Making Sales Social
Incorporating Social Networks into Your Sales Process
Sales is a profession that requires a great deal of networking and personal interaction. In the past, this could be accomplished over the phone or through travel. We may all be familiar with getting on a plane to seal a very important deal with face to face interaction.
The internet has provided us with a plethora of new ways to find leads and keep up with prospects, but you have to ask yourself - are you using these new avenues effectively?
A 2012 study by Jim Keenan sheds new light on how salespeople are using social media, and whether it is an effective tool in the toolkit. Mark Fidelman summarized the results in a Forbes article
. The biggest finding was that 78.6% of sales reps using social media as part of their professional outreach outperformed those that weren't. Social media sales people were also more successful at exceeding their sales quotas. Sales professionals using social media won more often, and lost less. Their top 3 platforms were Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.
Maybe you are thinking that this does not apply to you -- your vertical isn't very social. Not all businesses put a lot of stock into social media marketing -- many B2B companies, such as OEM manufacturers, may not have a Facebook page with a lot of likes, or a Facebook page at all. As a salesperson, you may also be wondering if opening up your personal Facebook profile to potential clients is a step you want to take. If that is the case, Linkedin may be the perfect social platform for your sales efforts. Guiding clients to potential groups of interest to them, sharing professional articles, and helping them expand their own social network can go a long way in making an impression and proving the worth of your product, your company, and yourself as their contact.
Perhaps you are in a vertical that is very social (toys, gaming, apparel, even health) and you're wondering if it's worth trying to make an impression when there is so much noise already. In that case, find out if your contact at the company has their own Twitter handle or unique social feed. Tweeting relevant resources or even real-time responses to their questions can make you stand out from other vendors, and present you less as a cold-calling salesman of the past and more a partner and ally for the future.