Social media is fundamentally changing how we conduct business, but especially for sales professionals. In 2006 with the advent of social platforms and social networking sites, it totally changed the way sales professionals connect with potentially prospects, research competitors, become informed, and network.
Now they’re only two kinds of sales professionals in the world. The first uses interruption-based selling and marketing which is dead—cold calling, cold emailing, mass messaging, etc. They do real damage to their identity and to someones day by interrupting them.
The second has figured out that combing traditional efforts with social platforms and social networking sites makes for a higher degree of success. It’s all about the new selling and marketing which is about generosity and relevance. These forward-thinking salespeople are embracing a new approach to break down these old communication barriers: social media. It involves telling stories, adding value, and sharing resources. It also involves getting out into the marketplace where your prospects are congregating.
They use social media on the job to:
- monitor potential clients,
- monitor competitors,
- gather intelligence,
- network and more.
It’s gives these tech-savvy sales professionals an edge over the competition. A recent study found that salespeople using social media on the job outperformed peers not using it by a whopping 73 percent. They also exceeded their quotas 23 percent more often than their counterparts who were not using social media.
Here are 3 tips for using social media as your secret sales tool:
#1. Social Media is an Ice Breaker
Social media is a great resource for gaining unique insights into leads that can help you make for a warm first contact. This year, for example, I landed a new client thanks in large part to LinkedIn Feeds. After connecting and following a decision maker on LinkedIn for 2 months, I noticed that the lead always shared an update passionately about her love of Starbucks coffee. So when I eventually decided it was time to reach out and make contact, I used her passion for Starbucks as an icebreaker in an email. Talk of her favorite coffee really grabbed the her attention. She responded, leading to more exchanges and eventually a great sale.
#2. Social Networks are Crockpots They Make Warmer Referrals
Social media can be a major asset in getting people to be more receptive to you. For instance, I recently fused old and new techniques to land a meeting with a huge potential client. I came across an article on a Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon where this potential client would be speaking about a new initiative being launched and the economic impact of these efforts. After a quick search on LinkedIn, I ask to connect with him while also congratulating him on this opportunity. During this speech I took great notes about pain points, potential solutions and the overall theme. After that speech I quickly ran over mention that we just connected on LinkedIn and regurgitated one point I liked back to him from his speech. I then followed that with an email listing the points from his speech and requesting a meeting. Initiative payed off because I have that meeting.
Had I tried the traditional route of calling or emailing, it’s unlikely I would have received such an immediate response—or any response at all, for that matter. None of this, of course, is rocket science. A warm referral is known to increase the odds of sales success by 200 to 400 percent. What’s new and powerful here is leveraging social media to transform a cold referral into a warm one.
#3. Use Social Media as a Fishing Net to Catch New Opportunities
The most tragic scene in sales is a lost opportunity. I have found one easy way to avoid them—when I’m consulting with clients that have multiple departments it’s better to work with those other departments to gain valuable insight.
For example, I recently took to Twitter to complain about my mobile service interruption. About 10 minutes later someone from another carrier’s social media team spotted it on Twitter. I assumed he or she immediately blasted the message over to the customer support team because I received a tweet saying:
I did stay with my current provider, but this all could have ended up becoming a promising new opportunity worth thousands dollars (lifetime value) for Virgin Mobile .
Social media-assisted selling isn’t just happening at large companies. More and more salespeople in both midsize and small businesses are adopting social media. Last year for example, IBM reported that they saw a stunning 400% surge in their sales after implementing a social selling program.
The salespeople of today can empower themselves with useful information and data that gives them a truly competitive edge. All they have to do is tap into networks like LinkedIn, Facebook company pages, and Twitter.
Social media won’t replace the phone or email, but combined together it’s creating a new and revolutionary tool that sales departments can add to their arsenal.
Question: What do you think? Are you a sales professional or business owner using these tools to your advantage?