If you work with long sales cycles, you know that there is a danger your prospect will forget about you and your offering. Real life has a nasty habit of getting in the way of them buying from you!
One way to mitigate this danger is to keep in regular contact. However, it's not good enough to make the 'just checking in' phone call or send the equivalent email every so often. Each time you contact someone you should be offering them something of value. Fortunately, there is the perfect tool for this.
Twitter gives you the ability to drop little nuggets of useful information into your prospect's lap on a regular and frequent basis.
The following guidelines have been developed over my four and a half years of tweeting, both personally and for business.
DO get a business account, even if you have a personal one. No-one is interested in the intimate details of your personal life – leave that for your friends. If you are selling across different sectors, you could even set up an account for each sector.
DO have a plan. Before you start, it's vital to have a clear idea of what you want to achieve. Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field? Do you want to introduce people to stuff you find useful? The answers to these (and other questions) should guide what you are tweeting.
DON'T just tweet about your company and your products. It gets very dull very quickly. The 70/20/10 rule is a good guide. 70% of your tweets should be useful to your followers, 20% should be engagement – retweets, replies etc. and 10% should be about you and your company.
DO be consistent, polite and respectful. Remember, you are representing your company. Once you've posted a comment, it's there for good - you can't take it back. A good rule of thumb is 'Don't tweet what you wouldn't want your mother reading in the Sunday papers'
DO start tweeting before you start following people. You are trying to connect with people and offer them something of value. If you haven't tweeted anything when they become aware of you, what reason are you giving them to follow you back?
DON'T allow your ratio of people you follow to people who follow you to get too big. The temptation when you open your account is to follow as many people as possible as quickly as possible. Do this and you risk looking like a spammer and you know how popular they are! You will also run into issues with Twitter if the numbers are radically different.
DO recognise the limitations of Twitter. It's a great way to keep you 'top of mind' by raising awareness and for positioning and nurturing (the 'I saw this and thought of you' stuff.) But that's it – it's extremely unlikely that you will close any sales through Twitter.
DO scour the lists of members of your LinkedIn discussion groups. When you find someone who is on Twitter, follow them. Some will automatically follow back, others will follow you because they like what you are tweeting. Now you are appearing in two 'streams of consciousness' (because you are commenting in those discussion group, aren't you?)
And, finally, the bad news.
DON'T expect miracles to happen overnight! Using Twitter to develop leads is a long-term game which should form only a part of your lead generation activity.
So what are you waiting for? Looking forward to meeting you in the Twittersphere!
By Neil Fletcher, Director Arrosam Ltd, sales and marketing consultancy focused on working with clients in the Science, Engineering and Technology sectors.