ICAEW.com works better with JavaScript enabled.

What accountants need to know about social selling

24 February 2020: social media is all around us. It’s now an integral part of our lives and a key determinant in our decision-making. ICAEW Business Committee Chair Simon Gray argues that in today’s fake news era social media presents accountants with the perfect platform to establish a trusted personal or business brand.

What we hear in a first conversation or meeting with someone we don’t know is often viewed with suspicion. We might Google their name. Are they on social media? And if not, why not? If they are on social media, what do they say about themselves and what do other people say about them? Who do they know that we know?
In advance of any sizeable purchase or decision to hire, the online research is an even more important part of the decision-making process. We might risk £9.99 on a book we find on Amazon with just a glance at the reviews, but when it comes to a new car purchase, we’re more likely to do our homework, and much more of it.
What people discover about you, your business and what you stand for is something you choose to control proactively or have no control over whatsoever. Even being absent from social media sends its own message. I don’t know about you, but if I can’t find someone on LinkedIn, I am more suspicious about doing business with them. 
As a finance professional in practice or industry, you’re in a trusted position. The numbers tell the business story and letting someone new loose on them will make any CEO feel more than a little nervous.
In looking to advance your career or grow your business, your online presence will be carefully vetted, as part of any formal interview, pitch or tender process. Working hard to promote your personal brand and the values of your organisation are key to your future success.
Engaging and informative content that speaks to your targets is much better than sales brochures or cold calling. As we increasingly research online, it’s those that have crafted a message that helps us who we’re naturally drawn to. Someone who helps without agenda is someone we naturally come to trust, and in time do business with (something unlikely to happen overnight).
See me > like me > trust me > hire me, is something I’ve termed the “hire cycle”. See me > hire me, is traditional sales – but social selling recognises the importance of like me > trust me.

Business is still a people sport and building relationships with prospects – not just at the corporate level – is a trick that many organisations miss. Social media is not the sole responsibility of the marketing department. The corporate message is often heavily sanitised and far too slow to react.
Marketing is the responsibility of everyone within an organisation. People-to-people communication is much more engaging, faster and trusted. Yes, there’s a risk that a member of staff might say the wrong thing, but the upside of individual and company-wide participation provides a much bigger benefit. 
Social selling via social media is not just the future – it’s the here and now.

For further insights, you may like to consider our Commercial Accountant course. Whether you work in industry or practice, commercial skills will help you take your career to the next level.