As a sales strategist, I regularly remind people that there’s a fine line between persistence and stalking. Persistence today takes form through engagement online. Get engagement right today and you exceed your goals. Get it wrong and buyers disconnect, block your messages, stop returning your calls and start seeking solutions from your competitors.
Engagement is a choice that becomes a skill that you refine. You choose to be social and earn the attention of your customers and prospects. The more you do it, the sharper your skills become. And as I pointed out earlier in a previous piece that explored the three big myths about engaged selling, you no longer can afford to ignore it.
As sellers, we now work in a marketplace where, according to a Forrester Research study, more than 90% of executives refuse to take cold calls. And 92% of all B2B purchases are sourced to buyer searches online rather than to sales calls.
On the plus side of this environment: we now work in a marketplace where you can pinpoint your buyer and learn a lot about what matters to them, because they’re broadcasting it publicly and frequently.
So how do you meaningfully engage your customers and prospects online without crossing the line into stalker territory? Here are eight actions you must do to get it right.
SELECT: Don’t let the task of engaging people overwhelm you. Pick ten of the top prospects you want to connect with. Start following and engaging them online. As I pointed out in my book, Non-Stop Sales Boom: “The whole point to social media is to get people to talk to you.” So talk to them!
SHARE: Working from content posted by your top-ten picks, review and share the best material with your friends and colleagues online. You are helping your prospect when you do this, because you’re amplifying their message—which is another big reason why they’re online in the first place.
COMMENT: Take time to comment and offer your thoughts on the content posted by your targeted prospects. Recognize their interesting insights. You’re showing them what you care about and you’re adding social proof to the value of their posts.
QUESTION: Ask your targeted prospects specific questions pertaining to the content they post online. Again, you’re showing interest in what they have to say. You’re also signaling that “I understand what you’re saying.” That message is important to just about everyone.
SCHEDULE: Schedule your online engagement tasks so that your targets see you’re doing more than just posting in an ad hoc manner. You’re doing it with a sense of purpose. Show up on a weekly basis for each targeted prospect. Write it into your to-do list or task calendar such that it becomes a habit. I do that first thing in the morning as I’m waking up and sipping my coffee.
MATCH: The hallmark of persistence in consistency. Start engaging with your targeted prospect by matching the same social media channel where you first found them. Don’t use LinkedIn messages to respond to tweets, or Facebook Messenger to respond to YouTube posts. Be consistent. If you saw an interesting post on Twitter, respond to them on Twitter first. Doing so avoids being seen as aggressive or engaging in stalker-like behavior. You want your prospect to appreciate you, not to be creeped out by you!
EXTEND: Once you’ve gotten onto your prospect’s radar and you’re ready to engage them in direct one-on-one conversation, be ready to have a valid business reason that’s a direct extension of the content you commented on and shared previously. A client of mine in the resource sector who had been following a prospect noticed one day there was a post on LinkedIn about Tesla getting into the trucking business. Specifically, the prospect talked about potential fuel-economy savings that could be at stake from this development. My client saw an opening. She reached out with a LinkedIn message, asking: “can we talk some more about your concerns about fuel economy related to your Tesla post?” She got the meeting and is working on the sale.
FOCUS: Always be mindful of what’s in it for you to be doing all this work online. You’re engaging those prospects to get that phone call and to get that meeting with them as a warm lead. You get there by connecting what they have been talking about with how you can help them.
Engaging your prospects online has replaced cold calling. It’s the new starting point today to a conversation that eventually leads to prospect qualification. Remember, when it comes to B2B sales in the digital marketplace: engage first, qualify later. Not the other way around. That’s why I say all social media must lead to you.