While it’s true that millions still use the Internet to post selfies, write hashtags and watch ridiculous videos of animals, the majority of users are now also using social platforms for more substantial and beneficial purposes. Written in the DNA of every natural salesperson and marketer is the need to connect, so it seems obvious that salespeople are using social media for sales purposes such as sourcing, acquiring and growing viable sales leads. With millions of people using the major social platforms every day, the chances are that your desired prospects are out there somewhere. Finding them, however, can prove easier said than done.
Although companies often have their own online presence, many salespeople have taken it upon themselves to create a more personal connection with prospects. When done right, this can be a powerful source of sales leads, but when done incorrectly, this can hinder your chances of sealing the deal or even attracting the right prospect in the first place. Here are some top tips on how to get it right when using social media for sales.
Optimize your profile
Regardless of which platform you choose to use, optimizing your profile is your best option when it comes to being found by organic traffic. Many businesses are using LinkedIn as their go-to social media platform, through which you can make thousands of relevant connections and join groups populated by your prospects. By optimizing your profile with the necessary keywords, you can make sure that anyone can find you should they ever run a search for products or services associated with your market. Use strong keywords in the main and summary sections of your LinkedIn profile and you will stand a better chance of showing up in generic searches. After that, the trick is to make as many connections as you possibly can, as the number of connections you have determines how many people and businesses will get to your profile by running a related search.
Nurture strategic alliances
You may be able to build alliances and agreements with other sales and industry people dependent on the nature of what you’re selling. As a maker and seller of suits for example, you may cite a connection with a shoemaker as being useful. This way, you can refer business or offer publicity to one and other in the form of posts, tweets and status updates. The key with this however is to only associate yourself with companies that you admire, as associating yourself with a company of lesser quality than yours will change the perception people have of your offerings. This type of promotion is one of the most effective ways in which social media can and should be used by sales professionals to broaden their reach and make a name for themselves.
We often see companies use complaints and mentions for very clever PR purposes. Below is a great example of this by unofficial Pizza Hut and Dominos Twitter accounts, but a quick search for ‘funny brands on Twitter’ will bring up hundreds more.
People use social media to vent their frustrations and talk about companies on a constant basis- it’s one of the main reasons it was invented! Every moan, groan and mention should be sniffed out by instinctive salespeople, who can essentially use them as a market research tool. On Twitter, you can search for all tweets about a competitor and actively seek to find complaints, which in turn act as talking points with prospects. By digging deeper into social networks, you will find forums where people go to complain about industry related issues. Once you come across a dissatisfied customer, you can simply offer your advice and give them alternative solutions to their problems. By doing this you will appear as being more helpful, knowledgeable and caring than their current supplier, in turn making the prospect more willing to listen to what you have to offer in the future.
Craft your message carefully
Your last post isn’t the only one people will look at when deciding what their opinion of you is, so it isn’t the only one that matters. Old posts can always be found if someone wants to find them, so make sure you don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t write in burning letters in the sky for all to see. Think, take care in what you write and be thoughtful in the way you write it. One of the great ways to engage with people is to have them engage with you. By posting an open-ended question in a group of your prospects, perhaps requesting their seasoned knowledge, wisdom and expertize, you allow them to open the door to a connection and potential sale for you.
The three cons
We wouldn’t normally suggest associating yourself with any kind of con, but connecting, contacting and conversing with your prospects is the difference between having an online presence and having an online presence that works. Anyone can employ someone to write them a strong profile and add thousands of prospects. Actually connecting with people once you’ve added them is the true key to online success. Answer questions in statuses, tweets and discussions to connect with people in your circle and make yourself visible to people outside your current circle. Constant page activity will also give you a better page ranking, thus driving more organic traffic. You should also share relevant news articles and blog posts that you find interesting in order to represent you as a thought leader in your field. Showing prospects that you’re in the know and have knowledge that they don’t will gain you respect and keep you in their consideration set.
Many people make the assumption that social media can’t help them to sell because they’re selling on a B2B basis. It’s very easy to forget however that behind the logos, websites and brands of every company, from conglomerates to SMEs, is a team of real life people. The majority of these people probably have an online presence, and not using this to connect with them simply means that there are thousands of prospects out there that you’re ignoring, who are just waiting to be found.
Of course, social media isn’t the only piece of kit that can help you improve your chances of success. Why not see what sales-i’s BI and CRM solution can do for you? Book a free online demo today to see how sales-i can take your sales team and current CRM system to the next level.