How Social can Signal a Sure-Thing
Recently I posted a tweet about using hashtags to prospect for sales which led to an interesting discussion about Social Selling I thought was worth reflecting on. I often think that if you went back in time 20 years or so and told a sales executive that in the future they'd have the power to eavesdrop on their prospects - they'd look at you in amazement and wonder. Yet while we posses this power today, many seem reluctant to harness it. So the original article I posted from Social Media Examiner was a simple guide to using Hastags on Twitter to prospect for sales opportunities. SME is a great resource but is very generic in style and tends to target its content at the small to medium business market. Nevertheless it often has some excellent content. This article at Social Media Today is equally a very useful insight into the topic. A local Social Media Insights company Digivizer responded to make the solid point that qualification was still an important process of the prospecting process:
— DIGIVIZER (@Digivizer) April 17, 2014
The conversation quickly segued into a blog post the company had posted recently about insight vs intent. This aligned with my point that while Twitter might not be fantastic at qualifying a prospect, it is excellent at signifying something that is extremely hard to access in any other medium - intent, readiness or willingness to buy. Qualification should be done via your CRM system, but a truly sophisticated Social Selling function will combine Social with the CRM intelligence to both qualify and monitor prospects.
In the B2B environment, because of the scale, this can be done very effectively by monitoring prospects' posts for indications they are ready to buy or at least in a mindset conducive to discussing your product or service further. Some CRMs - the Salesforce Sales Cloud for one - provide a feature for importing a view of a contact's Social Media posts right into the prospect record to help paint a picture of where they might be on the buying curve. This kind of intelligence is invaluable. I can remember, for instance, when shortly before a prospect met with a sales representative they posted exactly what their agenda for the meeting was - the features they hoped to see from the product demo. That sales representative missed the tweet but because the wider company had Social Media Monitoring switched on that crucial insight was routed through to him in time. Without it the meeting might have gone quite differently, particularly since it was about Social CRM!
More widely, monitoring Social for signals of a possible buying disposition is easy once you've got a strategy around what topics and keywords you are searching for (i.e. #Hashtags). When an insurance company searches for people tweeting about passing their driving test, all sorts of opportunities emerge around car insurance - CTP and Comprehensive, as well as personal injury. It also provides an opportunity to congratulate that person, thereby warming that relationship making a sale more likely. Other life moments such as house purchases, imminent weddings, the announcement of a new birth all allow you to build a profile of a customer that they are in a position to buy. To support your Social engagement strategy, there are also SEO and Social advertising strategies you can put in place to ensure you surround that trigger. While once some of this might have seemed "creepy", increasingly consumers and businesses alike expect it.
The key is organisation and aligning your monitoring effort and content strategy with your CRM so that when an intention to buy is signalled you can spot it quickly, establish some context using your CRM - i.e. further qualify the prospect - and then identify some content you can use to develop the opportunity.
If you have had an experience of mining Social Media for intention to buy signals, please leave a comment below to share it.