Is it worth considering using social media to help you achieve your sales goals? According to the Aberdeen Group’s July 2012 study, sales intelligence can make sales reps 79% more likely to reach their quota. However, organizations that use social intelligence programs are 21% more likely to grow revenue.
Companies are making progress, but there are also companies that are still learning. No matter where you may be at the moment in your career, here are some ways to effectively use those Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and LinkedIn Groups to meet your quota.
How social media can be used to find prospects
Referral sales can often be more accessible than cold calling. Many seasoned executives will refer a friend long before they talk to a new vendor. These referrals and references can be found in many forms today, including LinkedIn endorsements and live chat.
“As a prospecting tool, I’ve gotten work from LinkedIn by honing mine profile, which was specifically written to attract prospects,” stated Maura SchreierFleming (President of BestatSelling.com). “More of my online customers expect me to be present and engage with them.” My audience is as diverse as the way they access their information. I am a speaker, trainer, and author. To reach my audience, I use multiple platforms, including blogs, Linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube.
Why wouldn’t you want it? It’s lovely that there aren’t any gatekeepers. You can organize your direct contact details in any way you like to prospect or research them (by industry, region, role, etc.). You have the opportunity to listen to your customer directly, whether they are good or bad.
One downside to all this is the fact that searching social media sites for data points can prove more difficult than other search methods. These tools can be a time and cost-savings advantage once they are mastered.
Concentrate on one platform that your customers use to interact
One of the two options I recommend is, to begin with, either what you feel most comfortable with or what your customers prefer.
You can also ask your customers what they use. You can use free tools like Socialmention or paid ones such as Radian6 and Act-on to find the top keywords, sentiment, influencers, sources, and other information. Reduce the number of sources you have to choose from to make it easier to find those that are most relevant to your target market.
You can also choose the Top 3 standards:
LinkedIn has been the gold standard in business-to-business (B2B) engagement in the US. You can create both personal and company profiles to allow you to network with other people from larger companies who might be interested in your product.
Facebook is the best place to go for B2C sales engagement. Because the largest segment of the population is already on Facebook, checking their profiles and connecting with others. Facebook is not bad for business. However, it is different from B2B conversations.
Twitter, however, I would describe as a hybrid platform. It’s for listening, not broadcasting. Jaquelyn Smith, a Forbes writer, recently stated that “Use the information you hear about leveraging your ability to pick up the telephone and call.” Listen to the problems that can be solved. This philosophy is something I fully agree with. It’s also the most accessible platform to use because there are so many tools that support Twitter (e.g., Hootsuite or my favorite SocialBro).
You don’t have to stick with the three big ones. Opportunities can also be generated by blogs, forums, video sites, and comment sections on websites. You should also consider the new generation of up-and-comers, such as Google+. Find out their location first, then join the community and dive in.
Also, I suggest that you focus on mastering your platform once you have narrowed it down.
What does it mean to dive in?
Now you have chosen your platform. Now it’s time to make connections with your community. This is a crucial step, so do not take it lightly. It should be completed 100% with your photo, job history, and descriptions. Keywords and descriptive terms that customers use to find you are essential. Do not sell or lie. However, you should be focusing on customer value statements and not self-serving descriptors. Your profile’s purpose is not to be proud of yourself but to help you find the next customer or job.
Now it’s time for you to engage with your community. This can be done in many ways:
You can join groups on LinkedIn or Twitter-based upon the companies or organizations you are interested in.
Find critical influencers that talk about the same topics your customers are talking about.
Follow the companies you’re interested in or those who are your current customers (all three platforms offer this).
Next, read and then listen.
Find your tone
Each tool has its own style of engagement, and each one has its own tone. Look for people with strong followings and copy their tone/technique. The majority:
Be genuine, helpful, and sincere
Before making any statements, ask questions.
Add value to their networks
Do not sell until you have established a relationship.
Your online reputation can have an impact on how people view you and whether or not they are interested in doing business with you.
Content marketing can be used to increase social engagement by driving content.
Engaging customers is one of your best options to increase engagement. David Steel is the Chief Viral Officer of Sneeze.
Steel states that “great social prospecting requires thought-provoking material every step of the journey.” Social salespeople and marketers must work closely together. Your foot will always be in the door when you send the right piece to a prospect.
Your marketing team can help you with the sales process. Educational material, such as white papers, videos, blogs, webcasts, and webcasts can often touch on the most critical topics for customers. You can also find content from outside agencies at a very reasonable price.
Here are some tips for selling on a social media platform.
You can use D&B, Salesforce, or other websites to research prospects. Get to know them by reading through their profiles. Find something in common (a person/activity, conversation), and then get into traditional sales techniques. Social media can be used to build your brand and reputation, not just for closing deals.
Do not broadcast your request to make an appointment to an entire list or group. Instead, send private messages or emails.
You can use your knowledge to make a request for a connection or to schedule a call.
Focus on your relationship and not your revenue. Ask questions, listen, sympathize, and offer value before you propose a solution.
Because it is so important, I will repeat it. Before commenting, listen to what they have to say. This will help you open doors and initiate a conversation without the need to make cold calls.
It is best to just get in there. While you’ll make mistakes, you won’t be discouraged. While social selling is not an easy task, it does require effort and time. However, with the right content, engagement, and prospects, it can yield results that are worth your while. This is what happens when social media prospects turn into customers.