As a HubSpot marketer, I'm a firm believer in the use of social media as a powerful tool for not only driving traffic to a company's website but also generating leads for your business.
That said, the applications of social media don't stop in marketing. Social media can also be a very helpful tool in the sales process when Sales is following up with leads and opportunities, especially considering the fact that, SiriusDecisions projects that by 2015, 71% of initial BtoB inquiries will be web-driven, and "a sound social media strategy is key to driving this inbound interest."
So how can you use social media intelligence to help you make a sale? I recently sat down with Chad Levitt, a member of HubSpot's own sales team and the author of the New Sales Economy Blog, to discover how he uses social media intel to prep for his sales calls. This is what I learned...
Using Social Media Intelligence in Sales
1. Conduct Research: First and foremost, you'll have to do some sleuth-work. Do a little social media digging to investigate where your prospect is spending time online. Does he/she have accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or another social network or community popular for your industry? If you're a HubSpot customer, you can easily find this data in the Lead Intelligence tool for any lead whose social media information is available.
2. Do Your Homework: Scan your prospect's presence on these social media sites. Learn about their interests. Do you have something in common (e.g. a shared passion for cooking, watching college football, or scuba-diving) that could be used as a good ice-breaker on your sales call? If you've already connected with the prospect before the call by another means such as email, consider following them on Twitter or connecting them with on that particular social network.
3. Strategize: Have you learned anything about the prospect that might be helpful fodder for your sales call? Maybe you noticed they've been discussing something in social media that your product or service addresses or solves. Perhaps accessing their company's website URL you found on their LinkedIn profile reveals something about why they became interested in your company in the first place. Put on your best detective hat, and think creatively.
4. Follow Up: Continue the conversation. Use social media as a way to keep in touch with and nurture your prospects after your sales calls. Send them links to appropriate, remarkable content, and look for opportunities to answer their questions.
The beauty of using social media for sales is in its potential to make the sales process a lot more personal. Building relationships is an important part of sales, and social media offers a valuable platform for relationship-building. And -- BONUS! -- if you're using a system such as HubSpot, closed loop reporting will also enable you to track leads from their initial referral channel through their first conversion all the way to becoming a customer. This allows your marketing team to track which social media channels are most efficient and provides actionable insight to make smarter marketing investments.
And don't worry about seeming creepy (unlike the man in the photo above). If the prospect has made themselves available in social media, they probably won't be weirded out by the fact that you did some detective work. Chances are, they'll be impressed that you've spent the time to do some extra thinking about how what you have to offer specifically relates to their problems, needs, or wants.
Chime in! How else have you used intelligence from social media to prepare for a sales call?