The Internet has forever changed the way companies interact with prospects and customers. And as Web technologies evolve, so do these interactions. Just think about what you do when faced with a buying decision. You go online to check features, prices, various vendors, and product reviews. It doesn’t matter whether you’re considering the purchase of something for the home — a TV, lawn mower, car — or for business.
Your customers are doing the same thing. They’re searching the Web for information about the sales reps who contact them, the products and services under consideration, and your competitor’s sales reps and products.
However, the tools and techniques your customers use to get the skinny on you can be just as valuable for your sales reps and managers. Not only can these powerful and low- or no-cost tools help to target prospects, they also allow your team to proactively seed insights that build credibility and awareness with buyers.
Easy and effective online marketing
The eight online marketing activities listed below are both easy and effective. They are things that should become second nature to your team as a way to remain relevant and competitive in today’s business environment. It takes just minutes a day to make a considerable difference in their online persona and reputation. More importantly, these activities help to grow existing accounts and develop new business.
- Google Alerts: The latest news about clients or prospects can come automatically to a sales rep’s e-mail inbox. With Google Alerts, it just takes plugging in the desired search terms, preferences for frequency, and e-mail address. Google sends a notification for any mentions in web pages, newspaper articles, or blogs that match the search term.
- Thought leadership: Online subscriptions to relevant publications are always good sources of insight. These often include the Harvard Business Review, Inc., trade magazines, local business journals, newspapers, influential blogs, and other publications. Think about what your clients read to stay current on their business, and subscribe to their RSS feeds, newsletters, or blog alerts.
- Self-search on Google: Your sales reps and managers should regularly plug their own names into search engines to monitor what others see. Typically, the first few links to appear are profiles on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and quotes in news articles. With such visibility, it’s important to frequently check privacy settings on all social networks in order to keep private and business lives separate. Put yourself in the shoes of a buyer doing their due diligence. Don’t give them a reason to say “no” to you.
- LinkedIn: Every sales rep and manager should have a profile on LinkedIn and update it on a regular basis. These are not static resumes, but a valuable opportunity for individuals to market themselves and build credibility. Again, put yourself in the shoes of a buyer doing their due diligence. If they see your profile, would it be credible to them? You only have a few seconds to make an impression, so make sure that you make your expertise clear and relevant to your prospects. The LinkedIn Learning Center is a good resource for site features and user guides, including a Business Development user guide.
- Add connections: Your sales team should link to their clients and prospects on LinkedIn. Not only does this strengthen relationships today, it builds a “connection for life” mentality. When people move into new positions or to new companies, the connection remains. Linking to clients and prospects also will help you identify other buying influences in their organization who you will want to know.
- Recommend your clients: Have your sales reps “recommend” clients on LinkedIn. Clients need to manage their careers too, and this unexpected act of kindness helps build loyalty. It also creates a “debt” that your client will most likely repay at some point. Asking clients for recommendations is annoying, but giving recommendations is great and will result in clients making recommendations back.
- LinkedIn Groups: There are any number of LinkedIn Groups your team could join to engage clients and prospects in a dialogue. Groups help members to identify prospects, to stay informed, and to build their own networks more quickly. Groups are also a great place to gather intelligence. One caution: members should avoid being self-promotional, posting only when they can add value to the conversation.
- Share content: It’s easy to forward relevant content updates on LinkedIn to clients and prospects by clicking the “share” link at the bottom of the post. The key is to be selective, sharing only meaningful content that would be appreciated by a few connections. If there’s news that would appeal to all connections, it should be posted as an update, often with a link to the original news source.
The more familiar your team becomes with social media, the more natural it will seem to make it part of the day to day. Today’s Internet tools make marketing oneself as easy as a few keystrokes. The hard part is making sure that every message, and every post shared, reflects a professional image that reinforces the desired reputation.
Richardson: Sales Training and Strategy Execution – helping leaders prepare their organization to execute sales strategies and achieve business objectives.