Sales Prospects and Suspects from Social Media


What is a leadQualifying “leads” is an important part of the sales process. With many businesses still getting on board with Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, and LinkedIn Company pages, the need to qualify and identify and qualify the level of interaction your organization has with the people who connect with you on these channels is essential.

It is also important to distinguish between the levels of engagement in the sales process. There are three main levels of connections – suspects, prospects, and leads:

  • Suspects are those you have identified that could potentially have a need for your products or services. You more than likely only know the name.
  • Prospects are suspects that have engaged your company in some manner to indicate an interest in your product or services.
  • A lead is a prospect you have identified as needing your products or services and is the main point of contact with whom you have communicated.

Many sales groups completely skip the suspect and prospect concept, but the truth is most of the connections that are made on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn will never become prospects. How many of the company’s connections are employees, friends or family of employees, or current customers? The challenge and work in social media is to create an environment and a strategy for developing connections that allow you to communicate with new as well as current customers.

When using social media for lead generation, you need to take into account the several types of people out there who will connect with you, including competitors and simply those who are interested in the information your provide. They may never have a need for your product or services. For that reason, it is important that you initially regard all of your connections as suspects and build from there.

People who follow you on Twitter or like your page on Facebook are different from those you meet at a tradeshow or who come for a visit to your showroom. They are more like people looking at your store with binoculars from across the street. They want to see what they can see, but don’t especially want to walk in the door and talk to a salesperson. Just like that example, some people from social media channels can get turned off quickly with an aggressive sales approach after a simple like or follow.

How to turn Suspects into Prospects

First, you need to know what information will be needed to either eliminate them as a suspect or to make them a prospect. One you have that, you can start whittling down your list. Here are a few things to look for to separate the wheat from the chaff in social media connections:

  • Check the bio. Most bios will give some information on the connection’s employment position.  Is this person in a position to be a decision maker? LinkedIn is the best at making this clear, but you can usually get some information from Facebook and Twitter bios as well.
  • Google them. See what you can find in a search of the individual or a company name. If you sell widgets and you see information that they are not going to be using widgets anymore, then that may disqualify them as a prospect. Always make sure to search the news, as you may get some valuable information if the company is growing. Do your research. This is one way.
  • Search through company information-gathering services. is a great resource for information on small businesses. Information can be found on the basics pretty easily, including contact names and hours of operations. Publicly traded companies have filings online with the Securities and Exchange Commission. There are also plenty of pay solutions to get you the information you need.

Compare what you have found with the information you need to make a decision. Then, either move connections off your suspects list or make a note that you need more information.

Need help defining your sales effort through social media? Give us a call at 1.877.817.4442, or find out more about the Social Three.