I’m convinced that 2014-15 will be the year we’ll finally see companies looking seriously at social media as a B2B sales tool. I’m seeing increased interest in and requests for our social sales training and I’m seeing a lot more social selling questions posted in my social media streams. So today, let’s start with the basics of how you can use social media networks in your sales prospecting process.
Establish Your Brand as an Expert
Social Media platforms make it really easy to create and publish content on topics your sales prospects are interested in learning more about. You can create content on a blog and then share it over social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ to begin linking your brand to that content.
You can repurpose content, such as sales or conference presentations, on sites like Slideshare to further link your brand to the relevant topic in a way that suggests expertise.
Or if you don’t have much time, you can simply curate relevant content and share it across social platforms. The mere act of sharing the content will associate it with your brand and begin to create the appearance of expertise or at a minimum, well informed knowledge leader.
Over the years I’ve found it takes about 9 months of focused creation, curation and sharing to fully establish yourself as a thought leader or expert on a chosen topic.
Identify and Profile Qualified Sales Leads
Twitter is the best social media platform for identification and qualification profiling. Not only can you search by keywords (within tweets) but you can also search Twitter profiles for keywords and/or titles. Both of these searches will usually result in a list of possible leads.
LinkedIn is also a great tool for this kind of search and profile work. I find Facebook isn’t nearly as good due to it’s default setting of Private and most folks have figured out how to properly set their public Facebook profile so that it shows only the bare minimum of information.
Once you’ve identified those targeted leads, create a Twitter List and load it into a product like Hootsuite to make it easy to follow all the Twitter activity generated by members of the list. Then look for opportunities to engage. In some cases those opportunities may be of a professional nature but in others, it might be as simple as talking about the weather.
If you want to step your lead nurturing up a notch, sign up for a service like Nimble. Like Hootsuite, you can load in Twitter Lists and use the platform to track and engage in conversations.
Nimble is also a lightweight Social CRM tool that makes it really easy to see all of your sales prospects’ social media chatter in one screen. You can also tell the software to remind you to reach out to your leads on a predetermined schedule – weekly, monthly, quarterly, etc.
NOTE: as of the writing of this post, that feature seems to be glitching. It still reminds you but for some reason the reminders aren’t clearing themselves when you do reach out and touch that prospect. This starts to devalue the feature because you have to manually remember who you did and didn’t touch.
The software will track all of the places you can touch that lead — on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook or even via email. That feature combined with Deal Tracking (where you can create and monitor sales opportunities you’re working) makes this a wonderful and inexpensive alternative to SalesForce.com for sales and marketing folks that just need a basic CRM tool to make lead nurturing easier.