Social data comes in many forms and I think it is important to understand all the ways it can help you. From simple signs like for example, your prospect is most active on Twitter, you can use your sales intuition to work to the best route to the sale. You can then continue to use social data to obtain information about your prospect’s personal and professional life. If on their Instagram account they share a picture from their local Italian restaurant, you can let them know if you happen to know of another restaurant nearby that is great, or a similar idea using your own sales nous.
To start with, it is worth spending some time before you go and speak in any way to your prospect to find out where they spend their time on social and anything from their social activity that paves the way to an interesting conversation.
You’ll at worst notice your prospect has a good, active Twitter account you can work with to create connection and build a relationship with them on, or it could be a LinkedIn pulse article you can ask them about. Better yet, they might be super socially active and have a popping Instagram and lots of articles they have written shared all over their social presence.
Take the 5 minutes (at worst) to find out as much about this as you can, size up their social footprint. You can then work out what the best route is to starting that initial conversation, to then how you will take the conversation offline.
This is hard to talk about because every person on the Earth is different, and has different interests. There are so many variables that you take into account when you actually come to the conversation part of social selling. Messaging for me is freestyle selling, it’s the part (to go back to face to face selling) where you sit and talk about the news or personal topics to build up the relationship and rapport. Of course you can talk business at the start of your conversation online but you do need to remember the flavour has to be there making sure you’re tapping into creating conversation, not talking sales.
Where social data can help you in messaging mainly lays in the way you start conversation. Think of when you are cold called. Often the strategy is all based around calling a list of people who in one way or another, should experience a problem or need that can be eased by buying a product. It is assumption based, because you have no data to indicate otherwise.
Think of social data as a guide as to where to craft the path of conversation. Not every prospect will have a wonderful social presence that you can use to your advantage but even some small indicators can turn a cold approach into a warmer one, and increase your chances of closing a deal.
Of course, once you take the conversation offline with a prospect, it doesn’t mean their social is of no use to you. For example, the willingness to provide value before asking for money, time or a deal can go a long, long way. In the same ways I have mentioned, social activity can give off signs and signals for you.
I know of sales reps who have been close to the deal being sign with a prospect and have noticed them moan about their boring packed lunch in the office, or rave about a local restaurant near their office. The reps I know who noticed this found this out via social, and went on to order a lunch and have it delivered to the prospect’s office paid for by them. What better way to shoot a little reminder you’re still there, still listening and a good person worth knowing, not just someone who wants their money?
There is a saying that it is 6X easier to upsell to an existing client than win a new one. What so many sales people don’t see is that once you sign the deal, you can totally forget about the prospect. But what that does is ruin the relationship, make the client feel sold, rather than like they have bought. You will find it harder to upsell when you drop an email to get back in touch months later on. The way to totally do the opposite is to maintain your regular social touches with the client/prospect. Perhaps you use the client to gain inroads to other areas of the business, for example the HR team could use what you offer too if you have sold to the Finance team. Or even simpler than that, just maintain the relationship and one day, when the time is right upsell.
Social data can help you have a competitive advantage, be uber relevant and start conversations hyper tailored around what your prospect cares about, does, is strong or weak on in personal and professional terms. It is a super, super powerful weapon. I go back to the comparison of a cold sales call, you are armed only with the assumption that people on your calling list generally have the same issue or need and you can help with that. With social data you are able to be hyper targeted, talk about what they actually do care about rather than what you guess they do care about.
What is a person’s favourite thing to talk about? Themselves. So if you see a prospect has a great blog post written, or LinkedIn article, or a popping Twitter, or Instagram full of posts on what they get up to, use that data as a huge, huge advantage. If you use your sales nous and intuition there is not a right or wrong way to use social data, use it creatively. Every person is different and that means sales person and prospect alike. Your sales style might work perfectly if you play on 1 part of social data you can obtain on your prospect, compared to how other reps in your team might make a play on another route.
The worst that can happen is you try, and let me know when you do. I LOVE to hear how people get on with using what I have seen working for me. Tell me what you try and how it works, I would love to hear how you get on. It’s what I do 24/7!
Ollie Whitfield is a Social Selling Executive at The Creation Agency. Ollie helps clients use social selling and find new ways to optimise their processes. When Ollie isn’t working, he’s usually found playing a few games of pool or football. You can connect with him on Twitter.