How to Use Twitter to Sell: 10 Expert Tips

Every time I speak at a conference or do a webinar someone asks about Twitter. Seems like that bird is a bit of an obsession these days.

I have a couple of theories on how sales people should use Twitter but I thought I’d check my sanity this week and ask a brain trust of sales experts for their top tips on how sales people should use Twitter. I asked them…

“What’s the best way for sales people to use Twitter to develop leads?”

Miles Austin, Fill the Funnel
Use Twitter as a “listening” device to gather information and develop an understanding of what is important to your prospects. It is a terrific way to help do your homework. If you want to sell to Ford, create a twitter list of all the keywords, topics, suppliers and competitors of Ford. Twitter provides a very big set of “ears” to listen into the conversation and learn the strengths and challenges of the company. If you sell phone systems, Twitter might help you discover that customers are expressing frustration with call disconnects and trouble hearing the representative when they call for help.

Kevin Popovic, Ideahaus
Twitter is as a channel for sharing information, but its an even better listening device. And in our case, we’re going to listen for sales leads.

Tools, like TweetDeck, can help filter the stream of information (Tweets), much like a cable box helps decode and prioritize the “channels” so we can watch them, one from another. We can create a “channel” for our product and service categories by listening for keywords in the tweets; real estate, business, training, etc. The same words we think our prospects would use if they were search for us using Google.

When a Tweet is detected in the stream it shows it in a list, along with their user name and icon, i.e. a lead.

Its also a great way to demonstrate your experience and expertise in a vertical or specialty. Sharing information on a regular basis that helps, educates and informs establishes you as an expert in the space and a point of contact when they need to learn more (like who to hire or where to buy.)

Anneke Seley, PhoneWorks
Provide something of value to your prospects and customers via Twitter. This could be a simple observation, a quote, or link to an article that’s pertinent to the industry, geography or job function you serve, an invitation to an event,  a recorded webinar, podcast or video…even content created by your own company such as  e-books, white papers, surveys or events that could help increase their trust and engagement.  You can also re-tweet something that your prospect or customer tweeted to show you are listening and value their contribution.

David Anderson, MyWay Interactive
1. Rather than look for leads directly on Twitter, I would suggest looking for other sales people on Twitter that would likely have the type of leads you are looking for. Sales people are easy to approach and they like to help other members of the “club”. To begin, search twitter profiles by company, title and location such as Cisco, Sales, NY. Follow the sales people of interest to you. Read their profiles and see what they are interested in. Read their tweets. Then call them up and see if you might collaborate on the XYZ account or exchange some contact names.

2. Follow an industry leader in the market you are selling to. this may be the CIO of a major bank. Then follow their followers. Pick those followers who are also bank CIO’s. Set up a system to monitor each of their tweets and detect conversations between them on subject areas of interest to your business such as security, virtualization of the data center, training etc. Look at each of their profiles and create news feeds (from Google) to monitor the things they have an interest in (wine, hiking, snowboarding). You then have a warm lead and you can tailor your initial approach to things you have in common.

Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group
1.  Lead by example: provide great content or thought provoking comments that are relevant to the audience you hope to attract.  Demonstrate that you have a passion for your area of expertise and that you want to learn more about it.  Listening is even more important than talking so don’t be afraid to show that you don’t know everything about everything.  Twitter is a conversation not a monologue.

2. Show your personality: people buy from people they can relate to.  If you appear boring, narrow minded or focused on nothing other than self promotion, who would want to buy from you?  Let it rip…it is called social media so be social.

3. Spread the wealth: there is a lot of business out there and you may tune into a conversation stream that has nothing to do with your business but could be relevant for someone else.  Don’t be afraid to make a referral via twitter.  It’s a global voice for global businesses so keep your eyes open for opportunities…the good you give out will come back at you.

A got a tiny bit pushy with my friends here and followed up with…

“When you find something like a lead on Twitter how do you get from that to a real conversation on the phone or a meeting?”

Kevin Popovic, Ideahaus
When your listening produces a lead you’ll have to evaluate the lead for the right type of contact. An explicit, “can someone please help me?” is an opportunity for a very direct, “Yes, I can help?” A less direct, “I’ve been trying to do this but not having much luck” maybe be better approached with a gesture of help, like a suggestion, and example or a link. End that one with, “if you need anything else please let me know – its what I do for my clients ;-)”. That higher road takes a little longer but what do you think that person is going to think of you?

Trish Bertuzzi, The Bridge Group
I direct message the person and in 140 characters get them interested enough to chat.  Pretty much “D nedelsha Love what you have been talking about. Think we could have a great conversation. Want to chat?”

So what you guys out there got?

Any additional ideas on how to use Twitter? Especially how to go from a Tweet that gives you a clue that you might have a lead to real-world phone conversation or meeting, where the selling rubber is really on the road.

Chirp up!

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