Although we are not surprised, Twitter is by far the most powerful tool for social selling for B2B sales people. Something we have been preaching for many years and always happy to share information to support what we have seen for ourselves here at BHIVE. If you are a B2B sales person, we would love to talk to you and let you know how our Virtual Twin or Ambassador Program can dramatically increase your bottom line. Please read a note prepared by Mark Fidelman at Forbes, in which he details not only why, but also asks professionals in the field see Twitter.
The most flawed stories are those that we think we know best and are often repeated by those around us – and so we rarely investigate further. Ask anyone in business to name the most important social network for salespeople, and you will almost always hear: LinkedIn of course.
LinkedIn, with its 364 million users and Twitter with its 302 million active users both are in a race to get more engaged users, albeit for different reasons. Yet, most (myself included) presumed LinkedIn to be the go to platform for salespeople. But according to the sales survey and research we conducted with a client, Twitter ranked slightly more valuable than LinkedIn when it came to sales prospecting . This is a follow up to a sales survey I wrote about on Forbes with Jim Keenan and Barb Giamanco in 2013.
If you’re surprised, we are too. Yet it’s clear that Twitter is a preferred platform for salespeople. We decided to ask some influential social sales people in the industry for their reactions to the news, this is what they told us:
Vanessa Di Mauro, CEO and Chief Digital Officer of Leader Networks
“The fact that Twitter surpassed Linkedin as the #1 social media sales tool is not surprising to me because that is where the relationship typically begins. Professionals are more protective over their LinkedIn connections than their twitter exchanges. I like to describe Twitter as the bar after work – where you keep your tie on but loosen it a bit, and LinkedIn is the conference room in the corporate office.
Due to the fast and collaborative nature of twitter a sales person can effectively share and idea or engage with a prospective client through a pithy missive. When the exchange goes well, it can then be moved to Linkedin – which represents a much larger personal commitment.”
John Barrows, Owner, Sales From The Streets
“The significance of this is that Twitter is way easier to use and search for information than Linkedin is right now. The hashtag is a powerful and easy way to find out what people are talking about. You can also follow people directly on Twitter without asking for permission.
With Linkedin, if I really want to hear what you are saying and keep up to date with you I have to be connected to you and that means I have to send you a request that you can deny if you want. Twitter doesn’t allow that option so I can follow whoever I want. Between the searchability and ease of connection I can easily see how Twitter has surpassed Linkedin on this front.
One tip or recommendation I would make for Twitter is to set up a separate Twitter account and use it to follow your top 25 prospects (the company and the individuals). This way you can have all your prospecting information on one feed without having to sift through everything else to find something worth using as a reason to reach out to someone.”
Babette Ten Haken, Founder & President of Sales Aerobics for Engineers, LLC
“For me, Twitter is my platform for determining the pulse of an industry vertical. I can learn a lot, very quickly about an industry vertical by tracking the chatter under specific hashtags. Who are the thought leaders? Who are the frequent participants? Who is making a lot of unsubstantiated noise? What are the issues in the vertical? Then I take my findings on to LinkedIn to build out my perspective.”
Jill Rowley, Startup Advisor & Social Selling Evangelist
“I’m shocked that Twitter has surpassed LinkedIn. That said, I can typically learn more personal things about a buyer on Twitter than LinkedIn — who she follows (business professionals, my competitors & partners, influencers, comedians, politicians, athletes, news outlets, charitable organizations) who follows her, what she tweets about, who she retweets, what lists she’s a member of and subscribes to.
I use Twitter to not only research, but ENGAGE. If I believe the content being shared by my buyer is relevant to my network, I will comment, retweet, and potentially favorite. I might share (via Twitter, LinkedIn, or email) a relevant follow-on article, blog post, podcast, eBook, video. I also use Twitter to “attend” events virtually via the event hashtag. It’s all about being where your buyers are: offline, online, #AllTheTime.”
Jack Kosakowski, Regional Sales Manager, Act-On Software , Inc.
“Twitter is the main driver of social selling and will continue to get farther ahead. The only way to properly engage naturally at all levels is through twitter engagement. Where else can you start a conversation with a fortune 500 CEO and get into a conversation with in minutes? Social selling is all about getting involved in conversations, at the right time, with the right people. No other platform allows you to do that. It’s a no brainer and companies that understand the value will surpass their competition.”
Evan Carmichael, Founder, Evan Carmichael Communications Group
Rather than comment on the news, Carmichael outlined a 7 step process for users on Twitter to engage your prospects: “If they are active on Twitter this method works remarkably well. I’ve used it to get in front of CEOs of huge organizations where otherwise you’re dealing with countless gatekeepers.
1. Hope that she’s on Twitter and is active.
2. Search for her on twitter (and hopefully find her).
3. Create a custom list in Hootsuite (or similar solutions like Tweetdeck) to keep track of her posts. Check daily.
4. Engage with what she tweets. Genuinely (this is really important)
5. Give her public accolades (ie. Thank you “@name” for your leadership and best practices in marketing).
6. Repeat until you get a reply from her.
7. Use the reply as an intro to set up a conversation.”
Julio Viskovich, Vice President of Marketing, rFactr
“Historically, LinkedIn has been the network where more formal business communication takes place but there is a shift to buyers and sellers engaging around less formal communications via Twitter. Twitter really allows for more of a 360 degree view of your buyer and allows for more personal communication to take place.
A great tip would be to segment your experience into lists – prospects, competitors, partners, influencers, and customers – engage and share targeted content accordingly and use your competitors for intelligence and lead generation.”
Shane Gibson, Author, Speaker & Sales Trainer, BuildDirect
“Twitter is a true open network and is really only limited by the creativity you apply to using it. There’s not a city in the world I traveled to where I couldn’t make new connections within hours of landing there using Twitter. My big tip for Twitter and social selling in general is to ‘use the internet to get off of the internet and deepen relationships. Twitter doesn’t sell, relationships and trust close the deal.’”
Gabe Villamizar, Social Media Marketing Manager, HireVue , Inc.
“This finding is significant because it shows that buyers are not “only” on LinkedIn, but they are also Twitter, which is underutilized for prospecting in the B2B industry. One way to use Twitter effectively is to research the buyer to understand what kind of content they like to share, what days and times do they tweet the most, and who do they engage with the most on Twitter. By only knowing these three social behaviors, the seller will be able to accelerate the sales process.”