Hearsay Social Gets New Round of Funding, More Financial Services Clients

Buying decisions increasingly influenced by social media, says Hearsay's Shih

Hearsay Social, the social media platform provider whose mission is to help advisors and financial services firms embrace “social selling” to grow their businesses, just received a new round of funding and recently signed up a bevy of new financial services firms as clients.

The San Francisco-based social media firm, launched in 2009, announced Thursday that it has raised an additional $30 million in Series C funding led by existing investors, Sequoia Capital and NEA, bringing its total funding to $51 million.

New companies have also signed on in the past six months as clients, with the most recent being Raymond James and LIMRA. Raymond James, which partnered with Hearsay in July, is now offering Hearsay’s platform to its 6,000 advisors, while LIMRA announced recently that Hearsay is its exclusive Elite Strategic Partner, becoming the endorsed social media solution for LIMRA member companies.

Companies that signed on to use Hearsay’s platform in the last six months are Mutual of Omaha, Bank of the West, Nationwide Insurance, Allianz Global Investors, Wunderlich Securities, Modern Woodmen of America, SWBC, RPM Mortgage, Mortgage Master and two Canadian Chartered banks.

Gary Liu, recently hired as VP of marketing as part of Hearsay’s executive push, says the companies are now in “various stages” of rolling out Hearsay Social as part of their social sales programs.

Clara Shih“The way that today’s customer — retail and institutional — makes buying decisions is increasingly influenced by online and social media sources,” Clara Shih, Hearsay Social’s CEO, and a ThinkAdvisor blogger, told ThinkAdvisor in an interview Wednesday. Clients’ “buying decisions have fundamentally shifted," so the way that an advisor ‘sells’ must shift as well. Hearsay’s “role is to help advisors hone the right ‘trigger events’” that their clients tell them about via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, such as the birth of a child, marriage, or pending retirement — all “life events that push people to get financial help,” Shih says.

“Clients are sharing these life events, or buying signals, on social media,” Shih continues, which creates the perfect “opportunity for advisors to personalize their message based on what’s happening in people’s lives.” Emails, she says, have become an “impersonal” way to reach clients, and “most emails don’t get opened.”

What do advisors get from Hearsay’s platform? The Hearsay Social platform, as Liu explains, is “a SaaS application that advisors can access via any device to hear and respond to the most relevant things that their customers and prospects are ‘saying’ on top social networks, including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.”

Key features, Liu says, include: “Social Signals,” a feature that alerts advisors about important events in the lives of the people in their network, as well as a content library that allows advisors to easily share compliance-approved content and links across their social networks with just a few clicks.

Shih says Hearsay has broken social selling into four steps: First is to “be findable,” she says. “It’s not acceptable when a client searches for you and you’re not there” on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, for instance. “You have to be there.”

Second is to grow your firm and network. Third is to “listen/hear what’s going on in your clients’ lives, [understand] their life events.” Fourth, establish credibility and build your brand. “We view our role as helping [firms] operationalize” that, Shih says.

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Check out Go Social, Stay Compliant: 3 Tips for Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.

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