For sales professionals, the advent of the Internet Age has been something of a mixed blessing. Certainly, online communication has presented innumerable marketing and sales opportunities, but it has also made for a shorter sales cycle. Small business owners and sales managers alike feel more pressured than ever before to generate leads, close sales, and show quantifiable results, all within a very short span of time—which can sometimes seem overwhelming! Thankfully, there are three key ways in which social media can be used to increase sales productivity.
Use Social Media to Verify Your Leads
Sometimes, the lead generation process yields only the most basic information—particularly when it comes to B2B sales. Perhaps you receive an e-mail from an interested party, but the e-mail provides you only with the name of the individual, and perhaps the company the individual works for. That’s not a lot of information to work off of, but you can use social media to obtain more information, to verify your lead, and ultimately to ensure that you’re not wasting any time by talking to the wrong people or promoting the wrong products.
LinkedIn is especially useful here. If you know the company for which your prospect works, visit that company’s LinkedIn page to get some basic information about the company’s size, its territory, its niche, and so forth. Say that your company manufactures industrial valves, for instance; knowing that your prospect represents a natural gas company can help you to pinpoint exactly which of your products you should try to sell, and which are simply irrelevant to the client in question.
Your can also use LinkedIn to ensure that your prospect is, indeed, the best contact person—someone with decision-making powers and true authority within the company. This is a great way to increase sales productivity, as it can help you to determine whether or not outreach is truly worth your valuable time.
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Follow Your Leads
Social media has many other uses for those wishing to increase sales productivity—again, especially when B2B sales are in view. One simple way to increase sales productivity is to actually follow your leads—quite literally—on sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, and so forth. Social media monitoring can provide you with invaluable, contextual information—ideal for helping you to boost your efficiencies.
Here’s an example. Say that your company sells cybersecurity products and services, and you see, on Twitter, that another company in your area has been victimized by a hacker attack or some other cyber threat. This is surely an ideal time to give them a call and make note of your efficient and cost-effective services!
And it’s not just individual companies that you can follow; you can also keep your thumb on industry trends, specifically through some strategically-implemented Google or Bing Alerts. Say that you own a market, and that you provide food to a lot of area restaurants; knowing that there is a widespread tomato shortage, or that beef prices are going up, can prove useful to you as you price and market your own offerings.
Find the Best Customers
Even beyond the realm of B2B, social networks are essential for those looking to increase sales productivity, because selling through social media allows you to identify those users who need whatever it is you are selling, right here and right now. Here’s an example: Say that your company sells wireless routers. Doing a quick Twitter search for “wireless router” is surely going to yield plenty of tweets from individuals asking for recommendations, or wondering where they might find the best deals. These are people who are really serious about buying a wireless router, as soon as possible, so reaching out to them directly can shorten your sales cycle dramatically.
And that’s one of the true perks of social media, for businesses of all kinds: It doesn’t just help you to market your products and to bring leads into the sales funnel, but it can also expedite your sales process significantly. Remember that selling through social media is all about using technology to cut to the chase—to identify the people who want or need your products and services, in the present. That’s ultimately how you use social media to increase sales productivity.
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