The value to loan officers of social selling

A solid thought leadership strategy through social selling helps banks solidify their brands and establish lending officers as industry experts.

By Douglas Wilber

Every social circle contains a few people whose ideas seem to carry more weight and gravitas. These people are influencers. They just seem to know what they’re talking about, and others actively seek their thoughts and opinions.

The same goes for digital social circles. If loan officers from your institution can establish themselves as thought leaders—specifically in loan origination—they can become sought-after sources for financial advice. Thought leadership demonstrates to readers that the person is knowledgeable and trustworthy, which will influence current and prospective clients.

When done right, a thought leadership strategy can be incredibly impactful. In a 2021 LinkedIn-Edelman survey, 65 percent of respondents said a piece of thought leadership content changed their perception of a company for the better, and 64 percent said thought leadership is a more trustworthy basis for gauging capabilities and competencies than marketing materials and product sheets. For banks especially, financial services thought leadership is a powerful way to foster trust and rapport with prospective clients.

The combination of thought leadership and social media augments these effects considerably. Unfortunately, banks tend to use social channels solely for marketing purposes and basic customer service.

Social selling is the use of social media to sell a product or service. It leverages social channels to build personal relationships, showcase thought leadership, engage with prospects, interact with existing customers and ultimately build sales-encouraging trust and rapport. It’s not enough to just “be online;” social selling empowers loan officers to become thought leaders, share with their networks and add humanity and authenticity to branded content.

Why should social selling techniques matter to your bank?

There’s a lot of bad financial advice online. Building thought leadership (especially in finance) allows loan officers to demonstrate that they are trusted, credible experts with clients’ best interests at heart. Prospective clients want to know they can trust your loan reps as human beings. Providing helpful, educational content is a great way to show them your business cares about delivering real value and connection. As a marketer for your brand, it’s your job to empower loan officers to start building those relationships through social selling.

Here are three tips for how to leverage social selling in your bank’s thought leadership strategy:

1. Build trust with prospects

Finance is a deeply personal business, and prospects want to know they can trust loan officers before feeling comfortable talking financial situations and goals. Social selling allows the brand’s loan officers to build direct, personal relationships with customers and prospects.

In times of market volatility or transition within a client’s life, the right thought leadership strategy can really connect. For instance, a blog post or LinkedIn video about debt consolidation loans could resonate with prospective clients who need help organizing their expenses. Or a reassuring Instagram reel about taking out a mortgage in a time of rising interest rates could be just what a first-time homebuyer needs to hear. Empowering your officers to start building these relationships via social selling content is one of your most important jobs in marketing for a banking brand.

2. Stay top of mind with clients

Financial services thought leadership helps your bank stay top of mind and engaged with existing clients. While there aren’t enough hours in the day for your brand’s loan officers to check in with every single client, social selling techniques can help them stay connected and deepen relationships without overworking. Social selling content can provide value to customers while loan officers are doing other vital work to close more loans.

Plus, when marketers help loan officers continually demonstrate their expertise online, the chances of gaining client referrals just increases. For example, offering services for business owners might encourage a social seller to post a guidebook about business loans and prompt an existing client to consider a loan to cover expansion. This guidebook can then serve as a handy piece of content for referrals.

3. Help intermediaries build expertise

While it’s not easy to confront, there is significant personnel movement in every industry today. Loan officers are concerned about their long-term career plans, and thought leadership is a great way to build your team’s reputation—regardless of where they work. Thought leadership content retains its value, even if employees move to another bank or financial institution. You might not be able to allow them to take their book of business, but their expertise and social media networks are intangible.

For these reasons (and more), thought leadership is essential to remaining competitive in today’s marketplace and building trust with clients. By leveraging social selling for loan officers, you’ll amplify your brand-building efforts with prospective clients, other industry experts and even potential employees. A solid thought leadership strategy through social selling will help build brand recognition, support lending teams, and establish lending officers as industry experts. Don’t wait to get started.

Douglas Wilber is the CEO of Denim Social, a social media management software.