I am in the business of helping create and sustain performance improvement. That means that I am wary (at the best) of anything that can distract my clients and myself from what actually creates that sustained and beneficial change.
Social media presents a significant challenge for myself and my clients. Random and unfocused use of social is playing as a pawn.
We are told that it is essential and mandatory if we want to be successful in our sales efforts. Is that really true? In the case of my clients I am not so sure that is accurate. None of them became successful because of it and none of them, I strongly believe, require mastery of it to get more successful right now.
One of the most dangerous enemies for sustained performance improvement is #opportunity.
On the other hand, it has been clearly established, by this point, that properly conducted social media use can be a highly profitable opportunity for salespeople/organizations. However, opportunities don’t guarantee results.
Believe it or not, many high performing financial advisors fail to reach new levels of success efficiently because of too many opportunities and the inevitable distractions that come along with them. As one of my friends says “execution breeds execution”. An opportunity that is fully committed to and executed upon will almost always bear fruit.
So, what am I worried about? I think it is because we are being told we have to and that the people telling it to us have an agenda. That agenda, however, isn’t all bad.
You can absolutely, in the right business benefit tremendously from intelligent and professional use of social media. The key is to approach it like a professional. If you use social media without a plan you are the product. Remember, these platforms exist to create profit for the platform. They are selling your time and attention and any benefit to you is a side effect.
Have a plan and execute upon it. Plans have metrics.
If you are going to set expectations for performance (revenue, prospects added to the funnel, increased win rate on appointments and deals) you need to be prepared to do the preparation and practice to earn the right to have those expectations met. That means you are going to do the prerequisites: ideal client profile, list(s) of specific companies and the exact people inside them that you want to reach, well though out reasons for those same targets to accept a connection with you and engage in a conversation, valuable solutions, etc. In other words, you are a professional salesperson that has fully prepared to have clients want to buy from you.
In my target market of financial services, this is a bit more complicated (but, getting better) by regulations concerning what you can and cannot say/share. The great news is that you are allowed to directly communicate as much as you want! The real money for your industry is in the ‘comments’ of social media posts...not the horrible ‘canned’ content your antiquated compliance department will allow you to share and/or the article that took two weeks to get approved. Additionally, if you love referral based sales you should spend some time thinking about how you and your team can use social media to provide social proof that you are (a) an actual human being and more importantly (b) that you are a person worth meeting with.
Here are two examples of how to begin transforming how your practice uses and perceives social media:
Timothy Hughes is one of the pioneers and true professionals in the social media universe and has shared many times why it isn’t good enough, or even recommended to just be ‘all over’ social media sharing a high volume of content. I have had the fortune of being on his podcast years ago and I still am learning on a weekly (if not daily basis) from his content he and his team at DLA share for free. You should follow him and all of his people (Adam Gray, Eric Doyle and Vanessa Gartell) on LinkedIn at a minimum and save/print their articles. I would go back and review their stuff from the past three years at a minimum.
Tim recently shared a comprehensive explanation of why social should be approached professionally: Why Social Media is The Fertile Soil For Post-Pandemic Sales. There is value for individual salespeople and sales organizations of any size in that article. #mustread.
Back to the whole ‘selling your soul’ clickbait from the title. As a coach observing the effects of social media use on myself and my clients I have some serious concerns about figuring out what is an effective use of it and what is actually a performance killer. These social platforms aren’t your office and you don’t have to ‘open the door’ every time there is some activity on your content. Turn off those notifications.
If you are going to have expectations for the results you need to have parameters for your usage of social media as well. You DO need to be responsive, but, the frequency doesn’t need to be hourly. I am just as guilty in the past of having all my windows on the computer open showing me if there are any ‘notifications’ from the channels. I am very fortunate to have some friends that have built very successful businesses on social and none of them would tell you to be ever present on the platforms.
Managing Your Time:
One of my dearest friends, Larry Levine of Selling From The Heart, shared with me last week about how he handles social. (Note: if you aren’t following him go ahead and do it right now. He is brilliant!) Larry is one of the most consistent voices on LinkedIn that I can think of and he accomplishes this through strategy and discipline.
He has a specific window of the day that he focuses on his social platforms, both sharing content and engaging deeply with the comments, and the rest of the day is doing world class consulting and coaching with groups of professionals from companies across the globe. Larry shared with me that after that specific window his engagement is opportunistic in nature. He, as a matter of practice, has several short breaks throughout the work day in which he gets up and walks and it is during those short breaks that he will check in and do some quick engagement. This is a viable strategy.
If you are a financial advisor, I think this is the strategy for sanity and profit for you. Just like Larry, you should have a specific window each day that you completely focus on accomplishing your specific and relevant social media goals...and then have short (less than 10 minute) breaks (if necessary) to check in with social to engage.
In closing, social media isn't required for financial advisors/firms to be successful at the present moment. However, that window is closing. At a minimum, you need to make sure that you have done enough on social media to provide enough credibility for your referred prospects to be able to verify that you exist. By having a strategy and a plan for your time invested in social media you can realize the great opportunity it presents instead of underperforming because of it being a distraction.
I am always open for conversation and, of course, professional engagements to share and apply our Values Based Mindset Model to you and your company.