Mining for sales gold in social media

 

Guest Blog | Sham Sao

Swing a cat and there’s another article or blog post about using social media for sales. But how do you cut through the clutter and make social media work for your sales engine?  It’s important to remember that social media is just another information source and many successful sales pros are finding ways to mine social networks and user-generated content for the hottest prospects.

Still, you have to wade through a lot of garbage to find the gold.  Take Twitter. While the micro-blogging network has some good information, it is also chock full of inane and useless information that has no relevance to you on a personal level, let alone sales. However, when you start using the search functionality, you can indeed mine Twitter for sales leads.  (A recent survey from the Department of Computer Science at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology found that Twitter is an effective way to filter quality information.)

For example, if you’re an inside sales rep for an e-mail marketing service provider, do a quick search on Twitter.  I recently searched, “Looking for an e-mail marketing service” and uncovered the following Tweet – Looking for a pay-per send e-mail marketing service that allows me to view who has clicked through, any suggestions?”Now you can reply or use the Direct Message (DM) function on Twitter and possibly spark an immediate dialogue with this prospect.

LinkedIn is another valuable social networking resource that can help you find prospects who are seeking the exact products and services you’re selling.   The easiest way to use LinkedIn is to constantly keep up with your professional network(s) of contacts, so when one of your best customers moves on to another company, you can reach out to him and find out what his product and services needs are in his new position.

LinkedIn groups also provide an effective way to monitor your contacts for sales opportunities.  Often people will pose a question to the group to help them solve a problem.  Similar to the Twitter example, if you’re a sales rep for an e-mail marketing service, there are many highly focused groups you can join where you’ll come across tons of relevant queries, such as: “Looking for top e-mail marketing service to integrate with CRM – recommendations?”

The problem is overload.  How is a salesperson going to stay on top of all of these new Web sites, in addition to doing everything he or she was already doing?  For some, the next step may be to move from free tools to an aggregation service that fuses disparate information feeds with more structured business information and provide settings allowing sales reps to filter and sift through prospects according to their sales needs and preferences.

But if your company or sales organization is still trying to figure that out which subscription service to use, don’t let it hold you back from getting started with mining social media.  You can still dig in and find some hot opportunities.  Right now, someone is posting a question on a social networking site that you’re equipped to answer.  Get online, sign up and start mining for sales gold.

Disclosure: OneSource is a partner of ZoomInfo

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Sham Sao is CMO of Infogroup’s OneSource  (www.onesource.com), which provides business information services for sales, marketing and research professionals. He can be reached at sham_sao@onesource.com.