Being a sales leader is no easy task. You worry about leads, hiring, motivation, reporting, technology, competition, compensation, training, knowledge gaps among your reps… And the list goes on.

Unfortunately, we can't tackle all those challenges in today's blog post. (We couldn't even do it in one book.) Instead, we'll look at one important task: keeping your sales team informed. Face-to-face meetings and lunch-and-learns aren't the only way to disseminate information. Smart sales leaders use an assortment of communication methods and tools to educate their reps on the competition, the industry, and target accounts.

In this post, we'll take a look at six-ish untraditional ways to keep your sales team informed. By using these tactics, your reps won't have to wait for the marketing and sales enablement teams to create instructional content. They'll stay up to date in real time.

1. Keep up with Competitor's Corporate Accounts on Social

To grow revenue, sales teams need to understand what their competitors are doing and then use that information to leapfrog the competition. While your product marketing team should supply detailed competitive analyses and positioning, many sales teams crave more information about their rivals.

One way to learn more about the competition is through social. By keeping up with their social updates, you can see how they are positioning themselves, find out about major product releases, and keep tabs on who is interacting with their brand online.

To keep tabs on your competition on LinkedIn, simply search for your competitors' company in the search bar at the top. Then, click the "Follow" button so that you see the company's updates in your LinkedIn news feed.

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Note: The companies that you follow on LinkedIn aren't private. They will show up in your LinkedIn profile – like this:

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If you want a stealthier way to follow your competitors, you should check out private Twitter lists. With a Twitter list, you don't have to follow the company or person to see their updates, and you can set your list to private so that no one else can see your list.

To learn how to create Twitter lists, check out this instructional post from Twitter.

2. Build a Twitter List for Competitors' Sales Reps

Maybe your market is rather small, and you know your competitors' sales reps by name. Maybe your territory overlaps with a rival sales rep's territory, and you keep bumping into him or her. Whatever the case may be, if you know your rival sales reps, you should keep tabs on them online.

Unfortunately, LinkedIn makes this tricky to do. The easiest way to track a rival sales rep is by becoming a first-degree connection, but that's an extremely awkward connection request to send.

Alternatively, you can check out someone's "recent activity" on LinkedIn. But this is a tedious process. Whenever you want to spy on your competition's sales reps, you'll have to manually look up those reps and check the reps' activity. Updates won't come to you.

Here's an example of "recent activity" on LinkedIn:

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A more convenient way to spy on your rival sales reps is through Twitter. Locate them on Twitter, add them to a private Twitter list so that no one else can see your list, and track what they are saying and with whom they are engaging. You never know when they might strike up a conversation with one of your prospects, for instance.

If you've never seen a Twitter list, they will look something like this:

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3. Save a Web Search related to Competitors

Social networks are a great way to keep tabs on your competition, but they won't tell you everything. Sometimes, you still need to do a web search to see your competitor's press releases and to see what industry experts are saying about them.

A good sales tool like Trapit makes it easy for sales reps to create and save web searches for their competitors. That way, they always have the freshest content at their fingertips, and they will always know what's happening.

4. Follow Industry-Related Hashtags on Twitter

Everyday, Twitter users are chatting away about niche topics. Twitter organizes these conversations through hashtags – like this one: #socialselling.

Just think of the benefits. By monitoring conversations, you can learn about your industry, and by adding value to conversations, you can start to build relationships that could end in a business transaction. A good social selling tool will enable your reps to listen to and engage in those conversations directly from the platform.

Not sure how to find hashtags for your industry? Check out this post: How to Find the Best Hashtags for Social Selling on Twitter.

5. Save a Web Search for Industry-Related Content

Let's say that you work for a consulting firm that helps companies with their digital transformation initiatives. Not only will your sales reps need to understand your company's take on digital transformation; they need to understand what other people are saying about the topic.

In addition to following the #digitaltransformation hashtag, reps should create a "digital transformation" web search. That way, they can read blog posts, watch videos, listen to podcasts, and look at infographics on the subject whenever new content pops up. Here's an example of what it might look like:

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6. Create a Private Twitter List of Prospects and Their Companies

No one can manage your pipeline for you, and in today's marketplace, listening is essential for success. While there are many ways to listen to your prospects and current customers, social listening is a must. It will help your reps have more productive conversations on the phone, on email, in person, or on social.

While many sales reps feel most comfortable on LinkedIn, Twitter is a great place to listen to your buyers. Unlike LinkedIn, which tends to be more buttoned-up, Twitter users often mix their personal and professional interests, and to build rapport with buyers, you often times need to connect on a more personal level.

By creating a Twitter list, you can group your prospects in whatever way you want. Some reps organize their lists according to prospect temperature. They create one list for cold prospects, another for warm ones, and yet another for hot ones.

Other reps choose to group Twitter users based on accounts. Below, you can see a Twitter list for Trapit employees. If Trapit were one of your target accounts, this list would make it easy to research, monitor, and engage with key stakeholders at Trapit.

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6.5 Create an Email Digest of Information

Why is this only a half tip? Well, because email is a bit more traditional, and most email digests don't happen in real time. (That's a good thing; just think about how many emails you'd get!) Nevertheless, many sales teams that we work with enjoy receiving a daily or weekly email digest of curated content.

Of course, this can be a lot of work. We've worked with companies that have employees whose sole task is to find and paste links into emails for their sales teams. That's a waste of time and resources. Instead, look for a sales tool that builds an email digest for your sales team with little or no effort from your marketing and sales enablement teams. That way, your sales reps can have the most important information all in one place.

Untraditional Methods All in One Place…

In this post, we've looked at 6.5 ways to keep your sales team informed about the competition, the industry, and target accounts. To use all 6.5 methods, your sales reps would have to flip between Twitter and LinkedIn and Google. That's a lot of moving parts to keep track of.

What if your team could use one platform for all 6.5 strategies? With Trapit, you can. To learn more, check out this data sheet.

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Posted by Mark Bajus

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