Researching Prospects on Social Media: Habit #5 of Successful Salespeople

Amanda Chamov


There's no denying it: social media is not a fad and it has become an incredibly valuable sales and marketing tool. People are using it for more than just connecting with friends and family and sharing funny videos (this one gets me every time). People use it to find a new restaurant or business, search for a job and to stay informed.

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are at the forefront of creative social media sharing. Some smaller businesses even use sites like Facebook as their primary website. The rate of sharing and re-sharing on many platforms is so fast that many SMBs rely on their social media pages to inform customers about promotions and company news.

That's why habit #5 of the 8 habits of successful independent sales agents is using social media to research prospects and strengthen their relationship with existing merchants.

Is It Really Worth the Effort?

You might wonder if using social media to grow your portfolio is worth it. But it absolutely is. Consider the recent LinkedIn study that reported that 81% of SMBs use social media to drive growth, 91% use it as a marketing tool and 49% for their own research and educational purposes. Clearly, the SMB market is immersed in social media use. And more importantly, that's a HUGE number of prospects sharing a wide variety of data. Over the course of this blog series, I've talked about establishing relationships with merchants and prospects. Learning to use social media for that purpose can help you prepare good questions, understand their perspective, and make a good impression.

Pick Your Social Media Profile Strategy - Active or Passive

Decide how you want to use social media: do you want to use it for prospecting, or for engaging with current merchants? Or both? Well, you'll first need to decide how much you want to share on your profile and also how active you'd like to be on that profile. Here are some tips to help you decide what will work best for you. The biggest thing to consider is whether you prefer to be ACTIVE or PASSIVE in terms of your public activity level.

Let me explain as this will determine how you can use social media to support your sales activities.

Being ACTIVE on social media means that you are regularly posting, liking, sharing, or commenting and your connections can see that activity. Think about when you've looked at someone's social media profile. You can decide pretty quickly if that person is active based on their recent activity.

Conversely, being PASSIVE on social media means that you're watching from the sidelines. You might be clicking around and reading, but no one can see your activity.

There is no right or wrong activity level, but being active does have some advantages.

How to Make it A Habit

Social media is one of the easiest daily habits to form. It's also one of the most addicting! So you do have to be mindful of how much time you spend on it.

If your profile is PASSIVE

If you decide that your profile will be passive, you can use social media for sales prospecting. Here are a couple daily habits you can incorporate into your daily routine:

  • Search for a specific tag or topic; discover the options for tags and locations on each platform and look for a specific category such as restaurants.
  • Look at the businesses that your existing merchants follow or are connected to. You can then ask your merchant for a referral or introduction the next time you see them in person. Follow a few key profiles for an industry you'd like to earn more business in. Take note of any buzzwords or trends and use them as you speak to merchants in that industry.
If your profile is ACTIVE

If you'd like to use social media to keep up with your existing portfolio of merchants in addition to prospecting, you will need to have an active social media profile. Here are some ideas on how you can incorporate social media into your daily routine:

  • Engage with your merchants' posts by liking, sharing and retweeting them to your network; they'll appreciate any traffic you generate and the consideration of your attention to their business.
  • A different way to seek out referrals is to explore mutual connections on social media when you're targeting a new merchant. If you see that one of your existing merchants is connected to someone that you'd like to be introduced to, you can ask your merchant for an introduction.
  • Ask for a meeting. Using direct messaging through social media apps is pretty casual and allows you to build some good rapport. And if you have mutual contacts, you'll seem more trustworthy.

To get the most out of social media, remember to stay focused on your goal every time you log in. Or else you could end up like this.