Selling on social does not have to feel all slimy. Just make sure you coordinate your strategy and execute with buy-in throughout your organization – from management to front line employees.
By Ben Pankonin, CEO and co-founder of Social Assurance
Simply uttering the word “sales” in the context of social media often triggers a reaction akin to the face people make when a vacuum salesman knocks on their front door. Financial marketers fear that marketing their products and services in social channels will put them on par with used car salesmen.
Why don’t we think social media can’t be used for sales? Why do we assume it can be used only for building relationships? After all, isn’t “building relationships” what good salespeople do?
So how can we encourage sales through social media? Here are a few things required to build a social sales culture.
As with any company initiative, you have to gain buy-in. But for social, the buy-in is different because this is personal. Let’s consider some of the things that are asked of sales people today — attending luncheons, golfing with clients, cold calling, after hours events, etc. We laugh when it comes to sharing our personal status updates with clients, but the reality is, our conversations with them often head in that direction anyway.
No, I’m not saying that we implement a GPS tracker, Jason Bourne-style embedded in loan officers. Tracking means understanding what works and what doesn’t. Depending on the nature of the sales management, you do much of this today.
I recently spoke with a 65 year old bank president who said, “I never thought social media could be relevant to the bank until one of our young commercial bankers started making posts that generated calls to the bank.” What we need to do to make your team more effective is to find these posts and extend their reach, find what resonates with your market, clients and brand.
Marketing and sales are becoming more linked than ever before. Technology is helping this evolution. Creating a campaign for sales means developing the talking points, strategy and yes, content that sales staff needs. Developing content is not enough on its own. You must be able to see what content is used and who uses it.
If you are developing a campaign for commercial lending, your strategy may include LinkedIn content about small business programs, after-hours events and advice for small businesses.
If your financial institution is going to be effective selling socially, they need to know how to use the tools. This training needs to encompass the platforms used (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc) as well as any third party tools. But don’t just stop once they know how to use them, be sure to set some goals. An initial goal could be booking one new meeting using LinkedIn within a week. These goals and the follow-up with your teams will produce results as competition rises and successes are shared.
When training, keep in mind that selling doesn’t necessarily mean marketing publicly. If your sales staff is booking new client meetings using LinkedIn, these meetings are likely done with private messages.
Buy-in is important to your organization, but make sure you are not ignoring what needs to happen for your organization. On a corporate level, the FFIEC has issued guidance to address archiving, monitoring, procedures and disclosures. These principals need to be carried into the conversations with sales to reduce risks in social.