Today, you can learn a lot about a person without ever meeting them, simply by checking out their various social media accounts. You can find out what someone’s favorite bands or films are from their Facebook, see pictures of what they had for lunch on their Instagram, and learn where they work and what they do from their Linkedin profile.
If you looked me up on Twitter you would learn that I am a Business Development Rep at AG, I love social media, and I also love television, particularly sitcoms. I am not using the word love lightly here, I seriously LOVE sitcoms. Few things make me happier than watching a group of crazy characters stuck in an elevator with a pregnant woman who (uh-oh) is about to have a baby, a husband and wife switching roles only to find out that their partners life is more difficult then they imagined, and of course a wacky ladies man trying to juggle two separate dates with two different girls at the same time. Classic!
Modern Family presented a scenario that I, as a high level internet creeper, could relate to. Claire Dunphy and her brother-in-law Cameron have been working together to flip a house and the time has come to put the home on the market. Unfortunately, they are having trouble finding a buyer willing to pay their asking price. Naturally, Clair’s pre-teen son has a friend looking to buy a house and he is their last hope. With the help of Clair’s teenage daughter they look up the prospective buyer online and find out everything they can about him. His name is Zack Barbie, he is a graduate of MIT, a Blackhawks fan, likes old school funk, enjoys beer and Indian food, takes kickboxing classes, and has a dog named Otis. They use this information to transform the house into Zack’s dream home.
At first things seem to be going in their favor. Zack is happy to hear there is an Indian restaurant within walking distance, he is super exciting about the kickboxing gym the home happens to have, and is pleased to see that there is a Blackhawks poster already hanging on the wall. Unfortunately, Cameron does something that is every internet creepers worst nightmare, he lets it slip that he knows things about Zack that have not yet been revealed. Cam asks Zack “how much is little Otis going to enjoy this doggie door?” Zack never said he had a dog named Otis. He gets freaked out that the family stalked him and knows so much about him and goes running from the home.
Because it is a sitcom everything worked out in the end and they find another buyer for the house, but Zack’s reaction got me thinking. Before he knew that they creeped on his online profiles, he thought he had found his dream house. Why would that change after he found out that this wasn’t a coincidence? Why is Zack so offended that the family took the time to learn as much as they could about him and personalized the home to his needs and wants? If anything, he should be flattered. In defense of the Dunphy’s, Zack put all that information online for anyone one to read. Why would he share it if he didn’t want people to see it?
Individuals and businesses are sharing more and more on social media and inside sales reps should be taking advantage of this to help connect with prospective customers. Barbara Giamanco and Kent Gregoire give a great example of a sales rep using Twitter to help uncover prospects in their article “Tweet Me, Friend Me, Make Me Buy”.
He used TweetDeck to alert him when specific keywords appeared in a tweet, even if the tweet came from someone he was not following. A message with one of his keywords came up, he clicked on the Twitter handle and found that it was from a company’s account. The tweet was a complaint about how poorly specific services works. He called the main number and asked to speak with the person who manages their Twitter account and a few minutes later he was chatting with the CEO, who was blown away by the power of Twitter.
I was recently working with a company that provides software for higher education. When I started on the campaign I joined a few Linkedin groups for higher education management and leaders. I searched one of the groups for the type of system we provide and found a comment from a Director of Admissions. He explained what system he was using, why he didn’t like it, and asked for recommendations on what systems he should take a look at. This brief comment allowed me to customize my pitch based around his pains and needs before I even got him on the phone.
These are just a couple examples of ways to utilize social media in your sales prospecting. With all the different tools available to help make the most out of your various social media accounts, there is no excuse for not taking advantage of social selling. If a prospect is freaked out that you researched them on social media beforehand, just ask them why they are being such a Barbie and then share one of Phil Dunphy’s Phil-osophy’s, for example: “success is 1% inspiration, 98% perspiration, and 2% attention to detail.”
What social media platforms are you using to uncover prospective customers? Feel free to share some of your success stories in the comments section (…or a favorite sitcom).