Nicola Cook, Sales Skills

How to engage with prospects before you meet.

 June 26, 2015

By  Company Shortcuts

With the internet available at customers fingertips on multiple devices, a typical salesperson does not get to engage with a prospect until they are already 70% of the way through their buying process (source: Forrester).

So how do you make it count when you do get their attention?

Changing buyer behaviour is having a huge impact on revenue, productivity and profit for many sales teams, so, we invited a select group of experts to a London event – Business Blast, to share how others have used digital to connect with prospects before they meet

The panel was led by Nicola Cook, CEO at Company Shortcuts, who leads a team of consultants across Europe, working with SMEs to accelerate their sales growth. “We need to make it our priority to remove as many barriers as possible to allow the sales engine to function,” she said. “With the internet available at customers fingertips on multiple devices, a salesperson has to adapt or they will be out of a job.”

In this article we feature the first speaker, Tamara Littleton of Emoderation, who spoke candidly about how she built her 350 strong team around the world from bootstrap beginnings 13 years ago and what she has done to grow her business:

“It’s all about driving people to your website – it’s your honey pot.”

Social Signposts

“We use different social signposts to point people to our website,” said Tamara.

  • Our Facebook page is a social space, which is about giving prospects visibility on the people in our company – we are smart, funny and engaged with issues relevant to them, so it’s not a selling platform but it contributes to the sale.
  • Twitter links to our white papers, blogs and web content
  • LinkedIn features content on our website


A team that reflects your client’s needs.

Around three full-time people go after sales, this is our business development team. We have 12 account managers looking after clients because of the ongoing value they get from us key to their retention. We would rather focus our efforts on making sure our clients get all they need from us and grow those accounts than go looking for new business all the time.  We do such a good job of serving our clients what they need that we get most of our new business through their referrals. Social media is a superb tool for client retention.

Before you meet somebody you should have had 7 social touch points

That might be an email, a like on Facebook or a retweet.


Social Media

Use social media for new prospects before speaking to them:

Social media to engage with prospects

  • Do some research on Twitter and LinkedIn
  • Add value to the conversation by anticipating what they might need from your business because you’ve researched them and their business
  • Set up a list of ‘awesome people I admire’ on Twitter and add people you are pursuing to it
  • Look at what people you are pursuing are tweeting about and favourite or retweet – start to engage with them where they are spending time
  • Get the LinkedIn app on your mobile – it’s different from the website version
  • Set up the LinkedIn Connected App – great way to push info to alert you if key people have moved job or edited a profile – you like it and you become front of mind again
  • Join groups on LinkedIn and mark time to check those groups, so that when a white paper or useful report is published by a client or prospect you can read and comment on it and this will appear in people’s feed



“We use PR heavily. It’s all about blogging around the topics we have researched for a white paper or dealing with a social media crisis.”

Don’t forget to:

  • Do it regularly
  • Involve others in your company
  • Don’t just post on your own website – post on other sites relevant to your industry



We invest heavily in producing relevant and hugely valuable white papers quarterly:

  • Keeps our clients informed
  • Provides evidence of our worth to prospects and informs our fans
  • We send a hard copy with a handwritten note to prospects


Here’s one from Emoderation on Social media and the consumer.


Innovative Apps.

Tamara’s team are constantly looking for new ways to gather info and have found some superb apps and sources. “It’s all about offering value when you speak to clients and prospects. Using big data to keep on top of the new information is key but disseminating it,  so it’s relevant to their challenges adds value and will set you apart from the crowd.

Try these for starters:

  • Charlie – make a killer impression on whoever you’re meeting
  • Crystal knows – identifies prospects you want to speak to and tells you the style of communication to use with them – very smart use of technology
  • Pearlfinders – a marketing database highlighting what B2C brands are doing in the news. Interviews over 20,000 decision-makers every year across marketing, finance, HR, IT and sport.

Find out more about Tamara, Emoderation and the work they do here.

Company Shortcuts

Company Shortcuts works with a team of outstanding Sales Accelerators to deliver consultancy and training, who also guest blog for us on topics of interest to sales leaders.

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