One crucial bit of information is to know your retention rate of business. If you retain, say, 80% of your business each year, that means you lose 20%. That 20% of lost business is the minimum amount that you need to replace. Knowing this number helps you be more strategic in your prospecting.
Like B2B sales, the element of prospecting has dramatically changed in today’s mobile, social, and digital world. There’s a lot of talk about the ultra-informed buyer who uses the Web for research before ever contacting a seller. Well, two can play that game. The same tools are available to buyers and sellers alike. It’s the savvy user who works them to their advantage.
In my previous blog post, I offered prospecting tips targeted to using LinkedIn: Tips for Using LinkedIn as Part of Your Prospecting Strategy. But, LinkedIn is only one of many free social tools that can amplify your prospecting results. The following are a few others, and new ones are appearing on a regular basis.
Google Alerts: This free service from Google allows you to “Monitor the web for interesting new content.” You might enter the name of a specific company, person, or technology. Whenever your search term appears on the Web, an e-mail is automatically sent to you. Google Alerts provide an easy way to track breaking news and developing trends by matching your search terms to content that appears in blogs, online newspapers, and webpages.
Twitter: Many people don’t think of Twitter as a prospecting tool, but it’s a free and easy way to share links to articles and Websites of interest to your target audience. You can also follow industry thought leaders and then retweet their tweets, showing alignment in your interests. By following competitors, you get insights into their ideas and methods, and by following prospects, you can discover what’s on their minds. The key is not to promote yourself, or to just tweet “Click here for a great article,” but to offer compelling content of interest to your prospects. For example: “Here’s a great article on employee benefits by So and So,” or, “Read the latest in security for mobile transactions.”
YouTube: Many companies have a YouTube channel for informational, marketing, sales, or other videos. This provides sales professionals with additional opportunities to contact prospects by forwarding links to specific and relevant videos via e-mail. Additionally, you can tweet these links to reach more people.
Hashtags: Using a hashtag (the number or pound sign —“#”), in posts on Twitter and other social sites, in front of a word or a phrase where #allwordsruntogether allows your message to be grouped with similarly tagged messages. If you tweet about #Sales2.0 and someone searches that term, your tweet will appear along with others using the same hashtag. It’s like you’re all part of one conversation about the same topic.
Don’t worry about joining each and every social media platform; just focus on the ones used most often by your prospects. You have to figure out how they communicate, and then meet them How to Become More Social in Prospecting there. Connections on LinkedIn or Twitter can progress to e-mails or phone calls and, eventually, a face-to-face meeting.
The thing to remember about social media is that it starts with “social” — and that means connecting with prospects before attempting to go for the sale.