How I use Social Networks for Sales

September 13, 2014


The best sales people I have had the opportunity to learn from all had one common skill, specifically the ability to both cast a wide web, (as in spiders), for broad and open ended awareness, while at the same time have laser focus on high-value tasks/activities that drive success.  There have always been tools to leverage, now with social they can take things further, and act (or react) faster to capitalize on opportunities, or hold off threats.

These best-in-class sellers understand that buyers are driven by objectives, as a result they have a much larger opportunity pool, which in turn requires that they do a much better job of “listening” for opportunities, in order to engage early.  This means having to cut through more noise to pinpoint opportunities; hence the notion of the spider web, any movement even on furthest periphery alerts the seller to the opportunity.  These sellers use social selling tools to be alerted so they can act, engage, sell, and win.

Once they are aware of “movement” at the fringe, they leverage the same social tools to identify, segment and prioritize opportunities.  Some opportunities that make it on to their radar are immediate and need to be pursued, others will take time to develop and evolve.  They can use the same social tools that brought awareness, to prioritize time and resources in the right order, for the right pay-offs.

The goal is to use a few tools that can do a lot, rather than many tools with limited functionality.  That is one of the major challenges in social selling.  On a daily basis I get approached by someone who has the “latest greatest app that will help me sell more”.  Most often these folks have taken one element that other tools have, improve on that one element, but nothing else.  So while I may be able to get 10% improvement on something, the trade off in time and inability to combine it with other things I need, negates the value.  I urge you not to be like a kid at a toy store, it is not about having more social tools, it is about having the right tools that are easy to integrate in to your current selling strategy, and get more value out of activities, rather than more activities out of your tools.  New and exotic is not the best route.

To that end let’s look at three things I do to help widen my peripheral vision, and execute with focus, they each have great attributes, but combined they are much more powerful.  My lead broad web, my spider suite if you will, is Hootsuite and by extension Tweeter.  This allows me to first extend the reach of my blogs, which is central to my brand and selling.  If they like what they read, they will look further, and come in to my web.  Using hashtags, I can use Twitter advance search to find people talking about subjects people who buy from me talk about.  I can then use these hashtags to identify new people with an interest in the same subjects.

Once I identify individuals, I can go to LinkedIn and learn more about that person, company, connections, and reasons that I can directly engage.  LinkedIn helps me decide which individuals may have an interest by areas, specifically objectives they have, objectives that I have helped others achieve, and therefore a reason to engage and speak.  It is always interesting to see the group one belongs to, comments they make, and people/companies they follow.  I can then use the many tools in LinkedIn to quickly reach out and engage, and begin the sales process.

Once the process starts, I use Twitter to gage their activity vis-à-vis what we are engaged about.  For example, I have had instances where a prospect in mid-sale had put questions out on Twitter to confirm or learn about a point that would impact my sale.  Being aware of this, I could either respond directly, or just call, and weave the information into our conversation.  Many times you can avoid a competitor from getting involved by providing answers quickly and reinforcing your value.  I can also use LinkedIn to learn about people responding to the original question, more prospects.

The third tool I use is an app called Charlie.  It is integrated into my Google calendar, and the morning of, and an hour before an appointment, I get insight on the people I am meeting with.  This includes “a social round up”, not only tweets and LinkedIn activity, but connections that allow me more insights. In addition, a collection of recent traditional media round up, news, press releases, etc.  I found out about a prize a prospect had won the morning of our meeting, I tweeted it, and when I asked about it during our meeting, she smiled having seen the tweet, and in the process of telling me about it, shared information I was later able to use to move the sale forward.

There is a lot you can do, but you don’t need to, do the right things aligned with your sales process, and you’ll reap the rewards.