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When it comes to effective sales prospecting, account execs need to understand who today’s media buyer is and what communication tools work best for engaging them. Nearly half (46%) of B2B decision-makers today are aged 18-34, nearly double that of 2012 and higher than any other demographic. “You can see a massive shift in that young decision-maker, folks who are making marketing and business decisions on behalf of their companies,” says Bob Parrish, Director of Business Development at Emmis Indianapolis. “You’re dealing with a Millennial.”

With demos shifting younger, ad sellers need to be up to speed with “social selling” platforms such as LinkedIn, which has evolved from a recruitment resource to a prospecting tool.

According to research Parrish cited during “Prospecting In a Digital World,” a Radio Advertising Bureau Live Presentation on Wednesday, 84% of C-level and VP-level buyers use social media in decision making. And while smile-and-dial may have worked in an earlier era (and may still work in some cases), 90% of C-level execs ignore cold calls. “This is a target rich environment,” said Parrish. “If you are not capitalizing on your social network or building your own personal social brand, I suggest that is a priority as you continue to try to grow your overall portfolio.”

The presentation walked RAB members through various tools for prospecting in a digital world. Among them are SpyFu, a search analytics company that scrapes the prospect’s website to get an estimated dollar amount spent by the business on Google Ads.

‘Get On The Video Train’

Although they’re marketing an audio medium, video messages are the one of the most effective ways to grab the attention of decision-makers. Six in ten (59%) of executives say they would rather watch a video than read text, per Wordstream, while 72% of customers would rather learn about a product or service by way of a video, according to HubSpot.

In addition, adding videos to emails can increase click rates by 300%, HubSpot research shows. Parrish took attendees through the process of recording a personalized video, using products like Vidyard and Covideo. In one, the seller says they have a suggestion for something that can be added to the prospect’s website to grow business, before making the ask for a 15-minute phone call to explain. “Get on the video train,” Parrish urged. “You can use them as content as you start social selling.”

And what is social selling? Today’s Millennial-aged decision makers are more likely than not to have scoped a media sales rep out online, hitting their socials before taking a phone call or meeting. Getting your social pages up to speed allows you “to build your own personal marketing brand so that you are instantly positioned as an expert when they come and find you,” Parrish suggested. “That’s just how this 18-34 year-old buyer does it. They’re not going to go into a meeting blind, not knowing who they’re talking to.”

Keeping social pages optimized for this way of doing business can involve sharing content on LinkedIn and other sites that your station produced as inbound marketing or other relevant industry information. “You want to continually educate your network and then you want to engage with them so that people like or share your content and will comment on it. And you should be commenting back,” Parrish explained. “Social selling is wildly important in 2021 and beyond.”

Automating Prospecting Outreach

The final part of the presentation focused on prospecting automation tools, which can be used to automate prospecting outreach to 100 new prospects per day. This isn’t manually sending out 100 emails but rather finding the right prospects, building a template and a sequence of emails that will push them further down the traditional sales funnel. “You will end up with more connections, more engaged prospects and more opportunities to present,” said Parrish.

This involves using LinkedIn to build a list of prospects by industry and job title, then connecting with them on the platform and segmenting them based on ad category. From there it’s automating outbound emails and LinkedIn messages as a sequence to follow-up automatically and tracking the activity. This allows you to add more of the right people to your professional network.

“So when I post something on LinkedIn, it’s going to an audience of people who might need exactly what I’m trying to sell them,” Parrish expounded. “But I’m not being pushy with it. I’m getting them to raise their hand to say that they are interested. Using automation is a great way to work smarter and not harder.”