The great thing about social media is that you can determine how much, when and where you contribute to it. But if you want to get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline (which a number of those working in professional services say they do) you will need to regularly engage with your target audience and build credibility and trust.
There are so many examples out there of people who post sales pitches to group discussions – often multiple times – and never actually seek to engage with others outside of that. I think they’ve missed a fundamental point: social media is about dialogue and engagement NOT selling per se.
Having said that, LinkedIn is a powerful tool professionals can use to identify and pre-qualify prospects and start a dialogue with them.
Just how can you use LinkedIn to qualify prospects and get them into your sales pipeline?
1. Use your status updates to post your key prospecting questions – for example, a real estate agent may say ‘thinking of selling your home in the Central Auckland area or know someone who is?’ and then link the person to some useful information on this.
The typical scenario is that you click the link, read an interesting piece and then see an offer (often via a pop-up screen) which offers you a free report if you subscribe to the person’s blog or newsletter. Do people really subscribe? Yes, if they see the free report as valuable and if they like what the other person is saying.
2. Start or contribute to group discussions – again ask questions or contribute to discussions on topics you wish to discuss. Position yourself in your area(s) of expertise and then follow up with a free guide or a webinar to draw people in. You can offer these within relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups and via your updates and tweets. As a rule of thumb, share others’ information and help others 9/10 times before promoting yourself.
3. Another good way to identify prospects is to set up searches on keywords/phrases in Signal (a LinkedIn product that basically allows you to filter and search across the stream) and on Twitter. You can then respond to people with questions in your area(s) of expertise or who are looking for help.
What other ways have you used social media to help you get qualified prospects into your sales pipeline?