Kevin Paterson is sales and marketing director at Assurant Intermediary
Most of us have a Twitter and a LinkedIn account by now, but how many of us can truly say we are using them effectively for business or really understand their potential?
Social media can be highly effective in retaining business as well as a great sales tool, and customer-facing intermediaries ignore it at their peril.
How can intermediaries harness social media for GI sales and retention?
Ours is essentially a people business and I don’t for one second suggest that social media should be a replacement for face-to-face contact with clients, but learning how to harness it could improve your sales opportunities, help you build deeper relationships with your clients and access new ones that you wouldn’t otherwise reach through traditional methods or on dwindling marketing budgets.
Don’t join Facebook or set up a Twitter profile just because you think you should.
Think about who your audience is and engage on the sites that your customers are likely to be on.
If we assume that your customers do spend time on these sites then here are just a few of the key tips I’ve learned that will help get you started:
1. To get people talking about you, you may firstly have to do a bit background work. I would suggest you start by trying to profile your typical client. What social media sites would they be likely to spend time on? What would they talk about online? What’s their tone of voice? Are people already talking about you? Once you have a clear idea where your audience is and what they’re saying, you’ll know where you should have a presence.
2. Think about the words and phrases people might use if they were looking for GI products and write them down. Next think of what people might say if they were dissatisfied with a competitor’s service. Then, use the advanced search page on Twitter and search for each of the phrases you came up with. Scan through the results looking for people who are searching or commenting on GI products and begin to build a picture of the people you’re going to engage with. Note the topics they are discussing and questions they are asking and what tone of voice they are using so you can tailor your tweets and online content to suit.
3. Content as they say is king and it’s important to recognise that Twitter isn’t about selling…it’s about listening and engaging with your audience and showing some personality. Give them content that you know interests them, adds value and is genuine. Pure sales messages just don’t work.
4. You won’t close a sale in one tweet, so following up with your prospects is what makes the difference. There is also the added benefit that you or your company’s name is constantly profiled. A good CRM system can help you keep track of your social media conversations and your leads and just as you would do with e-mail or phone contact, remember to keep in touch, nurture the relationships you establish and grow those retention figures.