5 Twitter Lists That Will Give You a Competitive Edge

Would you like to have the inside scoop on what’s going on with your competitors, clients, or prospects?

Of course you would, you’re in sales. Top sales pros are always looking for that extra piece of information to give them a competitive edge.

Twitter lists are a powerful tool for gathering information and staying in the know. One of the complaints about using Twitter is that there is too much information to try to consume. It’s like trying to drink from a fire hose. Lists help you organize and give context to your Twitter feed. They help you turn the fire hose into actionable intelligence.

Here are 5 types of Twitter lists that will give you a competitive advantage and help you close more deals:

1. Customers

Twitter can be a great way to stay in touch with what is going on in your customers’ world. You can learn about:

  • What they are promoting
  • Causes the support
  • Events they are hosting
  • Conferences they are attending
  • Awards they receive
  • Hiring and/or expansion plans

You may also be able to gain some insight into the challenges they are facing. Are they receiving a lot of support questions on Twitter? Are complaints on the rise? Have they been receiving a lot of compliments for a service you help them put into place?

2. Strategic Partners

Two keys to developing successful strategic partnerships are 1) giving and 2) staying top of mind.

Creating a Twitter list of your strategic partners can help you in both of those areas. Your list also gives you an easy way to stay connected between phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

Giving can take the form of re-tweeting one of their posts. You may see that they are looking for a plumber and you could connect them to someone in your network. It may be as simple as reaching out to them after you noticed that their son graduated high school or their daughter got married.

You “show up” on Twitter by starting and participating in conversations. In addition to the items above, you share articles, recommend a restaurant they would enjoy, or make sure they know their favorite band is coming to town. Use a little imagination and you will find an plenty of opportunities to connect and build your personal and professional relationships.

3. Top Prospects

“Inbound marketing” is a popular topic; we would all love to have customers beating down our door. Most businesses can’t meet their goals with an “inbound only” approach. This is particularly true in the early stage of creating an inbound system. Even when a business has a mature inbound marketing system in place, top salespeople still like to hunt. They have their “Top 100″ or “Dream 10″ prospects they pro-actively pursue.

Listen for the same types of intelligence items listed in the customers section above. Start new relationships by offering help based on the insight you’ve gained. Provide resources and ideas for addressing the challenge they are currently facing. You’ll get further faster than the salesperson who approaches them with just another sales pitch.

4. Competitors

Keep tabs on the competition by creating a list of your top competitors. Most companies on Twitter (and other social media) spend most of their time broadcasting what they are up to. This doesn’t always make for great conversation, but it makes it easy for you to learn what’s going on in their world.

5. Industry Experts

Most industry experts, the ones who speak at conferences and write books, are active on Twitter. They share their current thinking, research, trends they are seeing, etc. Be “in the know” in real time, by creating and monitoring a list these experts.

You will also find that most, if not all, of these folks to be approachable and responsive on Twitter. You no longer have to wait until the annual conference and stand in line for the opportunity to ask them a question, you can ask them on-line. Take the time to build a relationship and you will have a more meaningful conversation when you see them at that next conference.

Industry Experts in your Customers Domain

Do you really want to set yourself apart from your competitors? Then create a list of experts who are talking about the things your customers’ customers care about.

Imagine if you left a voice mail that sounded something like this:

“Hey Bob, I recently read a study showing some trends that may have a big impact on several of your key customers…”.

Whether Bob was an existing customer or a prospect, do you think he would call you back? I’m betting he would – particularly since you would be able to provide more specifics than I did in my example.

Help your customer help her customer. This is how you become a true trusted partner.

Don’t Stop With Twitter

These same tactics work with other social media properties as well. Once you get your Twitter lists set up to, we what competitive intelligence you can gather from LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social platforms.

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