Can social media help salespeople? You bet. It’s easy to dismiss Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as personal arenas and as marketing tools for consumer brands but used strategically, social media can help salespeople discover new prospects, build relationships and turn leads into customers.
Here are five ways that you can use social media as a sales tool.
#1: To Find Prospects
Social media offers a peek into what people are talking about. Twitter, perhaps more than any other social media platform, provides a simple — and free — way to mine those conversations for potential new customers. According to some sources, B2B marketers who use Twitter generate twice as many leads as those who don’t.
To use Twitter to grow your prospect portfolio, you first need to come up with a list of keywords. This list should be comprised of keywords that are important to your own business (example: if you’re selling product roadmap software, add ‘product roadmap’ to your list), as well as terms your potential prospects might be using (think about their industry, their challenges) when tweeting.
One by one, plug these keywords into the Twitter search bar. Try variations and combinations. From the “More options” tab, you can customize your results to specify geographic location and date posted. When you find a company or individual who fits your prospect criteria, follow them and add them to a private Twitter list you’ve created for leads.
These keywords (or modifications of them) can be used for prospect generation on Facebook and LinkedIn as well. On the latter, use for your keywords when searching for groups. You’ll be able to find pertinent, professional discussions that you can join. Try the same on Facebook, looking for events and group pages.
#2: To Learn About Prospects
Once you’ve identified prospects, the fun starts: studying them. You can learn a lot about a lead through their social media activity and that education can help you tailor your approach. Here are some suggestions on how to research:
- Search their username on Twitter and look at tweets that mention them. What are their customers, employees and partners saying about them?
- Scour around for reviews and testimonials about the company or the individual. What do people value about the service or the person’s performance? What appears to have room for improvement?
- Pore over a company or individual’s Twitter feed. What is their voice and tone? Can you pick up on their interests and values? What information are they searching for?
#3: To Connect and Engage
Relationship-building can start on social media. Assuming you’ve got profiles on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, begin following and engaging with your prospects online. Retweet their tweets and reply to them, when it makes sense. Follow their Facebook page and interact with the content they post — like, share or comment. On LinkedIn, begin weighing in on group discussions.
Engagement can easily become spammy if you’re overzealous. To avoid crossing that line, be sure to:
- Retweet, share and comment in moderation. Taking action on every post looks insincere
- Avoid turning every comment into a sales pitch. You want to participate in the conversation, not dominate it
- Add value. Your participation should be more than “fluff”; if you’re responding to a question your prospect has posted, take the time to provide a thoughtful answer
#4: To Build Your Brand
Social media for salespeople is about more than just researching — it’s a great way to develop your own personal brand. Your public-facing Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts should position you as friendly, trustworthy and a subject matter.
To build your personal brand presence on social media, you need to think about how you want to be perceived and what sets you apart — this needs to be the driver behind every one of your tweets, posts and comments.
A couple of things to keep in mind when building your brand on social media:
- Your bio, headshot, voice and tone need to be professional. Show your personal side in small doses — mentioning how much you loved visiting Italy last summer is fine, but sharing a viral video that’s funny, but rife with crude language is not
- Provide value. Don’t just retweet or share interesting content — provide your own. Publish a LinkedIn post and share that. Add your own commentary when retweeting an article. Share tips and advice. Only about 20 per cent of your content should ever be promotional
#5: To Get a Foot in the Door
You might not be able to ink a deal through a tweet, but you can secure a meeting. Assuming you’ve undertaken the above activities, you should feel confident in reaching out to a prospect about how your product or service can help.
To do this, you need to look for cues. Watch for social media posts where a prospect is:
- Asking for recommendations for a solution
- Expressing unhappiness with a product or platform
- Talking about looking for ways to grow, scale or adapt
- Mentioning your competitor(s)
- Discussing your industry