4 Ways Social Media can Improve Sales Performance
Every salesperson knows that information is power. The more you know about your prospect, the more insight you have into what makes them buy.
The Internet has made researching your customers easier than ever. You can visit company websites to research products, read press releases, and get a feel for a prospect's organization. Taking your research one step further, subscription-based research tools allow you to easily gather information on key executives, company size, number of employees and other quantifiable information.
But if you're limiting your pre-call sales prep to company websites and subscription-based research tools, you're just scratching the surface. Here are four ways to expand your research with Web 2.0 tools.
1. Social Networks
One of the best-known professional social networks is LinkedIn. In addition, there are numerous social networks that cater to specific industries. You should consider joining these specialized networks if you sell into a particular market.
These networks can give you additional information that you won't find on the more static research sites, such as:
Employee information beyond the executives - Discover how you are connected to current employees. Friends, or friends of friends, can give you insights beyond what is available on the web.
Recent hires - Again, this goes beyond the top executives and can give you insights into your prospect's priorities.
Background information on your buyers - It's not enough just to know the titles of the buyers. Social networks allow you to gather other insightful information such as past roles, where they went to school, and other interests they have.
Many companies have at least one Twitter account managed by their marketing or PR team. Following these Twitter accounts can help you stay abreast of the latest company news. But more and more companies are also allowing, and even encouraging, their employees to have their own Twitter accounts. Status updates, called tweets, often focus on the projects the employee is working on. For example, an engineer might tweet about the latest milestones reached. Or a sales executive might tweet about insights gathered at a conference. All of these tweets can help you gather deeper insights into what your prospect is working on and what it important to them.
You can use Twitter's search function to find Twitter accounts containing your prospect's company name. However, tools such as TweepSearch can help you find users who list your prospect's company name in their bio as well.
If you're selling to a consumer products company, there's a good chance they have a Facebook page. While less common, even companies that sell to other businesses are starting to create Facebook pages to expand their reach.
But even if the prospect doesn't have a company Facebook page, your buyers might have their own. Privacy settings may limit the amount of information you can see unless you are a "friend"; however, many users still allow their profiles to be seen by everybody.
4. Bing News Alerts
You're probably already doing a search on the company name, your buyers' names, and industry information before you even have that first call with your prospect. You can also use Bing News Alerts to send information to your inbox when any of these search terms hits the news, helping you stay current with minimal effort.
It's also a good idea to set up alerts on your prospect's competitors. These news stories can give you additional reasons to contact your customers and additional insight into what is happening behind the scenes.
Bringing it all together
Since you're probably dealing with multiple prospects, it's a good idea to track relevant information in a tool like Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Dynamics CRM even has a Social Media Accelerator that can help you with your research.
With the wealth of information available on the Internet, there really is no excuse for any salesperson to go into a call unprepared. However, since not all salespeople take the time to leverage these tools, doing your homework can help you set yourself apart from the competition and improve your sales performance.