12 Simple Social Media Selling Activities to Help Your Sales Reps Drive New Business and Grow Key Accounts
We recently conducted an extensive survey of over 500 sales reps to learn more about their social media selling practices and their perceived effectiveness. The results so far, which we are still in the process of analyzing and which we’ll release in early March, have been shocking. In spite of all the hype over social media and social media selling, organizations and sales reps are really struggling to deliver value from social media selling activities. Allow us to share some quick wins to help you or your sales reps get on track to executing the basics well. Even if you’re a technology laggard and a latecomer to the social media game, below are 12 easy, but very high-impact social media activities to support new business development and strategic account management activities.
1. Recognize that executive buyer behavior has changed
You may have heard this, but if you’re not convinced, then I encourage you to read a couple of these research reports:
- The Rise of the Digital C-Suite (http://bit.ly/VLvQzh) from Google and Forbes Insight
- Buyersphere report 2012 (http://bit.ly/VLvLvA) from BaseOne
Changing buyer behavior means that selling behavior also needs to change. These reports will help motivate you to make the trip.
2. Subscribe to your company’s blog
Companies invest in blogging and content marketing to, among other things, communicate thought leadership, stay top-of-mind, and generate inbound leads. If your blog is any good, it should be a fountain of knowledge that you want to share with your clients and prospects. When you subscribe to your company blog, you should get an automatic notification when a new article is posted. This is a very valuable alert.
3. Read and forward new blog articles to Outlook
When you receive an e-mail alert from your blog about a new article, you can click on the link to read the article. If the article will resonate with a client or prospect, then simply forward the link from Outlook in a simple e-mail. Take 30 seconds to personalize it, and voila — you’ve shared some useful content.
4. Google yourself at least monthly
Buyers are doing their due diligence on sellers more than ever. As part of their process, don’t be surprised if they Google you. And when they do, you need to know what comes up on the search engine results page. Although this will vary based on your location, usually the top results are your LinkedIn page and then your Facebook and Twitter pages. Click on these top links to make sure you don’t see anything embarrassing. This happens most with Facebook. Your prospects don’t want to see you lounging on the beach in a Speedo. Check your privacy settings, and don’t give your prospects a reason to say “no.”
5. Update your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is your modern day CV. When a prospect hits your profile page (probably by first Googling your name), does it give them a sense of confidence or pause for concern? Your LinkedIn profile page should send a message loud and clear that you are a professional who customers can trust. Think from your customers’ perspective about what they would want to see, and position your personal brand accordingly.
6. Link to all of your clients and prospects
People leave jobs and companies every day. People are also very motivated to maintain a current LinkedIn profile because LinkedIn is crawling with recruiters, and you don’t want to miss your next big career opportunity. What this means is that when people change jobs, they update their LinkedIn profile. If you’re linked to a customer and the customer changes jobs, then you’ll receive a notification. This enables you to follow them to their new company, potentially creating a new prospect account. It also signals to you to find out who replaced them so you can manage the transition appropriately. There’s nothing worse for a customer than to be orphaned or neglected. Show them some love!
7. Register for daily client and prospect alerts from Google
Google is has an amazing feature that lets you set alerts for certain keywords, such as the names of your customer’s companies. Once you get set up, you will receive an e-mail with a summary of news stories should they relate to the keywords you selected. This is hugely valuable for keeping you informed about what is happening in your active and target accounts.
8. “Recommend” and “Endorse” your clients on LinkedIn
As we mentioned earlier, having a strong LinkedIn profile is crucial in this day and age. Recommendations and endorsements are very important aspects of your LinkedIn profile because they act as third-party validation of your abilities and success. Many salespeople and consultants make the mistake of asking their clients and colleagues to recommend or endorse them. This can put them on the spot if they aren’t comfortable or willing to do this. One way around this awkwardness is to first recommend a client you would like to either get back in touch with or have recommend you. Your clients also want to bolster their profiles and open new career opportunities. If you first recommend someone, chances are, they will return the favor and recommend you. Psychologists call this the “Norm of Reciprocity.” I call it good business.
9. Join Relevant groups on LinkedIn
One of the best ways to identify new prospects that may be facing similar issues to your best customers is thought LinkedIn Groups. One benefit of linking to your customers is that you will be able to see their full profile and the “groups” they belong to. Most will join groups with similar people facing similar issues. Take a look at the groups your customers belong to, and join those groups. Once you join the group, you can see many other group members and decide which of these will make good prospects for you to engage with.
10. Link to complimentary service providers
In many industries, clients will need a series of solutions from a variety of providers to solve a problem. For example, if a company wants to reposition itself in the market to be more competitive, oftentimes they will start by hiring a strategy consulting firm and then maybe a market research firm, a brand strategy firm, and maybe even a creative agency. Then, if they really want to do things right, they will hire Richardson to train their customer-facing people to communicate their new value proposition consistently and effectively in the market. The point is, there is an ecosystem of providers, and some providers may be “leading indicators” of a need for what you sell. If you link to people who work in companies that provide complimentary products or solutions to you and start to build a relationship with them, you may get the inside track on your competition.
11. Thoughtfully share blog articles with clients, prospects, and groups
This ties back to point #3, except that the content you share doesn’t need to be your own or from your company blog. There are many great publications, blogs, and research reports that can help you substantiate the need for your services with your clients. Be thoughtful and selective with what you share; otherwise, your clients will assume that you’re just trying to sell them and will start tuning you out. Also, I wouldn’t recommend sharing a competitor’s content. Business is tough enough without bringing additional competition into the mix!
12. Ask clients to contribute to your blog as subject matter experts
It gets back to the point I made earlier about a client’s desire to raise their profile and manager their careers. Some clients love the limelight and seek publicity. When this is the case, take full advantage of it. Space on your company blog is pretty much free, and there’s nothing like a satisfied client writing about their experience around an issue related to what you do. Clients love it, readers love it, and you’ll love it too.
Although this list might feel a bit overwhelming, your sales reps don’t have to do everything. Even if they are social media selling laggards, doing even just a few of these activities can make a huge difference.