3 Ways to Get More Leads and Sales with Social Networking and Referral Marketing

In my ongoing quest to find ways to introduce some tangible sales benefits to business by introducing Social Media I have found much be pleased about. This is because Social Media and good Salespeople have much in common.

Most good sales people already practice many of the things that Social Media relies on Listening, Relationship Management and Referrals. They also rely heavily on Word of Mouth to build reputation and business.

While Social Media goes a long way towards eliminating Cold Calling it does not totally replace real personal relationship building.

When I worked in Sales Management for Dun and Bradstreet Software (the then biggest business software company in the world)  the single biggest performance indicators used to assess our salespeople was their performance when dealing face to face with a prospect.

Once a year  a sales trainer from the US or UK would accompany every salesperson on a call and asses the key criteria – ability to build rapport, ability to listen for a problem that our products could solve, ability to position our solution and to negotiate access to the power in the organisation in return making the prospect look good.

Failure to deliver would inevitably result in termination.

Eric Schmidt, Chairman and CEO of Google, in his commencement address to the graduating class of the University of Pennsylvania in May 2009, urged college graduates to step away from the virtual world and make human connections. “Turn off your computer. You’re actually going to have to turn off your phone and discover all that is human around us.”

Even though we can’t replace face to face the right Social Media presence and the right approach to Social Networking can make SalesPeople highly effective.

Joanne Black, No More Cold Calling suggests 3 key areas to focus on

1.Develop a social media strategy: Like a sales plan or a marketing plan, write your social media plan. What is your goal? Who is your audience? What do you want to communicate? Leverage social media as part of your go-to-market strategy. How does your strategy link to your customer’s needs and your business priorities?

2.Establish relationships: Take the time to build your personal connections, pick up the phone and talk to people. Just because you have a name in hand, doesn’t mean you have a relationship.

3.Communicate useful information: Social sites are not for selling. They are for establishing connections, identifying ways to collaborate, and providing value. What tips can you provide? Link to other sites you strongly recommend. Get recognized as the expert and build your web presence. Be a resource.

Great advice that can help Salespeople take Social Media’s value well beyond Conversations, Fans, Blogs, PR, Consumer Driven Feedback, etc   to deliver real tangibles to the bottom line ….  cost-effective sales results!!

B2B LinksIn for Relationships and Sales

With the continual growth – 1 new member every second of every day – and the accuracy of its info its not surprising LinkedIn is becoming prime real estate for B2B Sales prospecting.

According to US research from OneSource, the use of LinkedIn for B2B sales prospecting has increased by 47.8% since last year,

And of course it not just LinkedIn around 20 percent of those polled planned on increasing their use of  blogs, Facebook and Twitter for prospecting purposes.

However, still the overall majority still do not use social media for prospecting.

The most popular approach for gaining qualified leads remains outbound prospecting (cold calling), which was rated 3.7 out of five for effectiveness, followed by the company website (2.9), inbound calls (2.6) (waiting for the phone to ring), email campaigns (2.6), shows & events (2.5), social networking (2.1) , direct mail (2.1)  and webinars (1.8).

It seems that still the majority of sales people in B2B sales, in particular, still think that at best Social Media is for B2B sales …. or even worse it is of no value in sales at all.

While other research suggests that it is time to re-evaluate this thinking – Early this year Hubspot research showed that 45% of US companies who have used LinkedIn for marketing had acquired a customer through the site. Company blogs were considered effective for 43% of respondents, while Twitter for 38%  and Facebook for 33%.

Social Media is The New Relationship Selling because it is all about listening and understanding what the market/prospect needs.  It is old-fashioned business and that is how good sales people have always operated.  Building rapport, relationships and listening for problems for which they have a solution.

LinkedIn is the place to find B2B prospects and build relationships, Blogs are the where you can build Credibility, while Twitter and Facebook are great places to let people know who you are and what you do.

If I offered to supply a sales person with unlimited free access to a database with 65 million professionals from over 120 professions and almost every country on earth, who are largely tertiary educated and have household incomes of $100,00o plus and aged in main 30 – 50 they would jump at it….

Well I am … its called LinkedIn!!