Overwhelming to some and essential to others, Twitter has become a valuable sales tool on which to engage prospects, research industries, and keep up with relevant news. In fact, a recent study showed that more salespeople use Twitter in their daily processes than do LinkedIn.
But that's not to say that all of these reps are using the platform correctly, or to its maximum benefit. To keep afloat in the ocean that is Twitter, steer clear of the following 15 blunders.
1) Not Following Prospects
The number of Twitter followers a person has is a measure of his or her social media popularity. Sending totally random connection requests might creep buyers out on LinkedIn, but most everyone likes to be followed on Twitter.
Follow your customers, your prospects, and even people you'd like to meet but haven't introduced yourself to quite yet. A follow helps the prospect associate you with positive feelings, and can help warm up an otherwise cold call or email.
2) Not Engaging with Prospects
Okay, so you've got the following bit down. Now what?
It's time to engage. In order to keep the positive feelings flowing, continuously interact with prospects by favoriting, retweeting, and replying to their tweets. You might even add them to a strategically named list, such as "Smart Businesspeople" or "Ones to Watch."
If they write content, share it. If they curate content, comment on it and add to the conversation. Any way you can boost your familiarity and prove your value is a good thing. Following and then disappearing is not.
3) Not Following Target Companies
Just like target prospects, you should also follow the companies you're interested in selling to. Keep an eye out for announcements, competitive moves, relevant news, and other trigger events that can provide a sales opening. And if you're already in touch with the decision maker through Twitter or another channel, even better.
4) Not Searching Industry Hashtags
Periodically searching for the industries you sell to on Twitter can keep you in the loop and bolster your business expertise. For example, type "#manufacturing" or "#HR" into the search bar, and check out the article everyone's buzzing about (that you can then send to prospects), what thought leaders are saying about the space, and conference attendees' reactions to a major keynote.
5) Sending Direct Messages Too Soon
Direct messages are the creepiest of all Twitter interactions according to the HubSpot survey report "Is Social Selling Creepy?" That said, sending someone a direct message immediately after you follow them or vice versa is a bit like sending a LinkedIn message before the prospect's finger has even left the "accept invitation" button. It's too much, too soon.
Warm your prospect up before you start direct contact by engaging with them in other ways, such as favoriting, retweeting, and sharing.
6) Sending Automated Direct Messages ...
... that are just a sales pitch. If you want to set up your Twitter account so that every time you gain a follower, they receive a "Thanks for following" direct message, that's okay. Not the most valuable thing in the world, but acceptable. But automated DMs that simply push your product on new followers are bad news. You wouldn't say "Buy my product!" immediately after shaking someone's hand, would you? Well, this is the social media equivalent.
In general, salespeople should stay away from automated DMs. Why? Modern sales is about personalized and customized messaging. And an automated message that gets sent to each and every new follower -- regardless of what they do, who they are, and why they followed you -- screams generic, spammy, and unhelpful.
7) Not Using Lists
The more people you follow, the more content you have to keep up with. Simply logging into Twitter when you're following more than 100 people can be enough to provoke a panic attack. How can you possibly keep tabs on the important stuff when there's just so much of it?
Enter Twitter lists. Lists can help you group people according to industry, position, buyer lifecycle stage, and pretty much any other criteria you can think of. Then you can easily filter your feed by what you need to check right now, and what can wait a while. The Twitter world is your oyster.
8) Nonexistent or Incomplete Bio
Granted, you don't have a ton of real estate on Twitter for your bio. But you can do more with 160 characters than you might think.
To optimize your Twitter bio for social selling success, make sure to include:
- A mini insight
- Your value proposition
- Your company's Twitter handle
- Relevant industry hashtags
9) Not Live Tweeting Conferences or Events
One of the best things about Twitter is that it enables event attendees to tweet their reactions and strike up conversations in real time. With this in mind, salespeople should get involved on Twitter while they're at a conference. You'll certainly gain followers, and maybe even a new lead or two.
But maybe you had a conflict and couldn't make it to the conference. No problem -- search the hashtag on Twitter to virtually attend. This way you don't have to miss the insights (or the lead generation opportunity).
10) Using Favorites Sparingly
A favorite is kind of like a social media high five. They make the recipient feel great, they validate good behavior, and they don't take very much effort.
So why wouldn't you share the love? Reserve retweets and replies for truly exceptional content, but feel free to favorite away.
11) Ignoring Twitter Sales Openings
"Wondering about Product A vs. B. What's the difference?"
If you're a rep who sells either of these offerings and you let this tweet pass by without responding, you're making a huge mistake. More and more, buyers are turning to social media outlets to do product research and find answers to questions. And if you offer help precisely when they need it? You just increased your chances of closing a deal. Significantly.
12) Bad Picture
If you're using Twitter for work, you need to get a picture to match. A suit, tie, and totally serious expression isn't necessary. But leave the duck lips pics, bathroom selfies, and frat party snapshots on Facebook where they belong.
13) No LinkedIn Profile Link
Buyers shouldn't have to struggle to get in touch with you. That said, you should always link to your LinkedIn profile from your Twitter bio and vice versa. This makes it easy for prospects to engage with you further, and contact you on their preferred channel.
14) Not Checking Out Who Your Target Prospects Follow
Want to get to know your buyers? Take a look at the people they follow on Twitter, as well as any public lists they've created. This will help you get a grip on what and who is important to them, so you can model yourself and your sales messaging after their "heroes."
15) Not Keeping up With Notifications
Twitter makes it simple to track the amount of retweets, favorites, and follows you're getting though the "Notifications" tab. In other words, you have no excuse for bad manners.
When someone engages with you on Twitter, thank them! They didn't have to support you, and a little common courtesy goes a lot way. Not to mention that interactions from potential buyers provide a great sales opening. They've signaled their interest in you -- now follow up to get the conversation flowing.
What Twitter blunders would you add to this list? Share in the comments.