Social media extends far beyond the marketing department. For a sales professional, knowing how to use social media for sales is an essential step in dominating the World 3.0 marketplace that includes social chatter, live streaming events, and global markets.
To help identify some areas to think about: try these five tips regarding Social Media for Sales Development.
1. You and your company both have brands. In today’s age, when people become interested in something they turn to online searching with sites like Google, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. Depending on the niche you are in, anywhere from 50% to 94% turn to online information searches to research your offer.
- Know your online brand. Keep track of obvious search phrases about your company. If there are negative items showing up about you, strategically try to get them taken down. If you can’t take them down, formulate answers in case a prospect or client mentions them.
- Create your professional brand. Social Media services allow you to create powerful self-branding statements and offer additional methods of follow-up. Give your online brand some thought regarding how they perceive you as an individual. (At bare minimum setup Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook. Optionally launch a blog or a YouTube account.)
2. Know everything about them. As the ticket price of the item you are selling goes up, so should your knowledge of the intended client. You should refine an effective process for identifying and sharing information with you prospect market. If the tools are not available, you can find a few simple solutions that open up a wide range of information:
- Google Alerts: setup a few key Google alerts on the person’s name, company, and professional interests. This allows you to keep up to date with changing marketplaces and provides an opportunity to reach out when pertinent news is available.
- SocialMention: social mention draws in information from all over the real time web. It reveals how often an item is mentioned and identifies top users to specific Twitter conversations. When reviewing a prospect, performing one or two searches on socialmention gives an opportunity to find a treasure trove of conversation and value points.
3. Connect where they are, when they are. Social media provides a unique opportunity to engage prospects when they are active and looking for information. By making yourself available to answer questions and providing value, you identify yourself as a solution and time saver (rather than a time drain like most other sales people.)
- Locate common interests and save travel time. When strategizing with social media, look for trends and communities that attract like-minded prospects. By planning at the community level, you gain an economy of scale and can increase ROI by sourcing more leads in less time, while also decreasing cost associated with travel and down time.
- Look for coffee meetings. Never eat alone. Services like Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare are an incredible resource for meeting professionals casually over lunch. Keep an eye out for professionals who are within your travel area (or even within your neighborhood)
4. Engage. Cultivate. Strengthen. Relationships take time. Experienced business development professionals know that six and seven figure contracts take six to eighteen months to move through a sales process. The key to understanding this process is to map out consistent touch points and develop a reason for continual engagement.
- Schedule your follow-up points. Use your calendar tools to schedule updates to important relationships. Identify five to ten reasons to touch base over the course of your expected timeframe and get them scheduled. When you have personal and professional access to information via Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin – try to note a few personal items to engage with.
5. Get technical: success is in the numbers. Your marketing and online team may or may not give you this, but it is very important: collect all the data you can about people you work with. When acting as a relationship builder, knowing what types of information people are looking for is critical to success.
- Use URL shorteners. Try Bit.ly – When writing e-mails or sending out updates on Facebook/Twitter, URL shortening services provides you with the tactical information of what people found interesting. As a bonus point: try putting one or two pieces of information into your e-mail signature with a Bit.ly link to them. Many professionals are surprised to see how much directed traffic they can send from e-mails they already write every day.
- Use Google Analytics. Your main company site probably has this already. Ask for access or weekly reports. This information identifies how people are interacting with the main brand web property. It is critical to know what
- Use additional research and analytic tools. There are dozens of tools that provide additional information about the people you are talking to. These include a wide range of services.
- Addictomatic.com – a robust search tools that collects information from 20+ sites. Great for researching brands and people.
- Compete.com – a service that allows you to compare up to five sites and see what types of traffic are being generated
- Google Trends – just like stocks, popular items go up and down. Use this tool to identify whether an item of interest is losing or gaining momentum.
- Viewzi – a powerful tool for displaying topics in different formats (an essential communication benefit when dealing with multiple types of people.)
6. BONUS TIP: Benchmark, Measure, Improve.
- Setup a weekly and monthly social media schedule. Track highlights and interesting changes over 30, 60, 90 days. Most importantly: keep a record of how much time you spend developing your social media footprint.This is critical for understanding your personal ROI as a sales professional.
- Schedule a monthly review of your information and your top five to ten prospects. Look for items that appear to have high value for your invested effort and then carry those tactical learning items over to your other top accounts. After a few months of consistent work, the numbers will speak for themselves.
These guidelines of Social Media for Sales Development are an introduction point to thinking about social media as a sales tool and prospect research system. Savvy sales professionals who take the effort to leverage new technology and social trends have an opportunity to take a lion’s share of the market while old-school professionals struggle to adopt new techniques.
If you found this article useful, please forward to sales professional who can use the additional guidance or share some of your own digital business development tips in the comments below.