As a sales rep you are probably struggling with lack of information that is being passed to you. This makes it difficult for you to sell and often good leads may seem as bad due to lack of proper data. Typically, the sales team receive most leads with limited amount of information often with the information been acquired through marketing forms. Perhaps it has been enhanced by your sales operations department so they can send the leads specifically to you by knowing that the prospect is located in Chicago and is a $15 million-dollar manufacturing company. If you are lucky, you may obtain an email, phone number, job title, company name, state, industry and company size. These pieces of data are a great first step in identifying who to talk to.
So how do you begin conversation with your new prospect whose name is Dave and who works as a Director of IT? Most sales reps would dial the phone number, introduce themselves and the product they are trying to sell. Let’s say you are selling a better project management tool which will save them time and money. If you are lucky they will find your pitch interesting and if you are very lucky they may be in the market for your tool. This would be an ideal scenario.
But often you find that they already use a different tool. Or worst, they receive so many sales calls that they want to get you off the phone as quickly as possible? Well, here is where social media comes into play.
By doing a quick online search you may be able to read the blog posts that Dave, your prospect, has written. Depending on his privacy settings you may know that he is playing golf this weekend, information that you have acquired from Twitter. Well now, you can start the conversation by mentioning of a good weather for golf this weekend. It may help avoid a situation where he would hang up the phone right away. Next, you can mention how the project management tool is perfect for building out teams horizontally, as you read his blog posts about structuring teams differently. Well now he is really listening to you and, before you know it, you have closed the deal.
It would take you a few minutes to do a lookup using Google or Social Media Platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook. The results may by far outweigh the time investment. When you have 500 accounts with an average 2 to 3 contacts per account, the five minutes it takes to do an online search prior to picking up the phone is turning into weeks if not months of research. But there is a solution that could save you time, yet improve your phone call.
First step, is to gather data on your account. Here are a few tips on how to gather social media data on your accounts:
- Follow the companies on LinkedIn: You will get notifications when things change. This will allow you to speak to that account when something big has happened to the company. For example, the company that you are trying to sell into has recently announced that they are celebrating their 50 years of business. You can begin the conversation by wishing your contact a happy 50 years. It is a much easier conversation starter than my name is John and I work at ABC company.
- Join LinkedIn Groups: If you are selling into a specific market or certain job titles, chances are that there are LinkedIn Groups created. By joining the specific group you will be able to post information about the product you are trying to sell. Also you can monitor if any of the companies that you are trying to sell into have the prospects that are sharing ideas or asking questions. You can begin the conversation right there and maybe even get them to call you.
- Set up Google Alerts: anytime an account or prospect is mentioned you will receive an email notification. This is a great alternative to LinkedIn Company Notification.
Once you have set up your alerts and are following companies your next step is to focus on your prospects. If you know their Twitter handle or you can identify them on Twitter, you can start following, responding or commenting to their tweets. To add them to your Twitter account may take time, after all you have 1,000+ prospects. Well, the good news is that you can easily find someone to outsource that job to.
Another way is to find a technological solution that will do the mapping for you. You can also utilize social media listening tools to stay on top of all your prospects. The tools range from just monitoring certain hashtags to allowing you to tweet directly to potential prospects. The tools would depend on the platform that you are using, the budget you may have to spend on such a tool and so on.
Finally, you can use LinkedIn to identify additional prospects at the organization you are trying to sell into. You can also derive their Email address. For example, on LinkedIn you may find that the VP of sales name is John Smith, and the director that you were speaking to is Dave Williams. Having Dave William’s email as firstname.lastname@example.org you can assume that John’s email address will follow the same pattern: first letter of first name followed by last name and domain name. Therefore, the VP’s email would be email@example.com .
These are just some takeaways regarding social media that can help improve your sales performance. The only way to know what process, tool and strategy works for you is to try it and analyze the results.
One way to calculate your ROI on social media research is to check how much time you have spent and what results you have gotten. Then compare the results to the accounts that you have not looked up on any social media. Do not be surprised when you realize that the effort is paying off. Keep in mind it may take some time to see the results, especially if your sales cycle takes you months to close the deal.