Having been in sales too many years to admit, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Joe asked me for some advice. Now, Joe’s no numpty B2B sales guy, he’s been cold calling since he started selling 10 years ago.
The man has a proven track record of closing deals or at least that’s what it says on his resume – he knows how to pick up the phone and make hundreds of calls, converting some into sales.
Joe told me his company had decided to move towards marketing automation with a small-sum investment on website visitor tracking software. The marketing department is pretty excited about this, as you can imagine, he explained. They can see companies coming to our website, browsing the product and service pages and – more importantly – they can give leads to sales people.
But Joe told me about his problem:
“Susan from the marketing department approached me during lunch time asking me how I felt about those hot leads she’d assigned me. Honestly, I felt it was the usual marketing rubbish. For example, there was one company that had visited 10 times in the last two weeks. They’d checked out our product page about CRMs and integrations and the contact information page but they hadn’t actually contacted us. So now what?”
Not only that decried Joe, there was no email address or phone number to start the approach. How could he make the first step if he didn’t know whom to contact from the company.
I leaned back on my chair. “Joe, come on – what have we said about Social Selling. It’s 2016. You must know someone from that company or at least have some 2nd level contact on LinkedIn? Or how about you reach out to them there even if they don’t?”
Joe laughed, “It ain’t that easy. First of all I don’t use LinkedIn that much, it’s for people who are looking for work and showing their resume. Secondly, I know my buyers: they‘re not there. I need the name of a person to follow up with, there’s no use going after a whole company, it’s a total waste of time! How do I even know where to start?”
I sucked some air in through my teeth. “Seriously Joe, the fact that somebody has visited your website this number of times is a buying signal in my book.”
“That feeling! Don’t you feel it? At least you should! There’s a company visiting your website. They visited yesterday a couple of times, the day before too. They haven’t visited before, but now it looks like they’re into your CRM software, browsing information about it all the time. Is it a competitor? No? So let’s move forward.”
To me everything about this was clear-cut and my sales radar was off the scale – but Joe wasn’t convinced. It’s a massive signal when a company is behaving like this and it’s no biggie if they’re not identifying themselves. The early bird catches the worm, as they say, and the same applies here.
It doesn’t matter if the company’s just started short-listing products or if they’re into buying right now, with the right approach you can find out more and when the time is right, you know them and they know you.
On top of all the visit information that qualifies them as a hot prospect, you know the company name and location and you have LinkedIn, from where you can see how you’re contacted to people at that company.
So let’s walk through how not to mess this up.
Basic Social Selling in Action
So my Leadfeeder tool tells me that a software company from Stockholm has visited my website. There are 5 separate visits in the last 7 days and it seems from the visit history that they haven’t visited earlier.
Pretty exciting, right? So let’s dig a bit deeper. They’ve browsed through our software products page, looking at a certain tool every time, and they’ve read a couple of blog posts related to that. I don’t have to be an online behaviour expert to understand that this repetitive behaviour means that somebody is interested in what our software does.
In the Leadfeeder interface I have the LinkedIn widget to show me who I know from the company. It seems that I don’t know anyone personally, but I do have a couple of 2nd level connections. One guy called Alex is their Sales Director and I’m connected to him through a former colleague James. Alex fits the buyer persona so I choose him as my target.
Next I check out Alex on Twitter. He’s there. He has around 200 followers so it should be pretty easy to get his attention.
The next morning I start following Alex on Twitter and begin by retweeting some of his tweets. Later that day Alex starts following me back. Good start. After that I decide to share this great article on how sales tech is disrupting the role of marketing in 2016. I tag Alex into that and recommend that he check it out. Later in the evening he replies that it was an eye-opening article and this is exactly what he’s driving at his company.
This is an excellent start, but how should I build the relationship and value upfront? For that, I turn to a quote from Tim Hughes’ medium article ‘How to get 10 C-level appointments per week using Twitter’. Tim Hughes, for those who don’t know, is one of the world’s most influential social sellers.
“Set yourself up with a buyer centric profile on LinkedIn and Twitter and start curating and posting articles that you think will be interesting to your audience. Research your target accounts (no different than what we have done for the last 30 years) but this time do this in the social world of LinkedIn. (I recommend you pay the subscription and get access to the Sales Navigator) Research the organisation, business issues, news items and executives and then look for the people from the target account on Twitter. Follow all your target accounts and the C-Level people you have researched on Twitter.
A good approach to a C-Level contact is “Noticed you were talking about XYZ - have you considered this?” This, being some content that the contact will be interested in to drive the conversation forward.”
Now Alex knows my name pretty well and I’ve built value upfront. But just to be sure and heat up the relationship some more, I use our mutual contact James to give me an introduction.
After that I send Alex a message in LinkedIn asking to talk more on the phone. Without hesitation he gives me his phone number and I now have an easy way to call him with my sales pitch.
Remember: after the trust is built, don’t try to sell through social.
Social selling isn’t about sales pitching and closing in social channels. It’s about building and nurturing the relationship in social and then moving the sales pitch to good old email or phone. Believe me, you will get the number once your target trusts you.
But what’s the difference?
I bet you’ll feel it: how ridiculously easy it is now to contact someone when they know you beforehand, when you’ve provided value. It’s magnificent, and this is what social selling is all about.
_If you liked this blog and it resonates with you, why not contact Tim or Jaakko to talk about social selling more.
Tim Hughes @timothy_hughes was named the number 1 most influential Social Seller in the recent Onalytica top 100 Social Sellers. He is a blogger here https://medium.com/@Timothy_Hughes and speaker and can be found at firstname.lastname@example.org or @timothy_hughes where he has a community of 140,000 followers.
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