A very important stage in Social Selling is listening and understanding your buyers. I thought, as we tackle the best practices on how to do that best, I would reach out to my incredible network of Social Sellers to find out what they are doing to research their prospects. The response was overwhelming, and the incredible insights are below:
Search and Stalk
“Ok, search yes, stalk…not really. I like to look them up on LinkedIn to see how they communicate about themselves, where they worked before, what school did they go to, what groups or organizations are important to them, and how many shared connections we might have. I read their LinkedIn publishing posts, if they have them. Basically, I’m looking for insights and commonalities. I also search on Google and other social platforms.” TWEET THIS TIP
Implement the 3×3!
“At a very minimum & under all circumstances you must implement the 3×3 strategy prior to calling, speaking, or meeting with a new prospect. Of course the best strategy is do some detailed review of their LinkedIn, Twitter & Facebook accounts. But if you can’t do that… find three things in three minutes before you call, speak or meet with a new prospect. Selling means you create & build a relationship of trust, to do this you need a min of 3 things which can be used to build a relationship.” – TWEET THIS TIP
Look to the Right
“One great way to research a person is through the “People Also Viewed” and “People Similar To” sections on the right side of their LinkedIn Profiles.
If you and the person you are researching share a connection, you can reach out to that common connection and ask her or him more questions about them, their company and even their industry.”
Don’t have any common connections? No problem. You can still to dive deeper into those people just by checking out the Profiles of who are like them, or even their competitors.” TWEET THIS TIP
“Do your research first on the individual and the company. Follow the company on LinkedIn and research any articles where your potential buyer could be mentioned or featured. Check industry news sites for mentions and of course LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator could do the heavy lifting for you in terms by finding relevant company news.
There are two very useful ways that you can keep track of your buyers without making it obvious to them. In Twitter, you can create a private list and add Twitter handles to your buyer list. You will be able to see what buyers are tweeting about to give you an insight to their interests and industry specific articles or opinions. In LinkedIn, you can save someone to your contacts without making a connection request. When you save them, add a tag that will let you filter your contacts for each account. This allows you to do more research on them and find commonalities in their profile, their tweets, or their shares.” TWEET THIS TIP
Start With Warm Prospects
“One of the most effective places to start when researching prospects on LinkedIn is to begin with people who already have some idea about who you are and what you do.
There are a number of places you can find lists of 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree LinkedIn connections who have in some way engaged with you or your content.
One of the best places to find them is to check out the Who’s viewed your postspage, if you post content on Publisher. Here you will literally find a list of people who have Liked, Commented or shared your posts. These are people who have already had a positive experience with you” TWEET THIS TIP
Wait for the Opportune Moment…
“When researching a prospect, a lot of times I fall victim to the “instant gratification” approach of trying to get in touch or connect right away. By waiting and listening to the type of content/activity the prospect is posting, I find that I often discover a more topical or relevant conversation starter to use for initial engagement.” TWEET THIS TIP
What do They Consider Important?
“One element that speaks volumes about the person is what they think of others. So I will often check out the Recommendations section on their profile … not the ones they have received (though these are clearly important) … but rather the ones they have given.
When you write a Recommendation for someone, you focus in on attributes that you consider important to you and that you see in the other person. So looking at the “Given” recommendations helps me identify things that they hold dear.”TWEET THIS TIP
Understanding Your Prospect’s Network
“We strive to ensure we deliver valuable insight to our prospects, but without understanding them, how can we turn this expectation into reality? We need to better understand the groups they belong to, the people they follow, the posts they have commented on and the things they like. These are all the elements you apply in your own social network to ensure you enjoy and get value from your friends. The same applies to business. Learn their language and your engagement will be well received.” –TWEET THIS TIP
LinkedIn Search Alert
“LinkedIn allows us to save a particular search for the exact prospects you are looking for and many people don’t know how utilize this feature. Every week as new prospects become part of your network, LinkedIn notifies you so you can easily reach out. This is a very useful feature for those who their target prospects are…and are looking for new leads each week.” TWEET THIS TIP
Discover Your Prospect’s Tribe or Network
“Look in three areas of a LinkedIn profile to identify your prospect’s tribe or key network.
- Recommendations sent and received
- Collaborating partners identified in projects, publications or patents
- Connections. I especially recommend digging deep into the specific wording within recommendations to learn more about the values, insights and social proof of your prospect.” – TWEET THIS
Shared Connections is Key
“Networking is about discovering hidden infos that are not publicly available. When researching a prospect, be sure to ask some of your shared connections about him/her. This helps you understand how to better tailor your approach during the meeting and gather precious informations no other competitor has access to.” – TWEET THIS
Your Prospect’s Preferred Communication Channel
“Before you reach out to a prospect, understand how they prefer to communicate to increase your chances of successfully reaching them. Every person has a preferred method of contact: phone, Email, InMail, etc.
Check their Contact Information, Summary, and Advice for contacting to see if they have requested how they want to be contacted.
Also, use the “View recent activity” (pictured) function to see if they use LinkedIn actively, to help judge if they are likely to respond online.” TWEET THIS
Where Are Your Prospects’ Active?
“Use the recent activity search to understand where and if your prospect is active on LinkedIn, Twitter,etc. Then once you understand their footprint/activity, etc, post and tweet relevant types of content that he/she has a track record of reacting to so that you begin to build an online relationship with your prospect and start to become relevant Now, you are no longer a cold call or email but a respected colleague who can add business value to their world as they fight to challenge status quo.” – TWEET THIS
Look Far & Wide at Your Prospects
“If you want to learn more about your Prospect on LinkedIn look at the words they use in their Summary & Experience Sections, the Skills they list, the words/phrases they lead with in their Interest section, the volunteer and charity activities they list, the companies and influencers they follow and their connections (as best you can). Research the person not just their role and the company.” – TWEET THIS
Engage Through Free Group Email Function
“Check out the groups your client is part of on LinkedIn and become a member of those groups. This will allow you to engage via free (group) mail with the prospect whenever he/she posts/likes/or comments on a group discussion.” –TWEET THIS
Personal Interests Count
“Always read carefully every section of your prospect’s Profile. What do you have in common – university/voluntary organization/shared contacts?
I particularly like to note a person’s personal interests. Just by starting an initial conversation and referring to their interests is an excellent way of breaking the ice and getting someone to warm up to you. They probably will not have expected you to look in that much detail.” TWEET THIS
Engage Before Connecting
“Go to the profile of the person you are researching. Instead of inviting to connect, click the little drop-down-arrow next to the blue [Connect] button. Choose [View recent activity]. You can now comment on updates they posted, posts they published, updates they commented on. When you add value each time you contribute your prospect will not only notice you, but also trust and like you. This is a great start before reaching out if they don’t reach out to you first.” TWEET THIS
Company Insight from Social
“A go to for me to jumpstart conversation is bringing insights within their business. An awesome revenue quarter, growth/hiring spurt, or any other relevant news. Yes, I check out the prospects social profiles, but I never neglect to check the companies social accounts. It is loaded with awesome news & updates that can jumpstart conversation focused on THEM. When prospecting last week I discovered pictures of their brand new office, once I brought this up the conversation took off!” TWEET THIS
Always Find a Way to Help
“Whenever you find someone that would be interesting to YOUR business, always find something in common – through the information they have available on their profile. Or, find out what is important to them and reach out with content and ideas on how you’d be able to help THEM FIRST! This way, they will gain interest in you and even though they know that they are a lead to you, the fact that you showed interest in what matters to them encourages them to respond on their terms.” TWEET THIS
It’s All in the Recent Activity
“I found a great way to learn about my prospects is to check their recent activity feed. It will give you a lot of insight to what matters most to them. The activity feed shows you their likes, shares and conversations on other people’s posts and their own. If they tend to share other people’s posts I know it’s not all about them. It shows me they are willing to help others have their voices heard. This would be the same on twitter with their interactions, mentions, and shares.” TWEET THIS
Find Information to Build Rapport
“Make sure you thoroughly review the buyers LinkedIn profile. Focus on the Honors, Volunteer, and Organizations sections of their profile and use that information so you can use that information to build rapport quickly. Also send an agenda to the buyer prior to the first meeting. Sending an agenda in advance is an effective way to put people at ease and build trust.” TWEET THIS
Make the Most of LinkedIn Groups
“Check out what content the prospect has been posting or publishing on LinkedIn. Then look at what groups your prospect is a member of; go ahead and join the same group and start a discussion where you @mention the prospects name and the content they recently posted, ask group members what their thoughts are on the topic/subject matter – this is a good way to start an initial dialog with the prospect. I also advise people to change their visibility status to private for the first stage of research.” TWEET THIS
Think “Partner” First
“One good strategy I use is to think “partner” first and “business” after. If someone could be looking to possibly team up to offer a talk, workshop, etc. I reach out. It is important to tell people what I do because I offer diverse talks, workshops, discussions on online empowerment that really may not be considered. My talks, for example, can be connected easily to others…leadership, women empowerment, confidence, networking, etc. Once I connect on that level, business often follows.” TWEET THIS
Beyond the Obvious. Use Your Emotional Intelligence.
“Once you’ve found prospects, most LinkedIn profiles tell you more than just someone’s projects and work history. Look a little closer. You’ll see how reserved (or not) they are, underlying needs, what makes them smile. There’s a lot in what’s left unsaid. Without changing who you are, paying attention helps you see beyond what you’re sharing to what’s relevant to them about your offer. It’s worth your time. [This is more of a Tactic than a Strategy, but so important.] Let me know how it goes!” TWEET THIS
LinkedIn Advanced Search
“Use the LinkedIn Advanced Search function to search for prospects using, job title, seniority, industry, location, etc.
1) Send connection request (with appropriate reason)
2) Send thank you once connected (within one day)
3) Tag them within my contacts
4) Send link to content that may interest them (After a week)
5) Send link to thought leadership I published or been featured in the media
6) Send invitation to my newsletter
Request Introductions to relevant people to whom I am connected” TWEET THIS
The Road Recently Traveled
“I believe that one of the greatest avenues of insight, and often the most underutilized is properly researching a prospect’s previous roles / positions. The knowledge you can gain from properly investigating their history will allow you insights into pain, mutual contacts, probable reasons they left where they were, etc. Once you’ve properly done your research you’ll be in a better position to craft your best form for initial contact.”TWEET THIS
Including Social in Your Sales Cadence
“We conducted an experiment. We split our prospect data into 2 parts. First part we sent a sequence of “Personalized Cold Emails” and second part we visited LinkedIn profile for 4 days and then sent the 1st mail. The response rates were 30% higher in the second case.” TWEET THIS
Follow Your Prospects to Get Insights
“Did you know that you can “Follow” someone on LinkedIn without being connected with that person? Yes, you can see who that person connects with, if there is a job change, a new piece that he or she likes or shares … so you can act on that piece of news to build your presence. To do this just navigate to the person’s profile and click on the small triangle next to the “Send inMail” box (See picture 1). Select “View recent activity”. After you have done that you will navigate to the person’s recent activity page and just need to click on “Follow” (See picture 2). Now you will start receiving timely and actable updates from that person!”TWEET THIS
Get to Know Your Prospect
“I use LinkedIn to get a feeling of their personality, persona type. This allows me to connect faster at the meeting. Do I have to be very facts oriented ? Is it a person looking for “the next new”? Is he introvert or extrovert e.g. Besides my primary contact, I do a research on the management team of the company. I visit their personal profiles and “set a virtual footprint”. They often then visit my profile. This gives me an advantage if I meet them later on in the sales process.” TWEET THIS
Know Your Buyer
“LinkedIn is a great platform to know who your Buyers are, what titles they hold, what companies they work for and in which industries they specialise in. Find out where your Buyers engage on different Social Media platforms. Do they have a LinkedIn Profile, Twitter, Facebook Page etc? Do your Buyers market B2B or B2C? Research each different Buyer type and find out what the common problems and issues are so you can build your knowledge and align your product or service to meet the Buyer’s need.”TWEET THIS
Show You Care
“Take the time to do what other’s don’t or won’t do and by doing so differentiating yourself in the process. Research your prospect’s LinkedIn profile including their recent activity – to learn what interests them and the subject of any publisher posts. Do you have any shared connections? What are their interests? Then show you care by referring to one element of what you have learned – either in your personalized invitation to connect or to build rapport in a later message.” TWEET THIS
Use All Tools in Your Tool Belt
|“When researching a prospect, it’s very important to scan all her social profiles to understand her persona. Try to walk in her shoes before reaching out. Think like your prospect and understand her preferences.” TWEET THIS|
“In my industry it is very important to instill confidence in the prospect as they will be parting with a large amount of money. In order to instill this trust I engage in using a lot of the human senses. I firstly send an email with information on their relevant inquiry. I then tell them that I will be calling them at a certain time. In between then I will connect with them on LinkedIn. This allows the student to have the info on hand when I call and they can see my face and they know who I am.” TWEET THIS
Leverage Your Connections to Understand Your Buyers
“One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn is the ability to identify who you know that knows who you are looking to meet. Once you have a targeted buyer in mind, see who your common connections are. Identify a few and reach out via email or even the phone. Have a conversation with your connection that knows your prospect and see what you can uncover. If appropriate dropping names of shared connections is a great way to build rapport.” TWEET THIS
BONUS #1: “Look at where they used to work, if you have any shared connections there, especially co-workers or old boss, you can really learn a lot about your buyer prior to meeting them.” TWEET THIS
BONUS #2: “Look at who your buyer’s influencers are. Follow those influencers, find an article or quote that inspires you and share it with your prospect. Add a note, “I noticed on LinkedIn you are following Jack Welsh so when I saw this blog post he published I thought you might find it of interest.” TWEET THIS
Take the time to learn about your buyer before your first call or appointment, it will make a significant impact on your client relationships and business development.