If you’re running a business or in charge of a business development team then you’ll have heard from just about everyone that you’ve got to use social media, in order to drive your sales forward. Furthermore, that if you don’t you’ll be missing out big time.
Whilst this is helpful, what everyone forgets to tell you is exactly how to do this.
As I’m frequently asked this question, I’m going to help out. I’m going to go through exactly how to contact your prospective customers professionally, for example through sites like LinkedIn and Twitter.
Let’s start with shifting your mind set.
The first thing you need to do is to get into a baiting mode (think fishing), or as it’s often referred to in sales – prospecting.
Remember not so long ago, when prospecting was done via the phone?
Of course you do.
Well using social media to contact your prospective customers is actually very similar. The only difference is that your directory or database is now your social media platform, and your voice is the written word, an image or video on that platform.
So, just as you would have done in the ‘good ol’ days,’ when prospecting was done via the phone, you’ll need a place to start, and this is where my fishing game comes in.
The Fishing game
Why the fishing game? Well it illustrates a point AND it doesn’t sound quite as predatory as hunting. I also want your prospects to fall for you hook, line and sinker and that means you’ve got to be the perfect bait that’s irresistibly drawing them in.
To prep for the game you only need to know 2 rules. The first is the 3 E rule – to entertain, educate and empower. The second is – you’re not allowed to sell from social media. Instead, you’re going to tease.
Now that you’re clear on the rules, here are the game instructions.
You need to determine your prospects’ profile so start by asking some questions. For example, what do they like doing, what do they talk about, what problems do they have, who do they follow or admire and where do they hang out online – blogs, groups, forums, Facebook Pages etc. If you’re still unsure how to do this, read The number one reason you lose sales.
Now the thing to note here is that you need to ‘fish where the fish are hungry.’ There’s no point looking for fish if they’ve just eaten. Interestingly Derek Halpern, from Social Triggers says something similar in his blog Why blogs fail, see Example #3.
When you’re prospecting through social media, the key is in knowing where your ideal customers hang out. If they’re not on Facebook then there’s little point hanging out there. So, do some investigating.
As a generalization, Facebook is traditionally used for B2Cs, but that said many B2Bs are there too. Why else would some of the bigger players like IBM, Cisco, Verizon put a tonne of money into it? LinkedIn is the obvious choice though for B2Bs, as it’s more of a professional networking environment. Twitter is suitable for both and is actually an ideal platform for prospecting. Pinterest and Instagram have more of a purchase-ready female following and are particularly suitable for food, fashion and retail. As for YouTube and Google+ – well in my opinion, everyone should be on them.
2. Be vigilant
Your job here is to be vigilant. You’ll be searching for prospects who are talking about your industry; or the problems that your product or service fixes; or even simply talking about your competitors. You’ll need to have your keywords at the ready so you can use the platforms search facilities or other useful tools, for example on Twitter – socialmention.com or tweetchat.com
Once you’ve found your prospects it’s time to like, follow, link, subscribe, or add them. Then, comment on their posts, re-Tweet them, answer a question or share something they say. By contributing to their conversation you add value to their network. You’ll also get visibility and this is where it becomes natural for them to want to find out more about you. Usually this starts with a reciprocated following, liking, adding, or linking to you.
4: Build the relationship
Once you‘re connected you’ve got to build the relationship and this takes time.
So read their profiles, get to know them and identify their needs. Build trust and value. Remember too that you don’t always have to do this by adding pure business value. When you’re using social media sites you’re looking at the complete picture and the whole person. And, this is where the 3 E rule comes in – educate them, empower them and entertain them. If they’ve a positive experience when connecting with you, they’ll come back for more.
Then, when you’re ready to approach someone directly, do it through a private message via the platform. When you specifically reference what you’ve learned about that prospect through your interactions with them on social media you won’t feel like a pushy salesperson – rather a friend who can help.
Now I want to hear from you…
What tips do you have for generating leads on social media? I’d love to know. Tell me your story and leave a comment below.
With love and gratitude – as always,
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