While many B2B sales agents only use social media for selling, its true value is in prospecting. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn are invaluable outlets for finding potential clients. Here's three simple steps to better utilize them:
1. Start Conversations
Getting involved in important conversations is the best way to announce yourself on social networks. You can't tweet "looking for exciting business opportunities" and expect to get a response. When you start out, nobody knows who you are. You can get past that by finding a way to introduce yourself.
One of the most effective ways to do this is through Twitter. The hashtag function is the most valuable search tool the network provides. One hashtag can expose you to millions of people with a single tweet. This is why any sales agent worth his salt (B2B or otherwise) knows about twitter chats.
Twitter Chats are scheduled conversations between users. They number in the thousands and can be set for specific time intervals. Many are industry-related, with the topic of discussion changing each week. They offer a fantastic way for you to provide engaging content, offer valuable advice, and display your company's trustworthiness to prospective clients.
Not all conversations need be about your industry. Start talking about sports, weather, or current events and you might be surprised where the conversation ends up.
You can search the the Twitter chat schedule to decide which ones suit your needs. Here is a list of A-Z of twitter chats to help find your first prospects.
2. Aim for the C-Suite
If you've ever watched The Apprentice, you've probably heard Lord Sugar say that before agreeing to a deal, you need to make sure your client has the authority to complete it. It can be tempting to bargain with the first person who shows interest in your product, but if they have no authority to make the purchase, you're likely to end up wasting your time.
Always aim for clients who have authority in their organization, or are at least in direct contact with those that do. This means always searching for the organization's C-Suite. The highest-ranking members will have the most vested interest in the advantages your products or services has to offer.
Approaching the C-Suite is much more effective than going through the gatekeepers (mid-level execs, et cetera). By familiarizing yourself with top-level management, you can establish yourself with those that can make purchasing decisions.
So how does this relate to social media? Because before you can establish a rapport with C-Suite members, you need to find them. And the best way to do that is by researching the company you want to do business with, identifying top-level executives, and locating them through social media.
Note: It always helps if you have an elevator pitch ready ahead of time.
3. Know It All
How much do you really know about your industry?
Could you prove your wealth of knowledge if you were asked?
When it comes to social media, information is king. If you're planning on establishing a presence, you'll need to be able to provide information on cue. You'll have to establish yourself as an authority of your domain and create content that offers solutions to your prospects' issues. The more answers you provide the more people will want to listen, and the more likely you will line up future prospects. More importantly, you'll establish yourself as a thought leader that players in your industry need to be aware of.
This isn't only about establishing how knowledgeable you are, though. This is about discovering everything there is to know about a company. Employees love talking about their workplace. Find out as much as you can. The more information you get on a company and its employees, the better chance you'll have at proposing solutions to their problems.
A Final Thought Regarding Social Media
What would you give to be able to read other people's thoughts?
What kind of advantage would that have for you and your business?
Social media is a platform where users lay bare their thoughts. When you venture into a social network, you are not just entering Facebook or Twitter. You are entering into what I like to call a thought exchange.
Thoughts exchanges allows us to see other people's views and opinions, from football results to political candidates. You'll often hear it said that you can tell a lot about a person just from what he retweets. That's because Twitter, Facebook, and the like are driven by thoughts and experiences.
In regards to Twitter, I have come to the conclusion that it operates within the law of attraction. Like attracts like. What you tweet dictates the type of people who follow you. Your presence on social media is like running a radio station. Discussing particular topics will lead to more listeners and call-ins, so long as you can find people interested in what you're saying. Whether that interest is positive or negative, it creates attention.
Everyday millions of people interact through social media. It has changed how we share news, use websites, and interact with businesses. It's even changed how we consume information.
When it comes to your business, your website is your base, but it's not always your first point of contact. While in the past people might have learned about your company through Google, now they mostly hear about it from what other people are saying.
This is where your business will collect its traffic, generate awareness for your brand, and find the opportunity to show a more human face. In the social media arena, brands can be built up or destroyed through the opinions of the masses, oftentimes in just one message.
People only share things they find funny, interesting, or beneficial to their circle. Just look at how often videos on YouTube get shared by millions of people, turning their creators into overnight celebrities. Introducing your business to social media increases your exposure, reach, and potential to accrue more clients and customers.
In social media, word of mouth is king. It dictates how we share our thoughts and experiences. We come across something that makes us feel good and we desire to share it with others. Tap into this. Don't be corporate. Just be human. Be social and find those prospects.
Credit given to Sabian M Muhammad for contributing to this article