People buy from people. It’s an old business adage that still holds true today: Trust and relationships are the foundation of insurance. A deeper agent-customer relationship means more products sold over a longer period. It is critical to understand that trust extends to the digital world, especially social media.
In today’s environment, it’s not enough to release content from your carrier’s social accounts and hope that users will connect with it. Your strategy should include agents, the advisors who build relationships with customers in their communities. Enabling agents to use social media to engage and form relationships with existing and potential customers opens the door to agent-centric digital sales. As part of a larger digital strategy, a social selling program for resellers helps establish their presence in the digital environment, demonstrating thought leadership, building relationships and ultimately growing business.
As digitization continues to be a hot topic, one thing remains stable: the role of the agent. While many customers are used to buying auto coverage online, for example, this is not the case as their needs mature. Just because the customer is digital-first doesn’t mean they don’t want human guidance, especially when protecting their future.
Social selling is a powerful addition to an agent’s toolkit. After all, most consumers spend roughly two and a half hours online daily. So agents who engage their online networks through social media are more likely to expand their prospects and relationships with clients.
However, it is not enough to appear in digital spaces. “Being there” is a great first step, but it doesn’t reinforce building trust in a systematic, measurable way. Instead, you should create digital marketing strategies that are based on social media and social selling as powerful sales tools.
Here are some key steps:
1. Determine the social maturity of your agents.
There will always be different levels of social media experience from an agent’s perspective. From skeptics to hobbyists and experts, evaluating and segmenting your agent pool is critical before building a social selling program.
Agents who are most comfortable and active on social media often become early adopters and advocates of internal social selling programs and digital marketing strategies. With some education and profile optimization, this elite team is an amazing tool to get more participation. Getting them started with social selling before their peers allows them to gain experience with the process, build interest and better advocate for 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 must sell on social. They are not. Social selling is much more than “maintaining” a social media account. Consistently publish organic content, strategically interweaving paid advertising and audience engagement. Just like building personal relationships, value comes in conversations and connections. Agents must continuously engage and turn these conversations into digital relationships to grow their business.
It’s worth the effort to educate your agents about the unique benefits social selling can bring to their roles. Patience and demonstrating value are key. One way to demonstrate this value is by sharing some eye-popping social selling statistics: 80% of marketers who achieved at least 150% of their goals said they consistently used technology to connect with consumers. This statistic is hard for ambitious, high-performing agents to ignore. More agents will be willing to engage in social selling when they believe it may 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 one that is industry specific, is key.
A solid social selling tool should do several things. This should enable a small and powerful team of marketers to manage a robust library of content, analyze the broader value story of social selling through agents, and monitor and archive from a compliance and regulatory perspective. Above all, it should be easy for agents to use.
Once you’ve chosen a social selling platform that does all of these things, it’s a good idea to run some tests with your expert social media users (the agents who are first identified as active on social media). Starting with a concentrated group of agents allows everyone involved to learn social selling tool shades before scaling. Once the initial user group is up and running, it’s easy to bring more agents into the process.
4. Collect data and optimize over time.
Getting your agents to believe in social media as a powerful relationship building tool is the foundation of any successful social selling program. Building a content library to help position them as thought leaders on their social networks is the next layer. Once agents have embraced the concept of social selling and are posting regularly, you can establish metrics about what social selling means to your organization.
It is important to follow up social selling like any other marketing or sales program. You can set general launch KPIs such as agent adoption, primary 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 important 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 trackable ways.
Whether in person or online, consumers will always appreciate the guidance of a trusted advisor. Building that trust and delivering value through effective social selling A strategy with the above steps is critical to establishing your agents’ positions in the digital environment. Some things change in business, but others never do: “People buy from people” will always be true.