Social media is all the buzz in prospecting lately. But many sales reps are skeptical about its value, says sales guru Kendra Lee.

The key to getting good value from social media is understanding what it can and can’t do, she says. It won’t replace cold-calling, referrals and networking. Rather, it supplements them and helps you reach beyond the “usual suspects” to bring in buyers you may not encounter otherwise.

Here’s why: Lee has discovered over several years of tweeting and commenting that people who watch social networks are not the necessarily the people who respond to e-mails and calls.

What they do is watch you. Your e-mails and calls may catch their attention. They see the Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook link in your e-mail signature and start following you to hear what you have to say.

They aren’t ready to engage in a full conversation. They want to get to know you through your comments. Over time they begin to respond. They may even e-mail or call you directly!

Even better: New people begin to watch you. Because you’re tweeting about issues and triggering events your micro-segment is interested in, they perk up and pay attention. Suddenly you’re reaching people – and opportunities – you would never have known about.

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