Social media is all the buzz in prospecting and lead generation lately. You hear about it everywhere with Facebook Fan pages, tweeting, and LinkedIn profiles. You may even have an account on several different social networks. But have you given thought to how to use it to increase your prospecting results, or do you just see it as something fun to do when you have time?
Or, is it possible that you’re one of the skeptics who don’t believe social media can really bring you new prospects? Let’s ponder that for a moment. The two primary questions in prospecting are always:
- How can you reach a broader audience?
- How can you reach your audience more effectively?
Once you’ve defined your target market and your ideal prospect within it, you identify the key business needs they have and craft your value proposition. You’re ready to prospect.
But who do you approach? And, how do you approach them?
Referrals and networking are always the desired approach because the personal relationship increases your chance of gaining access. But that isn’t always possible, especially if you want a broader reach than that. So, you supplement them with the tried and true prospecting methods of cold calling and sending emails.
The challenge with cold calling and email prospecting is that your results are only as effective as the list you’re operating from and the probability that your contacts got your message.
To address the challenge that your target prospects may not have noticed your message, you call and send emails repeatedly over a period of weeks, maybe even months. These repeated touches will definitely increase your response rate, but there will always be a percentage of those stubborn few prospects who never respond. What that percentage is depends on how good your message is.
In the end, your prospecting success is bound by the size of your list and the percentage of contacts you can entice to respond so you can start a conversation and ultimately draw new opportunities into your pipeline.
What you need is another prospecting strategy to supplement the cold calling and email and give it legs to reach a broader audience.
Here’s where social media comes into play.
By expanding your reach beyond your list, your great message will draw in prospects you haven’t even heard of and wouldn’t have met through referrals and networking. What I’ve discovered over several years of tweeting and commenting is that the people who watch social networks often are not the same people who respond to emails and calls.
Don’t get me wrong. They may respond if you use the hounding strategy I’ve taught you, but what they probably do instead is watch you. Your emails and calls with the great message caught their attention. They saw your Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook link in your signature and started following you so they could listen to what else you have to say.
They aren’t ready to engage in a full conversation just yet. They want to get to know you through your comments. Over time they begin to respond to your comments. They may even email or call you directly!
Even better is that new people begin to watch you. Because you’re tweeting about the issues and triggering events your micro-segment is interested in, those are the people who perk up and pay attention.
Suddenly you’ve moved beyond your list. Your message has legs, and is expanding out to others in your target market that aren’t in your list builder or personal network. Not only have you increased your reach to a new group of people, but you’ve increased the percentage of responses and filled your pipeline with a fresh set of opportunities in a manner you could never have found them before.
People are watching social networks. I can’t tell you how they find the time to do it. I can only tell you that they are doing it, and you want to be out there to meet them.