The Low Hanging Fruit – Social Media Sales

Social-Media-Sales-Low-Hanging-FruitI’m a big proponent of looking across industries when trying to innovate within one’s own industry. This applies not only to operational innovation but also to sales & marketing strategy. Looking across industries for new ideas opens your field of vision and makes you think about solutions which you previously thought were only applicable to that particular industry. For example, look how far Kaizen & Lean have come. They were a mainstay in manufacturing but now they can be applied across the services sectors especially in financial services. This brings me to social media which has been gaining acceptance in the investment management space, albeit at a snail’s pace. Nonetheless, I believe social media strategy is a must whether it’s to increase sales or generate brand awareness or re-position your firm differently.

I recently read a fantastic piece by Salesforce on the 7 steps to get ahead in the social sales revolution. Again, as I stressed above, the lessons can be applied across industries. It’s hard to deny that we are in the midst of a social sales revolution. Sales people more than ever, now have access to social intelligence which not only helps them segment & target better but also to cater a solution more appropriately.  The article points to 7 distinct steps in order to engage customers and eventually generate sales. Below are steps 1 – 7, summarized which you can use to formulate a social media strategy at your financial firm:

  1. Get in the game – This is the hardest part – convincing your compliance department that social media is the way to go. I know how rigorous compliance is and the first step is to get in the game i.e. embrace social media tools for your firm.
  2. Know your customers’ hangouts – Where do you customers hang out online? Go there. Find out what they’re talking about. Join the conversation – but don’t sell! Gain trust, this will eventually lead to better sales. So, identify the industry’s favorite water holes and become an active contributor.
  3. Make yourself “Like” able – Easier said than done. To ensure that you’re likeable you need to add value to conversations. What will determine success here is how you position yourself. Do you want to be resourceful & respected or pushy & always trying to close a deal? Opt for the former.
  4. First Friends, Then Leads – Self explanatory isn’t it? Help people in those industry hang outs. If you can attract visitors to your corporate website – ensure what was being discussed is showcased as a white paper or on blog where subject matter experts have their say as well. Align yourself with your targets needs and pressing topics of interest.
  5. Connect with Social Intelligence – Do your due diligence on a customer. LinkedIn and other networks will come in extremely handy and you might just be able to determine what a prospects primary concern is – which will be the differentiating factor between a successful or lost deal.
  6. Tweet up your pipeline – Become a subject matter expert and share articles, insights and reviews. Essentially you’re positioning yourself as a business consultant instead of a salesperson. This is less threatening and builds trust. As mentioned in point # 2 – trust is everything.
  7. Embrace Social Collaborative tools – Salesforce has a Social Chatter function where employees across the company can view what deal you’re working on. So, if you’re having trouble closing a deal another employee  might know a friend on the inside who can help facilitate the sale or provide valuable input. This internal transparency can be extremely beneficial.

So to summarize, no matter the industry you can take ideas from across industries and apply them to your own. Social media is here to stay and with tools that help you measure aggregate customer activity you’ll soon be able to say goodbye to those old contact databases with 2 phone numbers, 1 fax number, home & office addresses.

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