If you are in a sales role and haven’t started using social media to learn about prospects and customers, you need to start. Right now. If you don’t, you’re not doing the job you’re getting paid to do.
After all, sales depends on the art of conversation, right? So how are you creating those conversations?
You don’t need to have a Twitter account or a Facebook page. You don’t need to blog. You don’t even have to like social media. You just need to have access to the Internet, and a little bit of time that I promise will prove well-spent.
I recently spoke with a number of sales reps going through solution-led selling training about how they can use social media as part of their “Relating” phase. As you may know, this is the first stage of the popular selling methodology, and a critical one for a seller. It’s when they demonstrate they are a credible and trustworthy resource for a customer’s business. And they do this by building a rapport with the customer through conversations that are compelling and well-informed.
While many reps already use Google, LinkedIn and traditional relationship-building techniques (aka phone calls) to learn about a prospect’s organization, a large majority of sellers are missing out on a treasure trove of free, real-time intelligence they can use to inform and create compelling conversations.
The following visual represents a typical large customer, where (A) is Corporate HQ, (B) the various lines of business, branches or regional offices and (C) represents the people who work at all these locations.
At every level, organizations are using social profiles – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Blogs, etc – to share rich and relevant data about what’s going on within their business. Based on this simple illustration, you could have over 15 different social profiles you can reference and use to inform your conversations.
The challenge for a seller is finding the right social profiles to read and/or follow. Start by visiting their corporate website – many companies now provide a single page that consolidates all of their social profiles. You can also find your customers on Twitter and other social networks by using the built-in search tools they provide.
Social for sales is about creating relationship leads – not sales leads
Here’s a few things you can learn about businesses from their social profiles to build compelling conversations:
– Learn about a company’s culture by reading their corporate blog(s)
– Get a read on their brand’s personality by visiting their Facebook page
– Find out which charities they are involved with via their Twitter account
– Depending on what you sell, you can even learn about a customer’s physical environment by watching videos they share
– Your key contacts may be sharing brand affinities or even buying signals via their Twitter accounts
The trick with using this data – especially if you follow a prospect’s personal account – is not being creepy with the information. For example, I’d advise against calling a prospect and commenting directly on their random tweet proclaiming a love of needle-point. I would say, however, this information is still useful. It tells you they’ve got a hobby – a rich detail you can bake into a conversation down the road.
So if you are following customers and prospects on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks already, congrats. You’re well on the way to becoming a socially-savvy seller. You’re also creating more compelling sales conversations with customers that your competition should be worried about.