Social Selling Action Plan, Part 3: Observe Prospect Buying Signals

Image by Alejandro Escamilla.
Image by Alejandro Escamilla.

This is the third installment of a five part series for sales professionals who want to get the most out of HootSuite for social selling. To simplify your social selling workflow, download the new HootSuite guide, Social Selling Action Plan: Closing the Loop From Relationships to Revenue.

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What are Buying Signals?

Buying signals are indications that a prospect is willing or able to make a purchase. These cues come in many forms, both online and offline. During a sales call, your prospect may signal readiness to buy with revealing questions or subtle changes in their tone of voice. In a meeting, you can look for tell-tale gestures and facial expressions that signal the prospect is open to making a deal. Social media doesn’t offer that same face-to-face connection, but you don’t need a poker player’s instincts to recognize buying signals on social channels. In fact, they’re often blindingly obvious.

Your future customers are in plain view on social media, talking about their business needs, asking questions about issues in your industry, revealing intelligence about their own companies, and reaching out to their peers for advice. Listening for these real time buying signals on multiple social networks will allow you to not only find new leads but also identify when prospects are at the most important moments of their buying process.

For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use “buying signals” as a catch-all term for any indication that a buyer is at a key point of their purchase path, when they’re open to being influenced. Let’s break these signals down into two categories — early stage and late stage — and then explore how you can use HootSuite to recognize them.

Early Stage Buying Signals

Early stage buying signals indicate that leads are near the beginning of their decision-making process, when they can be challenged to think strategically. If someone is signalling that they’re in the early stages of their purchasing cycle, then you should give them advice, or empower them with awareness-building content.

Examples of early stage buying signals:

  • ‹‹Questions about a business problem
  • ‹‹Frustration with a competitor’s solution
  • ‹‹An announcement of new senior management hire that indicates budget expansion
  • ‹‹Geographic expansion

Late Stage Buying Signals

Recognizing late stage buying signals will help you focus your efforts on prospects who are looking for help and ready to make decisions, and stop wasting time on those who aren’t. Look for prospects that are actively considering solutions, then rapidly assist them by answering their questions and providing them with relevant, educational content.

Examples of late stage buying signals:

  • Requests for product or service recommendations ‹
  • Engagement with a competitor’s sales engineer ‹
  • Inquiries about product features, warranty, and pricing information

How to Spot Buying Signals in HootSuite

You can’t spend your whole day monitoring social media for buying signals. The trick is to work it into your daily routine in a systematic way. Here’s how HootSuite helps:

  1. ‹‹Set up Twitter search streams in your HootSuite dashboard to persistently look for the keywords and phrases that people in your space use when they start looking for solutions to their pain points. If you work in a geographic territory, you can filter your streams to only display tweets from people within a specified radius.

  2. Use Twitter list streams to monitor ongoing opportunities. Organize your prospects into Twitter lists that align with your sales workflow. For example, you can group them by company, geography, or industry. Filter your Twitter list streams by keyword to hone in on buying signals. You can adjust your filters at any time. To discover questions that you can answer for prospects, filter for the “?” mark.

  3. Monitor your competitors using private Twitter lists. Keeping an eye on your competitors’ social interactions will not only help you discover more leads, but give you valuable insight into where their prospects are in the buying process: if someone interacts with a competitor’s lead development representative, they’re in the early stages; connections with a competitor’s sales engineer show that a prospect is evaluating solutions, so you’ll need to move quickly.

  4. Use the LeadSift app in the HootSuite App Directory to discover new leads. The LeadSift app automatically organizes direct and indirect leads by scanning millions of online conversations. It classifies whether they intend to buy, abandon their current solution and applies a lead rating to every conversation.