October 25, 2014

11 Ways to Use Twitter To Develop Sales Leads

develop sales leads

Twitter has proven without a shadow of a doubt that it is a durable player, platform and resource in the social media toolbox. It is perfect for promoting short, to the point, relevant information in real-time.

The Twitter Blue Bird is one of the most effective communication platforms for just about every major sporting, entertainment, business, news, information, and career or niche outlet today. If you are using it to its full capacity, it can be a very effective and fertile sales lead generation source. But it doesn’t necessarily work in a traditional sales way.

The idea of short 140 character comments and micro blogging was a brilliant idea from the beginning. The impact Twitter now has, in real time, is the immediate ability to distribute breaking news and information. It has transformed how fast we see – and receive information.

Social Media and Digital Expert, Brian Solis, talks about the TNN-Twitter News Network:

“Once again, we were reminded that, news no longer breaks, it Tweets.”

Twitter has changed the game of journalism, allowing anyone to potentially break a story and take on the role of a journalist. Most of us learned about Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Osama Bin Laden, the royal wedding announcement, Hurricane Sandy and the Moore Oklahoma tornado just to name just a few – all on Twitter.

Amazingly, the top 15% of Twitter users account for 85% of all Tweets.

Developing sales leads on today’s social media space happens when there is an established relationship based on trust, credibility and value between creators and consumers. We can’t sell what we haven’t earned.

Each one of these creates Twitter replies, retweets, hashtags and favorites, in addition to shares, comments and forwards, that can all be used to generate potential sales leads.

develop sales leads

But, first things first.  Here are 11 tips on how to use Twitter to develop sales leads:

1. Build Credibility and Trust First, Sell Later

The ability to create, publish and market quality and consistent content that is relevant, valuable and sharable is a strong credibility asset. Content allows you to become a featured expert in your field. The expression “serving is the new selling” has proven to be right, as only trust inspires sales.

Twitter is and has become a preferred media platform for promoting content. The more you show up and build your community, the more potential leads you build who could become clients or referral sources. Each one of those shares could be a potential source.

develop sales leads

2. Be Authentic, Genuine and Believable

Have you read something that just speaks and connects with you, as if it was written for you? Where the personality of the writer comes across as if you are facing each other having a conversation?

The more you write like you speak and communicate as you are, the more authentic, genuine and believable you are and the more you will attract and be sought after.

This may sound like fluff, but it’s not.  Remember, in small businesses, people buy from other people.

3. Post Timely, Current Information and Trends

Breaking news happens every minute. Stories have a cycle. The news can become a new trend. Following the most current sources for news and information in your industry is critical for relevance.

Get out on top of, not behind, information and trends. Start conversations, or quickly join in on them. If you see a great blog idea, write it and post the link on Twitter as soon as you can.

develop sales leads

4. Develop a Content Strategy First – With Your Top 25

What do you do? What do you want to be known for? What are you using Twitter for and what is your content strategy?

Posting tweets on Twitter is not the point. Posting on Twitter about how you can solve problems, ease pain, delight the customer, or be a solution provider to your target audience, is.

Tips, checklists, reasons, ways and insights, all based around your areas of expertise, are how people get to know what you do and how you can help them. If you sell B2C, include content your audience is interested in. Be sure to post about your successes, too, in a non-arrogant way.

Sit down and make a list of the top 25 topics you can use for your content marketing, whether it’s blogging, video, podcasting or social media.

Focus on your top five areas of expertise, or the top areas of interest your audience will have.  Then create 5 topics from each of those areas, and you’ll have your top 25. Take 30 quiet minutes and brainstorm often.

These topics are what you use to stay on point with your content, so you don’t drift too far off into areas that won’t help generate leads.  It’s not just about having a lot of content.  It’s about having the RIGHT content. You need content that will get the public, prospects and existing customers think about YOUR business first the next time they have a need or desire.

Now that you have your top 25 topics, think about 5 – 20 specific things you can create your content around. Ten Ways to Increase Profit, 11 Tips for Using Images on Twitter, 5 Juicing Tips for Beginners. Then promote it out on Twitter and watch it get shared.

develop sales leads

5. Always Respect Your Community When Communicating

There is an understood responsibility and respectability that goes along with Twitter etiquette. Following and being followed should be a privilege and should be treated as such.

Twitter gives us all a way to speak out about things we believe in and feel passionate about. But it is not an excuse to engage in profanity, expressions of hate or other unacceptable behavior. You must never abuse your public access.

Remember, you are always talking with potential sales prospects.

6. Don’t Oversell – Use the 60/20/20 Ratio

Overselling is selfish and a turn off. It makes it all about you — when it should be about them.  And while it’s true that many people follow brands and small businesses on Twitter because they like to receive discounts and hear about special offers, no one wants a steady diet of that.

So one simple formula that works really well with regard to posting on Twitter and all social media is:

  • 60% Educate
  • 20% Inspire
  • 20% Sell

Why? Because if you educate and inspire people, then you have a chance of motivating them, making a quality connection and eventually selling them something you offer that can help them.

7. Email: Spamming or Serving?

People still get rather confused about this, and have become quite savvy with how they think they can get your attention. Finding an email address and sending people emails with no permission, connection or relationship is not the way to do it. This goes back to an etiquette that we all share the responsibility in.

Not only is it against the CAN-SPAM law in the U.S. to send unsolicited emails, but it usually backfires.  Sending unsolicited emails is a completely misplaced “sales” effort.

But, it’s a totally different thing to post about how your latest newsletter just came out, and send people to see a version of it online (where they can also subscribe if they like what they see).

Or post a free downloadable ebook that people voluntarily give their email because they want to receive your great content.

Use Twitter to lure people to a page on your site to voluntarily give their email in exchange for something of value.  Then you have created a connection and can use it to market — because it is voluntary on the recipient’s part.

develop sales leads

8. Curate as a “Marketing Touch” – Never Steal Content

It’s flattering to people when you share their content.  It gets their attention when you use their Twitter handle or share a link back to their website.  Think of it as one of those famous “7 marketing touches” that help you get and stay on the radar of prospects.

Not only do you get the attention of those whose content you shared, but when you become known as a source of valuable and interesting information, you serve your followers better, too.

But using others’ content without attribution is going  to make it very difficult to develop sales leads on Twitter or anywhere else. The Web is a remarkably small place. Plagiarism and stealing content (including images) without attribution are huge issues in the content space.

Make sure your staff or any contractors helping you with social media, understand the difference between curating content (i.e., acknowledging where it came from) and stealing content (i.e., trying to pass something off as your own).  One helps generate leads. The other undermines your lead generation efforts.

9. Show the Story

The most compelling and endearing way to engage people is by showing a story about your background. This could include challenges, successes and life experiences using content and images. “Show and Tell” is one of the oldest games in the world. Visual story telling is powerful, as the following eye-popping recent example from Volvo shows.

It captured images of action star Jean-Claude Van Damme doing splits between a pair of Volvo Trucks. This created a lot of interest for Volvo:

10. Give Away The Why, Sell the How

Take the initiative to give away the “why” of what you know and save the detailed “how” for your paying customers. The abundance mentality rather than scarcity mentality attracts people to you. The “you have to give it away to keep it” idea really works in marketing band sales. Create valuable content and share it. It attracts people.

Generosity is a brand builder and a lead generator. A great example of this is Seth Godin who gives away amazing content freely to get people not only interested in him, but all the products and services he sells.

develop sales leads

11. Have Fun and Create an Emotional Connection

I know you realize how important the experience is for consumers in everything we do. Or do you?

When you create an emotional connection with others, you are more memorable.

The most memorable thing about our user experience is not only that it over-delivers on value and learning, but that is fun. The idea that we can have fun in life and business should be part of what you communicate to your community and customers. So, make the experience of your website, blog, event, video, promotion, and social media full of your best ideas, personality and spirit and post them on Twitter.

One of the fun social media tools that originated on Twitter are hashtags. Who could have ever thought that the “#” symbol would be reinvented to be a content organization and aggregation tool?

Follow some of these basic concepts while engaging and sharing content. If you do, you can use Twitter to develop sales leads. And this can be pretty awesome and consistent.

Twitter Photo via Shutterstock

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Deborah Shane


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane is a past staff writer for Small Business Trends covering marketing, branding and social media topics. She is a Top 100 Small Business Champion, career transition consultant, personal branding strategist and social media specialist. Deborah hosts her Top 100 Small Business Podcast weekly. Her book #trusthewhy Fundamentals, Values and Humor Get You Through Anything and award winning "Career Transition: Make the Shift" (2011) are available through all major book sellers.

19 Reactions

  1. Deborah, this is an AWESOME post. Thank you so much for putting this together and on behalf of our sales team, THANK YOU!!!

  2. Thank you for sharing this information. It was very insightful.

  3. Deborah,

    To be rational for selfishness is a good thing, so I don’t get the phrase, “Overselling is selfish”…

    It is interesting that the 80/20 rule is at work again! ;)

    “Amazingly, the top 15% of Twitter users account for 85% of all Tweets.”

    Hailing from the city that is rolling (Volvo is “I am rolling” in Latin), Gothenburg, I am wondering how many trucks have been sold due to the Van Damme stretch…

    • The Van Damme campaign put the Volvo tractor trailer in front of a lot of new eyeballs! So memorable!

      • Deborah: You are right about that. I watched the whole series (>10 video clips) of videos, with behind the scenes, business leaders from Volvo participating, etc.

        The question is if the Volvo trucks brand is in the mind of the potential buyer? I must say that they have been good at highlighting the safety features with the Volvo trucks. I am not sure that the other truck brands will dare to do that, in this “daredeviled” way! ;)

    • Martin, Volvo has been about safety forever, even at the expense of design, but these are awesome and the high end of the industry.

      • Deborah: You are right about this. Volvo’s watchword has been, safety. The question is how well this has worked in the terms of Volvo cars, mixing up the message with other keywords.

        One truck brand that has a strong following, is Scania trucks. The truckers are branding themselves with tattoos of the Scania logotype.

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