Today's guest post is by Will Spendlove, vice president of product marketing at InsideView Inc.
Which kind of sales pitch would a prospect prefer to hear, a personalized message or a generic sales pitch? These days, prospects can get generic information about companies and offerings online. If you can’t talk with customers about their personal business needs, you’re going to have a tough time engaging them.
The good news is that salespeople can tap social networks to discover all kinds of relevant information, leading to great conversations with prospects, which in turn can lead to closed deals. So how do you use social networks to ditch the generic pitch in 60 minutes? Let’s start the timer…
Pick leads on which you can find a good level of base data to qualify them, such as company name, industry, size, etc. Social selling won’t work on a random lead on which you have only a name and email address. This is a targeted technique, so you’ll need enough background to start your online search and know that you’re researching the correct person and company.
Online, look up the name of your lead plus information about his or her company. A search engine is fine; a business-data service like Hoover’s can also be useful.
Find the blog, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn streams for the target company. Add the target company’s name as part of the search string, such as “manufacturing equipment Maytag.”
Find news that starts a conversation or backs up your pitch – or both. A company missing its earnings might not be directly relevant to what you’re selling, but helping the company drive more sales or speed production can be a point that’s reinforced with such news.
Find Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn profiles for your lead. Look for any information that might be useful. Maybe his or her last few tweets mentioned working long hours (which might indicate a stalled project or new product), or the LinkedIn profile shows a recent promotion (which might indicate company growth).
Also search for any social connections, professional or personal, that you might have in common with the lead. This can help you get a warm introduction. Even if you don’t know anyone in common, you might find an unexpected link (for example, that you attended the same college).
Triangulate the information -- background, company, and personal/professional -- to brainstorm your entry points. You’re looking for a personalized hook that’ll get the lead interested immediately, such as,
“Hi, Sally, I’m with Vandelay Industries, and I think we can help with your upcoming product launch in Europe. We’ve worked with Bob Smith, who you managed in your last role, and he loves our product…”
If you’re not seeing obvious hooks, work with your manager to brainstorm ideas.
Practice your pitch, then call your lead and demonstrate that you know his or her business and pain points. The fact that you’ve done your homework will automatically convey your respect for this person’s time.
There you have it -- the 60-minute approach to social selling. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll never want to go back to the old ways of generating leads, because this method really works. If you sell a complex product with a long sales cycle, you might be able to get by doing this work manually. For high-volume sellers, however, it’s wise to invest in a solution such as InsideView that pulls together social information and online data and makes it available in a central location.