Social Listening: The process of proactively searching for trigger events that provide potential opportunities to improve your own customer service, intercept competitors' customers, or engage a potential client early in their own buying process.
Selling has always been about being a great listener... social selling is no different. But in modern selling there are many tools that can be used to automate the listening process; Hootsuite and TweetDeck are two examples. But before you start configuring your listening tools you need to have a clear understanding of what you're listening for.
Have you segmented your markets and identified the various buyer roles that you can target effectively? Who are the competitors where you have a track record of switching their customers over to your solutions? What events create awareness of need or that amplify perceptions of pain?
What negative events motivate people to take action to change the status quo? Is it scandal, legislative changes, new compliance obligations, suppliers being acquired or dropping the ball, competitor reps moving on or retiring? The list is endless but the point here is that you need to know what you're listening for. I'm surprised at how few sellers are creating basic Google Alerts or Twitter lists to listen by segments.
Stephen Covey said, "seek first to understand than be understood." You must first open your ears, heart and mind.
Practice social listening with a trigger event oriented focal point. In the past, organizations have focused on the territory or target list without ranking the accounts by propensity to buy based on the most compelling triggers. In the old days of solution selling, questioning was leveraged to uncover the "compelling event." Now that's just table stakes. The compelling event should be self evident through effective listening. You should know that going in. Now it's up to you to meet that golden opportunity with disruptive insight to open this account and gain preferred status upstream educating and enabling your prospects along the buyer's journey collaborative. Develop trust and help them to realize that business transformation is possible by implementing your solution. They'll also get a flavor for what the working relationship will be like.
Beyond the obvious Google Alerts, make sure that you have a dashboard set up to glean every aspect of what your dream prospects are putting out into the social ether: press releases, white papers, reflections on the annual report, balance sheet, interviews, YouTube videos (subscribe to their channel), Tweets, Facebook shares, Google+ updates, Pinterest boards, Instagram, SlideShare and even search the first 15 pages of search results of Google with a fine toothed comb. Successful strategic selling starts with a keen interest and insatiable curiosity.
Create you own social listening headphones! Or even better, a social selling war room. The main picture in this post is of the Dell Social Listening and Social Media Command Center.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator now compiles all these updates in one place so you can track leads and accounts, the updates their sharing, news related to the companies, and it even suggests leads to you and how you're connected via your overlapping networks. Owler.com is a phenomenal free tool I'd recommend for competitive analysis and triggers invented by Jim Fowler, the founder of Jigsaw, that became Data.com. Also consider tools such as insideview and techwalkeralerts. All of these products below are excellent social listening and monitoring tools.
Also read the old world newspaper (an oldie buy a goodie) online. Subscribe to services such as Meltwater. Listen by tuning search engines, subscribing to RSS feeds or content aggregation services. Here are the big social platforms to monitor if you are committed to strategic social selling.
LinkedIn is ideal for monitoring buyer roles changing in target organizations or listening to issues, trends, hot topics, opinions and opportunities in special interest groups. Those who actively use LinkedIn are 50% more likely to achieve their sales targets! failure to use LinkedIn in B2B selling is negligence!
Facebook if you're in the world of B2C. Two-thirds of social happens in Facebook and there 1 billions searches every day! Facebook continues to be giant in social.
Twitter is the megaphone of social amplification and the most rapid notification system on the planet. Use tools such as TweetDeck to build you listening lists.
Here is a post on why listening is the timeless skill we all need to master. Now it's over to you... Where do you get the best results in social listening? What are your tips for others?
Here's how to get back to my Social Selling overview.
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: Geoff Livingston; Dell's Social Media Command Center