12 Most Profitable Ways for Salespeople to Leverage Social Media
The marketing department owns social media. At least it seems that way, doesn’t it? In the business world, the marketing people set up the accounts, design the templates, craft the messaging, schedule the content, and monitor the replies. As for salespeople, many of them do not even know that their company even has a Facebook page.
Without delving too far into the very fine difference between marketing and sales, I will say that marketing is more about broadcast messaging and selling is more about direct conversation. Isn’t that the case? When have you ever bought something from a salesperson that didn’t communicate directly and specifically to you? Many of us, however, make countless every day purchases that are the result of marketers crafting and distributing messages to the masses.
Marketing casts a net and sales shoots an arrow. Why then, in the age of social media — where one-on-one conversations with customers are the norm — are salespeople left out of the loop? I think it’s time to end this injustice. Salespeople, whether or not they are issued an invite, need to get on board. Regardless of how you feel about it, customers have voted: social media is the new method of communication.
You were fine pounding the streets and meeting people face-to-face. You settled for calling people on the telephone. You even took up email. Now, it’s time to embrace the social web. Here’s how…
1. Start a blog
You’ve done product demos, right? You don’t have a problem with that. You know how to educate customers. Well, guess what? That’s exactly what a blog does — it teaches. Imagine how it would bolster your credibility if the guy who shows up to the office to show them the product is the same guy that wrote the article they read about it. Salespeople should be allowed to blog. If your company doesn’t have blog, start your own. Give your customers answers to their toughest questions and solutions to their deepest problems. That’s the key to their hearts.
2. Guest author on other blogs
Speaking of credibility, what if you were to show up in other places for your customers to see? What if a blog they were already reading featured you as a guest author? Find out what your customers are reading by what they’re tweeting or sharing on LinkedIn. Then, solicit the authors of those blogs to allow you to write a guest article.
3. Follow and comment on other blogs
Many times, the best conversations are generated after the blog post — in the comments section. Follow the blogs that your customers are reading and comment on them. Try to stir up some conversation with other readers. Also, you may want to follow other sales blogs or industry-related blogs and start conversations with their authors. You can learn more about best practices from the blogopshere than you could have ever imagined.
4. Join Twitter chats
A Twitter chat is an open conversation on Twitter held for about an hour using a hashtag (the # symbol). First, you will want to see if there are any chats about your customers’ industries — chats they might be participating in. If not, you could even start one and invite your customers to it. Again, though, you could learn quite a bit from joining Twitter chats about sales or about your own industry. There’s always something — whether it be a lead or a lesson — to be gotten from conversation.
5. Create Twitter lists
Twitter can be a difficult platform to manage. It is open, so the amount of people you follow can be almost endless. (Note: as a salesperson, focus more on the people you are following than on the amount of people who are following you. You are trying to generate conversation — not get people to read your tweets). You’ll need a way to manage the people you follow. Conveniently, Twitter allows you create up to 20 lists with 500 account in each list. Make lists of current customers, hot prospects, potential referrals, etc. You can even make lists for others in your industry that you may learn from. Browse each list and reply to tweets from those users. Let them know you care about what they’re saying.
6. Build a list from LinkedIn
LinkedIn is the ultimate prospecting tool. You can find information about companies and the employees that work there. Now, don’t go throwing out invitations to connect randomly. Be sure the person knows who you are before you try to connect with them on LinkedIn. Instead, use LinkedIn to compile a list of contacts within your target companies — or even to find the target companies themselves.
7. Participate in LinkedIn groups
Try to break into the groups that your customers spend time in. Don’t sell; simply join the conversation. Ask questions that you think would add value to the discussions and reply to questions when you think you have a good answer. In addition to groups that your customers may be participating in, you’ll also want to join “best practices” groups to help you better know your industry and how to sell in it.
8. Contribute to LinkedIn Answers
LinkedIn Answers is a forum on LinkedIn where people go to find answers to questions. Search for questions your customers are asking and answer them. It’s a great way to connect to new potential customers by demonstrating the value you bring to the table. You also may want to use this forum as a platform for asking questions that you need answers for.
9. Interact with the Facebook page
Depending on your company’s social media policy and how you use your personal Facebook account, it might be a good idea to jump into the conversation on your Facebook page. Yes, customers like it when a brand is interactive, but what if other actual people from the company jumped in as well? What if those people were salespeople? Facebook remains the largest social network in the world. Chances are, your customers are there. If you want to be in front of them, you simply can’t forget about Facebook.
10. Make video tutorials for YouTube
Show a customer how to use your product. Show a customer how to solve a problem related to your product. Give industry tips. YouTube is a highly shareable and embeddable platform for creating video content. It’s also the #2 search engine in the world (behind Google of course). So, if people are looking for how to do things related to your industry, they’re most likely using YouTube. Have a presence on YouTube. The videos don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be you showing people how to do things.
11. Conduct webinars for key clients
There are many platforms available for hosting webinars — paid services like Go To Meeting and Webex as well as free platforms like Any Meeting. A webinar is an online seminar — a presentation that you can give to customers or potential customers on a topic related to their business or industry. Webinars are huge for one reason: you know the people who take the time to attend are highly engaged and highly interested in learning from you.
12. Solicit feedback with List.ly
List.ly is a platform for building lists that people can interact with socially. They log in via Facebook or Twitter and can “like” items on your list, “unlike” items on your list, comment on items on your list, and add to items on your list. They can share your list on their social media channels and embed your list on their websites. As a salesperson, you can use the platform to get feedback from your customers on your products, find out what “extras” they would like from you, or generate reviews of your work with them.
Social media doesn’t belong to marketing… and it doesn’t even belong to sales. It belongs to customers. Salespeople, though, get closer to the customers than anyone. It’s time they get involved in the social-sphere, don’t you think?
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image courtesy of epSos.de licensed via Creative Commons.