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6 Tips For Driving Sales With Social Media In 2012

Posted by Dan Vigil on December 31, 2011

Will your sales teams be taking advantage of social media to generate leads and sales this year? A few years ago, companies were blocking social media sites with network firewalls to ensure that employees weren’t having too much fun on the job. While these platforms may be a distraction for administrative groups, they have become a valuable tool for sales teams. As social media continues its explosive growth trend through 2012, we’ll start to see more formal social media sales strategies emerge and even formal social media sales training. Here are some tips and tools that sales people can consider to take advantage of LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+ this year.

LinkedIn: With over 120 Million users, LinkedIn is the number one B2B social networking site in the world. While most users use the site to connect with current and former business associates, some saavy sales people have used LinkedIn to build a constant flow of new prospects and customers.

1. Focus On Your First Degree Contacts: Take the time to analyze your first degree contacts on LinkedIn. These are those contacts that are directly connected to you. Most people will find that their list is made up mostly of former work colleagues and school friends. Saavy sales people, on the other hand,  will use LinkedIn to connect to prospective customers. Sales people should get into the habit of sending connection invitations to customers and contacts immediately after every meeting or event. Just as great sales people spend time thumbing through their latest stack of business cards from the field, they should be reaching out to these folks with a LinkedIn invitation. While it’s still valuable to connect with colleagues, the salespersons goal should be to reverse their mix of first degree contacts. Set a goal to have 50% of your contacts be prospects and keep driving it higher each month.

2. Use “Advanced People Search”: Click on the small “Advanced” link to the right of the search field at the top right of your LinkedIn screen. This will enable a screen that allows you to search for people on LinkedIn by keyword, company, industry, level of seniority (Job Title), and interest. What more could you ask for when seeking out potential buyers for your products and services? Find prospective buyers and try to get introduced to them through your network, or find out what company they are with and pick up the phone for a cold call.

Twitter: With over 300 million users generating over 300 million tweets a day, Twitter has become a valuable prospecting tool for sales people who are willing to lend an ear to the millions of micro conversations going on.

3. Use “Lists” to Follow Prospects and Partners: Create lists on Twitter to follow prospects. Find out what they are talking about and what their current priorities are. You may need to do a little research to find out the Twitter handle being used by decision makers but it’s well worth the effort. By following them on Twitter, you’ll get to know them better and be able to identify opportunities to engage with your solutions. You can also gain access to prospects by following partners and competitors who share your same target audience. You can even use private lists so prospects don’t know you’re following until it’s time to engage.

4. Follow Topics, Keywords and Hashtags: Use tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck to follow Tweets around keywords, topics and hashtags that prospective buyers are looking for. If you’re in the advertising field you might follow the phrase “small business advertising” or “advertising help”. Listen for buying signals and engage with solutions without sounding too much like a salesperson. Once you’ve established yourself as a resource, the pitch will get easier.

Facebook/Google+: As the largest social networking site in the world with over 800 million active users, Facebook has evolved into a platform which can provide valuable prospecting information to sales people. Google plus has also successfully attracted over 70 million users and is growing at a phenomenal pace.

5. Sales IntelligenceFacebook and Google+ provide sales people with valuable inside information about what’s going on in their target prospects’ industries and companies. Sales people can browse client FB and G+ pages to see what they are doing, and what others are saying they are doing.  Status updates and updates from key employees can trigger engagements to introduce products and services.

6. Promote Clients & Prospects: Salespeople can use FB and G+ to spread the word about their clients products and services. This will help build rapport and strengthen customer relationships. Sales people should “Like”  or “+1” their customers’ pages and share their updates though other social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn.

While most of these ideas are centered around listening to and engaging with customers and prospects, sales people should also be taking part in social conversations themselves. They need to representing their products and services in social conversations. Clients will be using social networks this year more than ever, sales people can’t afford not to be there with them.

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