Four Social Media Tips for Salespeople

Social Media, social media, social media, social media, social media.  Everyone is talking about it (obviously).  Marketers have taken to the medium; sales is starting to as well, but adapting is hard. Salespeople rarely have the time or desire to learn something complicated, or the motivation to do something without seeing its immediate benefits. In my current role, I do marketing for my organization and my clients in addition to sales. Net-net, I’ve learned some easy, helpful tips to pass along to sales reps using social media for their professional work.  For resonance, I’ve decided to create these recommendations based on sales-isms:

1. The most unique thing you have to sell is yourself. This is a common sales tip that I have applied to how I sell and how I market.  Here’s what a sales rep needs to know: Before people talk to each other in this day and age, they look them up on Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social-networking sites. This means you have to consider your presence on the Internet.

  • Manage your online self-branding. Know what is out there about yourself.  If there are pictures of you doing inappropriate things on the internet, take them down.  It’s the age of private investigation. Play right.
  • LinkedIn is not just for recruiting. In B2B, everyone is a LinkedIn power user. This is a self branding tool that should be modified to help you sell.  It shouldn’t say: “unrelenting closer,” etc. Keep in mind what buyers want:

a. The top sales rep or just a real pro: It’s ok to post that you’re the best salesperson at your company. Seriously, people want to know they have the best rep working their account. It’s particularly important to put some big companies you’ve managed on your online profiles. This is known in the rap industry as “game recognize game” – in other words, if you’re selling to IBM, have the big technology companies that you’ve worked for on your profile.

b. Trusted advisor: Think about key phrases like “creating customer partnerships,” etc. Post links to related third-party Web sites that show you care about the business.

c. Someone who cares about their business — Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. Even if you don’t do anything in them, they are badges of honor.

d. Someone who is wired — Get 3 degrees of separation: Take the time to connect with peers and clients online.  I make sure when I meet someone I like, I take the one second it takes to connect.  This is important because (i)  knowing lots of people – especially the right people – looks GOOD, (ii)  if you’re connected to respected companies, that reflects well on you, and (iii) the people you meet will see a mutual acquaintance, and your ice breaker is taken care of.

  • Twitter: Twitter is daunting for the uninformed, but it is a GREAT way to gain credibility with clients.  Have the salespeople sign up not with stupid names likes “youngjeezy213894,” but with their real names. All the guys need to know is the following:

a. How to retweet and from who: Marketing can just send great blog posts to the sales reps to retweet. Cut and paste them with the : RT@funnelholic 10 ways to … . They can then just post it and they should do it frequently for credibility — An empty Twitter profile is a no-go.

b. How to find people and how to follow:
Not only that, but reps should know who to follow – experts in the industry. When they do that, they look good.

2. Know thy customer: Many sales reps still find relevant articles in the newspaper or on Google Alerts and use that as a way to “show the customer they know them.”  That’s fine, but oftentimes in big companies, the people you’re selling to know as much as you do.  That’s reality. I have seen our sales reps try to spit game about some big merger or other notable event and the prospect is not impressed.  If you want to know the customer, see what he or she is writing on LinkedIn, on a personal blog, or on a Twitter page. That will tell you what THEY care about, which is a bigger deal.  Many people are using Facebook for this.  I think that’s fine, but I personally separate business from personal with my social-media sites.  If you can get data on the customer (where he or she has been traveling, etc.), that’s great too.  But I think of the world in terms of business priorities and insights, and Twitter’s brief 140-character updates is the way to go.

3. No one answers their phone anymore. People appreciate retweets. That’s why I like Twitter in the sales process; if a salesperson is following his or her prospects, retweeting their posts is a sincere form of flattery and a way to stay in their hearts and minds.  I have seen some sophisticated sales reps retweeting prospects’ tweets and the good ones add personal comments: “@funnelholic Great post today, I think that ….” You want multi-channel, right? How about that for multi-channel touches.

4. Nurture, because buyers won’t buy tomorrow. Everyone’s talking about nurturing, and here’s what you have take from this: The key to the nurturing revolution is the fact that clients are NOT going for the “Hi so-and-so, I wanted to touch base and see what your … needs are” or “I’d love to talk to you about our 75 percent clearance rate.” They’ll buy when they’re good and ready, so you have to keep them warm with relevant, meaningful, non-salesy content.  If the sales rep is “connected,” they’re a great channel for announcing workshops, Webinars, and any new cool content.  They should push it via their LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

There are lots of guys writing “how to use social media” and they probably have some more sophisticated tips to follow so keep looking.  These are some easy tips with which to start.

Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic. He loves sales, marketing, and things that drive revenue. Follow him on Google+ or Twitter

  • This article is a great resource to learn how to use social media for marketing. I’m glad I’ve come to hit this article. Thank you!

  • Personal branding, groups as badges of honor, looking wired….Hmmm….How about just being part of the online community and being helpful?

    Social networking is not about selling, its about connecting. Its like you are trying to stick a commercial value…profitability…calculated ROI on your time invested in social media….I think it’s approaching it the wrong way. Building trust and reputation takes time, alot of time, It’s not built showing off linked-in contacts but with genuine engagement.

    How about inserting some human values in there like generosity, transparency, connectedness…

    Don’t be in a linked-in group because its a badge of honor, join because you want to be in the conversation. Post interesting stuff, engage in the discussions…share your knowledge…

    You need no personal branding, just use the personality you already have…why look like this or that when you can just be yourself.

    What is this stuff about re-tweeting as a form of flattery. I would unfollow you in a minute…Social networking is about being genuine. RT should be done on merit and interest, not for profit. Imagine RTing lame stuff just to kiss up to a prospect…what will your followers think of this lame tweet?…UNFOLLOW…

    If you dont like social networking, its probably better not to use it. Using it solely with profit in mind is a sure way to piss off the digital natives out there…you might fool some, some of the times, but in the long run I would suggest being there for the right reasons…