The way I see it, there are three major types of folks using social media. “Watchers” rarely if ever share anything and instead prefer to sit on the sidelines. I’m not really sure what they are doing but perhaps they are scanning the internet for information that they may find to be of benefit. While they may not contribute much to the ecosystem, to each his own. “Sharers” will actively update the networks but, they will rarely interact with others. They may consider sharing to be a form of giving to the community as a whole (it is) and/or they may also be using their updates to direct people to their product, service, or cause. They are probably doing both and there is nothing wrong with that either. Finally we have the “Engagers”. Engagers will initiate conversations with others and they will also respond to attempts by others to engage with them. In most cases, not all, they are also active sharers. They bring value to their network and this is one of the ways that they encourage others to engage with them via likes, comments, RT’s, replies, and connection requests. They are generally active connectors themselves.
Engagers consistently demonstrate the desire to create relationships and for those of us who are in B2B sales, it’s all about relationships! So, with that in mind, here are a few of the ways that we can leverage Social CRM to discover, initiate, and nurture relationships.
- Turn your Social CRM into a specific relationship-building social dashboard
- Learn more about your existing contacts (common interests, motivations, behaviors, pain points, wants, needs, and desires)
- Discover who you know in common and then seek to engage and connect with those people
- Find new influential people through keyword searches and/or by monitoring Klout scores where they are available
- Discover who your contacts are talking to and what are they talking about (Do you have something of value to add to the conversation?)
- Make valuable contributions to your communities (demonstrate your expertise)
- Actively engage with others on the channels that they frequent
- Request to connect on the network(s) they frequent (move your budding relationship to the next level)
- Take your conversation to other channels and, perhaps, more personal ones (@messages to direct messages to email to phone to Skype to “real life”)
- Track your conversations via Social CRM (look back on, and refer to, the history of your relationship)
Let’s talk a bit more about these. We are all in agreement that relationships are a result of engagements … talking to folks. The huge challenge presented by social media is the sheer volume of activity and much of that activity is “noise” that stands as a barrier between me and my targeted contact. The only way that I know of, that we can focus on an individual’s social activity is via a specific search and/or going to their home page on each specific network. Unless I am purposely researching that person, the chance that anybody is going to jump through these hoops is probably slim and none, and we already know who just left town. What is needed is an efficient way to gather and view this valuable information (opportunities to learn and to engage) as a by-product of our daily routine activities.
As for me, I spend the bulk of my computer related business day either in a contact record, on my social dashboard, or emailing. What if I were to tell you that I can monitor and engage with any contact’s social networks and activities (including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) without leaving any of these three business activity areas? Well, I can and I do. As a matter of fact, I am able to address all 10 of the above points from within the comfort of my CRM. If you are not using a CRM, but like the idea of social engagement from within your email, I would suggest Xobni for Outlook users and Rapportive for Gmail users.
From my standpoint, the most critical benefit of utilizing a Social CRM is having the ability to focus on a specific contact. This is the first critical step in discovering relationships can be created and nurtured. Having somebody’s email address and phone number on file does not constitute a relationship and that is by any measure.
Certainly, there is so much discussion about the importance of engagement that this term is rapidly moving toward cliché status. Cliché perhaps but, it is still valid. What would your chances have been with your significant other if …
- You never spent any time together?
- You never placed his or her needs above your own?
- You didn’t take the time to do the little things that showed them that you cared?
- All you did was talked. You never listened?
- Phone calls that they placed to you went unreturned?
- Letters written were never opened let alone replied to?
And the answer is … you would still be single. And if you still are single (and would like to change that status on your Facebook profile), the answer is … learn to engage!
Of course, all relationships require regular care and attention. We will call those “touches”. Once again, with a good Social CRM you can schedule reminders to make these touches and, because you are a good record keeper, you also have documented when and how you made those touches in the past. After all, everybody loves chocolate but they don’t necessarily love the same old thing every time around. Mix it up: phone call, email, personalized note, drop-in, small gifts, a mention on the social networks, be creative.
A final word of caution is needed. One size does not fit all. Not everybody will respond to the same methods and attempts to engage. You need to choose carefully for each individual and you must demonstrate sincerity. Furthermore, engage only with the right people and that will require some pre-qualifying. Here’s a case in point. A couple of months ago a gentleman who I know casually reached out to me by phone just to chat. We had never done that before. We talked about a few things and I was curious if he might be using a system I know of that is designed to schedule sales touches with people who would be likely to refer your services. I happen to be a heavy networker, and I actually run networking groups, so I might seem attractive in that regard to some people. He did tell me that he was using this system so now he knows it and I know it and I also know that I am on his list.
A few weeks later he shows up at my door with cupcakes (gift touch). He assumes that I like cupcakes. I happen to LOVE cupcakes but, that’s immaterial. Part of me wonders, now that he has fed me, what does he expect in return on the rest of our date? Last week he sends me a link to an article (value touch) that he thought I might find of interest. I can guarantee you that soon I will receive a hand-written note (note touch) in the mail because … I know that such a note happens to be the next thing on the system list. I applaud his efforts, however …
- We both know what is happening here and somehow it now seems less than genuine.
- If he really wants to engage with me and EARN my referrals, he would help my business and not expand my waistline. Bringing me business gets my attention.
- If he had qualified me he would know that I only refer people who I know and trust and none of what he is doing is EARNING that status.
In closing … engage often but always engage smartly!
Are you using a Social CRM to engage with others? If so, please share your experience with the rest of us and also please share what you are using!