The fact that companies are expected to be active on social media is a no-brainer.

But what about individual salespeople?

Reality check: scoring sales on social media isn’t just a matter of “if you build it, they will come.”

Sure, you might have a marketing funnel that attracts and converts customers directly from social media.

However, don’t neglect the role of individual sales reps in closing those deals with social listening.

Salespeople should have a pulse on customer conversions on social media. That’s exactly why social listening for sales is a must-do for modern companies.

Step-by-step social listening for sales professionals

Before sending your team “into the wild,” it’s important to understand how social listening platforms empower your team to build meaningful relationships with new customers.

In this guide, we’ll cover how to harness the power of social listening for sales step-by-step. We’ll cover best practices, strategies to uncover sales conversations and use your social data to close more deals in the future.

1. Figure out where your prospects and leads are hanging out

Social listening for sales can be incredibly daunting because there are so many conversations happening at once. Given that consumers aren’t shy about calling out brands for being too “salesy,” it’s important to listen to conversations before barging in on them.

That’s why it literally pays to hone your search for prospects and leads. The “best” networks for sales vary from business to business. Chances are you won’t confine your search to a single platform, though.

For example, B2B companies should most definitely be tuned into LinkedIn which is responsible for approximately 80% of B2B leads on social media. Salespeople are capable of following the updates of companies and individual employees alike, both of which can help you build a list of potential outreach candidates.

LinkedIn is great for social media for sales when it comes to finding individual employees to reach out to

Meanwhile, platforms like Facebook and Instagram are more practical for B2C brands. This is where you’ll not only find tons of potential customers asking for recommendations but also talking about their most recent purchases and experiences.

And then there’s Twitter, a platform that’s fair game for businesses of all shapes and sizes. Combined with communities such as Quora and Reddit, businesses clearly have plenty of ground to cover when it comes to uncovering leads and prospects.

To keep you from falling down the rabbit hole, social listening through Sprout can help narrow your search for sales opportunities. From brand mentions to product queries, you can focus on the platforms that matter most to your sales team.

Sprout topic builder

But this begs the question: what terms and searches are going to lead you to those sales in the first place?

2. Identify sales-specific conversations and keywords

Social listening for sales means being in tune with conversations your real-life customers are having.

And so identifying buyer intent ultimately boils down to what people are searching for on social media.

Below is a snapshot of the conversations and keywords that matter most for sales. Any combination of these terms can help highlight questions, pain points and concerns that salespeople can address directly.

Help-specific terms. These terms signal prospects who are looking for specific answers that could result in a sale. This could mean a product recommendation or a piece of content (“help,” “recommend,” “tips,” “ideas,” etc).

Industry terms. These terms are specific to your industry or whatever product you’re selling. These terms signal a certain level of awareness that means that they’re probably beyond the “just browsing” phase (“web design,” “email marketing,” “ecommerce,” etc).

“Need a platform to get my ecommerce business off the ground. Total newbie here. Thoughts?”

Geo-specific terms. For brick-and-mortar businesses, these are terms that can help you tap into local markets based on your business’ location (“Austin,” “Texas,” “Southwest,” “downtown,” etc).

Transactional terms. These terms highlight prospects ready to spend but are stuck on making a decision (“sale,” “price,” “pricing,” “cost,” etc).

“Why is it so hard to find an email marketing tool with transparent pricing?”

Brand mentions. Obviously, it makes sense to keep an eye on your mentions for leads and prospects who are familiar with your brand. These instances include direct tags and brand mentions alike (@SproutSocial versus “Sprout Social, for example).

“Thinking about getting started with @SproutSocial but I’m on the fence…”

A combination of social monitoring and listening can lead your sales team right to people who might need some reassurance or an extra “push” to become full-fledged customers.

Specifically, you can save some serious time with the help of advanced listening features in Sprout such as the query builder. This tool allows businesses to highlight relevant sales conversations as they happen. No more jumping from platform to platform, no more searching “by hand.”

Sprout query builder

3. Capitalize on your competition

Chances are you aren’t the only business on the block using social listening for sales.

That’s why it’s crucial to monitor competitor mentions on social media in addition to your own. It’s common to see people pit brands against each other on social media: if you can respond in a timely manner, odds are you can win that person over.

Such conversations are a prime opportunity to share helpful content and highlight your unique selling proposition. The goal here isn’t to trash your competition, but to provide a helping hand.

Even in cases where you don’t make the sale, you can learn valuable information such as sales objections or services that a competitor offers that you don’t. The mere act of replying shows that you’re actively listening and represent a positive voice in your industry.

On a related note, salespeople can use sentiment analysis to understand the emotions behind your business.

Maybe people are stoked about your latest launch. Perhaps they’re disappointed in your lack of a certain feature. Either way, sentiment analysis gives salespeople a better sense of how people feel about your brand at large and what customers expect from you as a result.

Sprout listening sentiment analysis

4. Gain more meaningful audience insights

If nothing else, social media for sales is invaluable for improving your customer personas.

What products and services are people hungry for? What challenges are they facing?

Again, consumers today are anything but shy when it comes to sounding off about businesses. From demographics to specific pain points, there’s perhaps no better place to gather information to give you a more complete picture of your target audience.

Take a look at Xtensio’s customer persona template creator to see just how granular companies today are getting in terms of their personas. 

Social listening is invaluable for improving your customer personas

Each of these points can be filled out with the help of social media. This speaks to why it’s so important for brands to not only listen to their own customers while following competitors and relevant industry publications, too.

5. Respond to questions and queries in a timely manner

Timeliness matters when it comes to responding to customers on social and potential sales opportunities are no exception.

As highlighted in our guide to Twitter customer service, moments on social media are fleeting. Leaving people hanging is not only a bad look for your business but could very well result in lost sales.

And when we talk about timeliness, we’re talking about within 24 hours at the very most.

This again speaks to the importance of social media monitoring. Having real-time access to your audience ensures that you don’t let any potential opportunities fall by the wayside. With tools like Sprout which allow sales and customer services teams to collaborate and see who’s saying what, you can craft responses that make sense based on your specific conversation.

Sprout actually allows you to tag and tier your conversations based on their needs and priority. This keeps your social inbox from becoming a free-for-all and ensures that your customers get the attention they deserve.

Sprout social tagging in inbox


6. Warm up your list of leads and prospects

Lastly, don’t neglect the importance of making brief touchpoints with your leads and prospects on social media.

Not everything needs to be about the “hard sell.” Instead, simply following, “liking” and sharing the content of your target audience can do the trick. Doing so helps sow the seed of customer loyalty as you stand out from competitors who might not be giving their leads the time of day.

There’s a reason why so many sales reps rely on social media for account-based marketing. Any engagement with your audience is a plus: before hitting someone with a sales call or email, consider how you can test the waters of your conversation through a brief “like” or comment.

And with that, we wrap up our list!

How are you using social listening for sales?

No matter what your business or industry might be, there’s a place for social media in your sales strategy.

From warming up potential relationships to dealing with leads directly, salespeople need to have their ears to the ground to uncover new opportunities.

That’s exactly why social listening is so important. With the help of tools such as Sprout, you can zero in on conversations that help score more sales while also learning more about your target audience.