According to Forbes, 78.6% of salespeople using social media outsell their competitors. And those who use social media spend less than 10% of their time prospecting…while cold-callers spend most of their time prospecting. Although cold calling can also be highly effective when done correctly, there’s no denying the sheer power of social media.
On that note, here’s how you can leverage the power of social media to connect with your prospects—and turn them into loyal customers.
Determine Where Your Prospects Are
First, you need to find out where your prospects are hanging out. Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Pinterest? Instagram? YouTube? All? None of the above?
Once you have a clear idea of who exactly your prospect is (their demographic, their age, their gender, their interests etc), you can better determine where they spend their time online. If you are targeting young teenagers for instance, SnapChat and Instagram will probably be very effective, whereas LinkedIn and Twitter…maybe not so much. If your target is made up of young to middle-aged professionals, or if you are targeting businesses, then LinkedIn would be a great place to spend your time. Also check out which networks your successful competitors are active on—chances are, if those networks work for your competitors, they will work for you too.
And remember: Less is more. It’s better to spend time on only a few social networks than to spread yourself too thin or waste time on networks where your prospects are not.
Listen to Your Prospects
In order to best understand and converse with your prospects, you need to first find out what they care about. What are they talking about? What gets them riled up? What keeps them awake at night?
To find out, try searching on social media for some keywords related to your industry. What posts pop up? Make a list of the topics that people seem to be most interested in—and from there, start observing.
Get Involved in the Conversation
Once you understand what your prospects are truly interested in, you can begin to engage and get involved in the conversation. The ultimate goal is to establish yourself as an expert. Join LinkedIn groups that are related to your industry and respond to questions on the discussion boards. Get on Quora and do the same. Respond to blog posts and comments. Share your prospects’ thought-provoking posts. Send them content that you think they might be interested in (as long as it isn’t self-promotional). Join industry-related Facebook groups and start an intellectually stimulating conversation.
You could also create your own Facebook group, assuming that it’s relevant to your prospects. If you go this route, ensure that the group solves a problem in some way. Think about it this way: is it a Facebook group that you would want to join if you were the prospect?
For instance, let’s say that your business sells windbreakers and sport supplies to outdoor enthusiasts. You could create a Facebook group for outdoor enthusiasts, which would be a place for similar, like-minded people (those who love the outdoors) to come together and share ideas and tips with one another.
Find people who are talking about your industry (you could do this by searching for industry-related keywords or hashtags), and join in on the conversation. With Facebook’s expansive search tool, you can search for virtually any keyword imaginable, and all posts and groups related to that keyword will appear.
Tell your prospects how you can help them. But be careful not to sound like a pushy salesperson. To put it bluntly, nobody cares about your product or service—they care about how you can solve their problems. If you are just responding to a prospect’s post with a link to your website, chances are, you will be ignored and your credibility may even be undermined. People can see straight through that. A much more effective approach is to write a detailed response that solves a solution to your prospect’s query or problem. You don’t even have to link back to your website. Sometimes it’s actually better to remain a bit mysterious. Your prospects are smart—and they can click on your profile if they want to find out more about you.
Whatever you do, be sure that you are providing value. The more that you consistently provide value, the more credibility you will gain and the easier it will become to connect with your prospects in the end.
Ultimately, where you spend your time is going to depend on your audience. You may in fact want to spend most of your time cold calling. Or you may be more effective if you eliminate cold calling all together and focus solely on social media. The answer will depend on one thing and one thing only: your prospects.
In order to figure out where and how you should be spending your precious sales prospecting time, you must first take the time to truly under your prospects. If they are primarily over the age of 70, then social media might not be the most effective way to reach them—in that case, cold calling will probably be your safest bet. But when it comes to younger generations at least, the sales prospecting potential on social media is limitless.
Once you’ve narrowed down what social media networks you are going to focus on, do a little eavesdropping. Listen to your prospects and get a clear idea of what they are interested in. Then start to get involved in the conversations that they are already having, while finding a way to provide them with some sort of unique value. With more than 1.8 billion monthly users, Facebook continues to reign as the world’s most popular social media network. So if it’s relevant to your audience, start your own conversation and create a Facebook group around a theme that relates to your industry.
First and foremost, sales prospecting is all about recognizing your prospects’ problems—and finding a way to solve them. Toss the sales pitch out the window. Focus on building meaningful relationships with your prospects. Turn them into friends. And above all, provide them with value.
Once you achieve all of that, then your business is sure to reap the benefits.