Can Big Data Help You Make a Genuine Emotional Connection?
How data and social media aggregation help you understand and connect with your customer on a more intimate level.
This is where most businesses get social media wrong.
They think that because they've accumulated an audience of thousands of "fans" that social networks become just another broadcast medium in their marketing blast campaigns.
Nothing could be further than the truth.
Yes, social networks can be used to let many people know at once that you have a special running, or that you've published a new article they might be interested in - that's not where the real power is.
The real power to social networks is in the networking.
And networking, as we all know, takes place one at a time.
Years ago I ran the Sales & Marketing for a local IT company in Ohio. To help create opportunities for us with other local businesses, I joined the local chapter of Business Network International (BNI).
If you've ever been to a business networking meeting of any kind, they're all pretty much run the same way. At each meeting (ours was a weekly breakfast), one rotating member would be scheduled to give a 30-minute presentation, with the remaining meeting time allotted to the rest of the members being allowed to say something about their business for a couple of minutes each.
The purpose of each meeting was to get to know each other's businesses better and better so that you could refer other people that you knew to them.
Those that did particularly well were usually the most organized of the group. They'd keep binders with everyone's business cards and spend time studying you and your service offerings so that, whenever an opportunity might come up in another conversation, they might mention you.
Everyone else would struggle to consistently refer others (and therefore generate the goodwill necessary to receive lots of referrals) because they simply weren't as good at remembering details.
Without looking, tell me... what state did I run a local IT company in?
It's ok. I wouldn't have remembered either, and that's because for most of us, recalling details requires that we've put effort into remembering those facts to begin with, and repeatedly reinforced that information in our minds.
That's where modern sales & CRM tools come in. Instead of having to recall details about a prospect or client, businesses today can quickly access that information on whatever device is convenient and get timely and valuable data.
Can Big Data Help You Make a Genuine Emotional Connection?
What's of particular benefit, especially when you compare to how things were years ago for me, is that today's CRM tools can provide you with far more than the client's name, company information and your notes from your last meeting. They can be personalized to gather the kinds of data points that you need, as well as extended into other systems.
Thanks to connective capabilities of the various networks and other data courses (APIs), most CRM solutions are able to pull in social network accounts & profiles, interactions, and other key metrics.
If there's a network that's key to your prospecting and business success, you can even use automated methods to gather data right from the network's normal user interface.
Busy salespeople and large companies will rapidly begin to collect massive amounts of data. This is often referred to as 'Big Data' and it's intended to be analyzed by computers, not humans, as a means of identifying and predicting trends and behaviors.
How then is it possible for you to use a data-filled CRM to create an emotional connection with real, individual prospects?
After I'd spent a few years working for that local IT company (in Ohio!), I decided I needed a break from the computer-biz and started working for a company that sold swimming pools and hot tubs. Now, I know I've talked about that job before from a marketing perspective, but this time I want to point out a sales technique that I quickly learned.
We worked in a large showroom that displayed about a dozen hot tubs plus an 18' round pool that had been completely set up and filled. Everyone who walked into that store came in with a smile as they quickly envisioned what their new outdoor room and entertainment area was going to look like.
My job, as a salesman, was not to immediately go into a spiel about our latest and greatest sale, nor was it to try and automatically push them into the biggest, most expensive item. No, instead, my job was to greet a customer and begin to have a real conversation with them.
Hi! What brought you in today?
Oh? You've been thinking about getting a pool, that's great, I can definitely answer all your questions. Where did you come in from?
Have you ever owned a pool before?
How big is your family?
Have you been thinking about lots of pool parties, or more private family time?
With just those few initial questions, I could expertly guide my new customer into the right size pool with the perfect kind of maintenance system for them, as well as all of the other accessories and features they might need - including appropriate fencing depending on their city of residence.
Now, had I known they were coming in and had access to profile data, I might have known a lot of that up front and been able to research even more qualifying questions, like:
- How big is your back yard? Can you even fit a pool the size you're looking at?
- Is your back yard level, or will that need to be done too?
- How old are your kids and what's their interest in a pool?
Armed with those answers and more, I can not only recommend the perfect pool package, but also present it in a way that speaks to the customer and their unique dreams.
This 21' round pool will not only fit perfectly in your backyard, it will create an oasis where you can retreat after work or on the weekends. It will provide a safe place for your kids to play, as well as give them the space to practice what they're learning in their swimming lessons. And the maintenance is a piece of cake with our mineral-based filtration system. All for just $3200 plus installation.
Knowledge about what a prospect really needs - not your product, but the end-result that comes from owning your product - is a powerful ally when it comes to closing the sale.
And that's the kind of pre-sales research that can be accomplished when you have access to a rich source of data.
Consider though that not ever sales opportunity comes as a result of the client walking into your store or reaching out to you.
Sometimes, it's up to you to create those opportunities.
We've talked before about how you can use Hootsuite for social listening. By determining specific topics and phrases that your prospects might be talking about, you can save a search and routinely see conversations happening around those topics.
Those are opportunities for you to get involved in the conversation and interject value - NOT A SALE - but real value.
For instance, if I were still working in the pool biz, I might set up a saved search that looks for people talking about pool water within a 25 mile radius. When appropriate tweets came up, I could answer their questions and even offer to test their water for free (a service we provided that generated tremendous amounts of chemical sales).
For other businesses, keywords could be entered that had more to do with sales prospects. When an opportunity arose, the salesperson could even plug the individuals into their CRM and do some additional pre-sales research to qualify the lead before engaging with them.
Nimble, for instance, integrates directly with Hootsuite allowing you to see real-time data on your prospects, as well as import prospects into Nimble.
Whether you're doing pre-sales research or listening to what prospects or potential prospects are saying on social media, there will be opportunities there for you to engage with those prospects. If you've paid attention to what they're saying, you will be able to create real emotional connections with them.
And it's those emotional connections that will make the sale.
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By Mike Allton, Content Marketing Practitioner
Mike is a Content Marketing Practitioner, award-winning Blogger and Author in St. Louis, and the Chief Marketing Officer at SiteSell. He has been working with websites and the Internet since the early '90's, and is active on all of the major social networks. Mike teaches a holistic approach to content marketing that leverages blog content, social media and SEO to drive traffic, generate leads, and convert those leads into sales.
Mike is the author of, "The Unofficial Book On HootSuite: The #1 Tool for Social Media Management", "The Ultimate Guide to the Perfect LinkedIn Profile.", and "Blog Promotionology, The Art & Science of Blog Promotion."Follow @Mike_Allton