When it comes to social selling, an inside sales rep often has a leg up on the road-warrior field rep. After all, an inside sales rep is often “inside” at his or her desk making connections with potential new business contacts. This means more time to access the internet and social networks, both of which have provided unprecedented access to decision maker data. An inside sales rep can research contacts, read their latest status updates, get a feel for the possible pain points a prospect may have, and start building a relationship via interactions on LinkedIn or Twitter (a.k.a, social selling).
Social selling is a great opportunity for improving an inside sales interaction, but like all good sales & marketing methods, some people are ruining the fun for everyone. What’s jeopardizing social selling? It’s called social spamming. It’s very likely that some of this so-called social spamming is happening with well-intentioned but misinformed salespeople. Before mismanaged social selling leads us to the social media equivalents of Do Not Call or CAN-SPAM regulations, let’s take a little time to improve our social selling game. Here are four best practices to keep in mind when using social media to warm up connections and cold calls with prospects and customers.
Create a professional profile that underscores your personal brand.
As an inside sales professional, you have to flip your approach to your LinkedIn profile. It’s not a page to place your resume, it’s a landing page to convey your reputation as a sales professional. Decision makers in your industry research potential solution providers every day on LinkedIn. If your profile comes up, you want it to position you as a valued consultant who can guide a prospect to the right solution. While your Twitter profile is much more limited in what you can add, develop a profile that helps followers understand your area of expertise in a glance. Make it easy for prospects to find and come directly to you!
- Check out this infographic from Sales For Life to learn more about the perfectly optimized LinkedIn profile.
- Study the LinkedIn and Twitter profiles of other sales professionals in your industry vertical.
Build a strong and relevant network.
Take time on LinkedIn and Twitter to create a network of relevant industry contacts. That’s not to say you can’t connect with your old college roommate or some friends from high school, but your network should primarily consist of those in your industry from whom you can learn and with whom you can network to gain connections to new prospects. Having a tight niche network can also indicate to your potential customers that you are entrenched in their industry.
- Used LinkedIn’s Advanced Search to find relevant industry contacts.
- Use the LinkedIn Get Introduced feature to meet new contacts in your industry.
- Join and participate in relevant LinkedIn industry groups to widen your exposure with potential prospects.
- Create and follow industry-specific Twitter lists featuring contacts you would like to connect with.
- Join in on industry Twitter chats to connect with new prospects on Twitter.
Start engaging – not bragging.
Nobody likes that person at the party who only talks about him- or herself. It’s pretty much the same on social networks when it comes to talking only about your own company and products. Certainly share your company’s blog posts, videos, and webinars, but remember to focus on offering insightful status updates that include broader industry articles that appeal to the major concerns of those in the vertical you serve. You can craft updates around third-party content to demonstrate your knowledge and industry involvement, as well as point to the ways your brand addresses these issues.
- Read trade publications and industry-themed blogs.
- Stay in touch with the content marketing team to get a list of latest company blog posts, news, and events that you can share.
- Follow your company Twitter and LinkedIn pages to see who may be interacting there – it’s a chance to scoop up a new contact.
Warm up cold calls with personal touches.
Social selling isn’t about immediately sending a sales message or meeting request to your newest LinkedIn or Twitter contact. Social selling should be focused on creating a relationship and adding value before making the ask for an appointment. When you take time to share thoughtful updates and trade personalized, informative and educational messages with individuals on your social networks, you demonstrate your authentic interest in the customer’s needs. When you immediately send a request for a meeting, you only demonstrate your self interest in closing a sale. At the very least, use social media to research and understand what may be on your target customer’s mind.
- Study a prospect and get to know his or her pain points.
- Share an interesting article with that person using LinkedIn messages or Twitter direct messages. Mention why you thought it may be useful to him/her.
- Comment on the individual’s relevant status updates. Like and share those updates with your network if they will be useful to others with whom you are connected.
- Try engaging one-on-one several times before picking up the phone or sending a message to ask for a meeting.
- When you do make the ask, make it about helping the individual solve a business problem or meet a need.
Ready to Use Social Selling to Warm Up Cold Calls?
Forbes reported that 78% of salespeople using social media outperform their peers. You can bet that those in the 78% are not social spamming. They are taking time to leverage social platforms to research prospects, build relationships, and position themselves as well-informed consultants. All these actions warm up their cold calls. If you have a prospect that you just can’t seem to connect with over the phone or email, give social selling – not spamming – a try. It may just land you that sales appointment in the long run!