Social Sales Prospecting 101

Ah, isn’t this exactly the way it’s supposed to happen? It is a sales dream…fresh, hot leads – and lots of them – served up daily – that can be quickly converted into new customers.

The challenge dogging many sales organizations today is that even though they are bringing prospects into the pipeline, the two questions they should be tackling are not being addressed.

Are you bringing the RIGHT prospect into the pipeline?
Are you able to engage them at the moment that they are most open to making their purchase?
Traditional approaches to prospecting for new clients continues to decline in effectiveness. Cold calling lead lists, free webinars, email marketing, networking at events and conferences…things that used to high levels of success just aren’t as effective as they once were. It’s why leveraging the use of social technology makes good business sense. Still, there is an art to prospecting in the online world. It takes a little more time, creativity and finesse to create value in the mind of your buyer in advance of any sales opportunity.

Here are 5 social sales prospecting tips to get you started:

Tip #1 Target.
As Mal Pancoast says, “The odds of hitting your target go up dramatically when you aim at it.” Smart sales people recognize how important it is to target their activities so that they are engaging with the right prospect at the right time. In the online space your targeting ability is even more critical. If you haven’t narrowed your focus or defined the characteristics of your ideal buyer, your messaging will be confusing and your social sales activities will be fractured. Don’t try to serve everyone, because you can’t. Not well anyway.

Tip #2. Listen.
Now that you’ve targeted your buyer, it’s time to identify the social communities where your prospects are likely to be participating. LinkedIn groups are a great example. Thousands of business professionals engage in dialog every day about products, services, industry trends and business issues in general. Once you determine key online communities, your job is to learn the language of the group. Make sure you understand the group’s guidelines when it comes to blatantly promoting what you offer. Groups typically frown on sales pitches. Don’t risk damaging your brand because you didn’t learn the rules. Take time initially to watch and observe.

Step #3. Participate.
Creating social profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter is your first step. Nothing is going to happen if you let your social profiles sit passively on the sidelines though. You need to participate often to increase your visibility and broaden the awareness of your capabilities. But, what do I actually do, you might be asking. Participation can be as simple as posting a daily status update with something interesting and relevant for your audience. Answer questions in groups, pose questions on Twitter, recommend others, keep profiles updated with current information, share video or news stories…these are all ways to keep yourself visible in front of people. Bottom line – you need to be top of mind when your buyer is ready to make their purchase. If you’ve not been active and visible, chances are high that you’ll be overlooked.

Step #4. Search.
LinkedIn gives you the ability to create lead generation lists using the “saved search” functionality. You’ve targeted your buyer so using “advanced search” you create your list by entering in titles, appropriate keywords, geographic location, etc. to search the LinkedIn community of 80 million users. Once the search results are returned, you now have leads to follow up on. And the real power is that when you save the search, LinkedIn will send you a weekly email to notify you of the new people joining your network who fit the search criteria. Imagine, on Monday you receive a list of 20 new prospects for you to go to work on. You can also search companies on LinkedIn and “follow” those that you want to keep on your radar.

Step #5: Connect.
Continuing to cultivate your network of connections is a daily activity that every sales person needs to undertake. People with sizable networks comprised of high value, high quality contacts earn more money than those that don’t. In this new world of social selling, remember that 78% of buyers trust peers, not ads. Using social media, today’s sales person can develop and maintain diverse business networks that lead to greater access and opportunity.

Want hot leads? Learn to harness the power of social selling!

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