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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A couple weeks ago, I had a terrific opportunity to attend Scott Klososky’s Enterprise Social Tech Bootcamp in Chicago. Great to catch up with Scott once again. Readers will remember some work I’ve done with Scott in the past, including writing the Chapter on Sales for Scott’s Crowdsourced book, Enterprise Social Technology, a phenomenal book on why Social is more than Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter.
As a special extra, I was able to travel with a rising star on the Social Tech scene, Shane Fraser. Shane won a $5,000 bounty Scott put out for promoting the book via crowdsourcing. Check it out – very, very cool. See Shane’s new Blog as well.
[Shameless plug: If you need a deep dive in this stuff for your team, I've got Scott's endorsement, all the original Enterprise Social Technology content, and can do any kind of preso or consulting best suited for your situation. Contact me here.]
A few of the podcast highlights to listen for:
Next EST Bootcamp: Dallas, October 2011. Stay tuned.
A few action pics from the Bootcamp:
“I’m Mike Wise, President WebWisedom. I’m helping insurance companies and agencies with e-commerce and Social Technologies. I’m also working on a viral video of the conference. I’m wearing a safari hat because I’m looking for insurance creatures in their native, natural habitats! (chuckle) So I’ll be at the bar and on the golf course!!! (laughter)”
Thus went my 30-second introduction at the kick-off of ICMG 2011 at Doral two weeks ago. The people I subsequently met appreciated the attempt at humor. To my surprise, they were also more than happy to share with me sound bites that included their take-away from the meeting as well as what their favorite wild animal is – and what kind of noise it makes!!! The video is in review by the Board at this point. I think it’s hilarious. Look for something shortly, possibly even today.
My take-away? ICMG gets better every year. This year set a record for registrations and tied a record for on-site attendees. “Snow-pocalypse” in the Midwest cost about 30 people, but there were about 40 walk-ups as well. On a bizdev level for WebWisedom, I’m encouraged that the group is moving towards more and better e-commerce efforts. Social Technologies, Social Media Marketing, and Social Networking is starting to become more commonplace in their language. So good things.
What seemed very worrisome to the group (based on informal conversations) is the whole PPACA debacle and its adverse impact on the brokerage community, not to mention the carriers. Obamacare seems to be causing serious issues in the health insurance industry – loss of commissions, increased risk, lower profitability, fewer people covered. It seems to be getting clearer all the time that the way the legislation is crafted, the actual impacts are turning out to be the exact opposite of the intended impacts: fewer people will be covered, higher costs on premiums and care, and decreased quality of care. At the same time, other legislation, new federal government programs, and actions by the Treasury seem to wrecking an already weakened US economy. So I left the conference pleased with ICMG but once again upset with the administration and the direction of the economy in general and “health care reform” (which is really health insurance reform now).
Next on the horizon? Follow-up conversations with ICMG’ers about Socially Facilitated Selling and teaching the large blocks of agents how to leverage Social Tech in their sales efforts. Whether independent agents, career, or captives, the agents in the field are dealing with an increasingly savvy constituent with meaningful, powerful, and growing Social Networks.
So the obvious question for the ICMG folks is, “What is your strategy for dealing with this situation? And is it working for you? Is it driving sales?” If not, that’s where I come in.
I’m hoping to spread the word among the group that I’ve spent quite a bit of time learning about Socially Facilitated Selling and crafting effective ways to communicate the concepts of Socially Facilitated Selling to insurance executives, managers, and train feet-on-the-street sales guys.
Mobile seems to be a critically important aspect of Social Tech, not only for content distribution, but also for access to information, Social updates and Sharing, signing up for stuff, of course dreaded email, but also app’s like calendars, navigation, search local businesses, photo’s and video, etc. My one recommendation is for sales people to seriously UPGRADE their mobile technologies. In order to play in the Social space, like anything else, you have to have the tools and equipment, n’est ce pas?
What comments do you have? Were you at ICMG? Whajathink? What about insurance agents and Social? I heard a few concerns at ICMG. What are yours? Share in the Comments below and see if we can leverage the crowd of readers to learn and grow relative to insurance agents and sales within the Social era. Thanks in advance for the Comments. I’ll pipe in as well. And thanks again to all who participated in a great ICMG 2011. Solid effort.
I’m looking for comments from readers on this topic?
Why is Social Media, Social Networking, Social Relevancy – heck, all of Social Technologies – so “HARD”? I guess I’d further refine that question and point the discussion at the C-Level or the senior management of the enterprise. I know there are exceptions, but IN GENERAL, why is senior management within business so often struggling with Social Tech??? So we don’t waste a lot of time on definitions, let me define ‘struggling’ with a few examples:
Obviously the follow-on question will be, “Is this an issue and if so, what can be done about it?” But before we go there, perhaps if we can chew on this a bit first, some interesting patterns will emerge that will lead us to solutions based on more information than otherwise.
Suggestion: Before you read the Comments below, pause and get clarity on your first thought or two. Then read the other Comments. If you have similar thoughts, please say so, as that will be important as well. I REALLY WANT TO KNOW. And so do other readers, by the way. Links would be great.
Please be candid. If you need to be anonymous, do it. Straight to the heart of the matter. Speak. Lurking is Lame.
Thanks in advance.
Favorite pics from Thanksgiving – love the laughter :-) Click the pic to see the rest.
Johnny Kimani, my son’s Kenyan roommate from college & Catchphrase
So many insurance folks are asking, “If I get into Social Media, what do I say? _____ insurance is so boring. Plus people don’t really want to have it – it’s like going in for a physical or check-up….” I don’t know about you, but to me that seems like a cop-out, an attempt to avoid having to learn something new, or just fear of the unknown. But it’s worse than that, depending on how senior the person is in the organization, because it creates a drag on the SocialTech effectiveness of the organization. But most of all, it’s untrue. Here’s a terrific example from this week.
Yesterday, New York Life hit the Social Media nail on the head with a combo Facebook fan page update/blog post. I’m tracking New York Life on my Facebook profile, not because I’m a customer, but because they got my attention somehow (I think through email), showed me a Facebook button, I clickedin on it, and hit the “Like” button. I’m more interested in their social strategies than their insurance products right now, but you never know, right? So now a few times a week I see what they are doing in my Facebook Newsfeed.
The Facebook feed said this, (in case you’re not on Facebook yet I’ll copy/paste)
As sad as I am to say it, summer is almost over and you know what that means… School is about to start and for some, college is vastly approaching, which brings us to the question: Are you ready to pay for it? Starting a college fund has been the solution for some families; however, what do you suggest? What have you done to save?
The link then said this,
Hmmm. Nice little segway from a reference to time-of-year to educational info without a sales pitch. There were a few “Likes”, a few “Comments” – some action. So I clicked through to see what the landing page looked like. (By the way, New York Life has 2,700 Facebook Fans – not a whole lot for a company of it’s size, but enough to start a viral marketing process. By this time next year, if they play their cards right, it could be 27,000… perhaps 270,000 in two years – FOR FREE and reaching fans who prefer Facebook for their news and information – AHA!.)
IMHO, the landing page is terrific.
What works well:
What do you like about it? Thoughts on my Comments? Please Comment below.
Issues: Mostly minor things. The list is longer, but the issues don’t outweigh the good.
That’s is for now – my hour’s up. GTG. Hope this was helpful. Please Comment and Share. Would be eternally grateful for the viral help.
Awesome SocialTech Strategy by State Farm. Also a form of Crowdsourcing – internal. Brilliant. I’m going to use the app.
Picture from my recent family camping trip to the Adirondacks. See all the pics here. Olympic stuff, cliff jumping, YT cooking, scenic shots. Epic trip.
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.