“Whether or not you believe classical methods work, Social Lead Generation does not discard the model; it leverages a new media to change the protocols and methods of communication.” So writes Marcio Saito, blogger at The Click Company Community. He goes on to say that, “Social Media creates interactive channels and allow companies to nurture engaged communities in a way that is scalable. In Social Channels, it is possible to communicate without intruding, to listen to a large number of people and aggregate it effectively, and to personally engage when appropriate.” For me, the two most important points in that sentence for sales people to pay attention too are: “listen” and “engage when appropriate”.
As you transition some of your sales prospecting and lead generation activities over to the use of social sites, the principle when communicating in the online world is much the same as meeting someone face-to-face. Create opportunities for connection and visibility without direct selling approaches. You want to get your potential buyers engaged in a conversation with you, and you do that at the right time, in the right way, the right place and without talking about yourself. Ask a thought provoking question that engages them and others in dialog. Remember that your sales role is what it has always been: to create a relationship with a prospective buyer that then moves the buying process forward. The social web changes everything and nothing more significantly than the changes in buyer behavior. Now that your prospects have moved to online social communities to acquire information about products and services to meet their needs, you must move there too.
Listening plays a critical role in the online space and can benefit sales professionals in two ways:
- Quickly respond to a request to help someone else or respond to a question that captures attention from others in the group. Positive visibility is your success outcome.
- Use participation in groups as an opportunity to “listen” to trends in the conversation, which could be something valuable you’d share with your potential clients.
A good rule of thumb when getting started with your online networking efforts is to invest the time to learn the spoken and unspoken rules of each community that you join. Always begin by joining groups where your potential buyer is most likely to participate. Observe how people communicate with each other in the group before diving in.
The social web provides sales professionals fantastic opportunities to build emotional equity with within groups and with potential buyers before actually engaging in a 1-1 sales dialog with anyone. As you gain experience working in the online space, creating new business relationships will begin to happen naturally. You won’t even worry if you are engaging at the right time, because you will know that you are. That’s lead generation at its best.
Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; neither is your online sales presence and reputation. Generating leads using social tools like LinkedIn makes the lead generation process easier and faster than it used to be, and you need to resist the temptation to expect an immediate sale the moment you jump online. Your success depends on having a purpose, plan, persistence, participation and above all – patience! And, that’s pretty much what’s required of sales success anyway, whether your lead generation efforts are happening online or off.