Traditional B2B sales has always been brutal in nature. Knock on doors. Smile and dial. Rejection followed by more rejection. Now social media comes waltzing into the picture, like the new pretty face at the soda shop, and the focus of the discussion moves to her. It’s the siren’s song. “Buy me a milkshake and I will bring others to you. You can just sit back, take the calls, and write the orders. No more prospecting!” Nice!
Unfortunately, those who are trying to convince you that social sales is the be-all and end-all to selling are, in fact, marketing the proverbial bill of goods. Mind you, if you hate prospecting, you want to be sold on this concept! The harsh reality is quite different. I want, and you need, to leverage both. While social and traditional sales models are opposites in many ways, their strategies and tactics will work together flawlessly. You might even call it the perfect marriage.
Let’s take a close look at our classic example, prospecting …
Traditional prospecting advantages:
- If done in person, you can see what is going on around you
- If done via the phone, you can make a lot of calls within a relatively short time period
- There is a chance that you might just catch the right person at the right time
- Cold calling can be effective for information gathering
- You just might create an opportunity where none had existed before
- You don’t pre-judge the call as there is no judgment involved. You might just strike gold!
- Tends to be very time consuming
- Generally very hit and miss when it comes to actual results
- You are arriving unannounced and interrupting someone’s normal day
- Most often, you are asking for “the person in charge of …”
- A very low rate of return – maybe a 10% chance, at best, of seeing the correct person
- Generally requires follow-up calls to secure the appointment
Ideally, our goal is to turn cold calls into warm calls and I would define a warm call as …“I know that something is going on with this company that would indicate a potential for us doing business.“ These are often indicated by trigger events.
For example, my background was in the electric sign industry. Typical trigger events for me included new construction and businesses moving (relocating or opening). Both would indicate a strong potential for new signage. Prior to social media, how did I uncover these? Drive around, read the paper, and talk to others.
There are a number of ways that we can leverage the internet and social media to expose trigger events but, let’s take a look at Google:
Google Search - Perform your search based on keywords but, narrow your search to “News”.
When you perform a Google search based on “news”, an option is also given to add this search to Google News just by clicking that selection (blue splash star in preceding image). I can then go to this page whenever I like and read the latest news.
However, I would like to be notified by email whenever this kind of news is breaking so, I will also create a Google Alert.
Next, read the individual articles and note contact names and company names. Now I am going to use a free tool called Sales Search (Chrome extension) to find out more about specific companies and people by accessing LinkedIn.. Note that you could also do a general Google search and add the word “LinkedIn” to your search but, we are going to go directly to LinkedIn by using Sales Search. Sales Search is very simple to use. All you need to do is to highlight the company or person name and right-click your mouse.
As you can see in the screenshot, and this is just a little aside, a right-click reveals a number of other options including: Google search, share to Buffer, share to HootSuite, email an article excerpt, add to SpringPad (like Evernote), or even do this screen capture with Snagit. You will need to have these programs and/or extensions installed in order to access these options.
And, here are our LinkedIn results.
Based on our LinkedIn results, we can narrow these down and/or conduct additional relevant searches. However, we have found “Mr. Big”.
To this point, we have leveraged the internet as well as LinkedIn. Best of all, this entire process took me two minutes tops! You can’t make a phone call in that amount of time and I have already uncovered a bunch of leads, a key contact, and I have set up searches and notifications for future opportunities. We have turned nothing into warm calls! #Score
Finally, let’s add traditional sales back in. You will still need to make the call and, by the way, you are still prospecting. Of course, you will also be required to actually sell. But, hey, you are miles ahead in this process than you would have been had you not deployed social tools!
We have just barely scratched the surface of this powerful topic so, I will leave you with some additional articles that you may wish to read.
- Get Business Faster by Leveraging Trigger Events (EBook)
- The Case Against Trigger Events
- Trigger Events Articles by Alen Mayer
- Sales Trigger Events – A Comprehensive Guide (Slide show)
What tips do you have that you might like to share with others? Perhaps specific examples of your success with marrying social and traditional sales.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. I’ve been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.