How Social Turns Sales Reps’ Downtime into Prospecting Time

Face to face interactions are typically viewed as the single most valuable activity by any sales professional. However, opening the door and gaining a seat at the business table is tough. How does a sales rep in a highly connected, digital business world capture the attention of an executive buyer?

The primary differentiator of today’s successful sales reps is their ability to prospect. Successful sales reps open up new relationships with potential clients on a daily basis. Are you regularly connecting with new people who might be potential clients? If you want a healthy sales funnel, you need to effectively prospect. This means you are connecting with new people and opening up new relationships not just babysitting current clients and constantly refreshing your base.

Today’s business world is fast paced with highly connected networks. Digital technology is everywhere. Digital has transformed not only our personal lives but our business lives.

If we operate in a digital society then why are we still as sales reps prospecting with an analog mindset? Buying habits have changed, so our sales strategies need to change.

Shift in Prospecting Mindset
The shift has happened. Sales professionals, you all operate inside a world where the buyer has a leg-up on you. Why? B2B customers are mobile, socially connected, fully engaged in social media and well educated:

  • 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research before deciding on a purchase.
  • 97% of professional buyers believe that user-generated content, such as peer reviews and group discussion, is more credible than content provided by the company itself.
  • An IDC study found that 3 out of 4 B2B buyers rely on social media to engage with peers about buying decisions.

This shift has created many disruptions for sales reps but perhaps none more than B2B prospecting. How do you as a sales rep shift your prospecting efforts when now the buyer(s):

  • Are acquiring so much information on their own – online
  • Are now self-qualifying themselves with research and then pre-qualifying prospective vendors or sales reps they choose to meet

What Does a Sales Rep Do Now?
Traditional prospecting strategies can be enhanced with social. How does a sales rep fit this into a daily and actionable format to set themselves up for success? Always pay attention to your sales funnel!

Your sales funnel is the single most important sales tool you have in your sales toolbox. Every waking sales hour you must become cognizant of what sits inside your sales funnel. This may even include off time and downtime.

This is a tough one as sales reps all over are saying, “Larry, you are full of it! I don’t have any extra time, not much downtime and surely I am not going to think about it during off time.”

Daily prospecting is a must or your sales funnel will dry up and your business will suffer. Set aside the excuses as there will always be a million distractions pulling you away from this essential part of your job. You need to consciously embrace, not just accept but actually embrace, the idea that prospecting is a must-do activity every single working day of your life as well as some of your days off.

Successful sales reps pay attention to their sales funnel as social integration can happen 365 days a year, 7 days a week, 24 hours per day.

Socially Repurpose Downtime or Off Time
We all know after 5:00 PM most business doors are locked. The internet is open 24 hours a day. Think about how you can integrate digital aspects into your prospecting efforts. The social window is always open for business even on Saturday and Sunday.

I introduce to you the Social Phone, courtesy of my friend Kenny Madden. Kenny with such brilliance illustrates the #socialphone, a blending of cold calling with social selling to infuse modernization into traditional prospecting. He refers to this as smashing with absolute discipline the very best of email, in mail, voicemail, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram into one beautiful integrated approach–the social phone.

Social Window + Social Phone + Social Selling = Enhanced Sales Funnel

The social phone allows you to listen and communicate with the voice of your clients and prospects. By engaging in online conversations and leveraging social networks, you create the opportunity to listen to the voice of your potential clients. The more intimate, authentic, genuine relationship you can establish, the more loudly you’ll hear their voice.

What’s nice about the modern business world is there are a multitude of ways to open new conversations and new relationships with people. Real-life networking (cold calling) still has its place, but social media has opened up a world of possibilities for meeting potential new clients.

All day, every day think of social and how you use it as your online trade show. LinkedIn can be your online stage, your brand, your samples can be content as this provides you with an air of validity. It’s a perfect way for your prospects and clients to check you out and to discover more about you.

Is your social window open for business, closed for business or is it in need of tenant improvements?

There needs to be a mindset and skill set paradigm shift from how most sales reps are attempting to use social media albeit unsuccessfully at best. When we recognize social media is not our primary prospecting mechanism but simply augments prospecting, it changes our approach as this is then integrated into our sales strategies.

Socially Adjust Your Mindset
Getting in front of a potential client for a first meeting now requires socially adjusting your mindset. This means adjusting your prospecting strategies as:

  • Prospects require a higher level of introduction before granting a sales call.
  • Networking in person and online is essential to sales growth.
  • Prospecting development and nurturing relationships must be practiced with patience and reeled in with conversation.
  • Being relevant and memorable is the new differentiator.
  • Becoming visible, vocal and valuable is a must.

Our business world is constantly changing. Social selling is a critical part of digital selling, particularly in the modern digital business world; social selling techniques alone won’t get you the success you deserve.

Digital sales strategies and how we use them are evolving all the time. Ultimately, it’s the process of engaging with businesses, your prospects and clients via social networks online, as well as utilizing all the digital sales tools you have at your disposal to drive more sales opportunities.

What mindset are you prospecting with?


Larry Levine
About the Author
Larry Levine coaches copier sales reps to use LinkedIn to build out their credibility, prospect for new business opportunities and to protect their current account base. Larry brings 27 years of copier sales experience in Los Angeles, one of the most competitive markets in the world. In 2009 Larry started incorporating LinkedIn into his sales process. Using the LinkedIn platform and techniques he perfected, Larry closed over $650,000 in new business in 2014 in conjunction with $1,300,000 in total revenue. This was a net new corporate account position with a major OEM. Larry built a pipeline of $1,700,000 by developing relationships and using connections made through LinkedIn. Now Larry coaches copier sales reps to use LinkedIn to maximize their success.