Twitter is not for selling – it’s for listening

Let me start by saying that I’m a huge Twitter fan. It’s the most immediate source of happenings on the planet. Where other internet presences might like attending a lecture (an interactive one) or browsing a store, or conducting commerce in a one-to-one transaction, Twitter is more like the cocktail party or networking event. Here you garner snippets, factoids, gossip and rumor, that yes, you can interact with, but all the time you should remember that Twitter’s not the place to sell.

And that’s the challenge for sales people with Twitter. For marketing folks it is [or at least it should be] patently obvious that Twitter is a great forum for branding, for short messages, for quick updates – and a tremendous research melange. For sales people it’s not that apparent how to contribute unless you’re building your personal brand.

In one of my previous blogs on this matter, Whose (social) network is it anyway?, I spoke about the social media junkie, extolling the virtues of their 5,000 LinkedIn connections, or gazillion followers on Twitter all in a misguided pursuit of more and more contacts. To achieve these levels of internet stardom, you’ve got to be famous for something meaningful or else you have to shout a lot. And that’s not a sales person’s job. Rather, a sales person’s job is to listen, to understand, to learn, to consider his (or her) customer’s problem not to ‘show up and throw up’ – and unfortunately there’s an awful lot of the latter behavior on Twitter.

Twitter is a wonderful resource to help you build a mental map of the context in which you and your customer are making decisions. It paints a rich landscape with more shades that you’ll find elsewhere – but you have to let other hold the brush while you observe the result. On the other-hand, and perhaps paradoxically, Twitter is a community and you must give as well as receive. As you focus on your community I’d suggest it’s always better to give a little more than you expect to receive. Just don’t shout and don’t sell.

Leave a Reply