. Using your networks personal connections on LinkedIn can then turn a cold outreach into a warm transfer, and according to LinkedIn, a warm referral increases the probability of making the initial connection by 2 to 4X. A study from FTI Consulting found that 75 percent of financial advisors use social networks for business and 62 percent report that they have won new business using LinkedIn. Similar tools from software vendors such as Clintelica and Reachable create enterprise business graphs which include additional social networks.
Triggering Events. Identifying the activities or events that precede a buying opportunity can put you in front of the buyer at the beginning of their buy cycle. Life events such as buying a house, getting married, having a child or a child approaching driving age or college planning are known to spur several types of financial service needs. Procuring third party aggregate data to recognize these life events can enable savvy social sales professionals to be the first to position early with the buyer.
Buyers are publicly sharing their opinions about what they want and need, what they like and dislike, and what matters to them. Sales professionals that harness and act on this information within the norms and etiquette of any particular social network can engage with these buyers before the buyers have engaged with competitors—thereby creating an early and coveted position where the sale may then be theirs to lose.
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