You know who your target customer is - you know her name, title, and responsibility. But, you've never had a conversation with her, so, you decide to follow her online to find a way to engage with her and eventually ask for a conversation.
In itself, that's a good strategy, but, if you're not self-aware of the difference between "following" and "stalking", your plan could go south. Not only can you ruin the chance of scheduling a conversation with your prospective client, you could create a negative perception of you and your company.
And unfortunately, sometimes salespeople don't even realize that they're stalking someone when their intention is to follow the person to find an opportunity for a conversation.
Some Do's and Don'ts to Consider
Do Visit her LinkedIn Profile (Once)
She'll see that you visited her Linkedin profile. That's okay, just do it once. But, make it count.
Study her profile, take a screen capture of it so you can revisit it. Be sure to capture all elements including her work history, groups she belongs to, college attended, etc. Before you leave her profile, click the "follow" menu which you can find to the right of the Connect button. See this example:
Once you've followed her on LinkedIn, you'll see her status updates. If she has actively published articles on LinkedIn, you'll also get notified when she publishes a new article. Selectively add intelligent comments to her posts and updates.
And don't just say "great article." There is no value-add in that comment. Make sure you're adding your thoughts to her update or article, offer other articles or sources that she can find relevant and useful.
Don't send her links to your company's content (unless it's one of several articles you provide).
Do Visit Her Twitter Profile
Check out her Twitter profile and follow her - she'll receive a notification that you followed her, which she may not even notice.
Create a dedicated stream for her using your favorite Twitter listening tool - this will enable you to follow her tweeting activity more closely and get a better understanding of how you can reach her.
Don't retweet every one of her tweets. Also, don't direct message her unless you're confident you've earned the right. And don't add her to a public list you've named "hot prospects."
Do add her to a private list of your prospects. Do add her to a public list you create that has a flattering name such as "industry thought leaders," or something like this.
Do observe the people with whom she engages on LinkedIn and Twitter. Similarly, follow some of them and seek to engage with them in an authentic way. Some of those people can be influential to the person you want to reach. Some of them could open the door for you to arrange a conversation.
Do visit her Facebook profile page. But, Don't abuse what you learn. Don't say "I saw on Facebook that you were on vacation in Hawaii last week?"...Simply learn what you can learn about her from the information she chooses to share. Be very discreet about what you learn. Use common sense.
The most effective way to follow someone you want to engage with in sales conversation is to do it in a way that's not obtrusive to the person. Look for authentic ways to engage through human interaction, try to discover things about the prospect that you can address in a consultative or problem solving or even in a fun way.
A proper following strategy is especially useful if the person you want to reach is conducting research about your offerings. The insights you gain by following her - not stalking her - will help you to secure a conversation with her.
Catch my Poolside Sales Chat on this topic.