As more and more of your customers are spending time involved in social media, you too need to build your midmarket company brand. No longer can it be ignored that buyers are searching online for solutions long before they find out who you are. Even if a percentage of your customers are on social tools and platforms now – you need to be there as well. There are many cloud-based tools to help grow your visibility, do niche research, and learn more about your existing and prospective customers.
What most people don’t realize is that it takes time to build prominence in your sector or niche online. Just as you need to plant seeds years before in order for a tree to be big enough to provide you shade, so goes a visibility-building program.
It also takes time to do regular research on your clients, their sector, and their industry counterparts. If you don't have time, you can hire help through some amazing web tools. For those rolling up their sleeves, three steps to help you get started:
PLAN: Work a plan that helps you build in regular time for research and brand-building, which are two totally different things. Research is critical, because you are learning online where your prospects and customers are, and coexisting. As in real life, you need to go where your customers are.
PROSPECT: Mine information like trigger events in your market niche, and then use this knowledge in talking with your prospective customers.
“70 percent of midmarket CEOs aim to partner extensively with other companies as external relationships will play a more critical role to CEOs’ overall business strategies” [IBM Midmarket CEO Study, 2012]
Therefore, if you have a collaborative solution for a midmarket company, the time has never been better to reference the study as a way of gaining access to discuss partnering ideas – assuming you have a very value-added proposal for your prospect. This report is considered a “trigger event” that you can leverage in conversation, with statistics and facts from within this market segment.
REACH OUT: Ultimately you need to connect directly with people, whether online, by phone, in chat, or via e-mail. Once again, use your prospects’ preference – just as you found where they go online, you also need to talk with them in the way that they want to connect.
I can accomplish a lot more through crafting and sending email messages, but not everyone, including some of my clients. These folks want a phone call, so we call those clients directly. Instead of trying to change them, choose the path of least resistance to connect the way they want.
Finally, the tools vary and new ones seem to come out daily. We’ll go into specific recommendations in a future post. For now, get the basics down by creating your plan, learning where to go online, and then actually reaching out on an ongoing basis to build your visibility, connect, listen, and learn.
Do you know where your customers spend time online? What communities? What tools?
What trigger events can you utilize that will help your conversation be relevant and important to your prospective customer?
How are you reaching out, and how can you improve on it?
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.
Lori Richardson is recognized as one of the "Top 25 Sales Influencers for 2012" and one of "20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management". Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside and outbound sellers in technology and services companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for tips and strategies in selling.