As mentioned in past blog posts, relationships are critical in the sales world. The evolution of social media has only made creating and maintaining them that much more important. This is because the barriers for creating these relationships have dramatically dropped. Twitter is a major reason for this as connections and conversations are being made with ease, considering that they can be started simply by posting or responding to someone’s tweet.
One of the things that I found most fascinating about Twitter is how available it makes people and how quickly relationships can be formed. I have a number of individuals that I would classify as Twitter friends that I regularly chat and share information with whom I’ve never met in real life. Typically these relationships are formed around common interests that we have, in my case sports, online marketing and statistics.
A couple of years ago I spent some time doing demand generation for a tech company. While there I was responsible for generating leads from a specific list of companies. As numerous studies have shown cold calling is a dying tactic that produces little results for a lot of effort. The entire concept of cold calling is counter-intuitive to the way the online & social world works, where it’s more about knowledge-sharing and letting prospects come to you when they are ready instead of forcing yourself on them. This is also why before looking to prospect into any account I would initially check to see if I had any pre-existing relationships with them (either from past business or through someone else I know) in the hopes that they could introduce me.
With that in mind I decided to test out a new strategy to eliminate cold calling. Here are the steps that I would take:
- Initially I would always check across my social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) to see if I was somehow connected with that person (as having a contact intro you into a prospect is a great method for getting your foot in the door)
- If the person was not connected into me in some shape or form I would check to see if they were on Twitter
- After locating their twitter handle I would add them to a private list that I had created on Twitter called Key Prospects.
- This allowed me a quick reference point of what these individuals were tweeting about and gave me more insight into their likes/dislikes/interests.
- Whenever I noticed one of them tweeting something that was on a topic of interest to me I would either comments on it, retweet it, or both. It was important that I only did this on tweets of actual interest to keep it genuine.
- Over time of engaging in these tweets, a Twitter relationship would begin to form. The key thing to remember here is that this relationship was formed over a common interest and not with my business goal in mind.
- As time went on and an opportunity arose to mention our business solution I would bring it up (typically through a DM as they were following me back)
- More often than not this would lead to a demo of our product by the sales team since an actual relationship had been formed and it wasn’t a cold call request
- This entre process would then be repeated as new prospects were added to the list
Do you have any examples of tactics that you’ve used to form new relationships with key individuals in the business community? If so we’d love to hear them.