Recently I’ve been writing about the impact social media can have on your business and sales pipeline. Social selling is a very hot topic at the moment and more sales teams are looking into implementing some form of social intelligence into their sales process. Before you give your sales team the “green” light to start using social media outlets for prospecting opportunities, make sure you have reviewed your social media policy and have trained your reps on the best way to develop and nurture relationships via social media outlets. One of the worst social media “faux pas” is when you try and sell something before you’ve even established a relationship (unless the prospect has asked for input).
Let me provide an example of one of the biggest “no-no’s” on Twitter when it comes to social prospecting. Below you will see an interaction between a friend of ours, Robert Terson, author of the book Selling Fearlessly (a great read for anyone in sales), and an organization looking to build a relationship with Bob. My goal is to not call anyone out, so the organization’s name has been blacked out.
The interaction begins as most do on Twitter. The organization retweet’s Bob’s tweet, either because they liked the content, or most likely, because they want to get on Bob’s radar. Bob does the correct thing in acknowledging the retweet and thanks them for it. The response from the organization is the big “no-no” and Bob even explains why in his response. The organization immediately asks Bob for the opportunity to show him a demo of their product. Bob’s response is classic and is the exact reason why this type of social prospecting will not work. The organization hasn’t even connected with Bob yet, no relationship has been established, there is no level of trust or credibility, and I’m willing to bet this is the first (and possible last) interaction between this organization and Bob.
Not only did the organization not get the response they were hoping for, but they did more damage than good in trying to get a demo from Bob. Chances are this organization won’t be hearing from Bob at all.
This is the risk some organizations take when they try to implement social media into their lead generation process. Reps are embarking on the social media community with as much cooth as a used car salesman and haven’t taken the time to learn best practices for prospecting and nurturing accounts using social media. As more companies realize the potential of social selling, there are going to more examples like this as newer reps try to engage with potential prospects.
Use this example to train your staff on what not to do. Social selling takes time and is not for the lazy or uninspired. There are times when you will find active opportunities within social communities, but a majority of your opportunities are going to come from nurturing the relationships you’ve established. Don’t make this mistake, or else you’ll cost your brand more than just a future opportunity.