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Smart companies go beyond social marketing: Social selling insights from Forrester, AXA Equitable, and Wells Fargo

When choosing products and services, 80% of your customers rely on what their colleagues, friends, and family say, according to Forrester. Only 36% of customers rely on salespeople.

If salespeople want to succeed in the new social era, they need to make an active effort to go where conversations are happening. That means listening, engaging, and selling on the social networks.

We recently hosted a webinar with experts from Forrester, AXA Equitable, Wells Fargo, and Hearsay Social to explore how exactly businesses today execute on social selling strategies to grow their business. Participants included Forrester analyst Zachary Reiss Davis; Bucky Wright, Senior Executive director for AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company and chairman of AXA Advisors, LLC; Cathy Price, VP, Digital Marketing, Wells Fargo Home Lending; and Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih.

Bucky Wright (Executive and Head of Sales at AXA Life Insurance Company) had a lot to say about how social selling works at AXA Equitable:

The first thing is that it doesn’t replace our sales process or structure today, but it does enhance it. And I think what’s important is that, when you take a look, there are two different ways that I think social marketing fits in with our advisors–being that we’re a business that’s all about relationships.

Social media allows our reps to…

One, create new relationships, but more importantly, allows them to enhance those they already have. So it’s a relationship-building tool that we have found that the reps are using and the relationships have grown and their professionalism has been advanced.

Secondly, it fits the sales process because, as an organization, we’re in a highly regulated industry. Therefore we’re comfortable utilizing Hearsay and the platform that we have. We’re able to feel very comfortable in our supervisory duties in making sure that both regulatory and brand-wise what we’re pushing out there is right.

For her part, Cathy Price (VP, Digital Marketing, Wells Fargo Home Lending) spoke to how Wells Fargo Home Lending decided to support sales in social channels:

We really watched social media grow beyond the tipping point from something “all the kids were doing” to something that’s really gone mainstream. It’s an activity that’s gone viral to peoples’ lives and now it’s vital to business. So, in most cases, consumers or anyone really, are checking their news feed every day, it’s the very first thing they do in the morning, so why wouldn’t we want to be a part of that?

And she agreed with Bucky as to its further business value:

So we really look at social media or any avenue as open to all consumers and any business partner, so we want to make sure that we have messages that resonate with everyone, and that we have solutions that resonate with everyone. And what we really want to do with social media is to make that about our individual mortgage consultants and make it their ability to build a personal brand. so they use that connection with their consumers the way they normally would.

In the end, your customers and prospects visit Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter daily to share what’s happening in their lives. Your own network is sharing valuable and timely clues as to who needs to buy what and when – making it a treasure trove of leads. It’s the perfect time for social selling.

At the start of the webinar, Zack reviewed findings from the Forrester Thought Leadership Paper, “The Future of Social Selling,” which explains how sales professionals must join their marketing counterparts by engaging with customers and prospects over social media. (If you haven’t read the paper, download it here.)

In particular, Zack zeroed in on the three main stages of the customer lifecycle:

First is “social reach,” where you’re giving information to people who may or may not know about the brand. Next comes “social depth.” Sales can have the greatest impact in this stage by communicating crucial messages and forming deeper relationships with those who are not yet customers, but are good targets.

“And that often takes place on properties [that organizations] control: communities and forums on their websites and social networks,” explained Zack.

Finally, we have the “social relationship” stage. Your customers have purchased from you and are already engaged with your brand, so they are the most inclined to pay attention and interact with what you’re saying on social networks like Twitter and Facebook.

“Social selling,” Zack reiterates, “is focused on making salespeople more influential in the process again and helping bring back that personal touch throughout the sales process.”

Watch the full webinar to hear everything the experts have to say about social selling.

5 essential tools for the social salesperson

Through our work with successful social salespeople, we have had the opportunity to see exactly how these individuals attract leads and convert prospects to clients. Beyond posting regularly, taking action on social signals, and perfecting their own engagement strategy, this group also leverages the social media tools that are readily available to them in order to make the most out of their social media efforts.
But how do they know which tools to use? It seems that everywhere you look these days there is another new free social media measurement tool on the market. Skip these for now. Instead, we are going to show you how you can take advantage of the tools you already have in your social media tool kit.

  1. Who’s Viewed Your Profile (LinkedIn)
    At first glance, seeing who has looked at you online can feel a bit odd. But given LinkedIn’s professional focus and privacy options, this should be a go-to resource for social salespeople. The list is a boon since it captures a record of the people who, for one reason or another, were compelled to gather more information about you. Perhaps they were interested in an article you shared on LinkedIn or perhaps a friend recommended your services to them. Either way, it’s a prime way to identify people who may be potential leads or even upsell targets.How to use this tool: To begin, the only way to see who has viewed your profile is to allow other people to see when you have viewed them. To do this, go to Settings and then click “Select what others see when you’ve viewed their profile”.  Set this option to “Your name and headline” – the first option. Navigate back to your profile, and find the “Who’s Viewed Your Profile” link on the right side of the page. Next, consider connecting with the viewers you know, but who are not yet a connection. Finally, do a little research on the individuals you do not know.  Leverage LinkedIn’s “TeamLink” feature to see which connections you share with these new people and determine who can make an introduction.
  2. Social Signals (Hearsay Social)
    A key aspect to social selling is taking advantage of opportunities to reach out to your clients and prospects. But the question remains: how do you identify these opportunities? One of the best, and easiest, ways to uncover these prime conversation starters is our very own Social Signals. With Social Signals, you can avoid the hassle of searching for your connections’ important updates one by one, across multiple social media sites. Rather, you will receive a curated list of these important life events, including birthdays, job changes, relocations, relationship changes, and more, in one centralized feed.

    How to use this tool: Once you log in to Hearsay Social, simply click on the Signals tab.  Use the filters (Birthday, Family & Relationship, Job, Location and Uncategorized) to find relevant updates about your connections.  Now, get the conversation going!
    (Please note: not all organizations have access to Social Signals.  If you are interested in receiving Social Signals, please reach out to Hearsay Social Support.)
  3. Reach 2.0 (Facebook)
    If you read our earlier post 5 stats you should track to be successful on social media, you know that reach is a fundamental metric that all social salespeople should be using.  Advanced social salespeople probably want to understand even more about their reach in order to optimize their content strategy and get the most out of any paid promotions.  Consider these reach building blocks:
    Organic reach: The number of unique people who saw your content in their News Feed, in the ticker or on your page.
    Viral reach: The number of unique people who saw a story about your page published by a friend.
    Paid reach: The number of unique people who saw your ad or Sponsored Story.

    How to use this tool: First, access this tool by going to your Facebook business page’s Insights section and clicking on “Reach.” Scroll down to find the section “How You Reached People (Reach and Frequency)”. Next, spend some time reviewing the components of your reach and how they varied across the time period shown on the chart. Connect periods with high reach – whether organic, viral or paid – to the content that drove these peaks. Pay attention to how your paid promotions are faring so that you can optimize your social marketing spend. Over time, you will be able to better predict which of your posts will go viral and how to reach more of your audience with content that matters to them.
  4. Demographics of your Likers (Facebook)
    One of the questions social salespeople often ask themselves is “Who am I reaching with my content?” Some will also ask, “Am I reaching the right audience with my content?”  To answer these questions, take a look at your Facebook Insights.How to use this tool: To find this information, navigate to your Facebook business page’s Insights section and click on “Likes”. Here you will find a summary of their demographics including their gender, age group, country, city, and language.  Once you’ve digested this information, take a minute to answer these questions:
    Are you surprised by the breakout of your Likers?
    Are they older than you expected? Younger?
    Are you reaching people across the country?
    With this information, you can continue to refine the content you share with your audience. If you want to reach an older demographic, for example, consider sharing information about how to spend your retirement instead of how to build a nest egg. If you want reach people who speak another language, include a translation or two in your content to see if you can target these people directly.
  5. Social Sales
    At the end of the day, when you are using social media as a social salesperson, what matters is simple: SALES. But how do you track this information? How do you know at the end of the quarter what percentage of your sales came from social media? The answer is simple: it is up to you! Better than anyone else, you know how you landed each one of your sales. The key is to track information, no matter how you do it.How to use this tool: Again, it is up to you to decide how to measure your social media sales success. Here are a few ideas that we have gathered from our expert social salespeople:
    Maintain your own social sales tracking worksheet that you update regularly (timing will depend on your typical sales volume).
    Leverage your company’s CRM tool if it offers a way to classify a sale’s source as social media.  (If this is not available, consider asking your head of sales to make “social media” an option!)
    Poll your customers to learn how they found you.
    Collaborate with other employees to build a social sales measurement chart so that you can see how you are faring compared to your peers.
    Managers can consider offering a bonus to the salesperson who lands the largest number of social sales per quarter/year.

To learn more about how salespeople leverage social media to grow business, watch the below video highlighting some top performers at Farmers Insurance: