No, Twitter isn’t going to fix the lack of leads pouring into your sales pipeline.
But it will help you expand your networking capabilities. Twitter is hugely underestimated in Telecom, especially by upper management and sales teams. They don’t want to learn it, and they don’t want to deal with something “new” – but spoiler alert, Twitter has been around for over a decade now.
It’s not new, it’s not dying, and in sales, if you’re not using Twitter, you’re a dinosaur.
Traditional sales teams value outbound calls, “feet on pavement”, and cold-calling (en masse) sales tactics.
And those tactics can work.
But are they working well enough?
As Josh Harcus notes in “A Closing Culture”, this is because often, cold outbound sales still works some of the time – maybe, if you’re lucky, up to 20% of those outbound calls result in connecting with leads. Why fix what isn’t broken?
The thing is, those tactics are broken.
To paraphrase Josh’s example from his book, think of sales like a fishing net on a fishing trawler. A fish net that has holes in it, catching fish at 20% capacity, would be considered a broken net. Sure, you’re still catching some fish – which may be bringing in enough revenue to keep the boat afloat, and not much else. Why wouldn’t you fix the net?
By viewing outbound sales as working “good enough” when you’re only connecting to 20% of the possible leads you’re trying to reach, you’re acting like that fishing boat trying to make a profit with a net full of holes.
Instead of relying on only one tactic, try utilizing multiple to keep your sales funnel full.
There are plenty of additional tactics that can help keep your sales funnel full.
One of the best is using social media effectively to increase the reach of your message, as well as demonstrate your influence.
Twitter is an excellent social media channel for telecom expense management, especially their sales teams, if used appropriately. It’s a way to connect with conference attendees before an event, to increase the reach of your networking efforts, and a way to keep in touch with people you may not have been able to reach otherwise.
To do that, you need to not be terrible at Twitter. You also need to not be hated by everyone who ends up following you, which is harder than it might seem.
Utilizing Twitter as a method for increasing your networking reach means viewing it not as a platform for you to broadcast at people – it’s an extension of your networking efforts.
You go to conferences and networking events to connect with people, right? You have tons of short conversations with the goal of gaining at least a handful of meaningful connections that lead to a sale.
There’s a social media network dedicated to doing that all day, every day, with millions of people actively using it.
Using Twitter to Attract Leads Instead of Hunting them Down
Easy enough to say, but how do you actually do that?
Before you start using Twitter for leads and prospecting, take some time to be sure you’ve set it up properly. Click here for my Twitter optimization guide – come back when you’ve done all of that.
Next, set up your posting routine. Aim for 3 posts a day at first, with at least 2 being of “someone else’s content” – AKA curated content. When it comes to this content, think of what your prospective customers would care about. Industry news, changes in regulations, technology updates…these are all excellent topics for sharing on Twitter.
When in doubt, look to accounts you enjoy following. You can retweet their tweets, or visit the links and share the posts themselves.
I suggest retweeting the tweets of your favorite accounts, though – it’s a good way to try and build a relationship with an influencer in your space. In TEM, there’s plenty of small-scale influencers. They’re not going to be accounts the size of Justin Beiber, but they’re just as influential when it comes to recommending companies and budgets.
Influencer marketing is an entirely different ball game, but you can take advantage of some of the benefits businesses see with bigger, paid, influencer marketing campaigns. Being friendly with the “big names” online means their audience sees you, and potentially you gain followers or even leads as a result. At the very worst, you get a boost in SEO, reach, or a bit of influence-by-association.
Just like being able to walk up to one of the well known industry names at an AOTMP or TEMIA conference instantly puts you up there as another person worth knowing, being connected to them online nets you similar benefits on a smaller scale.
So your Twitter strategy starts around two main concepts:
1) Creating a posting schedule you can stick to – that isn’t entirely about you.
2) Finding the influencers in your niche, and even if you don’t try to build a relationship with them, at least knowing who they are and what they post.
Once you figure out who the influencers are, start looking for prospects.
By the time you’ve gotten your bearings about the landscape of Twitter, you’ll be comfortable enough to start looking for prospects. First, set up 3 private lists – competitors, prospects, and neither.
You set up these lists for your own research and knowledge. Competitors are obvious: these are accounts you’ve identified as your direct competition. You don’t have to follow an account to add it to a Twitter list, and they won’t be able to tell you’ve added them to a private list.
Prospects are obvious: they’re the prospects you’ve qualified enough to know they’re potential clients. They won’t know you’ve added them to a short list of accounts to target directly, so this list is your short list of accounts to actively focus on.
Your “neither” list is a way to know if you’ve already checked out the follower. You add them to this private list not as a way to dismiss them, but as a check mark of sorts. When you go to add them to a list, you’ll be able to see if they’re already there. It’s a 10 second check instead of a 5 to 10 minute Google-LinkedIn hunt. The “neithers” are followers who you couldn’t learn enough about to know if they were a prospect or not.
Start with the followers you’ve already acquired in the week or two it’s taken you to learn a bit about who’s who on Twitter.
Are any of those followers potential prospects? If you can’t tell, try looking them up on LinkedIn. If you can’t find them, add them to the “neither” list.
Those who are prospects get added to your private “prospects” list. Try to look through that list at least once a week, and engage with their tweets. Don’t look them up every day and engage with every single thing they post; that’s just weird.
Once a week means you care enough to see what they’re saying, and it’s often enough that they’ll start to remember you without finding it creepy. At least, if they’re active on a daily basis. If they’re less active, scale back how often you interact. Make a note for yourself in your CRM, or set a task in Salesforce to look at them only every other week.
The key is to be seen in their likes/retweets/replies just enough to be remembered, but not enough for them to go “oh, they must be desperate – they liked all of our tweets again.”
When you see an account that’s clearly a competitor, add it to your “competitors” list. This is entirely for research purposes. You want to see what they’re posting, and whose content they’re retweeting or interacting with. If what they do seems to be working, copy that. If what they do seems to be falling flat – no engagements, no followers, etc – then make sure you don’t do what they do.
Start checking out hashtags as well.
Things like #Telecom may need some filters applied, and that’s where a nice social media management tool comes in handy. Hootsuite, Hubspot, and Sprout Social (my personal favorites) all have stream filtering options that let you watch mentions of specific hashtags that are filtered down to only what you decide is genuinely relevant.
You can simply search through Twitter with some key phrases you think your prospects would use, as well.
Remember, though, it needs to be phrases or words your prospects would use. They’re not going to tweet about being a business of a certain size, or about their budget for your services, or the tools they want. They’re going to tweet about their industry, their problems, or just plain share information about their business.
Check for those tweets once or twice a week. You don’t need to spend hours a day on Twitter – in fact, you shouldn’t.
Get your efforts down to less than half an hour a couple times a week. Twitter is going to take time to work. Don’t burn out on it by spending half your day, every day, trying to make it work in the first week.
Figure out what works, and keep doing that.
It’s probably going to take you at least a month to start building an appreciable audience, longer if you’re starting from zero.
Don’t take it personally, and don’t be disheartened.
Other folks in the telecom space are going to be on Twitter just as infrequently as you. You’ll have to work at getting through their skepticism and distrust to actually be a person they view as a resource, just like at a conference where you meet people face to face.
Twitter is just an extension of that type of environment. As long as you’re not sleazy or pushy, and you have some patience, you’ll connect with people if you keep trying.
Just like a conference, Twitter is best at being a “first touch”, not a final conversion or serious conversation point. You don’t expect to make a sale on the conference floor, although that would be nice – don’t expect Twitter to be where your sales happen, either.
Instead, it’s a great way to get people to move towards a more serious platform (LinkedIn, anyone?), or have them click through on your content and convert on your website – where your email nurturing efforts get them to the point of being a sale.
Twitter isn’t a magic solution for your sales funnel any more than any other technique is. What it does best is keep the very, very top of your funnel full.
Keep that in mind with your Twitter tactics. Don’t invest everything you have into it, but don’t neglect it, either. Be consistent, and don’t be sleazy.
Do that, and you’ll see success.
How long does it take?
To give you an idea of the timeline you can expect, it took me over a year of trying to build my account to the 2,000 follower threshold after having a neglected account with 100 followers for several years. After the first year, I used a follower building tool (Social Quant), which skyrocketed my follower count – but it’s a fairly mixed bag.
My followers are generally in the B2B space, but they’re in a wide variety of industries. I also have quite a few growing marketers, agencies, and other marketing specialists following me. It’s a very wide net, and I like having the resources available for recommendations if someone needs help that I can’t provide.
Case in point –
I work often with Kathleen Glass, CMO of Oinkodomeo, who has spent longer growing her followers, but is much, much more targeted about her audience. When I first began working with her nearly 3 years ago, she was just under the 2,000 follower threshold herself, and today (September 18th, 2017), she’s at just over 5,700 followers.
Kathleen targets a very specific audience (TEM is a big part of that), and while her audience is, by the strict numbers, smaller than mine – hers is arguably more valuable, as they’re all related directly to her niche.
In TEM, you want to be more like Kathleen’s Twitter account than mine. Be targeted, be specific, and really try to engage with your audience. No, you can’t engage with 5,000 people on a regular basis, but thanks to lists, you can find who’s the most active, and engage with those people.
Having 500 targeted, telecom-specific fans is going to be far more beneficial to an individual sales person than 5,000 general fans who like inspirational quotes and cute dog photos.