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From Twitter To Close - A Repeatable Social Sales Funnel

From Twitter To Close - A Repeatable Social Sales Funnel featured image

Editor’s note: Evan Dunn works in Digital Marketing at Transform, WA. He can be found on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Article Summary:
How to turn cold leads (complete strangers) into warm leads (potential clients) and then into actual clients using Twitter.

1. Why Should You Follow This Method?

A lot of reasons. Primarily because it works well for a variety of industries. More on that later.

2. The Overview

Twitter (using Manageflitter) -> LinkedIn and/or Email -> Phone and/or Coffee (and/or Beer) – > $$$ (and/or a different currency)

Put simply:

Twitter -> LinkedIn/Email -> Phone/Meeting -> Close ($$$)

Twitter marketing funnel

One of the hardest parts about social media is time. Scheduling out your time can help. A formulaic schedule for this method is as follows:

Day 1: Search Twitter (Step 1)
Day 2-5: Engage Cold Leads (Step 2)
Day 6 (and Ongoing): Connect with Warm Leads (Step 3)

Wash, rinse, repeat every week. It should take you 1-2 hours per day.

3. The Big Ideas Behind This Method

  1. Social media is “networking” more than it is “advertising”.
  2. Saving time increases your return-on-investment.
  3. Social selling (social media marketing) must be supplemented by offline interactions in order to be successful.
  4. Twitter is the best – it’s a popular network that doesn’t have privacy settings that keep you from high volume searches and actions.

4. Four Repeatable Steps

i) Step 1: Searching Twitter

Before any of this, you’ve got your “buyer profile.” This means you know who your typical and ideal clients are, or at least you have some pretty good guesses.

Now you find them on Twitter. You could use Twitter’s “Advanced Search” but it takes way too long. This is where Manageflitter comes in.

Manageflitter’s Account Search will be your best friend. They did not ask me to say this. It’s simply one of the easiest ways to search Twitter user bios, and then interact with the results in an efficient manner.

ManageFlitter Account Search

Hit “refine” and place a keyword from your buyer profile into the “Bio” field, as well as in the “Location” field if possible. Always check the “Only Active Accounts” box.

The other field to pay attention to is Maximum Followers. If you follow an account with thousands of followers more than you, they probably won’t follow you back. If you’re under 800-or-so followers of your own, stick to your size or smaller. Once you’re past that point, go for some people with a few hundred more than you. But in general: the bigger the size gap in followers, the less likely they are to notice you.

Let’s say you’re looking for top-level management of startups. Your fields may look something like this:

ManageFlitter Account Search

I put maximum 7000 followers because I have about 6300 followers. When I hit “Find People”, I get 10 results.

“Only 10 results?” Yes. But that was only one keyword combination. If I try filling the Bio field with “CTO startup”, I get 5 more; “owner startup” gets 3 more; “founder startup” gets 37 more.

If I run the same Bio searches but expand my Location by entering “WA” (which is typically only used for Washington State), I get a few additional accounts. If I place only “startup” in Bio and “WA” in Location, I have another 165. If I switch to “startup” in Bio and “Seattle” in Location, I get 246.

Select all the results. Click “Update Twitter List”, create a new list, and add them all to it. (If you want to create a list of people to pursue and make it private so they won’t be notified when you add them, first create the list on Twitter, make it private, then add to it via Manageflitter).

My results:

281 unique Twitter users. All pretty similar to my buyer profile. Even if they may not be a potential client, each of them knows several potential clients.

How many users do you want to find? At least 100, and up to as many as you want to work through.

That wraps up Day 1. Now you’re done with your social marketing for the day, until Day 2, Step 2.

ii) Step 2: Engaging Cold Leads

Within this step, there are 3 pieces: Soft Engage, Direct Engage, Pitch.

Note: This “pitch” isn’t the real Sales Pitch you’ll be doing over a cup of coffee or on the phone. It’s the “let’s move this conversation to the next level” pitch.

a. Soft Engage

You want to find as many ways as possible to get your brand images (whether it’s your face or your logo) in front of your cold leads. This tactic of attracting attention via notifications is what I called “Soft” Engagement:

  • Favorite a few Tweets
  • ReTweet one or two Tweets
  • Add them to an interest-based list (if “Fishing” is in their Bio, make a Fishing list, add them, search for other fishing-interested users, and add them as well)
  • Follow them

Spend Days 2 and 3 completing the Soft Engage tasks for the entire Twitter list. They will receive between about 4 and 10 notifications with your face and name. They will probably follow back. They may go to your website. Whether or not they take action, they are now aware you exist, which makes the next element more valuable.

b. Direct Engage

This can go one of two ways:

  1. Bring up a mutual interest with them by @mentioning them in a Tweet – whether it’s the city you live in or a shared activity/hobby/interest. If they love Star Wars, maybe you could pretend you love Star Wars too. Move the conversation slowly into mention of your service. Or…
  2. Immediately bring up the nature of your engagement.

I recommend “1” most of the time, but “2” does succeed sometimes. I have gotten many clients by being bold and upfront. One Thursday I Tweeted to a video production company about social media marketing. Two days later I was running social media for the live stream of Seattle’s new National Women’s Soccer League team.

Some important things to remember if you’re not sure what to say:

  • People love to be complimented. Whether it’s about their website, Twitter Bio, Tweet quality, profile photo, or business model, a genuinely thoughtful compliment is a surefire way to pique their interest.
  • People love to talk about themselves. Ask them for advice. Ask them about how they got where they are. Get them on their pedestal or soap box – we’ve all got one.

c. Pitch

Here are a few ways this can go:

  1. Ask for their email so that you can send them some info on your services.
  2. Find them on LinkedIn, if you can.
  3. If you can’t find them on LinkedIn, ask them if they have a LinkedIn and provide the public link to your profile (highlighted here): LinkedIn profile
  4. Provide your email and ask them to email you so you can begin a dialogue about some ideas you have.

1 is my favorite, because then you can use tools like Rapportive to find all their social networks associated with the email they provide. For example, here’s Manageflitter CEO Kevin Garber’s info according to Rapportive:


I can connect directly with him via any of these options, including LinkedIn. Some emails will bring up Google+, Facebook, Vimeo, YouTube, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram as well.

Spend an hour or two during both days 3 and 4 trying to get those emails and high-value LinkedIn connections by directly engaging the entire Twitter list you created.

iii) Step 3: Connect with Warm Leads

Once you have those emails and LinkedIn connections, don’t get too hasty. Slow down and send an email that sounds polite and fun:

“Hey! Glad we could connect. I’m interested in hearing more about [INSERT LEAD’S BRAND NAME HERE_]. I’ve got some [INSERT YOUR SERVICE HERE] ideas for [_INSERT LEAD’S BRAND NAME HERE] that I’d love to propose. Do you have time for a 15 minute phone call in the next week or two?”

Alternatively, ask them out to coffee or beer, especially if they seem to reciprocate the interest.

The phone call is an effective tactic though, because who can say “no” to a 15-minute phone call?

At this point, or maybe somewhere in Step 2, it’s a very good idea to record and keep track of these Warm Leads. The traditional method for doing this is called a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Insightly is a great free CRM, and here is an article on how to use CRMs in general. Alternatively, use a spreadsheet in Excel or Google Drive.

iv) Step 4: Going on “Dates”

Now you’ve got some phone calls and a couple in-person meetings next week. If you don’t know sales, maybe it’s time for some free sales training via YouTube. If this seems like too much, you can still ensure a solid foundation by speaking calmly and confidently, maintaining good posture, and keeping good hygiene.

Write out a description of your services beforehand. If you know a good copywriter, ask them for a couple lines of copy that are particularly compelling. This will help you emphasize the best selling points of your service.

5. How The Numbers Work

A typical sales funnel percentage on the internet is (of 100% of website traffic) 2% sales. Social media marketing has already demonstrated an ability to generate very high percentages of warm leads, ranging from 5% to 20%. As far as actually closing, it is likely that it will remain between 1% and 5%, depending on the service you are providing and your sales abilities.

Your sales funnel may look something like this:

Twitter marketing funnel percentages

2% is a common closing rate.

Social selling may be better or worse, depending on many factors (sales skills, price point of service, demand for service, competition, etc.).

But if it’s as low as 2% – which is about 6 people out of that 281 Twitter list – there is definitely a need to decrease the amount of time spent, so that the return on your investment of time is higher.

6. Again, Why Should You Follow This Method?

Below are some common questions in response to ideas like this – social marketing based purely on engagement, not on content – along with my reply:

  1. “What original stuff should I Tweet?” Nothing. Except for what you say directly to people, you really don’t need to Tweet a thing. I usually set up 10-20 automated Tweets that deliver 1-2 times per week each. Then I never Tweet original content unless I really want to.
  2. “What about content marketing, though? Isn’t it important?” Not for this. Content that is engaging and informative can help, but most of the time it will be icing on the cake. And this cake already tastes very good.
  3. “Why do I have to have a phone call? Or meet in person? Can’t I just close on Twitter?” Unlikely. Personal contact is still essential to building relationships for business. Social media marketing has a long way to go before it can all happen on social media. 95% of the time, your clients will become clients outside of social media.
  4. “What if my industry doesn’t work well on social media?” It’s true that some services (photography, graphic design, web design, SaaS) have the advantage of being inherently interesting and engaging online. But I have seen these strategies work for research firms, consultants, musicians, restaurants, bloggers, payment processing tools, and more. Give it a shot.
  5. “What about my website? Won’t that get leads too?” If you’re good at SEO, landing pages, or Adwords, then yes. This Twitter strategy is distinct from a website-based digital marketing strategy, but it’s important to remember that some of these leads may move through your website’s sales funnel (i.e. landing page or contact page).

If you’re looking for further learning, I recommend talking to sales and marketing experts.

This is not the only effective social media marketing strategy. But it benefits from drawing directly on decades of marketing theory – all those funnels and percentages. Social media is a vast universe of new tools, apps, and environments, but the underlying ideas remain consistent. The same marketing principles that worked when applied to print, radio, and TV can be applied to social media. Old ideas, new applications.

I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences – share them in the comments below.

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