April 5, 2012

How to Find Leads and Build Relationships on Social Media

Social Media Sales Funnel

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Social Media Sales Funnel

Picture your sales pipeline filled with qualified leads – all of whom you know by name and have personally interacted with. By the end of this article, you’ll have learned how to set up a sales funnel that will help turn that scenario into a reality.

Social media tools like Twitter and LinkedIn are great ways for you to find prospects and connect with customers. It allows you move further up the funnel to get in front of them and build trust, value, and credibility before they engage in buying. When the opportunity comes up, you’ll be able to better focus on their needs, their problems, and their outcomes.

The biggest challenge with using social media is getting through all the noise to identify the qualified prospects. It all comes down to the system and process you have in place to manage all that data. Before you turn on the fire hose of social media, you must have a sales funnel that can properly track and manage all the contacts you will interact with.

*Before you get started, create accounts for your social media tools. We show you all the steps in our “How to build a sales pipeline in 100 days” guide.

Choose Who You Pay Attention To

The most important contacts in your funnel are:

  • New Prospects
  • Qualified Leads
  • Customers
  • Evangelists


With a social media dashboard like HootSuite, break your contacts into lists to keep track of all of the contacts in your pipeline. When you retweet them, message them, or engage in conversations, you move your relationship a little bit closer. View it as a touchpoint with each contact, building a stronger relationship with existing customers or getting yourself known to leads.

Another benefit is being able to listen in on and research your prospects. For example, if a prospect talks about a problem that they are experiencing, it gives you insight into their needs and puts you in a better position to talk about their problems and your solutions.

You can create Twitter lists directly through the HootSuite app as shown in the screenshots below:

Add Stream to HootSuite

Create Customers and Prospects List


**Create a list for each of the different types of contacts in your pipeline.

Proactively Find New Leads

Using social media to connect with your current contacts is only one part of the equation. The other huge opportunity is the ability to reach out to leads who you don’t even know about. With a few simple search queries and hour of maintenance a week, you will have access to an unlimited source of potential leads for your business.

Using HootSuite and Twitter search, you can look for keywords that are relevant to your business. Create a few customized searches that describe your product, your industry, and the problems that you solve. For example, Ecquire is a contact management software that automates data entry into your CRM. Our customers or potential leads could be asking questions about “contact management” so that is one of our searches. You can create even more advanced boolean searches to get more powerful results.

If you manage a specific territory or have a business that is focused on a local geography, you can also filter your search based on coordinates.

Create keyword searches with territory specfic


Engage Contacts Who are Seeking Your Solution

Another great use of search is to keep track of mentions of your competitors. There will also be opportunities to engage people who are still at the top of the funnel and doing research for different solutions or customers who are unhappy with the solutions of your competitors.

Don’t act like a poacher ready to steal customers away from your competition. Instead, be a resource for those who are asking. Position yourself as an expert and earn their trust.

Track, Manage, and Build your Relationships

Social media is the beginning of where you engage with your contacts and get them into your pipeline. But your goal is to move them through the funnel and hopefully to convert them into customers. To do so, you’ll also need to track your progress. In this section, we will show you how to use a tool called IFTTT to automate the process of entering leads and contacts into the appropriate lists in your sales funnel.

Capture new Twitter followers into the top part of your funnel into a “new contacts and followers” list. Move that contact further down the funnel into a “warm leads” list, when they Tweet you or directly message you – a sign that you are building that relationship. Follow the steps in the diagram below:


How to automate contact entry with your social media sales funnel
* Repeat the same steps but choosing “New Followers” in Step 2, and naming the list “New contacts and followers” in Step 4.

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