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Social Prospecting: Getting Connected with the Modern Buyer

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social prospecting

Sales enablement as a technology is still a grey area for a lot of people. In account development, I talk with several people every day who could benefit from our solution — but the term sales enablement sometimes stands in the way. That’s why it’s my job as a sales rep to educate and guide them, rather than shuffle them along to a contract. The mantra of educating and guiding should be your approach to social prospecting, too.

From a tactical standpoint, we practice the same sales methodology that we preach, which is largely due to how the modern B2B buyer behaves. We’re at a point in time where there’s a seemingly infinite amount of information and twice as many product reviews (thanks to our friend, Jeff from Amazon), and buyers have the incredible freedom and power to self-educate. Which is why when I’m looking to connect with my prospects, I need to be offering some value elsewhere, which is often just good conversation. We’re looking for people who might not know about our company or technology, yet own some degree of the problem that they consciously or unconsciously are looking to solve. Social media offers another channel through which you can meet your potential buyers, and offers some awesome power with the right approach. So, let’s dance.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the obvious elephant in the room. It’s your semi-custom, semi-professional feed of who’s doing what, where, how, and who with. Light platform privacy gives you the power to peer into company and personal updates. It can be a goldmine of “trigger events” for things like job changes, new listings, landmark company milestones, etc., and is a great way to anonymously subscribe to what your prospects are doing.

For those lucky enough to indulge in the wonders of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, you should already be aware of the magic Boolean search that drills down to non-mutually-exclusive job titles, seniority level, and, perhaps the most important, keywords or skills within their profile. If there was ever a time to use the “hot knife through butter” analogy, this is it. Creating bookmarks for your Boolean searches will win you a gold star and is something you need to be doing to save yourself bundles of time weeding through the noise of profiles.

Despite amazing search functionality, let’s not forget that the omnipotent ability of LinkedIn is being able to build the right, meaningful connections. Connecting with your prospect is powerful for a few reasons: it gives you permission to message them directly, it expands your network of second-degree connections (a friend of a friend is a lot better than a stranger, right?), and, for the lucky few, allows you to see info you wouldn’t be able to if you weren’t connected — such as a mobile phone number or personal email. And a personal favorite of mine is the ability to endorse. Not only do people generally like “compliments,” but it’s also a safe way to continue to send notifications, build familiarity, and automatically prompt a “thank you” option that will redirect them right back to the messages that they hopefully haven’t been ignoring (wink wink).

Job descriptions are often a good mirror of what life will be like at work, and you should be providing content relevant to their responsibilities and needs — honestly, anything that has a chance at making their life a little easier. Be respectful, but be resourceful.

Things you should be doing:

  • Building searches based on your buyers:Who they are, what they do, etc.
  • Listening: Reading updates, reading their articles, and building mental models of who they are based on what they’re providing you; try and provide insight back — engage!
  • Connecting with them: Always personalize your requests — always!
  • Building rapport: There are 100 other “yous” selling to them; it’s OK to be candid!

Twitter

Twitter’s a funny thing. A little more constraint as to the amount of usable information you can obtain, but it can be a solid tool in your kit if you play it right. Foremost, it’s almost always going to be more personal than LinkedIn, and you’re going to need to tread more lightly. Your prospects are probably as likely to talk about politics as they are about their profession, and while you might agree with them sometimes, #CrookedHillary and #TrumpShutdown hashtags are probably better left out of the conversation.

That being said, common interests are a great way to humanize yourself, because at the end of the day, you’re just two regular folks. Rapport is best built when you’re relatable, and being able to provide genuine commentary on Twitter — or using it elsewhere — is not only a nice rest from value props, but makes you a more likable person and lets you escape out from under the sales mask. Do you think John the die-hard Saints fan would rather talk to Billy the software salesman, or Billy from the Big Easy Mafia? Chances are, he’d rather talk about Drew Brees than hear an elevator pitch. Unless, of course, Billy from the Big Easy Mafia also sells software, in which case, Billy is in some serious luck.

But if you, sadly, can’t relate to anyone, no worries — you still have a place on Twitter. Simply engaging with tweets by liking or retweeting brings your name back to the table. And if you’ve got a larger following or follow a lot of other users, creating lists is a handy way to keep your prospects in one place — but keep it private, unless you’re the type to outwardly tell your prospects that you’re keeping an eye on them. If you’re one of those people, this probably isn’t the most important article you should be reading right now.

And every once in a while, users will link their Twitter to their LinkedIn profile. But, if not, taking a few minutes to conduct a search is usually worth your time if you’ve got a good prospect. The ultimate goal is to meet your prospects on as many channels as possible, which means that if they’re tweeting, you should be, too!

Things you should be doing:

  • Acting like a normal human: It’s ok to share personal interests and stray away from work-talk!
  • Engaging with their content and sharing new content when applicable: In this case, almost any publicity is good publicity.
  • Keeping tabs (but discreetly): Staying up-to-date is a great way to show that you’re attentive and a good listener.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to social prospecting, and for the sake of space and attention span, it’s been watered down quite a bit. If you or your company has yet to commit to social prospecting, please know that as with anything, getting started is the hardest part. Start small — with LinkedIn and Twitter, for example — and break it down to a short set of to-dos that sales reps can tackle daily. Refine Booleans, build accounts on Sales Nav, and get to tweeting. Slowly but surely, it’ll become second nature and will be a daily staple.

Stay tuned on this blog for more posts about social prospecting in the future. Got feedback? I’d love to hear it! Let’s connect and continue the conversation! In the meantime, learn more about sales strategies in the eBook, 7 Steps to Getting Started with Sales Enablement.


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