There are those who will continue to tell you that social networks are a waste of time when it comes to sales and marketing. I’m not one of those people. The tricky part for many in the sales and marketing profession is understanding that social media is simply a communication tool not unlike the phones and fax machines of old. Sure, you can choose to bombard your followers with nothing but spammy sales messages and coupon offers or you can engage in valuable genuine conversations.
Go where your customers are
You need to figure out on which social networks your customers and potential customers spend time. Those are the networks to build a presence. This is the difference between you and a guy like Seth Godin with a huge loyal following who will find him on any network. Take the time to search for your customers online. If you’re not quite sure how to go about that, check back next Monday when I’ll be sharing tips and tricks for finding your customers online.
If you’re just getting started in social media, I’d recommend having accounts (and actively utilize them) on Twitter and LinkedIn to get started. After that, I’d give consideration to the following networks; Instagram so you can easily share photos and Foursquare so you can begin to understand geolocation, Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, and maybe even Path. You don’t have to be active on all these networks but it sure does not hurt to have an account and understand how the different networks work and interact with one another.
That’s a lot of networks to monitor
Yes, it is. Learning and then taking the time to both monitor (listen) and engage (talk) on all those networks can be time consuming. Of course, so can picking up the phone and cold calling or stuffing envelopes with generic sales letters introducing you and you company.
Selling the old fashioned way
Personal selling is both hard and time consuming. At the same time, it can be fun and rewarding. For most of the last month, I’ve been engaging in traditional sales followup utilizing a CRM. I have been able to effectively contact about 10 folks a day without also utilizing social networks. These aren’t cold calls, but instead followup calls requiring prep time to bring myself back up to speed on the client. These contacts are typically via phone or email because we are far enough along the sales cycle to start working on the details.
Old fashioned selling and social networks together
I’ve gotten to the point with social networks that at least a half dozen people I have in the sales followup cycle reach out to me each week in places like Twitter and LinkedIn. By adding social networks to my mix of sales communication tools I’m able to increase my number of daily contact to between 15 and 20.
That’s an increase of between 50 to 100 percent in the number of people I personally touch each day by keeping track of where my customers are online. The CRM we utilize, HighRise from 37Signals, even helps us monitor our clients’ LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.
So in addition to people responding to emails with a quick Twitter response, I’m able to take a look at their Twitter and LinkedIn status updates before picking up the phone. If I can see a person is in meetings, having a family crisis, or for some other reason will not be able to focus on the call, I simply reschedule their followup for another day.
None of us really care for that pesky salesperson who won’t give up. That’s because they are always calling at the wrong time. Monitoring social networks allows you to call less often at the wrong time. When you do reach the client, the calls can have more value.
Sometimes you should just reach out and say hello. If a client pops up for followup and there is nothing new to talk about, at least keep mindshare by doing something. Drop them a quick “Hey, how have you been?” message on Twitter. Or take the time to introduce them to someone you think they should know on LinkedIn.
Wrapping it up
Conversations that start in one space like email or phone can easily move to other spaces like Twitter or LinkedIn.
Make sure your conversations always add value and are genuine.
At the end of the day, you need to be where your customers are to serve them.
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