Mining Twitter before cold calling or presenting can help you close more deals and build instant rapport. Before a cold call or sales meeting simply locate your prospects’ twitter account. This may take some searching but by now most people have one – especially in the technology, media and entertainment sectors. Since Google is now indexing Twitter, try a search query for your prospect's name and "twitter." You can also try LinkedIn but be aware that many people will not list their Twitter accounts there. If by chance your prospect does not have a Twitter account then default to the company account. Lastly you can try to search for the company by a relevant hash tag. Once you find the Twitter account, look at the tweets to get an idea of what is on the mind of your prospect, but more importantly look at the links they are re-tweeting. Critical information lies within these links on the very issues that your prospect is likely to find important. For example, I was preparing to pitch a large publisher on our recommendation widget, which is cookie based. Before the meeting I was doing my pre-meeting prep work and found my prospects' twitter account. In reading the tweets it became obvious that this executive was wholly against cookie based technologies of any kind. If I just stuck with browsing the tweets and not following the links this would have gone unnoticed. But alas, it didn’t help in the end, as our cookie based structure scared the daylights out of this guy. But I did curtail the pitch and adjust my words to avoid putting him on the defensive right from the start, and as a result established a better rapport with him which I am still building on to this day.
So once you have scanned the prospects' twitter account look to see if the company has an account and scan that too. You will often discover what other partners the company is working with and who they just met with. Often times, when a company has a good meeting with a prospective partner, they will immediately broadcast their newly found "warm and fuzzy" feelings over Twitter. One month ago I was preparing to pitch a publisher on @outbrain and I noticed a tweet from their lead biz dev executive about a great meeting they just had with an outbrain competitor. So on a last minute adjustment, I edited my pitch to counter this specific competitor. This approach set the meeting off in a different direction and one that was favorable to outbrain. It worked and we won the deal.
Finally run a search at search.twitter.com for the company hashtag. For example if you wanted to see tweets that mention Facebook, you can search for the term #facebook on search.twitter.com. This can be a gold mine of information to see what others are saying about the company and to get a feel for the important issues and needs of the people you will be communicating with.
These tips should take all of about 10 minutes, but don't leave them for last minute because more often than not, the information you will dig up is so valuable, you'll need to adjust your approach.