The best sales professionals are highly skilled at delving into their prospect's mind. By listening, asking questions, and researching well, these pros find out a variety of personal and professional information and use it to engage prospects in informed, intelligent, and highly persuasive conversations.
This is why the age of social media is a great boon for salespeople. Used wisely, social media can tell sellers quite a bit about their prospects, both personally and professionally.
LinkedIn senior social marketing manager Koka Sexton says conditions for social prospecting can be divided into three categories.
Category 1: When you already know who your prospects are and need to learn more about them.
Category 2: When you are looking for new prospects.
Category 3: When you're looking for sales triggers that might help you find ideal prospects.
Once you know prospects' names, you'll want to find out what they do in their organizations and what specific projects they're working on; that will help you map your sales strategy. It's also useful to find out what they're like on a personal level; that will help you establish a friendly relationship.
Checking a prospect's profile on LinkedIn is an excellent way to glean all of this information. If the prospect is active on Twitter, that can also be a great place to understand the prospect's personality, interest, and real-time activities.
For even deeper insight and more critical data on the prospect's organization, LinkedIn's Sales Navigator
can be an invaluable tool. Today, for the average deal with an enterprise-type buyer, about five decision makers or decision influencers are involved in the final purchase. Sales Navigator can provide a list of other senior executives in the target company who work in the same or a related function as the profiled executive. This list is a very good place to start looking for all those other people you will need to reach to move the deal toward successful close.
All this requires more than a couple minutes of research, of course, but Sexton notes that salespeople already spend almost half their time researching prospect execs and target companies. Using LinkedIn and Sales Navigator
just makes this essential research effort much more efficient. "We shorten the sales cycle," Sexton explains.
What about options to find out who your real prospects are? Stay in touch with your LinkedIn connections and participate in LinkedIn industry discussion groups. While no other social media can do anything like what LinkedIn does in terms of researching professionals, Twitter can help you find people who might be interested in your product. (Think of Twitter as casting the first, broad net.)
Social media isn't a crystal ball that can read the future, but if you use it frequently and correctly, it will help you uncover information that can enhance conversations with potential buyers – and that can be the foundation of a highly successful future for almost any sales professional.