People buy people. It’s an old business adage that still holds true: trust and relationships are the foundation of confidence. A deeper agent-customer relationship means more products sold over a longer period. It is crucial to understand that trust extends to the digital world, especially social media.
In today’s environment, it’s not enough to post content from your carrier’s social accounts and hope consumers will connect with them. Your strategy should include agents, advisors building relationships with customers in their communities. Enabling agents to leverage social media to engage and connect with existing and potential customers opens the door to agent-centric digital sales. As part of a broader digital strategy, a social selling program for intermediaries helps establish their presence in the digital landscape, showcasing thought leadership, building relationships and ultimately developing deals.
As digitization continues to be a hot topic, one thing has remained stable: the role of the agent. Although many customers are used to buying car cover online, for example, this is not the case as their needs change. Just because a customer is digital-first doesn’t mean they don’t want to be guided by a human, especially when it comes to protecting their future.
Social selling is a powerful addition to an agent’s toolkit. After all, most consumers spend around two and a half hours online daily. Thus, agents who use their online networks through social media are more likely to expand their relationships with prospects and customers.
However, just showing up in digital spaces is not enough. “Being there” is a great first step, but it doesn’t speed up building trust in a systematic, measurable way. Instead, you need to establish digital marketing strategies that leverage social media and social selling. as powerful sales tools.
Here are some key steps:
1. Identify the social maturity of your agents.
There will always be different levels of social media experience from the agent’s perspective. From naysayers to dabblers to pundits, assessing and segmenting your agent group is essential before building a social selling program.
Agents who are most comfortable and active on social media often become early adopters and internal champions social selling programs and digital marketing strategies. With some education and profile optimization, this elite team is an incredible tool for getting more buy-in. Getting them started on social selling before their peers allows them to gain experience with the process, build interest, and better champion the strategy.
2. Educate agents on the value of social media as a sales tool.
Agents may assume that because they have social accounts for their business, they need to do social selling. They are not. Social selling is much more than “maintaining” a social media account. It consistently posts organic content, strategically weaves in paid advertising, and engages with an audience. Much like in-person relationship building, value comes from conversations and connections. Agents must continually engage and turn these conversations into digital relationships to grow their business.
It’s worth teaching your agents the unique benefits that social selling can bring to their roles. Patience and demonstrated worth are essential. One way to demonstrate this value is by sharing a striking social selling statistic: 80% of sellers who have achieved at least 150% of their goals say they have consistently leveraged technology to connect with consumers. This stat is hard for ambitious and successful agents to ignore. More agents will be ready to embark on social selling when they think it can directly affect their salary, promotions and commissions.
3. Invest in a comprehensive social selling platform
Social selling at scale can seem overwhelming to even the most seasoned leaders. Understanding that not all social media management tools are created equal is the best place to start. Finding a platform dedicated to social selling, especially an industry-specific platform, is essential.
A solid social selling tool should do several things. This should allow a small, mighty team of marketers to manage a robust content library, analyze the larger story of the value of social selling per agent, and monitor and archive from the perspective compliance and regulation. Above all, it must be easy to use for agents.
After choosing a social selling platform that does all of these things, it’s a good idea to experiment with your expert social media users (the agents who were first identified as being active on social media). Starting with a concentrated group of agents allows everyone involved to learn social selling shades of the tool before scaling. Once the initial group of users is up and running, it’s easy to bring more agents into the process.
4. Collect data and optimize over time.
Making your agents believe that social media is a powerful relationship building tool is the foundation of any successful social selling program. Building a library of content to help position them as thought leaders within their social networks is the next layer. Once agents have embraced the concept of social selling and are posting regularly, you can establish benchmarks on what social selling means to your organization.
It is important to follow social selling like any other marketing or sales program. You can set general KPIs to start, such as agent adoption, basic content usage, and engagement. More KPIs can be added to the mix later, such as return on ad spend and leads generated.
Finally, it’s essential to make sure agents know that social selling is a slow and steady process. The power of social selling grows over time, as do trust and good relationships. When done correctly and patiently, it can move the sales needle in a traceable way.
Whether in person or online, consumers will always appreciate the advice of a trusted advisor. Build that trust and deliver value through effective social selling Strategy with the steps above is crucial to establishing your agents’ positions in the digital landscape. Some things change in business, but others never change: “People buy people” will always be true.