Ask the Expert: Getting Financial Services to Embrace Social Selling

Learn how Amy McIlwain of Hootsuite was able to show clients in financial services the value gained from adopting social selling.

September 7, 2016

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Some financial services professionals have their doubts about social selling, and especially about the new technology and methodology required to do it. That’s where Amy McIlwain, the Financial Services Global Industry Principal at Hootsuite, comes in. By beginning a social selling program with executive sponsorship and continuing it with consistent education, Amy showed financial advisors how they can truly benefit and grow from social selling. We sat down with Amy to see how she did it: here is her story.

LI: Where is the best place to start with social selling?

AM: Social selling really starts with building up your personal brand. How are you representing yourself? You don't want to be a robot pushing company content. Instead, share your own interests and values. My entrepreneur brand is who I am: it allows me to connect with humans in more authentic way. It lets me build relationships with prospects and clients. It’s building trust: social selling is very much about relationships.

LI: Why do you think financial advisors are hesitant to use social media?

AM: I think advisors are hesitant for a couple reasons—one being compliance. Compliance is a big concern in this industry, and it holds advisors back. However, there are a number of tools available to share compliantly on social media. We're seeing financial services move towards social media, and technology has really enabled that. Another hurdle has been familiarity with technology. Typically with older advisors, there's a hurdle with technology and their social media maturity level is still very low. LinkedIn is usually the one they're looking at, many of them have profiles and they don't know what to do beyond that.

LI: How did you drive adoption? Were there any challenges faced during adoption?

AM: When setting up an enterprise social selling program, you need to start with executive sponsorship by getting executive education and finding success stories within organization. Also, you can get executive sponsorship by highlighting what the competition is doing. This is the first step in getting a program set up. You then need to look at the technology and get people educated on everything Sales Navigator. You need to help people get past their initial hesitations and mindset. Show them how it’s going to save them time and make them more efficient with their work.

LI: How have you seen financial services grow and benefit from using social media?

AM: Social media helps with every aspect of communication—we’re digitizing your sales process, we’re taking your pipeline and funnel and touching every piece of it with social media. Every piece of it can be influenced in social media. It’s about discovering these opportunities to engage with insights and helping professionals understand how we can drive pipeline on this. It’s also shifting goals and tracking success in a different way to determine value.

LI: How have you seen social selling drive revenue and change financial services?

AM: I’ve seen some advisors and financial services firms completely shift their marketing communications strategy because of the power of social media. They’re increasing revenue and credibility, they can buy more ads, and so on. With social media, they don't have to rent someone else's list, they’re building their own list. You can turn your message on or off whenever you want and it'll pay dividends in the long run. When putting a program in place, you need to educate them, be proactive, give them best practices, and give them the right tools. That way, they can remain compliant and mitigate risk. One advisor has been able to double his referrals by using LinkedIn and asking for second-degree introductions. People think online and offline are different worlds, but it's about tying online awareness to offline conversations, engaging with insights, and then engaging with them offline after that initial introduction.

Social selling isn't just for advisors, it's for everybody—sales managers, recruitment, and more; you can use it to connect in a B2B or B2C fashion.

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Do you want to bridge the gap between financial services and social selling? Download the free tipsheet today.

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