I love working with sales people. They are typically the toughest crowd to convince social media is worth their time but those that get it turn into the best at it. Sales people can be great networkers, but need to know the linear steps to take so they get something out of it the process. Sales folks want to have a checklist of things to do and if they compete those things they want to know they will be successful. Since social networking works differently, by building relationships over time, sales pros need to see it a different way. When they see it as building a pipeline for future business development, and more, they catch on quick. It also helps for them to have a little taste of success in the beginning.
I’ve presented the material below to small and large groups of sales professionals as an overview of social networking for their business. They can find tips and tricks elsewhere and most will want to figure that out on their own anyway. What they need and ask for is to be provided a general overview or objective to follow.
Why social media and how does it help your business
- Social networking connects people with common needs and causes. We all want to help others and receive help. If there is an opportunity to assist someone we know with a job search or referral, wouldn’t you take the time to connect people? Likewise when you are reaching out for help, wouldn’t you want that help returned?
- It’s how you can brand yourself as an authority in a specific area, like medical sales. When people hear about opportunities or people associated with that area you want them to think of you first. Making you more likely to be recommended.
- Its how we are communicating. More people are using social networks to communicate since that is where we spend more time. We also segment our lives based on these networks, Facebook for friends and family, LinkedIn for our professional lives, and Twitter for everyone in between.
Focus on the “Big 3” social networks
- Facebook – Help friends and family learn more about you, your passions, and how you can help each other. Share articles, jobs, company news, and more that relates to your field and expertise. Respond to other Facebook posts that are related to your expertise. Send messages to people that think could help you find prospects or introductions. Follow and comment on companies and brand pages related to your field, people are likely to see your posts and want to connect.
- Twitter – Drive traffic to your hot products and hot topics. People on Twitter want things valuable to them. So give them something to read. Share links to relevant news and other helpful articles. Give your thoughts on current topics as it relates to your field. Read your twitter feed for people posting about similar topics and let them know you are listening by RT’ing. The best thing you can do for anyone on Twitter is to RT them.
- LinkedIn – Connect with connectors. Everyone has a LinkedIn account, but not everyone uses it. Your goal on LinkedIn is not about meeting and connecting with everyone, but to meet and connect with people that are well connected. Who are the people that know everyone else. Start with those that have high LinkedIn connections (500+) that means they are active on LinkedIn and enjoy connecting with others. Let them know who your ideal connection is so if they meet that person they can refer you. Join groups with topic areas likely to attract your key connections and join the conversations.
Build your pipeline by building your audience
- Be present. Listen to your audience more than you speak. Show them you are listening by liking, RT’ing, or sharing their posts. People want to know they are heard, and when you show them that, they will value you as a trusted resource.
- Be informative. This is a chance to educate your audience on topics that matter to you, your expertise area, and more. Share interesting articles that discuss recent trends or news in your field. Give your opinions, thoughtfully of course, on subjects of the day. Ask questions for feedback on areas you would like to know more about or want to her more from your audience.
- Be helpful. Use your expertise to help even if it means you receive nothing in return. It will come back to you again when you need it. Answer other people’s questions. Respond to statements that seek answers or need more information. Take what someone has said and provide an example to improve their point.
Taking it offline – When its time to move the conversation offline, do so politely and succinctly.
- Facebook – “I would like the chance to speak with you more about this, would you mind sending me a message through Facebook with the best way to contact you?”.
- Twitter – Send a Direct Message to them with your contact info and a short request for the best time to contact them to continue discussing.
- LinkedIn – If you are connected to the person, send them a message asking that they connect via email or phone and provide your contact information. If you are not connected, asked to be introduced as a connection by one of your existing connections. Many in sales will find their prospects on LinkedIn, locate their contact information elsewhere, then contacting them and mentioning they find them on LinkedIn. Keep it above board, open, and honest and they will respect you for it.