3 Ways Social Listening Tools Can Help Boost Sales

Opinion: Insights drive smarter lead generation

A true social listening platform will help you identify interest and purchase intent Traimak_Ivan/iStock

Organizations globally are using social listening platforms to better understand community perception, customer sentiment, brand recognition, influencer tracking, social return on investment and more. Unfortunately, most companies are not using this social data to drive pipeline and sales.

Social data can provide a wealth of information about customer wants and needs and customer buying signs. Extracting social insights is invaluable when optimizing messaging and targeting for lead generation and sales.

Social intelligence can help your sales team turn online mentions into qualified leads, with little effort, especially when there is already a social listening tool in place. While there are a number of ways that social listening can help improve your lead pipeline and sales, here are three easy-to-implement tactics for improving sales by using social data:

Don’t miss direct and competitive opportunities

It’s no secret that people use social media to discuss what they want in a product, and also to complain about issues they are having with products they’re using. These are great sales opportunities if “listening” for the right information.

If your product is mentioned directly, you should respond. Based on the information the user provides, how they talk about your product and their signals of intent, you should route the information to the right person at your company so they can engage.

A true social listening platform will help you identify interest and purchase intent. If you have identified a potentially hot lead in real-time, you now need to engage with them based on the communication preferences that they expressed.

Another great use is competitive listening. For example, if I post on Twitter that I’m unhappy with my current cable provider and that I’m looking at other options, there should be sales representatives from those other companies reaching out to me on Twitter and responding to my tweet within minutes.

Help people who are looking for advice

Social media is the best (and free) focus group in the world. Individuals and groups often look to social media to crowd-source information and get advice on which products or services to purchase and use. This is where a strong social listening tool can help you get involved in these conversations.

For example, if I’m interested in using a new web server for my software-as-a-service platform, I want to hear from people who are in my position and discover what servers they’re using and why. I will ask people in groups, forums, Twitter, Facebook, etc. to give me their feedback, and understand what servers they use.

If an infrastructure provider has an effective social listening platform in place and is monitoring these conversations, they will see my question and provide me with product documentation, and even offer to put me in touch with references.

That said, this can potentially be considered the next generation of “cold calling,” so you must carefully and politely insert yourself into the conversation. Still, the difference between this and a traditional cold call from a sales representative is that the salesperson responding to me already knows what my use-case is, that I have a need, and can therefore provide me with a level of related options from the beginning of our conversation. This is helpful, and it can speed up the sales cycle.

Better understand prospects for smarter targeting

What about when you aren’t mentioned? The key here is to not be too aggressive with sales tactics, and instead to engage with informative and helpful material. It’s an opportunity to start a relationship and build that relationship over time.

Social data can teach you a lot about your target audience and prospects. For example, social listening allows you to determine what conferences or trade shows prospects are attending, allowing you to plan more strategically, attend the right conferences and set up the right meetings.

By monitoring the proper keywords, customers, competitors, trade shows and more, you can see who will be attending upcoming events so that you can take the opportunity to meet someone in-person when they are likely ready to enter a sales cycle.

This is increasingly important to reach decision makers who are difficult to reach by phone and email. By looking at what they’re discussing on their networks, you can gather valuable social intelligence about what’s relevant to them. Will they be at a trade show? Will consumers be at a show you’re sponsoring?

Other uses include paid social. If there’s a group of people discussing products and services similar to yours, you should take steps to drive awareness in that group. You can do this by running ads with granular targeting, such as to certain groups, companies, industries, geographies, job titles and more. Be sure to offer relevant content, useful content and a strong call to action.

There are many ways that social listening platforms can help with your sales efforts and introduce you to new leads. These are just three of many ways to jump in quickly yet effectively. Social data is publicly available, free and real-time. Use all of this as an opportunity to target the right message to the right audience at the right time. The result will be new business, upsell opportunities and the ability to differentiate from competitors.

Chris Vitti is chief marketing officer at social intelligence suite Synthesio.