To be successful, a salesperson’s approach to social media must identify who his audience is, what the audience’s challenges are, how to best help those folks and what information they are looking for. A plethora of tools are available to help identify these areas and aid in creating and distributing information to your network, as well as in engaging with prospective clients.
Sales is all about information gathering, and social media is about providing a personalized perspective to the topics being discussed. Managing social media with an activity-based sales approach can be done by effectively combining the two activities and quantifying the actions taken to produce the desired result.
Get out there
You can present yourself as a credible source by writing original content, sharing content, commenting on blogs and discussions and replying to tweets. It’s important to be consistent both in message and in frequency of posting and publishing. Create a publishing schedule that works for you. Perhaps writing a blog post once a week is easy for you. Maybe you’re the kind of person who can do it every other day. Regardless of how often you post, create a schedule and stick to it.
If you’re not a content creator, share content you find interesting, but make sure it’s relevant to your persona and product. Make it a goal to share something every day, whether that’s in a LinkedIn group or Twitter. Just be present and be regular.
“I do a lot of prospecting out of LinkedIn,” said Julie Hackler, regional sales manager at Avansic Inc. “I can find titles and read job descriptions and that helps a lot. People share white papers and topics in the industry, and you can belong to different groups, so you can get filtered information.”
In an effort to be consistently present, scheduling tweets ahead of time with applications like HootSuite and TweetDeck may seem like a good idea. While that can certainly be convenient, it’s also not personal or timely. And you definitely don’t want to be the one person who looks like they’re tweeting about how great your product is while the rest of the country is tuned in to a live crisis.
Engage, track, and measure
A set-to-fail engagement tactic goes like this: you write a cold email to a prospect outlining your services and linking to your website. If you’re lucky, the prospect scans your email before deleting it or moving on to the next one. They’re not likely to click on your link because they have too much stuff going on as it is.
Instead, jump into conversations they’re already having. Engage with prospects by answering questions and providing solutions to their challenges. Many tools are available:
- Twilert sends email notifications when certain brand names, keywords or hashtags are mentioned on Twitter.
- Google Alerts does the same thing for the web as a whole, sending alerts when an article mentioning “EdTech” is in the news, for example. It’s also great for reputation management, enabling you to see any content that’s published about your company as soon as it’s live.
- Save columns with keywords on TweetDeck or HootSuite to get real-time updates on what’s being posted to Twitter.
- Join LinkedIn groups in your industry to see what other people in your field are talking about, and comment on blogs that you follow or posts that come across your timeline.
The more you get your name out there, the more opportunities you have for people to see you as a credible resource and thought leader in the industry. Make it a goal to engage with people across all of your social networks several times a week.
Network and take notes
Use InsideView, which provides contact data, insights from social media, and details about your second-, third- and fourth-degree connections. Like Google Alerts, InsideView also offers notifications when your accounts and prospects publish content online, so you can stay abreast of any updates in your field and know who’s working with who.
SalesLoft is another great option for staying on task. Integrating phone calls, emails and social media activity means you remember the details from every prospect and client engagement. It also offers sales development tools to ensure that you stay on track throughout the sales pipeline.
“In 2016, we'll see a lot more CRM providers adding new social media features, whether that be tracking customer interactions or suggesting new contacts,” Marc Prosser, co-founder of Fit Small Business, said in an article on CIO.
With these tools, you can use what you know from social media to make notes in your CRM. Go above what you know about the prospect from their online profiles and include things they’ve talked about, challenges they’ve shared, and any conversations you’ve had with them. Include potential opportunities and time frames for following up with them.
Both your message and the frequency with which you post on social media should be consistent, but you should engage in a variety of ways. Post articles, videos, memes, whatever it is that’s related to your industry and product, but don’t jump on every trend or you’ll seem insincere. Take advantage of trending topics when they do relate to your industry, however.
Definitely avoid following a bunch of people in an attempt to gain followers. Twitter calls this aggressive following and will intervene if it detects that you’re doing it. And don’t engage in every single hashtag — only things that are applicable to you.
Remember: It’s important to be consistent with the message you send as well as when you send it, so make it a goal to post a few times a day. More importantly, engage with others. Reply to their tweets, favorite their posts, comment on their updates and share their ideas in a thoughtful manner.
Just remember to do it all on brand.