Buying patterns have changed. People are taking control of the buying process, and the Internet has made self-service the new norm. But there are limits to what consumers can effectively buy without speaking to an expert.
In the insurance world, buyers still need agents and advisors to guide them through the decision process. Because insurance and financial products are complicated and often personal, consumers typically rely on experts to educate them on both the industry and the types of products and services that best suits their goals. Although there is still a need for individual producers, what is expected from them has changed. With technology, advisors are expected to maintain more relationships and manage more customers than ever before.
Social media provides a channel for producers to scale service, increase productivity, and build stronger customer relationships to meet these new expectations. Using social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, advisors can more easily research, connect, and engage with customers at scale.
Specifically, here are 4 ways social selling benefits producers:
1. Makes them findable
Gone are the days when consumers would walk into their local agency when they needed something. Today’s customers do their research online before engaging with your advisors in person. When they do research, they often see social media pages appearing at the top of their search results.
There is now an unstated expectation from buyers now that they should easily be able to find and learn about professionals with whom they plan to do business. A professional social presence helps producers become findable. Furthermore, profiles that include relevant experience, credentials, and connections help establish credibility and offer an important reference when consumers are conducting research online.
2. Expands their networks
A strong personal network is a key to success for most top producers. Building and maintaining long-term personal relationships is essential to accumulating referrals and repeat sales. Through social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn, producers can expand their network at unprecedented scale. Not only does social media allow them to connect with more people, but it also provides a channel for them to continually engage before, during, and after a sales cycle.
3. Enhances customer insights
Delivering personalized service and knowing one’s customers are nothing new to a seasoned producer, but scaling this with social media is key to driving up productivity and effectiveness. Today’s customers expect sellers to “do their homework” and to reach out at just the right time with the right message. On Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, people are sharing valuable information and buying signals. Through social selling, producers and other relationship sellers can now listen for buying signals across the social networks, learn more about their customers, and identify exactly when to engage.
4. Establishes credibility beyond the brand
As much as marketing teams work to support the prestige of established brands, consumers are trusting “big brands” less and less. Some of this trust, however, has been transferred to individual representatives of the company. With buyers increasingly gathering information online, social media is now an enormously powerful and effective tool for advisors and agents to demonstrate expertise and consequently build trust.
Public “references” in the form of connections and Likes establish instant credibility for an individual. If a consumer notices that their close friend is engaging with an agent on Facebook, for example, they can quickly and easily make an assumption that the two have worked together; social media tells that consumer they have a friend and reference who can speak to that agent’s work. In addition, social media gives producers a platform to share tips and advice in order to educate customers and stay top-of-mind as experts and advisors.
Each day, it becomes increasingly critical for producers to use social media to research, connect, and engage with customers. Ultimately, producers who strategically take advantage of social networks–by tapping into all the above benefits–will be better positioned than their peers to strengthen customer relationships and grow business.