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Week 12 – Use Social Media – Chapter 03

When people hear the term “social media” they think of Facebook, Twitter and other services through which people can share messages, photos, or draw attention to their business. Platforms such as LinkedIn are tailored to professionals. But how do you go about using these media to find new customers?

As a professional in B2B sales you should keep three points in particular in mind:

1. Your access to new customers
2. Your relevance to customers
3. Your virtual use of real networks

B2B – Use Networks

Process of Selection – Use Social Media © Fotolia 2015 / ellagrin

Process of Selection – Use Social Media © Fotolia 2015 / ellagrin

First point. LinkedIn is, from the perspective of the sales professional, an ideal database to find relevant

customers. Ideally, you already know which types of people you need to access. However, potential contacts often have a variety of different job titles. The buyer, for instance, may describe his function as “buyer”, “purchasing”, or “procurement.”

This makes the search for the right people difficult. Therefore you have to conduct your search in a methodical manner. Take out all your customers’ business cards and look at the job titles that your important customers are given. Then draw up a list of them.

Networks like LinkedIn offer groups in which people organize themselves based in the topics of interest. Try writing the word “purchasing” in the search field and click on the groups that come up in this category. After joining a group, you an go through the list of group members and find some ideas for potential search terms.

Create the list in such a way that you will always use the word “OR” between the terms, for example, “Purchasing OR Buyer OR Procurement.”

Another idea: Suppose you have satisfied a client at “XYZ Inc.” Occasionally employees leave their companies and seek out a job at another one. Most likely these new companies share the same type of business than the companies they come from. Therefore they happen to be of an equal interest to you and you could even use your good relationship with XYZ Inc. as a reference.

But how do you go about finding these companies? You can use the so-called advanced search. Under “Company”, enter “XYZ Inc.” In the next field, choose “Past not current.” This will get you all the LinkedIn members who used to work at that company.

Second point. The relevance of your offer to the client should be self-evident, but that is something that is often overlooked in practice.

Take Care of Your Profile

With most firms, if you look at a list of their employees, you will find a host of poor photos, utterly disparate service specifications and anything but a professional image of the company. Do it differently!

Makes sure that your profile on LinkedIn and Facebook serves as a start of a business collaboration – not the end of it. Upload a professional photo of yourself, preferably with some evidence of your firm included, like a logo in the background or something like that.

Use the free writing spaces of these platforms to convey your firm’s message in a targeted and consistent manner.

Store Contacts

Third point. As a sales professional you will already be using a company-wide contact management or customer relationship management (CRM) system. As an employee this system is compulsory, but if you’re self-employed you have the choice. You may decide to use a simple electronic address book like Outlook.

If you don’t already have a field to save the link to each of your LinkedIn contacts, you should at least enter a note or something similar to save the complete link to your sales contacts. In this way you will never lose them, even if a given contact should change companies. You will find the link in the address bar of your browser when you call up the contact itself. My link, by the way, is: linkedin.com/in/stephanheinrich
If you connect with your already existing network in LinkedIn too, you can more easily find potential customers. Imagine there is a person in your industry that you would like to contact. If this person is one of your second-degree contacts, that is, if you’ve never had a direct contact with this person, but you have one or more contacts in common, it will be much easier to establish communication. Use your mutual contact as a touchstone, as in: “We both happen to know XY . . .” Or you can ask to person to arrange a contact with the third party. Just try it. You can only benefit from it.

With this post, we close the third chapter. From next week on I will prepare you for acquisition. I will discuss customer-oriented communication, how to raise tension, how to come up with good ideas and I will teach you how to think of an acquisition as a flirtation.

Best wishes,
Stephan Heinrich