This is the fourth post in my Sales Secrets series. In case you missed the first three, you can catch them now — Sales Secret #1: Turn News into Sales, Sales Secret #2: Turn Industry Insights into Icebreakers, and Sales Secret #3: Turn Family Trees Into Fortune. Today’s topic is about how to leverage social insights to open doors that close deals. 

Social sites are brimming with information about your prospects that you can use to get a response from busy buyers and have more human, engaging business conversations. After all, we sell to people, not institutions. 

So how do you use social insights for strategic advantage?

Here are a few tips:

1. Focus on business-related content

Start by following company profiles, blogs, and Twitter feeds. Review these before calling on a prospect to get a feel for what’s happening at the company right now. That’s one of the great things about social media. It’s very immediate and much more timely than what you can glean from an annual report, for example. Then branch out and follow key decision-makers. The line between business and personal will begin to blur here, but there are perfectly legitimate – and powerful – things you can talk about.

Decision-makers speak at conferences, announce product launches, and share their company’s vision. They invite followers to listen to podcasts, attend webinars, watch videos, and such. So listen and read, and then start your conversation like this:, “Hey, I just listened to your podcast, or the speech you made at…and I learned that…

You get the idea. Focus on insights that are personal, but strategically relevant.

2. Set up automated alerts

As suggested above, you can check out your prospect’s social feeds when preparing for a call, but you can also use social content to tell you when you should be having those conversations. Most social sites allow you to set up automatic alerts when companies and people you follow post something new. These can signal a good time to reach out, but the volume can quickly become overwhelming. Look for tools that can help you consolidate your social alerts.

3. Augment direct emails and phone calls

Sometimes you can connect with your targets on social channels when your emails and phone calls go unanswered. Social may be their preferred way of communicating. My suggestion is to use them all!

4. Remember that social is very immediate

This is both a good thing and a caution. When you want to be highly relevant, it’s hard to beat commenting on a Tweet or blog the same day it’s posted. But social is like an ongoing conversation that changes quickly. So old posts may be just that…old news. Don’t make the mistake of using old news to try and be relevant and timely.

With all the goodness to be gleaned from social channels, there’s one important caveat. Be careful to use a blend of professional and personal content to be human and relevant, without being creepy

For example, it’s no secret that I have a passion for wine. I own The Saint wine bar in St. Helena, CA and produce wines under the NIGHT label. So it would be absolutely fine to ask me about our latest release or share your interest in Napa Valley wines as a conversation starter or icebreaker. I’m quite public about this topic in my social channels.

If, however, you comment on our family vacation photos or ask about my kids without knowing me, that would be creepy and totally inappropriate! 

My rule of thumb is to avoid politics, religion, personal vacations, kids, and family unless there’s something that’s highly relevant. If you have any doubts about how it might be received, better to avoid it altogether.

Bonus Tip: Use a tool that brings social intelligence to you

You can spend hours on social media searching for relevant insights and, let’s face it, getting distracted by other posts and notifications. Or you can use InsideView Insights, our sales intelligence solution that brings relevant, real-time social insights directly into your CRM. See and respond to Tweets from within an account record. Access your buyer’s LinkedIn profile or read the company’s latest blog post. And save yourself the time and distraction of visiting multiple sites or being crushed by an avalanche of alerts.

You can learn more about InsideView Insights in this short video or contact us to discover more ways to boost your sales.