Wondering how social media can shorten the sales process?
Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook make it easy to develop relationships with potential customers before you ask for a meeting.
In this article you'll discover how to connect with prospects on social media.
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#1: Research Your Prospects
Researching prospects is critical to the sales process. As a salesperson, you want to know everything you can about your prospects and the companies they work for.
You'll want to follow the news announced on their website, find out if they've hired someone special, look into whether they've raised money, and research how their stock is doing (if they're a public company).
How do you guide your sales team to do this? Here are three social networks to start with.
Find prospects and their companies on Twitter and see what type of content they're posting to their accounts. Do they answer each tweet? Are they tweeting multiple times a day? This type of data lets you get a glimpse into the person and company you want to do business with.
The easiest way to find out what companies are up to is to research them on LinkedIn. For example, you might discover that a company regularly publishes how-tos on sales and marketing or that the CEO writes articles himself.
To get information on prospects, look at their LinkedIn profile. Find out where they've worked in the past and where they went to school.
Look for any information in their profile that you can identify with. If you find something, make a note of that information for future conversations.
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It's also helpful to note your prospects' interests, so you can connect with them on a personal level.
Many people use their Facebook profile for personal reasons, but it doesn't hurt to check out prospective customers on the network. If the information is publicly available, find out what makes your prospects tick. Do they have a family? Do they like to ski? You can use this background information for upcoming conversations.
#2: Connect and Engage With Your Leads
After researching your prospects, the next step is to make them feel comfortable with your sales team and your company. You want prospects to turn to your salespeople when they need what you offer. How do you do this? Focus on a consultative sell of valuable information when people need it.
Use your social networks to tell prospects more about your company and the valuable content you can provide.
Content marketing is important with this approach, so your sales team needs to be aligned with your marketing team. Your salespeople are on the front lines, so they know what's important to their prospects. Share this data with your marketing team so they can develop case studies, guides, infographics, and how-to videos. These are critical to your sales success.
Keep a close eye on what your prospects are tweeting about. If they're tweeting about personal things, you may not want to retweet them or chime in. But if they're posting about their business, it's game time.
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If the company is posting about great stuff happening, you'll want to like and retweet their content. The more they see that you're interested, the easier the next steps in your sales process will be.
Here are some ways your company can start making connections on Twitter:
- If prospects tweet about their business from their personal account, your company should follow them.
- Your company account should follow your prospect's company account.
- If they feel comfortable doing so, your salespeople should follow both the company and the prospect.
Keep an eye on what your prospects like and share in your LinkedIn stream. Then like and share that content with your connections. If prospects are writing and posting their own content, like and share that, too.
To take it a step further, share their content with relevant groups you belong to.
Don't forget your team can endorse a prospect as well, which will show you've gone the extra mile.
Here are some ways your business can start making connections on LinkedIn:
- Your CEO, salespeople, and marketing team should follow the company's page.
- Your CEO should follow the prospect.
- Your salespeople should connect with the prospect directly.
Once you've connected with prospects, send a message introducing yourself and your company, and thank them for the connection.
Follow what the company is posting to their Facebook page. Join the conversation and like and share the content with your friends and fans and on your company's page.
To start making connections on Facebook, your salespeople and your Facebook page should both like the company's page.
#3: Ask for a Meeting
Now it's time to ask people you've connected with (or have liked or shared your content) for a meeting.
Find out if your prospects are going to a conference that you're planning to attend. See if they're posting with the conference hashtag. If they are, start a conversation using the hashtag and their Twitter handle, and ask for a meeting. It's up to them how they want to respond.
You'll also want to actively tweet during the conference with that hashtag.
When you send a LinkedIn message to thank people for a connection or for sharing your content, ask for a brief meeting (you only want a foot in the door) and note what they'll get out of it. Keep your request short and break up your paragraphs to improve readability. Remember, you're dealing with busy people who will likely scan your request.
Using the tips above will shorten the sales process by helping you learn more about your prospects and their companies before you ask for a sales meeting.
What do you think? Have you used any of these approaches in your own business? What other tips can you share? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
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