Social Media…Birds Of A Feather Flock Together

by David Johnson on June 15, 2010

I met a senior executive at a social event recently, after a brief introduction he expressed that was very skeptical of how social media could be applied to direct client-facing sales teams.  In fact, he challenged me, “give me just ONE example of how social media could be used in my business.”

The background on their situation is that they have sales reps who are dedicated to their top tier customers (partners and web cover the rest).  They are challenged with diminished access. They want to reverse that trend AND develop deeper personal relationships with their clients whenever possible.

The example I gave to him was “client list socialization.”  Essentially what you can do is create a robotic web program that takes client information (name, address, phone number, email address, etc.) and looks for “matches” in the social sphere (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Plaxo, etc.).  On average, you get about a 20%-30% hit rate.  Once you’ve identified where your clients and prospects hang out, you can learn more about them and begin to engage with them on a whole new level.

Although a 20%-30% hit rate might seem low, it’s actually quite significant.  For example, let’s say you had a list of 10,000 client and prospect contacts, and the web robot identified matches for 20% of them in the social sphere.  Keep in mind that each of those 2000 contacts also have between 30 – 130 friends, followers, colleagues, etc. that have shared interests, common backgrounds, similar socio-economic status and values.  If, on average, each of the 2000 people identified had 75 social relationships, you would have potential access to 148,000 net new contacts.  For a B2B firm not all of these contacts will be prospects, but it’s fair to say that because birds of a feather flock together, there will be golden goose in this list…and more so for B2C companies.

With this expanded list, sales leaders should then work with their marketing teams and sales reps to develop engagement strategies to establish social connections to each and every one of the contacts in a personalized and relevant manner, ultimately enabling your advocates to become your word-of-mouth virtual marketing team.  I want to emphasize “personalized and relevant.” The social sphere can be an unforgiving place.  If your approach is to push PR content at your contacts through social channels, you will most certainly be shut down.  However, if you engage in a dialogue on issues that people care about and you listen to them, you are sure to develop deeper relationships with your clients and prospects that will lead to improved access.  Not to mention the new opportunities that comes from your expanded reach.

This is a proven process.  It’s simple and it works for both sales hunters and farmers.  If you’re looking for new and innovative ways to increase sales productivity and gain a competitive edge, give me a call. I’d be happy to “pay-it-forward” and share my ideas.


David Richard Johnson



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