Should you Facebook ‘Stalk’ a new prospect?

facebookOn my private (and free!) Facebook group for remodelers Remodelers Community (feel free to request to join if you’re a remodeler) – we had a lively discussion to this question:

‘Whenever I get a new lead for a project and I set up a meeting, I always Google their name to see what I can find out about them. I also look up the town information on the property. My question is this: Is it okay to mention, when appropriate, any information that you find publicly – as part of making a connection with a homeowner(s)?’

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Lots of people chimed in (including yours truly, of course!) Here are my thoughts – I hope you find them helpful:

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If you’re a good and professional salesperson – you’re going to want to do your research. It would be foolish to not find out what you can about a prospect before you speak or meet with them.

If you search on LinkedIn and find out they’re an engineer vs. a financial planner. Is that helpful information to know? Without ever saying, ‘So I saw that you’re an engineer’ and freaking them out a bit. You can just have this information in your back pocket and your selling approach may be a little different depending on their profession (I picked an engineer because I know they are [generally] very detail oriented. You need to talk and sell them differently.)

You can find out if they have worked in the same area for 2 years or 20 years. You can read their recommendations on LinkedIn – do people love to work with them? Do you have any mutual connections with them?

If you search on Google – you can go to Google Maps. See the property. Well cared for? Zoom in on Google Earth – has the home had an addition added to it? Is the home right next to the property line? Go Street View – does the neighborhood look well maintained and sharp? Older or newer neighborhood? Stop and think – do you have any previous clients in that area? That would be good information to share with them.

While you’re on Google Maps – take note of how to best get to their home (the best directions) so that you show up on time. A quick stop on Zillow to get a ballpark idea of home value wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

Now, moving on to the more personal one – Facebook. I brought this up when I spoke to a group of remodelers last week. I said, ‘Look them up on Facebook before you talk to them.’ First and immediate response from someone in the audience? ‘What, so you can Facebook stalk them?!’

Everyone laughed. Let’s stop calling in stalking. Let’s call it ‘Facebook Research’ or ‘Doing What A Professional Salesperson Would Do To Understand As Much As They Can About The Prospect’ :)

I had a remodeler reach out to me a couple weeks back. I looked up their name on Facebook. Got to see their picture + 20 other pictures. I know they have kids. Are married. Celebrated a major anniversary last year. Are a big Detroit Tigers fan. Know about how old they are. Saw a couple other common interests. Got a feel for ‘how they roll’ – what their lifestyle is like. Saw some of their posts and they seem pretty friendly and polite. Had a mutual friend (an industry colleague of mine that both of us are friends with.)

NOW – here’s the key. I believe it’s wise to do this research. It arms me with information about who they are, but know this: You’re playing with FIRE! It would be foolish of me to say ‘how about them Tigers?’ That’s weird. How do I know they like them? But can I bring it up in a discrete way? Sure.

And that’s the key in this whole discussion. Be a great salesperson – do your homework. Use the tools that we have at our disposal, but use them responsibly. Don’t freak people out. Don’t make them scratch their head and say, ‘how did you know that?’

I think you’re probably a great salesperson and – as such – can elegantly figure out how to do your research and use it an effective and professional way. Would love your additional thoughts/comments!

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My private (and free!) Facebook group for remodelers can be found here: Remodelers Community – feel free to request to join if you’re a remodeler.