When it comes to using social media for business sales, most people automatically think of LinkedIn and Facebook. If you haven’t already, consider adding Twitter to the mix. Twitter, which has more than 300 million active monthly users, can open the door to plenty of potential contacts, business insights, and sales cues.

If you use Twitter the right way, you can insert yourself into conversations that are relevant to your company, find opportunities before the competition, create relationships and build trust within your industry.

Simply being present on Twitter doesn’t ensure you’ll get sales. Using it properly can make the difference between tweeting into the mass of over 300 million users, and creating a new avenue to use for lead generation.

We offer 5 tips in a 2-part series on Twitter for business. Here are the first 3 tips.

1. Find potential buyers: Put in the time and effort required to find your target audience. Begin by putting yourself in your customers’ shoes. Perform searches, thinking of keywords and hashtags they would use to find information about your business or your product. Use the Twitter search feature and follow anyone with a profile matching that of your ideal customer.

Follow your competition and see how they are engaging potential buyers. A couple of the most useful social media influence measurement tools for this are Kred and Klout. This could greatly cut back the amount of time you’ll spend finding people to follow.

Eventually, as you grow the number of people you are following, you’ll want to use a social media dashboard application such as Tweetbot or TweetDeck to organize people into lists, making tracking and search easier. Save your searches to make real-time tweets regarding your keywords visible at any time. Remain prudent when sifting through the loads of automated tools stating that they can instantly create a relevant following for you. By taking the extra time to put your lists together by hand, you’ll end up with a much higher-quality following. Add a human element to your company Twitter by always thanking people who follow or retweet you.

2. Monitor for opportunities to step in: This is the time to monitor your Twitter feed to find people you might be likely to assist and people who are showing interest in your product. Engage people who are complaining about your competition, or asking for recommendations or advice on products in your industry to catch them at the start of the sales process. Listening platforms can aid in finding conversations occurring online that are relevant to you and generating leads.

3. Start a conversation: Once you’ve shown your followers that you are listening, it’s time to get into the conversations. Just because someone asks for help on Twitter, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy. Retweet potential buyers’ tweets to your own followers. One of your followers might be able to help them if you can’t. And that prospect will still appreciate and notice you for spreading their message to get the help they need.

If the potential customer is one of your followers, begin to move the conversation from public to private by Direct Messaging them exchanging phone numbers and email addresses. This begins the process of taking the conversation offline. Whether or not this potential customer wants to buy today or in the future, they’re likely to remember the positive interactions they had with you on Twitter when it comes time to buy.

Check the next post for 2 more tips on using Twitter in B2B sales.

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