Tech tools and techniques to reach out to prospective clients and build relationships: what I call digital relationship prospecting!
Digital relationship prospecting in an age of short attention spans and social craziness requires some tech and some techniques. We were all forced into it during the pandemic, and for some businesses, this method shift helped them thrive. Your business can too!
First off, what is digital relationship prospecting? It’s identifying places and people to cultivate relationships that might eventually lead to referral or business. Note, I said might lead to referral or business. The important thing here is cultivating relationships! To do that, you’ll need a little time and a little tech. Relationships ultimately will cultivate business or referrals, but only after that trust has been built.
The most important thing is to understand your customer and where they ‘hang out’ online – are they strictly email people? Linkedin? Facebook group lovers? Instagram devotees? TikTok fans? YouTube lovers? Wherever they are, you need to be there – and you need to participate there (wherever there is) regularly. Ideally you’ll have a mix of two or more of these digital places, some offering more collaborative or connective places (like Facebook) and some that are more content and less interaction (YouTube or email.)
Over the pandemic, many of our clients found tribes online in these spaces and began to cultivate an audience or connect with people in these spaces. Their clients seek them out through following, subscribing and making an effort to click on stories or checking notifications.
Here’s how they did it:
Once you’ve identified where your clients hang out, start hanging out there too. Facebook groups? Read, react and positively comment in the same groups they are in. Instagram? Use and follow the same hashtags they are using, like their posts and comment positively. Use these same techniques for YouTube, TikTok and other places. The key is finding the prospect, following, engaging, and spending time in groups where referrals can happen (yes, Facebook, you’re still useful.)
Once you’ve spent some time interacting with prospective clients online, add prospects to your email list and send them a welcome email to subscribe and follow you. If you’re using a CRM system like HubSpot or others, they all have an e-mail button inside it that you can email a prospect, and you can develop a sales email template (with personalization) to invite prospects to subscribe and follow you. Something like “Hey, [Ann], I love your content on IG, especially how you feature your business [name], and I’d love for you to follow me back! If you’re also interested, I publish blogs weekly, here’s my subscription link.” Note, this is not a blast email or broadcast email. It’s a one to one email using a sales template.
Create content for clients you have and clients that look like them! You know your clients, you know what they struggle with and how you can help. Start creating content that they would like – and others who are like them. Tag them when you post content or send them an email that says “Hey, Ann, I recently wrote this article and was thinking of you as I wrote it. I think you’d really like it, and I’d love your feedback on it!”
Think of digital prospecting is being that gracious host who knows just what to say, what beverage you love when you show up at her house. Make her feel like she’s the most important client or does an awesome job on her business. Believe me, seeing a positive comment in the DMs is a huge boost for many businesses. Be that person who comments and engages with her business!
Using sales templates, sales emails, comments, likes, DMs and other more personal engagement, you can foster a sense of getting to know someone, even before you are able to get to know them. See where you can recommend them and do so. Building a trusted relationship takes time, but they will reciprocate. And in the process, you’ve gained a deeper relationship that goes beyond just transactional.
Add prospects you want to get to know better and that you follow on social to your email contact list with that email invitation mentioned above. Not everyone will rise to the level of being a contact in your CRM.
A CRM. We like free Hubspot. WordPress, if you use that, try the CRM Groundhogg ; it works well and keeps contacts in your WP site. Pipedrive, Honeybook and others allow for more sophisticated prospect tracking and engagement. WP Forms Pro edition on WordPress also is an easy to use system. You can even keep contacts in MailChimp or Constant Contact, but you won’t have one to one sales tools in those email blast platforms.
Identify 2 social media platforms to connect with customers
Spend 1-2 hours per week there, getting to know your prospects, liking and commenting on their posts.
Invite them to your email list and/or to follow you on social
See where you can tag, recommend them to others
Need a little inspiration to produce some content for those prospective clients? This download is free. There are 25 of them – enough for a SIX MONTHS of weekly content ideas you can repurpose across your blog and all your social channels.