- Your existing customers
- Other people who you already know but that you don’t presently do business with
- People that others know but who you do not
- Folks that you presently have absolutely no connection to
Social Media can, and should, play an integral part in your b2b sales efforts to mine each of these opportunity groups. Establishing and nurturing relationships in a critical factor with all four. Let me ask you a few questions. Are you more likely to learn about somebody’s desires and needs during a sales presentation or a social engagement? Are people generally more open during that same sales presentation or when they are talking with their friends on Facebook? Do people prefer to buy from friends (providing that they are also professionals) or from people that they do not know let alone even like? Where is a great place to engage socially with these folks? How about on social media?
Let’s take a closer look at each of our sources…
Your existing customers – Hello!! Maybe it is the thrill of the hunt that drives salespeople to always be looking for new business while at the same time ignoring or mistreating their existing client base. You’ve heard the statistics. “It’s 10 times more expensive to find a new customer than it is to keep an existing one.” “70% of your former customers left you because they felt ignored.” The last time that I checked, all of my existing customers continue to spend money. My goal is that all appropriate monies are always invested with my favorite charity, me.
There are many ways via social media to engage with your existing customer base. Everybody loves donuts. Social media provides you with an unlimited supply of digital donuts that are tasty, unique, and cost-effective. Make them feel that they are a part of your team. Solicit their feedback by using polls on Facebook and LinkedIn. Reward them with sneak peeks at new products and services or discounts on their current services. Promote their businesses thereby increasing their revenues. Share articles of interest with them via your Google Reader. What about a client-only focused newsletter that provides tips and tricks to getting the most out of the existing products and services that they are already investing in? MailChimp, based on your needs, may be free and it is easy to use! Make the necessary touches, using a variety of messages and methods, and do so often. If you are under the delusion that, just because they do business with you now, they will do so in the future based on some sort of auto-pilot guidance system … you are delusional. Today’s heroes are tomorrow’s bums and every customer you have is asking the same question … “But, what have you done for me lately?”
If you have done your job with your existing customers, they are a tremendous source of referrals. Moreover, they will happily provide you with these! You will need to ask for them and you will need to train your clients in how to effectively perform this task. “I gave your name to somebody and they may be calling you” provides little value. “I spoke to Dave Smith with ABC Company about you, he is expecting your call, and he can be reached at …” … priceless!
Other people who you already know but that you presently don’t do business with – Most of us know a bunch of folks but, how well do we really know them and, how well do they really know us? Be honest. With all of your contacts, do you know where each of those works, much about their business, and what their needs are? How many are these same folks are truly familiar with your offerings? Not many. In Neal Schaffer’s book, “Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing”, he cites a case study where a gentleman started on LinkedIn and sent out personal invitations inviting friends and colleagues to connect and at the same time he informed them of his new consulting venture (yes, people you know are also changing jobs). This resulted in one response that netted him a $1,000,000 deal. Sweet! Make this your second initiative and commence dirt-moving operations on what potentially could be a (very close to the surface) gold mine!
People that others know but who you do not – Here is where we begin to realize the real power of social media and that is in its potential to expand your connection base. More connections = more business opportunities. Take LinkedIn, for example. If I am connected to 100 unique people (1st degree), and they are connected to 100 unique folks that I don’t know (2nd degree), and then those in turn are connected to another 100 people who I still don’t know (3rd degree) … my LinkedIn network now exceeds 1,000,000 people! Or, if you wanted to connect with a particular individual or company, would you …
- Get out the old Rolodex and call everybody you know individually and ask them if they knew that person or company or …
- Go to LinkedIn and maybe to BranchOut on Facebook and do a search?
If you chose #1, please move to the back of the digital bus and there will be no digital donuts for you.
Folks that you have absolutely no connection to – Certainly we can target and find these people but, always remember the first rule of social media and that is that it is about attraction vs. interruption. Start by identifying which social network, or networks, that your future customers are most likely to be found, which network(s) are best suited to your product or service, and what (if any) geographical limitations may be in play. Caution! Don’t be too short-sighted in this exercise. Think beyond where you are now to where you want to go. Start with two areas …
- Targeted connections
- Targeted opportunities
Targeted connections would be those people who are most likely to need your product or service or who would be in a good position to refer you to those who might. All of the major services are aggressively suggesting folks who may be good matches but, you can also do custom keyword searches to find these people on your own. An excellent way to connect with like-minded people on LinkedIn is with Groups and with Answers.
Targeted opportunities can be discovered in a wide variety of ways. Think of keywords that you might use to find your product or service on a Google Search. Now use those same keywords to …
- Create alerts on free services like Google Alerts or Social Mention
- Create and save these searches by using Twitter Advanced Search
- Using advanced search on LinkedIn, you can also look for updates from folks, even those outside of your network, who may be expressing a need for your services
- Facebook also provides the ability to search updates for these keywords
- Create your own updates and drive people to your website landing page where you have placed an effective call to action or to your Facebook. LinkedIn, or Google+ Company Pages
In the end, your ability to increase your revenues will tightly revolve around your ability to deliver your message consistently to those who would be most in need of your services. Excellent customer service is what generates referrals and the closing ratio on referrals is generally to die for!
What other ideas can you share that would be helpful to our readers?