Kent came across this blog post whose author suggests that finding and engaging with prospects online doesn’t work. As you might imagine, that got my back up a little, so I decided to look deeper. The blog post referenced a Gallop poll of 17,000 people. With a few clicks (gotta love the Internet), I found the original post from Gallup about social media and the 3 big myths they say that they uncovered.
Here is what needs to be clarified straight out of the gate.
The Gallup poll is consumer oriented and focused on the impact of social media “marketing” in driving the acquisition of new customers and the retention of their current ones.
I don’t disagree with the conclusions of the study, but the blanket statement by Charles Blakeman in his blog post that you can’t engage prospects online is very misleading. Marketers may be faced with a difficult challenge when it comes to trying to engage customers in ways that lead to the conclusion of a sale, but their research doesn’t apply to B2B or how social media fits and benefits the sales process.
Using social media in the selling process is NOT the same as social media “marketing”. You can read an earlier post that I wrote on this topic. Marketing and Sales need to work in tandem and they will both leverage social media in different ways. The distinction is an important one!
How Social Media Fits Your Sales Process
- Networking – are you calling three people every day in your network in order to stay connected? Do this daily and make sure that the purpose of your call isn’t to sell something. It is a chance for you to learn more about them so that you can offer to be a resource for them.
- Referral Building – are you spending the time needed to cultivate a referral network? You should. Referrals from an outside, credible source secures that meeting 44% of the time. Have someone (credible and trusted) inside your target company sponsor you andexpect to secure that meeting 84% of the time. Think of three people each day who can help you and you them.
- Prospecting – using techniques like creating a saved lead list in LinkedIn, you find your targeted buyer quickly, so that you can then plan your engagement strategy and approach.
- Lead qualification – when receiving those inbound leads, you can use social media to learn more about the company and individual before having that first phone call. Information that you’ve gathered will aid in your qualification process.
- Pre-sales call research – because so many salespeople fail to do this work, they come off sounding amateurish. Questions like what keeps you up at night or what are your top initiatives in 2012 just have no value and only waste time. With tools like InsideView, you can gather public information about companies and their leaders, as well as be able to leverage the real-time buzz and conversation via social media.
By now, most people conceptually understand that the power of sales meets social media happens in these five areas on the front end of the sales cycle. It is in the HOW to do these things well, which is followed by then doing them consistently is where things start to break down.
We have seen so many great examples of how our clients are using social media to build pipeline and revenue. It does work. But if you or your salespeople are not seeing great results, we’d love to talk to you. We are launching a new social sales coaching program September 14 that will help you do these things and more. Training people on WHAT to do and HOW to do it is the fastest way to start seeing sales results.
Success stories from our customers who know that social selling works!
Prospect – “After a meeting with the prospect, we learned their parent company had an initiative to consolidate all their wireless lines (thousands). I was given the title of the person making the decision but that was it. I then found a C-Level contact at the parent company on LinkedIn who was connected to him. I was one degree separated from her and we shared three similar connections. I reached out to a common connection of ours to make a referral and then asked her who was responsible for the wireless consolidation task. I had a meeting with him one day later.”
Prospect – “A cold call to the President/IT director resulted in the prospect telling us to call back in a year. One of my reps went on LinkedIn and found a Director of Safety. We called her with a fleet tracking safety solution and secured a meeting. Now we are working on a solution for 50-75 devices.”
Former Customer – “Ported out over 10 lines five years ago. They would not take our call for years on several win-back attempts. By using InMail on LinkedIn, we got a response and a meeting with the owner. We now have three opportunities in the funnel and have already had follow up meetings.”
This is HOW its done folks! This particular client’s salespeople were seeing results in just a few days or so. By leveraging the information and changing their engagement approach, you can see from their comments that the results speak for themselves!
Check out our Sales Meets Social Media Program