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Bridging the Gap Between Social Stats and Hard Data

You’ve heard time and again that landing the job is about who you know, but it’s equally true that landing a sale is about what you know. In today’s hyper-competitive sales atmosphere, particularly within the business-to-business vertical, having the edge on your competition may simply mean being better informed.

But with so much information out there on every company, employee, and industry, how do you know which data is the right data to focus on? It can be incredibly difficult to filter out the useless or questionable information found online about a given company from the data that can help you land an account.

Here are a few things smart salespeople know using all the best online resources for business information to gather material that can be used to close a deal.

Social Media Should be Taken Seriously

If you’re interested in working with a business or a particular person, the first thing you should do when beginning your research is track down all relevant social media profiles. The great thing about social is that it’s generally first person, meaning the individual (or brand) you’re learning about is already giving you heavy hints about how they’d like to be perceived. Scour Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, even YouTube for company or individual posts that may teach you more. A status update asking for vendor recommendations or a Re-Tweet of a statistic is far more candid information than you’ll get in a sales call.

If the business or person you’re learning more about doesn’t have any social media presence, ask yourself why. Do they have something to hide? Are they woefully behind the times? Maybe they don’t want to be contacted? Which social media sites (if any) are being used by your business target tell you just as much about them as their posts. Once you know how they like to communicate, become part of their social circle! Mention them on Twitter or perhaps endorse them for a skill on LinkedIn. Think of initial contact over social media as warming up your lead.

And of course, many business and professionals know better than to post their contact information on their social media accounts to try and avoid, well, unwanted sales calls. Taking the extra step to find the contact information you’re looking for using a contacts service like BizShark may indicate to your target that you’re resourceful and determined to build value for your product or brand.

Let the Data Tell You What You Need to Know

It’s incredibly important to learn more about a business or professional’s intangibles: how they communicate online, what their business values are, etc., all of which can be gathered via social media. But it’s equally important to invest time and money in obtaining hard facts and statistics surrounding the business as these can give you a bigger picture of how to best pitch your services.

BizShark offers easy-to-use online databases containing just about every kind of data you need to round out your business-profile. Everything from financials to competitor analysis to contact information is available online and going through a third-party ensures the data you find will be objective. Social media has its place, but it’s always smart to hear how the business is doing from an outsider perspective, backed up by data.

So, what can you learn from a site like BizShark.com that can help make the sale? How useful would it be going into a cold call knowing how much the business took in last year, or who their largest competitor is? Another great facet of services like BizShark is the ability to track down specific people within a company – find complete contact information for the right person to talk to with just a few clicks. Spending hours navigating a phone tree or arguing with a receptionist can seriously undermine your credibility when calling a lead.

Never Place Too Much Emphasis on Any One Source

The great thing about the web is that it allows salespeople to be thorough. As any scientist will tell you, never assume you know the whole story just by finding out one or two important pieces of data. Sure, Facebook will tell you the brands your target is interacting with, but will it tell you how far behind those brands the target is in sales? Use every available resource to paint a complete picture of the business or individual before you decide on an approach.

Once you’ve gathered all the information you can find, it’s relatively easy to decide on a “pitch.” Say you’ve learned via Twitter than a company’s manager loves new stories about real estate…once you’ve used a service like BizShark to track down that manager’s office contact information you can approach them from a real estate-centric perspective with regards to your business. At the very least, you know something about that person that can get the conversation started and help break the ice.

Sales is an art, but it takes hard work. Good salespeople know there’s actually no such thing as a “cold call” and that any call worth having has got to be warmed up first, whether it’s through social media channels or via data gathering on the salesperson’s part. Not only will being more prepared better help you answer any questions, you’ll feel more confidant and less likely to sound uninformed.

Social media is becoming more and more valuable in the world of business, but it will never replace hard data as a source of information. It’s just as crucial to know a target’s moods and interests, however, as it is to know their bottom line.

You’d never use just one source of information to decide on a new car or choose a vacation destination…don’t rely on the bare minimum when it comes to B2B sales, either. In today’s market, having the edge usually means having more intel, and there are more ways than ever to gather information you can use to your advantage when it comes time to open the lines of communication or even close the deal.

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