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Three Quick Wins to Revolutionize Agent and Advisor Effectiveness

Looking for ways to accelerate your financial reps’ effectiveness through integrated, seamless experiences? At this year’s Hearsay Summit, Dennis Craig, VP, MGA & National Account Relationships at RBC, and Chris Johnson, AVP, Advisor Marketing and Communication, at Janney Montgomery Scott, shared the following keys to their success in transforming field success:  

Deliver electronic nudges at the right moment

With the largest book of business for disability insurance in Canada, RBC offers a coverage product for physicians that’s designed specifically to grow with them as they leave medical school and their incomes increase. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an efficient way to identify evidence of increased income. One option was sending a letter to note that the policy provision was up, but these suffered from low uptake rate, since physicians were hard to reach by phone and email, let alone mail.

With 89% of Canadians using text messaging daily, and 75% willing to receive communications from a trusted advisor, Dennis knew that texting was a viable way to move the needle when it came to speed of response. Even better, the average text response time is about 90 seconds. “We thought that’s a better medium than the letter that sits in a pile of paper somewhere…how do we give the customer an electronic nudge to say, ‘Hey, this offer is here. Love to reach out to help you, and see if there’s anything we could do,” he says.

Using Hearsay Actions, this electronic nudge could be done on behalf of the advisor. In RBC’s case, a text is automatically sent to physicians to alert them that their provision was expiring. Dennis says that advisors love the fact that texts look and feel like they come from the advisor. “If the customer responded, it went to the advisor. But of course through Hearsay Relate, we could track what was happening and get feedback from the advisor: What was actually happening in terms of who was responding? What did those responses look like? What did that lead to, in terms of next action or next activity?” 

For Dennis, the ability to communicate quickly and compliantly with the end-customer—through the actual advisor—is a win-win for everyone.

Increase velocity of client response

Chris echoed Dennis’ view, saying that texting is critical to accelerating client response times. Advisors would complain to him about never getting replies to their clients’ emails, or leaving voicemails only to have days go by before they even heard back.

Now two years into their texting program, Relate has become an important efficiency tool for Janney’s practice. Rather than picking up the phone to let a client know that a check or completed form was received, a quick text acknowledgement kept the client up to date, while saving the adviser up to 15 minutes, allowing him or her to respond to more incoming phone calls.

The almost instantaneous responses advisors receive from clients continues to amaze Chris. “Five minutes is the average response time from a client to an advisor’s text message,” he says. “Everyone’s phone is always within their arms’ reach.”

Meet the customer where they are

Because clients routinely access the Janney online portal to check account balances, or upload documents and forms, Chris and his team wanted to better leverage the portal to deepen client connection. To enable advisors to share an approved, compliant message on their client’s online access dashboard, Janney built a strategic integration between Hearsay and their client portal.

For Chris and the Janney team,  this integration really “came into play last year, when markets were volatile.” For advisers to be able to share a calming message of reassurance, and “land exactly where the clients were looking” was integral to their value of having advisors be where their clients are. The latter was the reason that led Janney to integrate the dashboard and online portal in the first place.

A huge thanks to Dennis and Chris for sharing their stories of agent and advisor effectiveness! You can watch a replay of their session, and other Summit sessions, here.

Building Trust and Partnerships: Keys to Successful Social Selling Programs

What does it take to successfully scale social selling programs? Recently, Hearsay’s VP of Marketing Leslie Leach was joined by Cully Eisenbeis, Senior Channel Management Specialist for Social Media at Edward Jones, and Caitlin Pollack, Senior Manager of Social Marketing Platforms at RBC, to discuss this topic. Cully and Caitlin are two of Hearsay’s most successful clients; Cully oversaw Hearsay’s fastest rollout, getting 12,000 users live in 60 days, while Caitlin manages one of our most mature programs. 

Three key takeaways emerged from their discussion.

Share authentic content to build trust

With a ubiquitous presence on Main Street, Edward Jones is a 100-year-old firm whose reputation is built on face-to-face relationships. Fast-forward to the digital age, and it became clear that the ability to “digitize” the cultivation of that trust that advisors previously built in a local neighborhood was imperative for future success.

Initially, Cully’s team had doubts about the relevance of social media for their high-touch clientele, but Cully knew that helping them share authentic content on a consistent basis could help them build and reinforce trust.

He shared a story about his dad, who as a client, had a light-bulb moment while scrolling through his Facebook feed. Cully’s dad said, “I follow all the news outlets..and there’s fake news, real news…I never know what to believe. But I came across [my advisor’s] post and I said, ‘Wow, I’m going to click on this. I trust Brad. I trust Edward Jones. I trust the content that they’re publishing is going to be true.’” After seeing this post on 401k rollover options, his dad picked up the phone to call his advisor. 

To date, Edward Jones advisors have posted about 2 million pieces of content and have just as many engagements. To Cully, the biggest win comes from advisors’ reactions. “When they see that they’re being given suggested dates and times of when to post content based on their followers’ interactions…[they say] ‘Wow, this is really, really innovative for our firm,’” he says. 

Cully’s conclusion? Consistent, quality content helps win hearts and minds, and deepens trust.

Partnerships are key for buy-in and success

Although people can be averse to change, partnering with internal and external teams facilitates the process and minimizes resistance. Legal, compliance, IT, reputation management, and change management teams all play a part in successfully onboarding a social media management platform, and are critical when obtaining early buy-in and cooperation.

Edward Jones also helped teams get across the line by leveraging Hearsay’s training programs. They relied on Hearsay’s customer advocacy team—which uses a one-to-one approach to proactively reach individual advisors and provide customized service—to onboard 6,000 users.

By utilizing all internal and external resources at hand, Edward Jones achieved a 62% adoption rate across the firm in five months, and has over 13,000 users to date. 

Regular sharing ensures a streamlined process

To allow program leaders to focus on specific needs, goals, and objectives for their particular line of business, RBC transitioned from a decentralized approach to a “center of excellence” model. On a weekly basis, Caitlin meets with the IT team, the platform owner, and Hearsay CSM (Customer Success Manager) to review program initiatives, share ideas, and communicate upcoming changes on behalf of each line of business, with the goal of ensuring that each program is on track. Annually, the team has a “Hearsay Day” where they review and compare noteworthy initiatives, results, and program goals. 

She also recommends—and is dedicated to—scheduled maintenance and shared learning. During scheduled maintenance, the team reviews configurations and ensures all the right users are active. For example, a recent compliance audit helped validate that workflows implemented from several years ago were still effective and appropriate.

When it comes to shared learning, users meet to discuss ideas such as content best practices and customized training. One of RBC’s business segments hosted a level-up training, targeting advisers who were already highly engaged Hearsay users. Other segments will now be able to access this, reducing duplicate work and helping the team scale its training and growth.

A huge thanks to Cully and Caitlin for sharing how they continue to run successful social selling programs. You can watch a replay of their session, and other Summit sessions here

How Financial Services Firms Can Bridge the Lead Hand-off Gap

Sales and marketing alignment is a hot topic. While they may not always be in sync, there is one thing marketing and sales teams can agree on: Optimizing lead programs to increase conversion rate is paramount, but not easy. One of the biggest blockers is the inefficiency inherent in the lead hand-off process. 

Financial services reps are not to blame. Amidst competing priorities, following up on inbound leads with canned emails, or sifting through lower-quality leads to find golden prospects can feel like fruitless endeavors that yield poor ROI. This is where the breakdown happens. So, how do you surface the most qualified contacts and deliver a personal, differentiated customer experience? With a focus on these three components. 

  1. The single most critical component of lead conversion is response time. Response time to an initial inbound inquiry is critical. The longer a prospect waits to hear back from your advisor or agent, the less interested they become, and the more likely your competitor is to steal their attention. With customer expectations significantly heightened, if you’re not first to respond to the customer, you might as well be last. In fact, recent research from LeadConnect found that the company that makes customer contact first, wins the business three-quarters of the time. But it’s not just timeliness that drives success.
  1. Delivering that timely response to your prospective customers’ preferred channel is imperative. Remember the old adage, if a tree falls in the woods and no one is there to hear it, does it make a noise? If a follow-up email is delivered to your prospective client’s spam folder, does timeliness matter? No. With open rates as high as 98%, enabling your agents and advisors to compliantly connect with prospects via text is table stakes. Connecting your field reps’ text channel directly to the marketing lead programs? That’s next level. And while timing and channel are key, the message makes all the difference.
  1. Message matters, and your advisors and agents need support. Flowing inbound marketing leads from a form conversion to a 1:1 advisor/client text thread bridges the lead hand-off gap, but it doesn’t help your field bridge the contextual gap. Where did that leave come from, how many times should they follow up and how often, what offer should they reference when they do? All of these components matter in that initial exchange, and drive a seamless client experience. 

Hearsay Lead Actions removes the guesswork, surfacing the highest quality leads and increasing lead conversion through a micro-level workflow engine that ingests lead information and immediately acts on behalf of the advisor via text, while coaching the advisor along the way with follow-up reminders via push notification. A seamless process for the agent, more control and visibility for corporate, and a stellar experience for the customer? That’s how you bridge the sales-marketing hand-off gap in a consistent and optimized way. 

If you’re ready to chat about how you can increase lead conversion by 40% and meet customers where they are, contact our team today

Sell insurance on Instagram? Yes, it’s happening now.

Recently, an insurance agent on the Hearsay platform noted that in the past year they’ve sold every line of business through social media, even through Instagram. “It’s crazy to think you can sell insurance on Instagram,” he said. We don’t think it’s crazy; we think it’s a sign of things to come.

Why? Networks like Instagram are key to reaching your next generation of clients. Daily conversations between people and businesses on Messenger and Instagram grew over 40% last year. As digital activity peaked in the pandemic, programs that embraced highly visual networks like Instagram excelled. Across the Hearsay platform, posts on Instagram garnered nearly 5x the engagement of others.

Tomorrow’s financial service clients are rapidly evolving when it comes to demographics and information sources. Case in point:

With an estimated $68 trillion changing hands in the next 30 years, your business will need to adapt to stay ahead of this change and attract a younger, more diverse, digitally savvy customer. Financial services firms need to balance the increased opportunity with change management and risk considerations as they empower advisors and agents to engage on newer social networks—a trend that has only increased over time, as evidenced by the chart below, from Putnam Investments’ 2020 Social Advisor Survey.  

Social Media Networks Used for Business, 2020 Putnam Investments Social Advisor Survey

With that in mind, Hearsay has expanded our support of Instagram, adding new carousel photo publishing capabilities and additional video support. We’re also excited to share some recent news from one of our strategic partners. 

Earlier this month, Facebook announced an update to its Messenger API to support Instagram Direct Messaging. For programs looking to empower compliant social selling on Instagram, this means Hearsay now has the access we need to develop workflows that will help deliver deeper compliance coverage on Instagram for you and your field. 

Facebook is taking a phased approach and intends to offer this update to all accounts later this year, so we plan to release key compliance functionality in alignment with Facebook’s phases, prioritizing the ability to capture, review, and archive Instagram messaging activity.

The next generation of clients are already on Instagram seeking financial guidance and information. Firms can empower their field to deliver against these evolving client expectations to better service the clients of tomorrow. We look forward to sharing our progress with you as we make additional investments in our coverage of Instagram.

Innovation and Compliance: Friends, not Foes

Innovation and compliance can sometimes butt heads. Compliance programs are built around an understanding of business outcomes and use cases, in order to build controls within the frameworks of the SEC, FINRA, or other regulatory bodies. Innovation can sometimes challenge those guidelines. 

At last month’s Hearsay Summit, Hearsay’s VP of Compliance Strategy, Iain Duke-Richardet, spoke with Owen Donnelly of the Securities Exchange Commission, David Vambre from LinkedIn, and Steve Anderson from Oyster Consulting, about how innovation has played a role in shaping compliance in the last 18 months. Read on for highlights from their discussion.

Reach investors where they are, with the content that they want

As Chief Counsel of the Office of Investor Education, Owen oversees investor outreach; in pre-pandemic years, his team visited up to 300 military bases, senior centers, and other investor groups annually.

The shift to a virtual world required paying much more attention to what trends advisory firms were hearing about, because they were first in line with customers. It was also essential to develop creative, engaging content that could bridge the gap until in-person visits could resume.

In the early days of retail investing in cryptocurrency, there was a lot of fraud, so Owen’s team created a fake crypto offering website. “We had all the catchphrases, ‘You can double your money in a week,’ all that kind of stuff. And if someone said, “I’m interested in investing, it led them to our site and said, ‘Hey, you should be aware. This has a lot of hallmarks of fraud.'” The site got over a million engagements in a month.

Delivering fun, memorable content doesn’t have to be difficult. For the SEC, a simple call-to-action like “For more information, go to investor.gov/crs,” which then led to a form, got investors asking about 80,000 questions a year that fueled the content pipeline. Owen’s team also experimented with changing writing style, and leveraging firms for content distribution. 

“I think we’re more successful because we’re paying attention to [social media] channels to reach far more people and understanding their needs a little better,” adds Owen. The silver lining from this year? Shifting to virtual and looking more closely at content allowed his team to visit ten times as many bases as before, and also to more effectively measure content effectiveness on digital channels like their website.

Observe, educate, and over communicate 

For LinkedIn, the past year saw the launch of several new features such as LinkedIn Live, LinkedIn Events, LinkedIn Stories, and LinkedIn Polls. David noted that financial services firms were often the early adopters behind these tools, for example with LinkedIn Stories.

“We like to put innovation in the hands of users,” says David. “We monitor very closely and we try to make our assessment of what works well, and what doesn’t work well. We ask, what’s the best use that we’ve observed?” 

After observing how people adopt the innovation, his team educates on what’s okay, what’s not okay, and always errs on the side of over communicating. “The way that we’re approaching the topic of compliance is that we’re mindful that with change comes turbulence, and we believe that the best way to navigate that is to over communicate,” he says. 

Adopt a proactive approach

Steve agrees that education is paramount. “Often customers come to us first and say, ‘Here’s what we think is a problem.’ [Other times they] come to us and say, “I’ve got a regulatory issue, or I’ve got to fix something,” he says. “Frankly, the client’s going to spend about four to five times as much money if we have to fix a problem.” 

Between resolving the problem and addressing reputational damage, it’s much more expensive to fix a problem [after] than before. “So you’ve got to educate,” says Steve. 

Having a proactive stance embedded in technology also helps. For example, scams targeting seniors have worsened in the pandemic; tooling now exists to monitor spending and investing behavior for abnormalities, then allowing proactive alerts to be sent to children or a trusted contact.

“When we look at seniors, often there’s not families sitting there very close to them,” says Steve.

“A technology solution that comes in and says, ‘Here’s a way to help—at least to identify a concern—is tremendously valuable. It doesn’t cure the fraud, but may identify it quicker than what might be found otherwise.”

Thanks to Owen, David, Steven and Iain for sharing their thoughts on innovation and compliance with our community. You can watch a replay of their session, and other Summit sessions, here.

Q&A with Christine Meginness, Program Director for Hearsay Sites

More than ever, localized sites that highlight professional experience, capture leads and serve relevant content are helping agents, advisors and bankers win in a saturated market. In fact, when Thrivent’s financial professionals used personalized sites, they achieved a 60% increase in traffic, and greater than 25% of those leads converted into prospective clients. 

As Hearsay accelerates our efforts to partner with customers to deliver leading localized sites, we’re pleased to welcome our new Program Director for Hearsay Sites, Christine Meginness. She’ll be working closely with our clients to help them optimize their website design and strategy. Read on to learn more about Christine!

How did you get into this line of work, and why are you passionate about it?

Having attended high school and college in the heart of tech here in the S.F. Bay Area, I’ve been immersed in this space and have worked in digital for my entire career. I’m passionate about helping my clients express their brand, connect with users, and grow their businesses on the web because I’m also an avid digital consumer, and I deeply appreciate the power of a purposeful and frictionless online experience.

What is the most common mistake financial services firms make when it comes to website/web app design and strategy?

Financial services firms often get it right as far as providing rich content that builds credibility; they know that consumers need to feel they can trust the company with some of their most important assets and decisions.

But where these firms often get it wrong is helping customers actually get things done online— whether it’s getting a quote, registering an account, making an appointment, or connecting live with a real human. Financial services sites should be optimized not just for users that are in the research phase of their journey, but also for users who need to accomplish something online quickly and efficiently.

Digital transformation accelerated across many industries in the past year. How was website design and optimization impacted? 

Many companies had to pivot from using their web presence primarily to promote their brand, to providing full service to customers online. Websites have become portals to online versions of previously in-person experiences, from 1:1 meetings to networking sessions to full-blown, multi-day events. Products and services that used to be available only in stores and offices can now be delivered entirely online. Increasingly, consumers are expecting a degree of self-service on the web, and seeking to find seamless ways to connect with company reps who can help them complete their task or purchase online.

How did financial services firms leverage website strategy to thrive last year? 

By integrating more phases of the customer journey online, companies now have access to a rich amount of data to better understand their users’ behavior. Businesses can leverage those insights to continually optimize the journey and personalize website experiences for their customers.

For companies that transformed to a digital-first model last year, there’s no turning back. Consumers will continue to expect full-service experiences on the web. They will return to sites that meet them exactly where they are in their journey and help them effectively accomplish their tasks. 

What’s ahead for you at Hearsay? How will you be partnering with our customers?

I’m excited to work with Hearsay’s customers to help them make the most of their sites, and to leverage the power of the entire Hearsay platform to connect their social and website programs to make real-time connections with their customers.

I’m also looking forward to rolling out the next generation of our Sites product offering this year, which will allow agents and advisors even greater control and more options for curating and optimizing their website presence.

Want to learn more about how you and your firm can evolve your digital strategy with Hearsay Sites? Contact us today.

Build an Alliance Between Corporate and Distributed Marketing

At our recent Hearsay Summit, Christine Duque and Nick Ingham from Deloitte Digital made a few provocative claims: (1) the customer experience is dead, and (2) corporate marketing efforts are generally ineffective at influencing the digital customer’s path to purchase. They shared the latest thinking in activating field agents as marketers, which was then brought to life in a demonstration by Audwin Tang, Hearsay’s Head of Solutions Consulting, who showcased how our latest integration with Salesforce marries the distributed and corporate marketing models.

Embracing the human experience
Christine shared that 80% of the decisions we make each day are based on emotion, or emotional connection. So while corporate marketing can trigger product awareness, it takes an important life event to prompt action. Corporate marketers must help agents and advisors establish authentic rapport with clients, so that they can be trusted partners when that decision-making moment arrives.

Deloitte Digital’s financial services clients are exploring platforms and tools to help agents deepen those connections, while leveraging concurrent top-of-funnel marketing and the power of the data housed within these marketing platforms. This includes new capabilities being launched in and around CRM platforms, such as one-to-one personalized emails, personalized SMS with the likes of Hearsay’s platform, self-serve meeting requests, and the ability to add someone into a multi-channel journey.

Closing the loop with engagement
Other trending tools include agent-specific sites, for some of the more complex products that are being sold, so that customers can better understand, and relate to, their direct representative in a given firm. Insights and action centers have also proven popular, since they enable a closed loop with marketing efforts. Whether engagement is via email or on the web, it is surfaced to the agent or advisor to then start that one-to-one conversation, or continue it within the CRM.

Activating distributed marketing success
According to Nick and Christine, successful distributed marketing programs share these common traits:

Integration with the primary day-to-day platform. For an advisor or agent, needing to switch to a different platform or tab is often an inhibitor to success.

Adding the human touch to data-driven communications. Here, data is key. Advisors must be able to leverage data from prospect forms, CRM data on products owned, and insights from marketing, all from one centralized source.

Facilitating agent adoption. The programs that work best have a change management team that creates training materials, listens to the field, and provides a feedback loop to support agile delivery and implementation.

Commitment to fresh and high-quality content. Content must be compliant and consistent, of course, but should also allow the agent to incorporate that personal touch in their communications, to help build more genuine relationships with prospects and customers.

Stitching corporate and field marketing together
In his technology demonstration, Audwin brought these concepts to life by showing how connecting Hearsay to Salesforce bridges the gaps between corporate data and field activities, creating a more connected and trackable customer journey.

The new Hearsay for Salesforce integration empowers embedded compliant texting from within Salesforce. Advisors and agents can send text messages directly from Salesforce, whether it’s from a lead, account or contact record, without losing context or switching from one system to another. The company can effectively manage brand control and compliance, while the advisor has the ability to have that informed, seamless conversation with the customer.

When those one-to-one activities are automatically captured within the CRM, the engagement history with that particular customer or prospect is enriched. Even with 100 or 200 customers, the advisor has the right context at his or her fingertips to drive a more productive conversation and form a better relationship with that customer.

Not only does that data help the advisor provide better service, but it is now available within the CRM to be leveraged by machine learning, or other technologies around prediction and forecasts. In a virtuous cycle, this new suite of engagement data can then be used to create better human experiences.

The best part about this demonstration? It’s not a vision of the future—it’s all available today.

Thank you to Christine, Nick and Audwin for painting a shared vision of how corporate and distributed marketing teams can partner together to drive a more optimal customer experience! To view their session, and other Hearsay Summit sessions, please visit our highlights page.

What Isn’t Measured Isn’t Managed: Capture the ROI of Hearsay Programs

At last month’s Hearsay Summit, VP of Marketing Leslie Leach spoke with Kiersten Shank, Product Owner at Lincoln Financial, and Erika Clyma, Social Media Lead at Ameriprise Financial, to discuss their journeys measuring ROI from their Hearsay programs. Both leaders were able to drive big results through targeted planning and execution, but each accomplished success in very different ways.

In this post, we share three of their key learnings.

An agile framework ensures continuous improvement
When COVID-19 hit, Kiersten’s team had to quickly become flexible and open to changes. “We didn’t know what was happening from one week to the next,” she said. “We didn’t have time for as many iterations or errors, due to how fast things were moving.” Rising to the challenge, Kiersten implemented an agile marketing process with her wholesaler field organization.

The team organized into collaborative “social pods” that held monthly planning meetings, weekly stand-ups (for tackling impediments and discussing upcoming changes), and monthly retrospectives, where stats from every post were reviewed to sum up achievements, learnings and areas of opportunity. This format allowed teams to pivot quickly, and adjust programs based on near real-time analytics.

In one retrospective, Kiersten learned that viewers tended to hone in on the graphic, for posts promoting webinars. The following month, her team started incorporating webinar time within the graphic (instead of just within copy), and saw engagement double.

Automation streamlines publishing and metrics capture
To ensure that her field teams weren’t posting the same thing, at the same time, on the same day, Kiersten and her team leveraged on-behalf scheduling to automate content publishing. “Everything funnels through us, and then we devise the appropriate time and date to push that content out on their behalf, so they know that we’re really utilizing the best timing and are going to get the best metrics on that content for them.” Working in tandem with the web analytics team, her team created dashboards for key stakeholders, highlighting website traffic from social posts. In the month of March, social media drove 52% of website traffic.

COVID threw a lot of curve balls, but by combining an agile approach with automated content delivery, Kiersten and her team were ready. “We were really grateful to have our ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ model. [Our wholesalers]…never dropped their presence…and they were able to continue to grow those relationships at their own pace while learning how to virtual wholesale in this new world.”

Erika’s program differs from Kiersten’s in size, scale and model. As more of a B2B2C model, Ameriprise Financial’s 5000 advisors that use social media are the driving force behind any social media ROI. Erika rarely takes action on behalf of advisors, but instead focuses on a significant area of opportunity each month to move them along their social selling journeys.

Lead with data to activate advisors
Erika’s monthly focuses—on a different topic, strategy, or opportunity for the field—are at the heart of her advisor activation strategy. “The ultimate goal is to have more advisors follow our recommended practices, and decrease the number of advisors who end up putting social media on autopilot,” says Erika.

Looking at both quantitative (from Hearsay reports) and qualitative (direct feedback from the field) data help her pinpoint where to focus each month. Recently, Erika analyzed the top, and bottom, 25% of advisors on social media. “While I was analyzing this data, I noticed that the majority of our top social media users had at least one on-behalf-of user, and that the bottom 25% actually didn’t have an on-behalf-of user.” (The “on-behalf-of user” or delegate, in Hearsay, enables an advisor to grant access to another practice or staff member, for additional support.)

From this, Erika hypothesized that advisors with at least one Hearsay delegate would improve client experience, and grow their book of business faster. She developed a SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) goal of increasing the amount of Hearsay workspaces that assigned at least one on-behalf-of user by 5%. Then, she leaned on her training, operations, and supervision partners to determine the best avenues for driving awareness, and sharing best practices across all advisors, not just those that lacked delegates. Ultimately, in its first month of execution, Ameriprise advisors exceeded Erika’s SMART goal, increasing delegates by 6.26%.

But while it’s called a monthly focus, the work doesn’t stop at the end of the month; the cycle repeats itself. “That’s how you actually measure the return on your investment,” Erika notes. “You keep looking back at the work you’ve already accomplished…week over week, month over month, and even year-over-year to make sure you track the progress that you’re making after you’ve actually executed a strategy.”

A huge thanks to Kiersten Shank and Erika Clyma for sharing the nuts and bolts behind their ROI success with us! You can watch a replay of their session, and other Summit sessions, here.

Scaling 1:1 Relationship Success with Hearsay Relate

In our post-pandemic world, the ability to scale 1:1 interactions and relationships for your sales team has taken on new urgency and relevance. With a compliant text and voice solution like Hearsay Relate, teams are effectively enabling advisor and agent productivity to cut through the clutter with faster (and better) responses to drive new business.

Recently, I had the honor of facilitating a Hearsay Summit session with two Relate innovators, Allison Couch, from Modern Woodmen of America, and John Heidrich, of Allstate. Allison and John shared how they’ve helped their teams lay the groundwork for sustained success with Relate, and improved field productivity and speed to service in the process.

Both Allison and John had excellent advice when it came to inspiring the behavior change needed to successfully implement a new technology, including:

  • Have advocates in the field. When representatives from around the country can provide feedback, test new features, and share their success with their network, you’re able to identify and eliminate roadblocks to adoption.
  • Work closely with other stakeholders in the organization to ensure the program serves end users well. So for a marketing team, this means partnering with distribution and compliance leaders, so that messaging is consistent and goals are aligned.
  • Understand and segment field users to provide appropriate onboarding materials according to their technological proficiency. Customized materials and onboarding go a long way toward improving adoption.
  • Provide guidelines for how often to text, when you shouldn’t text or how you shouldn’t text. Templates and dialogue examples of what you can text, or should text, are also helpful.

To maintain momentum, some of their best practices include:

  • Communicate new Hearsay features on an ongoing basis. This can help new users get off the fence, and also increase usage for current users.
  • Use Hearsay’s new weekly messaging report for Relate users. This allows field representatives to do their own analysis and benchmark where they’re at with text messaging, and how it’s affecting their business on a weekly basis.
  • Move to an opt-out as soon as possible, because the field loves it and consumers are receptive to it. This allows representatives to initiate conversations sooner, which helps them get results sooner.
    Finally, both speakers recommended having Relate office hours.

One more advanced strategy that Allstate has implemented—and which Modern Woodmen is considering—is integrating Relate with their CRM systems. The integration solves challenges around streamlining processes, maintaining accurate records, and providing corporate visibility. Agency users were saying, “Hey, we’ve got too many things open at the same time,” and also wanted to capture what conversations are taking place, with whom and when, for errors and omissions purposes. In addition, the visibility for management has been highly insightful. John’s team has gained visibility into conversations with new prospective clients, for example, by looking at how those interactions are taking place, and seeing what is and is not working.

Thank you to Allison and John for sharing their successes and learnings from their Relate journeys! To watch their session, or other Summit recordings, visit our Summit highlights page.

Drive Trust and Conversions with Digital Storefronts

As financial services firms rethink business models, in some cases downsizing their real estate footprint, the notion of a storefront has transformed significantly. At the heart of that transformation is the “digital storefront”—-where prospective clients engage directly with advisors and agents, and the brands behind them.

We’ve seen consumers seek financial advice from an increasingly diverse range of sources, requiring firms to build scalable, compliant, and compelling entry points that together comprise this digital storefront. Today, that includes social profiles, personal websites and other listings, each playing its own role.

Thrivent Financial has pushed the boundaries on their digital storefronts with a hugely successful digital program that has consistently been the top driver of leads for their advisor network.

Recently, Thrivent’s VP of Integrated Marketing, Nicohle Schluender, joined our CEO, Mike Boese, on the virtual stage of Hearsay Summit to discuss the importance of the digital storefront.

A key takeaway is that although the pandemic accelerated innovation, consumer behaviors were changing well before that. In 2014, Thrivent found that 30% of customers did research online before engaging with them; by 2020, just before the pandemic, 70% were doing so. Fortunately, Thrivent had already started their journey to “digitize trust building” prior to the pandemic, providing their financial professionals with the tools that enabled them to be agile, including multiple platforms to share their professional and personal values in a way that the corporate team could supervise and assist with.

Another takeaway was the focus on integrations to reduce friction. So while social media profiles drive awareness, websites move leads through the funnel, and Hearay Relate—-our compliant texting and voice solution—gets the advisor into a 1:1 interaction quickly, the impact of each of these tools is multiplied when the experience is seamless. To that end, Nicohle and her team have focused relentlessly on a fully-integrated approach. Clients have the choice to opt-in to texting with the financial professional right from the advisor’s website. Advisor website leads flow directly into Salesforce for immediate data and activity capture, and Salesforce opportunities are automatically created when a lead converts. These integrations reduce friction in the customer and advisor experience, while eliminating barriers to connection between clients and financial professionals.

As a result of their connected digital storefronts, Thrivent has experienced a 60% increase in traffic for financial professionals who take advantage of personalizing their sites, and greater than 25% conversion of those website leads into prospective clients.

Congratulations to Nicohle and the team at Thrivent for these stellar results! We’re thrilled to be a part of their journey to digitize trust building with their customers.