We have written about social sales relationship building and social sales research. Let’s stop and think for a minute about the most simple form of integrating social into your selling with listening.
It sounds so simple, yet good social listening is an art and science.
Social listening is an art because of nuances you are looking for, and patterns to see.
Social listening is a science because you must have a cohesive plan in place and be methodical for the greatest success. If you approach listening in a haphazard way you will get poor results.
Create some social listening goals. It could be to better learn about the CFOs or Directors of IT whom you sell to. It often is based on specific companies you are following who fit your profile for best target companies as prospects.
Next, put a plan into place.
Do you want to learn about your prospective customer’s world?
First see what social platform they use predominantly. Follow them there.
Example: I just became interested in a company after they visited our website. I found that they are very active on Twitter, so they are now in a list we have of companies of interest. We will be watching what they say and how often they are on. We will look for the successes they will share and any challenges or frustrations they reveal. Eventually we will reach out and engage – but for now, we will simply watch and listen.
At the same time we will see what they post on LinkedIn and elsewhere online.
Do you use alerts to keep tabs on your prospective buyers and existing customers?
Google alerts was the first to send emailed updates on what is happening with key words you’ve selected to monitor.
Now there are bigger and better ways – from tools like GageIn to data tools like Avention (now owned by Hoovers) we can track new contacts at our prospective customer companies – a key way to grow opportunities.
One of the best posts written about tracking trigger events is from the guy who literally wrote the book about trigger events – read Craig Elias' post here. I love this simple way of tracking where the existing contacts at your company go when they move on, who replaced them, and who took that person’s place at their previous company. Strategies like these are important and effective.
Ultimately you will want to do more than listening, but even if you just listened to look for new opportunities, your sales team’s revenues would grow.
Take this test – for the next month, put a simple plan in place to listen more socially. Put time blocks in your calendar and work at least 3 times a week, if not five, to intently listen in on what those in the industries you work in are saying and posting.
Make a list of 30 companies to follow – separate out existing clients and prospective clients.
At the end of 30 days – assess. What did you learn? Is it worth more effort?
When thinking of this as a project rather than a lifelong change, it can be easier to learn and people seem more willing to try.
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. I've been compensated to contribute to this program, but the opinions expressed in this post are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.
Lori Richardson is recognized on Forbes as one of the "Top 30 Social Sales Influencers" worldwide. Lori speaks, writes, trains, and consults with inside sales teams in mid-sized companies. Subscribe to the award-winning blog and the “Sales Ideas In A Minute” newsletter for sales strategies, tactics, and tips. Increase Opportunities. Expand Your Pipeline. Close More Deals.