Are you someone who pays close attention to your competitors and follows what they do? Or, do you set your own course and not pay much attention to your competition?
There are pros and cons to each strategy and perhaps the best strategy is taking the lead, setting your strategy and keeping a sharp, but not obsessive, eye on the most important competitors. The company that has a clear plan for their social channels is the one you should study. If they are B2C, they should have an impressive presence on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. If they are B2B, they lead with LinkedIn and, depending on their industry, may use other key channels including Twitter, YouTube and maybe even Facebook.
Don’t stop at their company’s social channels. Look at their leadership team, marketing and sales people. What are they doing on social channels? Especially LinkedIn? I rarely look at other professionals on Facebook, but I do check LinkedIn, Twitter and now Instagram.
A prospective client mentioned that he uses Facebook and thinks he has some Facebook friends who might be good centers of influence. I suggested he connect with those Facebook friends on LinkedIn, a more natural place for business networking.
I look for certain kinds of information on each channel. On LinkedIn I look to see how profiles are written and managed (or not), the number of connections a particular person has and whether they are active, posting or sharing content. And potentially even writing original content.
There are leaders, big and small, that successfully leverage these channels, their profiles, their network and their ability to curate interesting and relevant articles that others appreciate and find valuable. If you aren’t there yet, no worries. Find a company you admire and follow them. If they are in your industry, even better.
Marketing departments typically lead the way, by creating the content and mastering the liking and sharing. Notice the salespeople who take their company’s marketing content, make their own and use it to initiate, add interest and further a conversation with a prospect, client or partner. These are the people I want to find. These typically are the salespeople who have, or are in the process of, mastering a new set of sales skills.
The salespeople who are researching, listening, interacting, responding and building online business relationships mirror what they would do if they met someone in person. They think creatively, ask questions, are engaging, tailor their conversation and turn connections into actual business relationships.
If your salespeople aren’t using LinkedIn as a prospecting and nurturing tool, they are missing opportunities. They are missing new markets, additional geographies, and deepening connections with prospective and current clients. They need to stand out and share their expertise and your company’s value proposition.
If you are a sales leader, here are some considerations:
- How are you currently finding new business?
- Are you okay with your salespeople missing out on new business connections that may lead to new business?
- If your salespeople added one, five, ten, twenty of the right clients in a year, what would that look like for your business?
- Do you know the questions to ask them to make sure they are using LinkedIn and other social channels well?
- Do you review and measure your sales process, training, and content?
If not, it’s time to reconsider, don’t you think?
LinkedIn is more than ten years old!