New vs. Old: Why social selling is so much more effective and civilized than the cold call

How social media makes the business of selling more civilized and human

December 14, 2015


New vs. Old: Why social selling is so much more effective and civilized than the cold call

by Steve Dunlap, Founder, Stratym Consulting

Consider how you feel when having something “sold” to you versus the excitement of discovering something new, something truly valuable. The difference is dramatic, and as a financial advisor you want new clients that feel excited about discovering you. Leveraging social media is by far the most effective way to accomplish this. Not convinced? Let me illustrate the difference with a short story.

I signaled, carefully turned into the neighborhood, and was greeted by wide streets, large homes surrounded by perfectly manicured lawns and European sedans in the driveways. Bingo! I plugged my spotlight into the cigarette lighter and carefully illuminated each street sign just long enough to write down the name and quietly slip away.

No, I wasn’t a burglar. I was a stockbroker, and the year was 1992. The next day in the office I would haul the three-foot tall “reverse directory” off the shelf in preparation for hours of house to house cold calling. Sometimes I imagined one of my prospects hearing his neighbor’s phone ring just 15 seconds after hanging up on me. “Hi, I’m Steve Dunlap, and I’ve got a great investment opportunity I’d like to tell you about….”

When I wasn’t interrupting dinner, I was trolling my alumni directory, hunting rich people. My trick was to tell the secretary I was a “fellow alumnus” of William & Mary. It wasn’t a lie, but I knew what the admin heard was “college buddy.” Bingo again - she’d put me right through.

Awful. And these methods certainly didn’t make anyone feel good, which made the fundamental tasks of business development that much harder: finding people (not “prospects”) who might be interested, demonstrating credibility, establishing trust, and building a relationship.

Enter the world of social media. Rather than scattershot calling every house on the street, modern social media tools enable financial advisors to laser-target people with specific shared interests or characteristics. Knowing something about each person enables an offer of information or something likely to be valuable. And offering something valuable in advance, before ever asking for a business relationship provides a more natural opportunity to establish trust and plant the seed for a relationship. Simultaneously, your social media presence helps establish your credibility and bona fides. All of this done correctly will help you earn the right to ask for their business and drastically increase your odds of an affirmative answer.

Updated, modern and less creepy versions of my 1992 methods today enable a financial advisor to, for example, search for C-suite executives that work in the aerospace industry and live within 25 miles. Once you’ve found them, you can see what their interests are, topics they’ve written about, news articles where they’ve been mentioned or quoted, local organizations to which they belong, and perhaps even some information about their family and personal life. Using this information to find a common interest, contact, or membership with which to approach them is far more effective than a cold call in the middle of dinner. It’s also more human and civilized.

Watch a replay of our webinar How to Leverage LinkedIn for Wealth Management from December 9th. Learn how financial advisors and wealth managers can take advantage of “going social” to gain a competitive edge and prospect with the sophistication of using LinkedIn.