The key to lead generation is establishing credibility and trust, meaning lead time is largely based on building rapport and history with prospects. Today people are very open to sharing everyday business challenges on social media, making it easy to identify a prospect’s background and challenges, and focus your efforts accordingly.
As part of our Social Spotlight, Cloud Marketing Manager Dominic Wellington provides tips and tools to navigate the social media landscape and build lasting relationships with prospects.
As a marketer, social media keeps me up-to-date with conversations going on outside my immediate vicinity. Channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ allow me to interact with folks in the Silicon Valley, Eastern Asia, etc. from my office in Italy.
Pain / Need:
Your initial interaction with your contact is critical, so it’s important to focus on the preparation phase. If I’m meeting a customer, prospect, analyst, or someone from the press, I research them online or see if we have already interacted through one of my social media channels. If we have previously connected, it’s a very different conversation than if I’m approaching them without prior contact. If we haven’t interacted before, I review their social media profiles and/or connect with them on LinkedIn to help me identify similar interests or common contacts to make our initial interactions smooth.
In my role I create lead generation content, so to me the most important thing to know about lead time is that those campaigns can be the key to gaining credibility and trust with the customer. That said, lead time is really based on the time it takes to build history with prospects. It doesn’t require a huge amount of time. Figure out what works for you for quick, frequent touch points, then find tools to simplify the process.
Social Tool Mainly Used:
I’m an avid user of Evernote tools, beyond just note taking. At events I like the Evernote Hello smartphone application. Hello is a business card scanner that ties into LinkedIn, so I can immediately access all their LinkedIn contact details, then enter notes on our conversation, and follow up after the event in a timely manner. It allows blending of the online and physical part of relationship.
I also use Evernote Skitch to make quick drawings or diagrams in real time. You can make a drawing or take notes in front of someone right on your tablet, so it becomes a whiteboard with content you can save and send to everyone.
How do you begin the relationship?
I prefer LinkedIn for research as pretty much everyone is on it. To effectively use LinkedIn, it’s important to know that people use it differently. For some it’s strictly a CV or resume tool; they only log in to update information or add contacts. That’s important because just knowing where someone works and/or their connections can be powerful in relationship development. But, some use it similar to Twitter by posting professional and industry updates or by distributing content like blog posts, news articles, white papers, etc. Get your pitch or relevant content linked to individual or group updates to engage with your connections and prospects in groups. Remember, it takes something personal to resonate and stand out from the crowd.
Similar to the LinkedIn example, monitor content and dialogue across social media channels to get a pulse on customer pain points and opportunities. Social networks regularly help me understand prospect needs and/or their business challenges. Knowing the items on their mind allows you to address the topic directly during interactions and pitches.
What’s the current status of the relationship?
I look outside the obvious relationships. For example, I find that very social junior-level professionals will tweet thoughts on a pitch after a meeting. Finding this information offers a sense of how the meeting went as well as insight into what the organization thought of the pitch. You can also create a power map of the organization by identifying the up and comers and the business hierarchy.
Are you “sold” on using Social Selling tools?
Social media returns don’t happen overnight, but the more you use the channels the easier it will be to gain insight into your prospects.
What should others do?
Know that when you start using social media as a sales tool it’s is going to be hit or miss, but as you continue to do it you will become more adept with the tools and you will also start to identify the digital watering holes for the type of game you are hunting. For example, you may find that the CIO doesn’t use LinkedIn, but the chief architect regularly interacts on key LinkedIn groups. Leveraging the social channels will help you not only gather information easier, but soon that information will come to you directly. The bottom line is to start using it and don’t get discouraged because it gets easier as you work the social tools – and the payoffs can be great.