The Financial Services Industry and Social Selling in 2014
The adoption of ‘social selling’ at scale in the financial services industry is inevitable.
If we agree that social selling is leveraging relationships to expedite meetings with decision makers, then financial services sales and business development professionals have been social selling since the origination of the industry.
Social media, specifically LinkedIn, simply provides a way for financial services sales and business development professionals to identify and leverage relationships, within their own personal and company networks, for warm introductions to decision makers.
And it works.
Martin Gagnon, SVP and Intermediary Business Solutions at National Bank of Canada: “LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a direct impact on sales of Financial Products. The ROI on meetings we have obtained using LinkedIn and the educational curriculum is 400%.”
Without social media and LinkedIn’s sales and business development tool, Sales Navigator, these relationships would remain unknown unless uncovered by chance.
Why is it important for financial services institutions to dive into social selling now?
The adoption of social selling by the financial services industry was on the rise throughout 2013 and will continue to grow into 2014 and beyond. Most recent surveys indicate that the general public’s trust is rebuilding towards the financial services industry after a torrid couple of years.
As we all know, the financial services industry is a risk adverse industry. Regulators exist to ensure the general public is protected from potential false advertising and misleading information by financial institutions. Financial services firms have been waiting for regulators to provide guidance on how they can leverage social media and as we all witnessed, the last couple of years were transformative for the industry:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission voted on July 10 to adopt changes to Rule 506 of Regulation D that allowed hedge funds and other Reg D firms to use general solicitation, such as TV, print and social media advertising. Such advertising has been banned since 1933, but the ban was lifted under the JOBS Act of 2012. Additional new guidance issued by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council in December aimed to help banks understand the risks posed by their use of social media, and suggests strategies to mitigate those threats.
“LinkedIn Sales Navigator has a direct impact on sales of Financial Products. The ROI on meetings we have obtained using LinkedIn and the educational curriculum is 400%.”
This is just the beginning.
What is my vision for the future of social selling in financial services?
In my opinion, this is just the start of a trend and we will continue to see the regulators provide increased guidance as they become better educated about social media. The financial services industry will incorporate social media into their outbound sales activity and social selling will become part of the standard process for all forward thinking financial services firms.
Financial institutions have been lobbying the regulators and the regulators have listened. The financial services industry has run out of excuses not to adopt social media, specifically LinkedIn, and the opportunity is too big to ignore.
How can you transform your business today through social selling?
LinkedIn’s flagship product: Sales Navigator.
In July 2013, around the same time as the SEC’s decision, Goldman Sachs produced an Equity Research Report, ‘Exploring the Sales Navigator opportunity with early adopters’.
Goldman Sachs said the following: “Sales Navigator is a premium social selling tool that LinkedIn provides to sales professionals allowing them to quickly find, qualify, and create new leads, while allowing sales management to accelerate the social selling capabilities within a sales organization. It enables salespeople and business development professionals to tap their relationships across first, second, and third degrees and “turn cold calls into warm prospects,” as well as collaborate with other professionals within their organization to effectively and efficiently deepen their relationships with existing clients. Subscribers have the ability to navigate their network to reach key decision-makers within target organizations more directly by leveraging the power of LinkedIn’s database of over 259 million professional profiles and their connections both within their individual and corporate networks”.
“Sales Navigator is a premium social selling tool that LinkedIn provides to sales professionals allowing them to quickly find, qualify, and create new leads, while allowing sales management to accelerate the social selling capabilities within a sales organization.” – Goldman Sachs
The rationale and use cases are endless but here are some of my favorites:
- Commercial banks providing licenses to their bankers to find local business owners and deepen relationships with existing clients;
- Insurance companies providing licenses to their agents to find and develop new relationships with brokers;
- Insurance brokerage firms engaging at scale with benefits managers at local, national and global companies;
- Hedge funds, wealth management firms, private equity and venture capital firms all finding high net worth individuals, new institutional investors and/or portfolio company executives all while deepening existing relationships with clients;
- Accounting firms finding CFOs from local, national and global companies.
The LinkedIn Sales Solutions business unit for Financial Services was established in 2013. We have seen a rapidly increasing number of financial institutions providing premium LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscriptions to their revenue producers, business development professionals and C-Suite executives on an enterprise basis.
The thorough training that comes with LinkedIn Sales Navigator combined with a strong set of policies and procedures provides a strong foundation for financial institutions to dive into social selling. And remember, compliance software vendors exist where needed and they provide a simple compliance framework for the safe adoption of social media. These vendors include but are not limited to Actiance, Socialware, Hearsay Social, Erado and Global Relay.
There are no more excuses. The financial services industry’s adoption of social selling at scale is inevitable. Take control today. Don’t be left behind.