Social media is dramatically changing sales and marketing. In this interview, we double-click down on the insurance and financial advisory sales functions. Clara Shih guides us through the developments in this field, as well as offers suggestions for new venture opportunities.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start with introducing our audience to you as well as to Hearsay Social.
Clara Shih: I’m the CEO and Founder of Hearsay Social. We’re a 200-person enterprise software company based in San Francisco with offices across North America, Europe, and Asia.
Sramana Mitra: What is Hearsay’s primary business?
Clara Shih: We provide social media predictive analytics software for salespeople such as financial advisors and insurance agents to be able to connect with their clients on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.
Sramana Mitra: Since you already brought up two segments, financial advisors and insurance agents, let’s take one use case in each of those categories and step up through how all this flows? How does the work and use case flow in each of these customer scenarios?
Clara Shih: I’ll begin by talking about the very first customer Hearsay signed up back in 2010. Jimmy Smart is an all-state insurance agent based in Columbus, Georgia. At that time, Jimmy and his staff realized the power of connecting with their existing customers using Facebook. Salespeople, especially insurance agents, are natural social networkers. This was the case long before there was a Facebook. Now that there are social networks, they’re able to use these technologies to more efficiently do what they’ve always done, which is to connect with people in their communities, identifying leads, and help solve problems.
What we did for Jimmy and for over 100,000 other sales people is that we are able to help turn these consumer social networking sites into business relationship building tools. We do this by essentially helping people like Jimmy hear what their customers are sharing on social media. Based on what they hear, we help predict what they should say to the right customer at the right time. For example, if one of Jimmy’s customers just posted that she has bought a new car, Jimmy should talk about her car insurance policy or buying a new one. If someone just had a baby, it’s a good idea to talk about setting a 529 college savings plan. There are all these trigger events that map to right events that billions of people share on social media which can be harnessed in a way to make that relationship manager much more relevant and timely.