Labcast: The New Rules of Online Prospecting. Incorporating Social Media into Your Sales Prospecting Strategy

In this week’s Labcast, sales expert and bestselling author, Kendra Lee, discusses utilizing social media for online prospecting.

online prospecting

Listen in to hear Kendra offer her tips on the best, most productive ways salespeople and marketers can incorporate social media into their sales prospecting efforts, and how they can take advantage of these new avenues to successfully connect with and convert their prospects.

Kevin: Hello and welcome to this addition of Labcast. I’m Kevin Cain. Today I’m joined by Kendra Lee to talk about social media prospecting. For those of you who don’t know Kendra, she’s a top IT seller, sales advisor and business owner, as well as the founder of KLA group, an organization that helps companies in the IT industry break into and exceed revenue objectives in small and mid-market businesses. Hey, Kendra. Thanks a lot for joining us today.

Kendra: Well, thank you for having me again, Kevin. It’s a pleasure to be with you.

Kevin: Yeah, so this is actually as you mentioned not your first time with us. This particular conservation is really a followup to a podcast we did together a few months back. We were talking about e-mail prospecting and this is sort of a followup to that in terms of talking about how you can actually now use social media in the prospecting world as well.

Kendra: Yes.

Kevin: So, we kind of talked about this very briefly last time, but can you give our listeners a sense of why sales people would want to use social media as a prospecting tool and what advantages it brings?

Kendra: Well, when you look at prospecting, the method that comes to mind immediately is cold calling. In our last podcast we talked about how e-mail is now surpassing cold calling as a method. Well, the reality is that prospects are getting so many e-mails that it can be very difficult to catch their attention. If you have a top prospect that you really want to reach, social media might be an alternative that can get their attention. So, the reason that you want to use it that isn’t just for the research that you can do, and we can talk more about that, but it’s because we have to try as many different methods to catch somebody’s attention as necessary to until we actually get their attention and get them to respond to us.

Kevin: Sure, so are there sort of particular social media tools that you can think people should be using?

Kendra: Absolutely. I mean, the big three, of course. LinkedIn, which really has surged recently. You’ve probably noticed from just the number of invitations that you’re getting, how more and more people are using it, but LinkedIn for sure. Then Twitter, because it’s interesting to see conversations that people are having, what they’re talking about, who they’re following, if they’re out on Twitter. And then Facebook, to see what are they talking about on their Facebook fan pages or if you can even see a contact personal page because they’ve got it open to see what they’re talking about. So, those are the three that I recommend. There are others that you can certainly look at and see if people are out in, but those are the top three right now.

Kevin: And would your messaging vary based on what platform you are using? I mean, I would think Facebook might be a little bit different than your Twitter audience if you’re a B2B business say. Is that the case?

Kendra: Yes. Yes, your message would be different and actually what you’re doing on it would be. So, your message on LinkedIn is actually going to be very close to your e-mail message; because you can send a whole Inmail, which is like, it’s an internal LinkedIn e-mail.

Kevin: Sure.

Kendra: And the advantage with that in LinkedIn is that it may be that your e-mails aren’t getting through their spam filters, but because prospects are signed up on LinkedIn and they are using it, they allow all of the messages from LinkedIn to come through. So, a LinkedIn Inmail may actually break through their delete barrier where your e-mails have not. So, that’s what your message would be on LinkedIn.

With Twitter, you’ve only got 140 characters. Here you can do a combination of research as well as starting to comment on their comments. So, you can go see if a prospect is out there, and you can follow them. You don’t need their permission. You can see what are they commenting on, what are they retweeting. You can start to comment and you can even send them a direct message. Your direct message is going to be subset of what you might have been in an e-mail. You might be requesting a meeting. You might be requesting an e-mail conversation.

And then in Facebook, odds are you are only going to have access to their fan page, and so really what you are doing on the fan page is you’re just doing more research and gathering information because the prospect that you are probably targeting isn’t the one who is managing the Facebook fan page. One of their staff is, but you can get more information that you can then use when you go to write an e-mail, to place a call or to send a LinkedIn Inmail or even to tweet them.

Kevin: And so presumably if you are using social media as prospecting tool, you’re not going to stop doing e-mail or even cold calling. It’s going to be sort of a marriage of the three and other techniques. Is that right?

Kendra: Absolutely. And I have a book coming out later this fall called the Sales Magnet, and in it I talk about the prospecting trifecta, and that is personal, digital and collaborative. E-mail and cold calling or warm calling, those are personal approaches because you are going one-to-one with them. Social media is one of the digital options that you have, and while you are going one-to-one, you are using a social media network to do it. And so if you really want to be successful in your prospecting, you really have to combine that trifecta and use different methods to reach someone.

Kevin: But I imagine it’s probably a fine line, right? I mean, we’ve all been cold called before where you get to call only to find you’ve got an e- mail in your inbox and something else and there must be a pretty delicate balance between appropriate and overwhelming somebody.

Kendra: And that is a great observation, Kevin, because you’re right. If you’re going to send a prospecting e-mail after you’ve called, my recommendation is when you call and you leave a voicemail, you say I’m going to send e-mail in case that’s an easier way for you to respond. So now they are expecting the e-mail. If they see the e-mail first and then they get your voicemail, you’ve said then that I’m going to send it to you.

And then the social media, my suggestion there is that you don’t use that as your method to try and reach someone until the calling and e-mail hasn’t worked. So you would tempt the other two for maybe six attempts, and then if it’s not working, that’s when you go out and you use LinkedIn to send an e-mail. And you say in it I’m so sorry I haven’t been able to reach you, perhaps my e-mails have gone into spam, and then you go into why you wanted to reach out.

Kevin: Now how much is sort of demographics, and by that I mean age, really a factor in all this? I think we’d like to think that everybody is pretty savy with social media these days, but that very well may not be case. How does that come into play when you are thinking about your strategy?

Kendra: Yeah, I hear age brought up a lot. I don’t think it’s age as much as it is role. The higher you get within an organization, the less time a role has to be spending out in social media. So if it’s a business owner, they probably have people who are doing social media on their staff. They may even have a Twitter ID, but it’s managed by one of their staff. Of course, their Facebook fan page is going to be managed by somebody on their staff. Interestingly though, with the surge in usage of LinkedIn that we’ve been seeing, those business owners, those executive levels, actually do manage their own LinkedIn account.

Kevin: Oh, really?

Kendra: So, yes, because it is their professional resume today. They want to have it have the right information about them. Because if they’re going to move onto a new job, say even at an executive level, there’s a lot of movement. What if they’re going to sell their company or they’re going to merge? They want their LinkedIn profile to reflect the very best about themselves, so they’re monitoring their own LinkedIn profiles. They may have other people who do status updates for them in their LinkedIn or post events from their LinkedIn profile, but they’re the ones who are really monitoring that right information is on their profile. So I don’t find it age, and if you go and you look at the number of connections, look at some of your connections that, let’s say, went to school in ’78 or prior, you probably have a number of them out there, and a lot of them are actually quite active. So you might be more likely to find them on LinkedIn than you would Twitter or Facebook. So I think it’s more role than age.

Kevin: Sure, now that makes a lot of sense. So, I guess one other question I have, you’ve been talking a lot about sort of do’s and don’ts. Are there any other general best practices you offer our listeners?

Kendra: If you’re going to use social media, you really have to monitor it, and everybody’s heard you have to be active. That means monitoring it and periodically posting. It varies based on the different networks how active you should be, but you definitely want to be out there in LinkedIn. Join some groups so that you can be visible, and you can expand your network. My biggest recommendation as a sales person or two sales people is to be more of an open networker. There was a period of time when people were very particular about who they would link with and who they wouldn’t.

Kevin: Right.

Kendra: It hurts you more than helps you. And that’s an age thing because age, they’ll network with everybody. But the more mature experienced generations are more cautious and you have to let some of that go.

Kevin: Yeah, and I could imagine another sort of thing to keep in mind is that, with social media it’s not just pushing stuff out but also listening for what other people are doing so they really have a two-way activity going on, right?

Kendra: Absolutely. Yeah, you are listening and that is a great point; because a lot of people just try to push and they try to have links with everything and go to my web site, read this article, read this blog post. That gets really old. If you truly want to start conversations with people, which is what social media is all about, then you have to be offering up interesting tidbits that will make somebody want to talk with you. And just posting a link to an article isn’t always going to do it. You can do it periodically, but you definitely have to offer something more.

Kevin: Sure, sure. Kendra, last question is the easiest one. How can our listeners get in touch with you?

Kendra: Well, come to our web site klagroup.com or you can follow us on Facebook, also KLA Group. Starting in the fall, this fall, is a lead generation season for KLA Group, so we have all sorts of events and master series programs running right now that are also on our web site under the section of Get More Leads. So, I would encourage any of your listeners where lead generation is a focus, social media, e-mail prospecting are focuses, please check out our web site. Then if you have questions for me directly, you can email me at [email protected]. And our phone you can always call, 303-741-6636.

Kevin: Great, Kendra. Thanks again for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

Kendra: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me, and I’ll look for our next time.

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