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How Charles Schwab Doubled Advisor Social Selling Adoption in One Year

May 23, 2019

One of the biggest issues wealth management firms have during digital transformation is getting financial advisors to adopt new ways of doing business. The move to a social selling model can be uncomfortable for advisors not well-versed in social media or viewed as a waste of valuable time by those unfamiliar with the power of social selling.

When we saw the success Charles Schwab was having with their Social Networking Activation Program (SNAP), we knew they had cracked the code. Winning our annual Innovator Awards at Hearsay Summit was a good start but, in the spirit of our mission to lift the whole industry we had to share some of their keys to success.

Introducing the SNAP Team

Managing a group of over 1000 advisors, the SNAP team is comprised of seven people, including Amy Heiss, VP of employee activation and engagement. Stacey King, Managing Director of the team, oversees the program strategy and supports the SNAP team in driving program engagement. Rounding out the team are Sean Carey (Senior Team Manager, Social Media), Katie Leimkuehler (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), Katie Pfledderer (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), Jake Thompson (Senior Manager, Social Media Coach), and Nia Copeland (Manager, Social Media Coach).

Social Networking Activation Success Stats

The numbers are undeniably impressive. During the 2018 calendar year, the SNAP team were able to:

  • Increase advisors in the SNAP program: 100%
  • Increase the number of Power Users: 67%
  • Decrease inactivity*: to only 35%
  • Grow social post engagement: 333%
  • Increase posts from the Hearsay library: 292%
  • Increase customized library posts: 107%
  • Help SNAP participants grow their overall network size**: 13.5x
  • All-­in-­all, advisors shared nearly 150,000 posts from the Hearsay Content library in 2018 and published over 20,000 original, organic posts.

Five ways Charles Schwab’s SNAP team turns advisors into social sellers

We can’t give away all their secrets but, with permission, here are a few ways Amy, Stacey and the team turn advisors into social sellers.

  1. Provide world class service. SNAP’s team charter is to provide white glove service to Schwab advisors as they make their move to social selling. The team is fortunate to have talented, curious, bright Social Coaches who provide regular coaching to SNAP participants at various stages of their digital journey, helping advisors use Hearsay and develop a social selling strategy to grow their business. In addition to one-on-one coaching and guidance, SNAP’s Social Coaches provide best practices and advice on topics such as time saving and productivity hacks, how to build a personal brand and how and why to create custom content. White glove service from a SNAP Social Coach goes well-beyond 1­-to-1 meetings and expands into more scalable coaching, like webinars and ‘5-­minute drills’ – short web based trainings covering trending topics.
  2. Provide a digital maturity model with a clear path to each next level. Like American Family Insurance, the SNAP team uses a digital maturity model so advisors can gauge their level of understanding and use of social media. Each stage has concrete goals and behaviors to move to the next level.
    • Beginners are new to social media, just getting comfortable posting and starting to define what they’re known for. They heavily rely on Hearsay Campaigns for one­-click easy posting.
    • Learners are starting to post their own content or customize library/Campaign posts, beginning to grow their network and maturing in their content strategy.
    • Social Sellers have grown a substantial number of connections and are building a strong brand around financial acumen and the areas they want to be known for (leadership, family focused, etc.). This is the level where advisors will see a real business impact and the SNAP team expects most advisors to end up here
    • Power Users are driving business more consistently through client acquisition and the recruiting of talent through social media. They have a robust social network, an established personal brand and are as comfortable networking online as they are in person. This level is aspirational and the team expects only 5% of advisors to reach it (though they have been able to help grow this pool by 67% in 2018 to 2% of the overall participant population). It’s not necessary for success but does offer extended benefits.
  3. Set goals. Sales people are goal oriented so setting concrete goals at each stage of the digital maturity model gives them something to set their sights on. A few metrics the team measures are network size (how many connections an advisor has), number of posts and engagement rate. They also measure percentage of custom content. It’s interesting to note that we’ve heard from more than one client that custom content – whether it’s original or corporate content that an advisor puts their own spin on – always outperforms corporate content. This makes sense in an era where people appreciate authenticity.
  4. Make it fun, reward and recognize. Don’t underestimate the value of “fun”; it is critical to success. The SNAP team’s ‘Surprise and Delight’ campaign has a hand in everything from attracting new advisors to moving them further along in their social selling journey to engaging advisors’ social networks. It’s a great example of the way SNAP keeps social media, and the program, top of mind with advisors. Some particularly fun examples include:Social media themed Valentines (I will like you forever, You’re Twitterific) that doubled as advisor business cards
    • A cookie/business card with a haiku on it for ‘Haiku Appreciation Day’ (imagine the social media pics!)
    • Fat Heads of top performers at sales leadership meetings to highlight Hearsay ‘Power Users’
    • Buttons (think “flair” from Office Space) with the faces and names of top Hearsay users ­ all pinned to the coat of the head of sales at internal events ­ to elevate their brand
    • All of these double as rewards for the top advisors who receive them, as well as motivators for other advisors. Each time a Surprise and Delight package goes out or these type of items are on display at events, requests to join the SNAP program always spike.

      “Recognition encourages loyalty. We inject fun at every turn to attract new participants and keep advisors coming back,” says Amy Heiss, Vice President, Employee Activation and Engagement, Charles Schwab

  5. Share success stories. Seeing how other advisors are able to use social media to drive real leads and close business helps other advisors envision themselves having the same success. Just like seeing others get rewards they want, it can act as a flame for the competitive fires. The SNAP team shares success stories everywhere they can to get the word out. There’s a monthly internal podcast where they focus on one program participant who talks about their success; monthly best practices calls where they do the same; and coaches share them through their monthly newsletters.
    Sales meeting SNAP program station promotes top performers

A final note, the Schwab team are also big believers in tracking ROI. In addition to the program metrics they shared, they track both new business and new hires (an important advisor metric where social can make a big impact) sourced by social media through Salesforce.

*  Inactivity is defined as posting less than 10x/quarter; down 11% from 46%
**  From beginning 2017 to end of 2018

Brittany Hedin

Brittany has been at Hearsay since October 2014 and works as a customer marketing manager. In her spare time, you can find her riding horses or in the mountains.

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