For many sales professionals, social selling is like an aardvark. You know it exists but you’ve never seen one in action.
Well, it’s 2016. Social selling is real, and it’s not about running paid ads on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Here’s a statistic that will make you a believer. According to Jill Konrath, social selling queen, “Sales professionals who use social selling are 51% more likely to exceed their quota.”
So, if you’re one of 100% of sales professionals who want to exceed quotas, better get on the social selling train.
Social media for prospecting
What’s the biggest question about putting effort toward social media? Return on investment (ROI). It’s really tough to quantify results on a very relationship-based activity like connecting with targets on LinkedIn and other social networks. But because everyone is selling and creating opportunities on the social networks, you’re getting beat if you’re not doing it. This leads us to the question of how to know if your leads are really a result of your social selling efforts.
Shares on your content is nice, but is that enough? Are you actively reaching out to targets on social media?
It all starts with the leads. Salespeople can’t rely on inbound leads to kill it in the sales floor. Social media is a legitimate source of leads if you play it right.
So, how do you make sure that your efforts contribute towards creating business and building relationships?
Admit it or not, it’s a valid concern. Salespeople are told that they need to sell on social and they do it–yet, it still makes them feel like stalkers.
The key is to reach out to prospects who are likely to engage with you. Throwing the pan at the wall and seeing if the tar sticks is not a strategy.
Using Google Alerts to reach out at the right time
Most use Google Alerts to keep track of news and updates about their competitors and their own company. How about using it for prospecting?
How? Think of industry-specific events. They don’t have to be very particular or time-sensitive. Think of a general event that usually happens within the industry of your targets. If you know these “alert keywords” that signal an event that your potential lead could be involved in, Google alerts can generate hot leads for you.
Can’t imagine? How about setting an alert for “corporate merger san diego” if you’re selling employee onboarding tools? You’ll be alerted of any expansion news and merger news in your target city. You can strike while the prospects need you.
Google Alerts is free and very easy to setup. There’s no excuse.
The biggest challenge here is, of course, choosing the right alert words. When you know your audience inside out, this shouldn’t be an issue.
Use LinkedIn to spot leads in the wild
Have you been maximizing LinkedIn’s robust search function?
Many salespeople go the click-click-click route where they start with a CEO in an industry and click away, finding connections with other C-suite players, hoping to hit the sweet spot.
Not only is this time-consuming, there’s also no assurance that the spots you hit are really sweet.
Here’s how to search on LinkedIn (and actually find people worth connection with).
Start with companies
Companies list employees that are on LinkedIn. And, who’s not on LinkedIn? You can map out a company’s org structure just by looking at their page. Not only do you see this, LinkedIn also tells you how many connections you are away from your target prospect. What does this help with? A bit of confidence is injected in you knowing that you’re not a total stranger to this. It’s highly likely that you find at least second-degree connections especially if you’ve been working inside an industry for a considerable period.
Of course, the potential of finding quality leads through search is amplified if you’ve got a paid account (which you should already have). The filters on LinkedIn search is a gift from sales gods. Get deep and identify decision makers quickly. Save your search criteria and change certain filters to get even deeper location-based or other category-based results. Get LinkedIn to send you an email each time a new prospect matches your
Now ask for that intro.
Here are some more tips to maximize your prospecting efforts on LinkedIn.
- Be updated with what’s happening in your prospect companies
Changes in a company’s status or any event that denotes change in a prospect company should be considered as an opportunity to connect. Build on the event and use it as a starting point or a warming device in your cold outreach.
- Use groups as a targeted pool for leads
- Online communities are very good sources of hot leads. You’re sure they’re active in the niche and are always looking for discussions about the industry. Use groups as a platform to open up conversation with decision-makers or even decision-makers’ influencers.Optimize your profile for social selling
- Make sure your profile is selling for you. We put together a consummate guide for that here. But basically, make sure each component of your profile directs visitors to an action–knowing and connecting with you.Connect with people who have viewed you
- If you haven’t noticed, LinkedIn tells you who’s viewed your profile. Click on the list of these people and make that an excuse to reach out. Also, you can view people you want to connect to. When they look back, reach out.Use InMail to get through to decision makers
- There’s always InMail. Lots of salespeople see InMail as a distribution channel. It’s not very effective that way–we are in the age of genuine connections and treating email as a “telemarketing” channel is just not going to cut it.
InMail’s system allows you to send a message to any LinkedIn user even when you’re not connected with them yet. LinkedIn claims an InMail gets responded to 30 times more than a cold call.
Use Twitter to spot and generate leads
Twitter is definitely one of the better social networks when it comes to getting results from prospecting. Like LinkedIn, it’s a place to start building connections with prospects.
In a survey of 277 b2b sales professionals, PeopleLinx found that 73% of respondents feel social networks like Twitter are very valuable to their selling process. However, only 31% actively sell on social. When asked why this is the case, it was found that only one in four sales pros confidently knew how to sell on social media.
Here are a few tips to help you optimize prospecting on Twitter.
- Know that soft sell is the limit
Twitter very rarely a platform for the final sale. Use it to search for leads and engage with your prospects.
- Be responsive and helpful
Continue being consultative on social media. Use your 140 characters to share helpful links to your audience and followers. Respond to questions and tweets.
- Tweet like a human
Automation is fine, it’s even encouraged so you’re always visible on social networks. However, make sure you still tweet like a human. Provide insight and commentary on industry news and react to other people’s tweets.
- Use a separate twitter account for business
Create a profile for your rants and personal tweets. Keep things compartmentalized.
- Retweet relevant tweets generously
Sharing tweets is good engagement–you get to share relevant articles to your followers too!
- Tweet frequently and regularly
Visibility is key in social media. If they always see your name on their feed, sharing relevant content, there’s a better chance that they remember you when you reach out.
- Only follow profiles that are relevant, real and can give you professional gain
Fluffing up your follower numbers by following and unfollowing people might work–but you’ll be hard-pressed finding real value in your followers.
- Use scheduling tools to keep you visible even when sleeping
Buffer and Hootsuite are two amazing tools you should be taking advantage of. Make sure you’re still filling up your–feed even for audiences from different time zones.
- Don’t use auto-messaging bots
Genuine is still what works best. When someone follows them, don’t join the lazy pack. Many accounts now use automated responders sending canned responses to every follower. No.
- Track and test tweets including content and schedules
Twitter is still a sales channel for you. Engagement is something you can measure through Twitter’s own analytics panel or through other social media analytics dashboard like those found on scheduling tools.
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