Sales organizations are in the midst of big changes. The new customer mandates a new kind of sales. People are networked, doing their own research, talking to each other instead of companies, and ignoring your ads. Sales professionals need to immerse themselves in this ecosystem or they’ll become obsolete. Here are three ways to dive in without an embarrassing belly flop.
1. Everybody can see your business — use that visibility to your advantage!
Almost everyone is now connected with a lot of networks, and they can look at all of them to triangulate a complete picture of you and your brand. Before meetings, after meetings, or just out of curiosity, prospects are checking you out on all your networks. So be proactive and do your research:
What shows up on a Google search about you and your company?
Is your company Facebook page up to date and engaging?
Is your LinkedIn profile complete?
If you’re not vigilant, it looks sloppy. That’s bad. At worst, it’s a confidence-destroyer.
2. Get the information you need to come right to you — systematically.
Google Alerts – Enter key client first and last name + their company (e.g. “Eric Barten” + “Barten & Associates”). When a new item appears that has those terms, Google will notify you. Thus, you’ll stay informed about changes as they occur, so you can engage at the right time.
Use Twitter’s advanced search features to search for people talking about keywords. If you sell blue cupcakes, you’ll want to find the Tweets that contain that term. That way you can start a dialogue right at the awareness phase of the customer lifecycle, so you can capture the attention of a prospect and build trust by engaging.
Another tool is LinkedIn Signal, which allows you to search on LinkedIn for updates within your LinkedIn network who are interested in specific industry or key terms.
3. Find social ways to stay top of mind.
Relationship is everything. It’s an arc — along which a sale might occur. It’s got to be vibrant. Unfortunately, most businesses stop trying to engage before they should. Second, most salespeople rely on email and phone calls. Third, it’s your customer who expects to choose the channel and the time to talk to you.
Add to this the fact that you have about 2.5 seconds to capture a prospect’s attention in an email, and it’s easy to see that increasing types of media will increase your number of contacts and give you more time to shine.
Share content: Be a curator and be generous with expertise. It establishes credibility. If you know of an inspiring story, share it — and don’t be afraid to break up educational content with a bit of levity once in awhile.
Teach from several angles: Remember, people are multi-modal learners. Mix it up. Try video, words, and infographics.
Get creative and innovative! Maybe a “Tip of the Week” on YouTube. Build prospects and SEO at the same time
Blog even if you’re not a writer: What about? Answer the questions that people ask during the awareness phase of the customer lifecycle. When they search, you’ll show up.
Every day it’s clear that customers see social media networks as tools to communicate, collaborate, and connect. Get socially literate to be relevant. Take the dive. The rewards are worth it.
Shane Gibson is co-author of Sociable! How Social Media is Turning Sales and Marketing Upside Down and Guerrilla Social Media Marketing. He is also Chief Social Officer of Socialized!, a Vancouver-based social media agency. Follow Shane on Twitter .