Thoughts, real-world observations, and anonymous examples – good and bad – regarding the use of Web/Social/Mobile technology in the insurance industry. Follow Mike Wise, President WebWisedom LLC, for the latest in Social Technologies.
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Oh Man – this stuff is where it’s at for B2B Sales. I finally have the whole thing wired…
Thoughts and Comments? Please Share below..
(Excerpted from the Crowdsourced book due out soon called Enterprise Social Technologies. Chapter 7: Social Sales, written by YT!)
What’s happening out there???
Selling has changed, whether you’re selling commodities or complex products. In fact a whole new layer has been added to the sales process, a layer with fantastic power. This new layer of Social Technologies has forever altered the art and process of selling. Take a hard look at your most recent sales – or losses. Whether business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C), did the buyers “check you out online,” either before or after they contacted you? In this due-diligence process, what did they find out about you? What is ‘out there’ relative to YOU, your product reputation, and/or your brand reputation? Have you searched yourself, your product, your brand, your market, and your competition? Have you thought about how much influence these data-points have had on your recent sales results, or your lead volume? Perhaps if you really look at the trends, you’d have to admit that selling has changed A LOT in the last few years. Perhaps it’s time for you to change your processes as well.
In the mid-2000‘s, things started turning a bit chaotic. The Internet and E-Commerce began to mature. User-generated content started to proliferate with YouTube and Blogs. Search engines like Google began to disinter-mediate salespeople. Some brands like Progressive Insurance even went so far as to pronounce the end of the era of the sales agent. In spite of many claims of ROI and productivity gains, few understood how to use these mediums for business, let alone how to generate sales. Meanwhile buyers started getting savvy to all these tools, too – and started using them in their buying process! In a sense, the tables were turned.
Today, circa 2010, this chaos has stabilized, matured, synthesized, intersected, and emerged into the next major evolution in sales known as Socially Facilitated Selling (B2B) or Socially Directed Buying (B2C). Social Technology now augments communication and provides new ways to build trust. As such, Social Tech is reorganizing how buyers buy – and thereby forcing sellers to adapt. Social Tech is also helping sales people be at the right place at the right time on a scale never before attainable, and at a cost never imagined – essentially FOR FREE! A powerfully constructed Blog, integrated with Twitter and Linkedin, is replacing a premium Country Club membership and the closely guarded ‘rolodex’.
Why Socially Facilitated Selling?
Whenever I talk to sales people about using Social in their sales process, they always want to know the “How”, but often skip the necessary “Why”? The ‘How’ is the easy part. But to really be effective at Social, we need to deeply understand the answers to questions like, Why is it helpful for the sales person to join online professional networks, update their Status daily, and get Recommendations from clients? Why is updating a professional Blog once a week one of the most important activities a sales person can do each week? Further, why is getting a customer to Comment on a Blog post a huge event in the life of a customer relationship? What role do Facebook and Twitter play in the sales process? Why are ‘listening’ devices such as Tweetdeck, Google Alerts, SocialMention, and Addictomatic helpful in the sales process? What is the best way to proactively target prospects using Linkedin? Once in your crosshairs, why is it important to use Social Tech for warm introductions, to gain credibility, build rapport, and/or understand concerns and priorities of a prospect – all BEFORE the first contact, certainly before the first sales event or discovery session? Once we clearly understand the answers to these and other related questions, with real-life facts and figures, then we are ready to tackle the tactical execution.
The book is due out in a few months. Can’t wait!
Comments? Do you resonate with any of this? Helpful info?
Need help “Getting there”? I’ve got a process. Contact me at WebWisedomLLC at GMail dot com.
The game seems to have changed. The art, process, career – call it what you want – of selling is being changed by Social Technology, even in the lagging industry of insurance. Skeptical of this? You have only to look at your most recent sales – or losses. Whether B2B or B2C, do you have a sense that the buyers, BEFORE they decided whether or not to buy, engaged in an effort to “check you out online”? In this due-diligence process, what did they find out about YOU (B2B) or your product reputation and/or brand reputation (B2C)? Was this act on behalf of the consumer as common just two years ago (2008)? How about 2005? Even if it was common in those days, did it carry as much weight in the purchase decision? I think if you really look at the trends, you’d have to admit that the selling process has changed.
Think about it. How would you characterize the most recent selling paradigms we’ve seen over the past few decades. As a B2B sales guy since 1988, I’d say I’ve seen three distinct era’s in 20+ years, certainly with convergence and overlap. Generally speaking…
What do you remember about the pro’s and con’s of these earlier phases? What struggles did you have adapting to the changing paradigms? Any funny anecdotes that come to mind relative to this? How would you characterize what we’re seeing now with Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, and Blogs and their impact on sales? Consumer/Client rating? Retweets, ShareThis, Recommendations? Email marketing? Podcasting? Viral video? Content syndication?
My own funny story… I remember when I was selling for ADP in Phoenix around ’91/92, a couple years into it, I got my first laptop and bought a copy of ACT! That year I made President’s Club for the first time – a really big deal for me just starting out trying to establish myself as a capable sales guy. Relative to my small patch in east Mesa on the rural areas to the east (Globe, Payson, Show Low) the tools definitely helped me get to the next level. But I now had a new challenge. “Where the frickin’ OUTLET around here???? I need a POWER SUPPLY for my laptop!!!” :-) So much for McDonalds – not outlets!
Selling from a hotel room at a conference.
Favorite Myth/Cliche about Social that I heard this week:
“I don’t get twitter! What would I want to know what someone had for breakfast?!?!” Is that something you heard this week? Is that something you said this week? What’s your favorite? Just so you know, as I crafted this post, I checked twitter. Here’s a link to a story tweeted by someone I’m following that was right there on my tweetdeck timeline. Is this helpful or is this ‘what someone had for breakfast’? And this is just a little snippet I learned in about 60 seconds…
Change of Subject: Curious on your thoughts… What concepts does the phrase ‘Socially Facilitated Selling‘ bring to mind? I’m writing a chapter in a crowdsourced book on Social Technology. The chapter speaks to this concept of Socially Facilitated Selling. It also will discuss Socially Directed Buying, more applicable to B2C sales and marketing. Curious what your thoughts are on these concepts. Might even be able to give you a mention in the book. That’d be neat… Post your insight in the Comments below. Join the conversation!
Speaking of books, I’m about 75% done with the book I’ve been working on through the Fall and Winter. Hopefully I’ll finish this summer, then crowdsource the design of the book. Those of you who’ve agreed to read the manuscript, really appreciate it! Anyone else that wants to comment, here’s the topic of the book: How is e-Business like exercise? Share a thought in the Comments. If I use your Comment in the book, believe me, you’ll know!
Wanna see something really interesting? Check out this article by the World Future Society that I saw in their email blast. This is a great organization, fun to listen to, and always inspiring to contemplate. One of these years I’m going to a WFS Summer Conference. Join me?
105 MILLION TWITTER USERS. Did you know that Twitter was the first Social Network that was adopted by middle-aged people First? Interesting.
Last thought for today. I keep hearing people use the excuse of ‘no time’ for not getting in the game of Social Tech. What if I told you I could save you at least 30 minutes a day by optimizing your basic Web-browsing behaviors and practices? Would you shift that time to writing a blog or just listening across your network of peers, associates, colleagues, and visionaries all around you? Interesting thought that might get you started.
Thoughts on all this? Please comment. Remember – Lurking is Lame. Join the conversation. (This post took 45 minutes. Good use of time?)
As I shared on Facebook this morning, it’s days like this that make me glad I live in Northeast Ohio.