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Timeless business lessons revived in the social media era: Facebook and Hearsay Social at #LLSMC

For more #LLSMC updates, see our recap of day one, recap of day two, or learn why LIMRA selected Hearsay Social as its Elite Strategic Partner for social media.

Mandy Wilson (Senior Manager, Channel Strategy for Emerging Channels, RBC Insurance), Clara Shih (CEO, Hearsay Social), and Michelle Smyth (Director, Social Media, at Sun Life Financial). Photo courtesy of Michelle (@michelle_smyth).

1,150,000,000.
That’s how many people around the world today are using Facebook to network with each other, according to Neil Hiltz, Head of Global Vertical Marketing for Financial Services, Facebook. And yet, as he explained at day three of LIMRA’s Social Media Conference in Boston, a billion people won’t drive your business forward. What really matters is connecting to the people that matter to you.
“I’m not advocating for a Facebook-only solution,” said Neil. “You have traditional media, so Facebook is a great complementary channel and a great challenger.”
He spoke to many insightful case studies, highlighting how insurance companies can look for social signals that lead to sales. For example, people regularly announce to their networks that they’re getting married or having kids–that’s an excellent signal that you should reach out and offer your expertise.
These points provided a perfect segue into Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih’s presentation on timeless business lessons revived in the social era. After all, every time technology transformed business through the past decades–through call centers, through the proliferation of email, and today through email–one thing has remained constant: the importance of person-to-person relationships.
So, how exactly has social media changed traditional business practices?

1. Get found

On average, according to a CEB study, buyers progress nearly 60% of the way through the purchase decision-making process before engaging with a sales representative. Today, social media is one of the most powerful ways to tip those scales in the sales rep’s favor. Social media pages and profiles are typically at the top of search results, and without these online presences, a salesperson or organization is at risk for not turning up in the search results when an interested prospect goes looking.

2. Build your network

For decades, sales managers built countless training programs around effectively utilizing personal networks because reps that could effectively engage and expand their networks rose to the top. The same is true today, and the rise of social networks has made this entire process more efficient and powerful. Just like shared connections in the offline world, online social networks provide the context, familiarity, and trust that allow good salespeople to effectively do business.

3. Do your research

Salespeople are always taught to research a prospect and their history before walking into a meeting. Today, social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter make it easier than ever for reps to better understand their customers’ needs. Researching social signals allows reps to reach the right people at the right time, and go in warm.

4. Establish credibility

Gone are the days when Yellow Pages, a storefront, or a Web 1.0 website were the first point of interaction between you and your customer. We have entered a world where social presence provides necessary credibility. Not only does a social page or profile indicate what you or your company does, it indicates who knows you, follows you, or has worked with you before. People are unlikely to walk blindly into their local bank in order to find a financial advisor: they’re doing their research on social networks to find people or businesses credible in the social era.
With billions of people broadcasting buying signals on social networks every day, it’s no wonder that 7 in 10 financial advisors are already using social networks for business purposes (according to an FTI Consulting and LinkedIn study). Even more striking, 61% of financial advisors surveyed said they had landed a new client directly from LinkedIn (according to a HubSpot survey).
By the close of #LLSMC, the message was clear: many insurance and financial firms today are already growing business considerably by engaging with customers and prospects on social media. Are you?