Social media isn’t just a great tool for making online connections; there’s major opportunity for sales reps to do valuable research using social networks. While you might not have considered conducting research this way, doing so can give you some great insight. “Whether you're researching new prospective buyers before reaching out, a buyer before a sales conversation, or a target industry, social media should be one of the first places you look,” writes Mike Schultz, president of RAIN Group.
His article includes tips to using various networks for research purposes, including LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Schultz also highlights five areas to focus when doing social-media based research:
This may be an obvious topic to research, but Schultz encourages reps to take a deeper dive into this area of information. Don’t just look up professional information; check out where he or she went to school, what charities/causes are important, etc. Try to uncover common interests or connections, such as a shared passion or experience. “Use that information to build strong connections and rapport with buyers,” he explains. “After all, rapport is essential for sales success, and a key way to build rapport is to find common interests with buyers.” Those little personal connection points can go a long way.
Trigger events signify that a notable change has happened, either with the prospect, their business, or their industry. A trigger event can be anything from the hiring of a new CEO to a recent feature in a publication. “Social media allows you to uncover trigger events you may not have otherwise found,” Schultz points out. “A trigger event gives you an opportunity to reach out, if you have something valuable to add to the conversation.” Keep an eye out for any new posts that hint at a recent trigger event and use the opportunity to reach out.
Use Schultz’s advice to change how you look at social media. The networks can be a treasure trove of valuable information, all of which you can use to kickstart conversations and strengthen current relationships.