If you’ve been following along with our blog posts, or if you listen to our podcast you know that we are big fans of social media and online marketing. There has never been a better time to be prospecting for new client leads–they are all right out there! You can search for them, reach out to them, make friends with them…it’s like magic.
There is a “dark side” to all this online networking though. You don’t make sales from behind your computer (very often). It’s rather compelling to spend time on social networks; it feels productive to connect with more and more prospects; but does online networking lead to actual sales? You can spend a lot of time and energy building up your social profile, creating rich, shareable blog posts, and at the end of the day, not have any business conversations that lead to sales! You’ve made friends–just not business friends!
If you find yourself in that predicament, here’s 3 ways to turn on-line relationships into real world sales.
1. Go to (or host) some events
Events are a great place to meet casual acquaintances and start building a deeper relationship. Notice which events seem popular among your online connections (especially the ones that look like real prospects) and sign up to go. When you are there your goal is to take relationships further–spend time with folks one-to-one, listen to what’s going on in their world, make connections between them.
But the real work happens after the event. Go home and start doing some follow up. You’ve met folks, you’ve gotten their business card (right?), so start following up by phone or email. Talk more deeply about the needs you heard from them at the event, set up a time to go meet with them (and make a sale).
If you don’t see any events happening that your prospects are attending, make one of your own! It doesn’t have to be something fancy–just pick a local place and invite folks for drinks. Give them a reason to get out from behind their computers.
2. Co-create something with them
Maybe the folks you are meeting aren’t prospects, they’re referral partners. You don’t want to meet to sell to them, you want to sell to their clients. Invite them to co-create some content with you. Maybe it’s as simple as creating a guest post for their blog, or inviting them to be a guest on a webinar you are hosting. If you have a podcast (or if they do) you need guests; invite them to be on (or ask to be a guest on theirs).
If that goes well, you can keep going–is there a topic that is of interest to both of your audiences? Create an ebook or video about it.
Working with them helps to create a connection and deepen the relationship.
3. Pick up the phone
If you know someone well online, and you know that you can help them–that is, they are your ideal client–the most efficient thing to do is to pick up the phone and call them. If this is a business person you are getting to know, their phone number is on their website–just call them! Introduce yourself and remind them of the discussions you have had online. Let them know that you couldn’t help but notice that they were facing some challenges… Just the kind of challenges you’ve helped other businesses with…
Sure, some of those folks are going to be put-off. They might already have a provider, or feel upset because you assumed they needed help. But way more of them are going to be happy to talk to someone who can help with their issue. Call them.
Even the most committed inbound sales people have to move the conversation from online to in-person (or on the phone) in order to sell. It’s a key skill that will make your work on-line so much more productive.