Tim Hughes is a firm believer that the world of selling is shifting towards social selling—but not how you think. Tim doesn’t believe in pushing your agenda on social. But he does believe in forming connections and having conversations. How does he craft his social media approach to lead to conversations? How do those conversations lead to sales? Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to hear Tim’s amazingly successful strategies.
Tim Hughes is an expert in social selling and is currently ranked #1 by Onalytica as THE most influential social selling person in the world. He is also Co-Founder and CEO of DLA Ignite and co-author of the bestselling books “Social Selling” and “Smarketing”, both published by Kogan Page.
Tim doesn’t see prospecting success in interrupting people with advertising, cold-calling, or email. He believes those legacy sales methods are gradually falling away. His ideal method? Social selling. He’s been in business for 4 years and all of their prospecting has been done on social media. You have to have a great profile, proactively grow your network, and offer great content. You can’t hope someone will find you, but must proactively look for them.
You have to be where your clients are, and ⅔ of the world’s working population is active on social media. Over the last quarter, those numbers have grown by 12.5%. Social media usage continues to grow. The idea that your clients aren't on social media isn’t relevant anymore.
Why does Tim love social media? Because it enables you to have conversations. Brochures, webinars, and other tools don’t get you deals. Conversations are what get you deals. So grow your network, create content, and generate conversations. One of Tim’s guys wrote a post about Led Zeppelin and has had 6 C-level calls off a crazy piece of content.
Tim emphasizes that you need to have a buyer-centric profile. What are they looking for from you? They don’t care if you’re a quota-crushing salesperson. Secondly, you should grow a network of people that you know. It’s about being remembered and standing out. Connecting with people for the sake of connecting doesn’t give you that relevance. You should also strategically create content that people find engaging, insightful, and educational. It doesn't have to be about your company. Humanized content gets you more engagement than sharing about your company.
Social selling isn’t actually about selling. Tim implores you: do NOT sell on connection requests. You go to a networking event to have conversations, right? You don’t go up and start selling to someone. If you don’t do that with in-person networking, why would you on social networking? Tim gets that everyone has targets to make and pipelines to fill. But you do that by building connections and having conversations—not social selling.
Tim’s first tip is simple: make sure your profile picture is a photograph of you. Secondly, you need a great summary title: don’t make it your “what.” For example, some people say they’re “passionate about digital transformation.” That doesn’t elicit a strong emotional connection from a viewer.
People are looking for your “why.” If you talk about your why, you’re connecting with someone’s gut feeling. Tim’s summary title says “Should have played Quidditch for England.” It closes business for him. He also has his name translated into Chinese because his first book was translated into Chinese. Doing these things sets him apart and catches people’s attention.
If you see people who have the title “sales director” your brain lumps them together with every other sales director. If you say something different, the brain sees two different people. It changes your possibility of winning business from 1-in-16 to 1-in-2.
Make your summary about your why. If you met someone in a bar and had a conversation, what would you find out? When people are looking at your profile, they want to see the human side of you. What are your beliefs? What are you about? When people form connections, they have conversations. When you have conversations, you close deals.
One of Tim’s team members posted 3 photos on LinkedIn from a trip with his son. The post talks about how the pandemic has impacted 16-year-olds and it only took him 10 minutes. He’s had 18,000 views, 90 likes, and 20,000 people look at his profile. 20,000 people see what he stands for. People will buy from you, refer you, or share your content on other networks when they feel a deep connection to it. He’s gotten 6 C-level calls from that post. Social is the most proactive way to form relationships in the world today.
Humanized content gets the most engagement on social. Some people aren’t comfortable with that because they say that LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. But Tim points out that if you were in person with a prospect, you build a relationship by taking them to a meal or a football game. You have conversations about life and family. Why wouldn’t you do the same on social media? You need to build content around what you stand for. Humanized content is the way to get the most engagement.
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
Prospecting and lead generation are the lifeblood of sales. You need a consistent flow of fresh prospects at all times to be successful. So you need qualified ideal prospects in your pipeline at all times. Prospecting requires human-to-human interaction, which often requires picking up the phone. Many salespeople see prospecting as a necessary evil and face heavy reluctance to the task at hand. Connie Kadansky strives to change salespeople’s mindsets and help them overcome sales call reluctance to find success.
Connie Kadansky is the President of Exceptional Sales Performance, an international sales coaching practice. She is a recognized expert in identifying and eliminating sales call reluctance, the emotional hesitation to prospect and self-promote. In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Connie shares her expertise on prospecting and lead generation. Don’t miss it!
Connie starts by identifying what her ideal prospect looks like and writes down and highlights where she’s willing to deviate. She determines who isn’t an ideal prospect and holds that clearly in her mind. Then she decides how to initiate contact. Connie believes in picking up the phone to introduce yourself. After that, you can follow up with email and LinkedIn. Throughout the process, you need to focus on the value you can create for your prospect. 70% of a sale is engagement and discovering the need of the buyer. In Connie’s world, the human is doing the work of prospecting.
Connie emphasizes that a salesperson needs to know their value with every fiber of their body. You must believe that your product or service is an essential piece of the puzzle for your prospect. She also notes that you have to change your mindset and begin to see prospecting as an adventure. When you do that and pair it with curiosity, you can learn from every single outreach.
Connie knows that salespeople get hit with call reluctance. You need to realize that it isn’t prospecting that’s causing the anxiety—it’s how you’re thinking about it. Don’t call it a cold-call. If you’re prospecting people and organizations who need what you have, don’t get caught up in thinking it’s a cold call. You can “warm” it up rather quickly. Be authentic, have fun, and focus on creating value for them.
She recommends creating a list of who you’re going to prospect the night before. Why? So when you get into the office you are prepared and can get it done early. Make it a priority. Make sure you measure your results: What are you doing well? What do you need to do differently? Have those mechanisms in place so you can get momentum. The best salespeople get into a rhythm and the energy carries them forward.
Connie cannot emphasize enough: you must follow through immediately. Connie had someone email her last week with his name and phone number. She called within 14 minutes and he was delighted. He’s going to become a client. Don’t think it comes across as desperate. If a prospect is reaching out to you, it’s because they need something. Don’t miss out on that. You can get creative with your follow-through. If they don’t respond to a call or an email, leave them a message on LinkedIn.
You must also always keep your word. Connie keeps something on her desk that says “promises.” So when she’s on a call with a prospect and promises to send them a link, she makes a note, and then sends it. If you don't write it down, it will fall off your radar. Keep listening to hear what her other tips and tricks are.
Connie works with salespeople to overcome sales call reluctance. Financial advisors must be continuously meeting with new prospects to be successful. So she made a list of 12 financial advisor coaches or thought leaders who work with advisors. She picked up the phone and called 11 and said: “We work in the same industry. We’re not competitors. I have an idea, please give me a call back at your earlier convenience.”
Three called her back because they were curious about her message. Two of them thought her idea was brilliant. One even said that working with her would help their clients be even more successful in his program, which is what he wanted more than anything. So she’s doing business with him—all because of overcoming sales reluctance and picking up the phone
She learned that you won't get them all—you don’t want them all. You only want the people that are in alignment with what you’re doing. You want the timing to be right. Be creative, let the phone be your ATM. Leave a message that gives them some information. The people that are ready will return the call.
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
Historically speaking, lead generation was “throw stuff against the wall” and see what sticks. Now, inbound content marketing has taken the lead. You make great content, people read it and engage with it, they come to your site, and you nurture them through the funnel. But Darryl Praill—the Chief Revenue Officer at VanillaSoft—points out if that’s all you are doing, you’re missing half of the opportunity. Learn how he uses Gartner’s double funnel strategy in this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast!
Lead generation is a one-to-many strategy. It’s running an email campaign, writing content, hosting a webinar or a podcast, etc. with some intelligence behind your content list. It’s typically a nurturing process where the leads are scored and are deemed marketing qualified, then sales qualified, and passed to sales. Prospecting is very different. You operate with a warm list that’s segmented. You know who you’re selling to, why they should talk to you, and you know everything about them. There is logic and reason behind reaching out to them.
Darryl points out that if you don’t prospect, you don’t close any sales. If you want to get paid, you need to do it. Many sales reps are looking for an SDR, a marketing person, etc. to feed you leads so you get to be the closer. But the reality is that you have good days and bad days and you don’t always close. Or, you have fantastic months and you’re making bank. But the next month it’s a desert and you’re twiddling your thumbs.
But prospecting keeps your pipeline full. It allows you to refine your dialogue and messaging. It allows you to hear new objections and find out what’s affecting your audience. It allows you to learn about your audience and make yourself more relevant to them. Darryl emphasizes that you have to practice your craft to stay relevant, skilled, and capable.
Darryl uses the double funnel method from TOPO. It functions two ways: You do traditional lead generation, then you do account-based marketing (ABM). ABM used to be called Target Account Selling (TAS) and was all the rage in the 90s. You say, “I know exactly these 5 accounts I’m going to go after and why.” You know the named accounts and industry accounts to go after. Then you divide and conquer.
To be successful with this strategy, you have to map them out. You have to know all the operational and executive people associated with each account. ABM is about marketing getting in front of them from a branding point of view. Then you target them with highly personalized content and then sales proactively reaching out to them.
The biggest challenge is picking the list and knowing why it’s relevant to you. So if you get on a call with them, you can get their attention. If you’re struggling in this process, Darryl recommends calling some of your customers to ask them point-blank “Why did you buy from us? What impact do we make?” You need to understand the value prop you have.
Darryl believes you have to have a great mindset. You can be book-smart and know the processes and the methodologies, but if you can’t handle rejection then you’re going to fail. Why do you get up every day? Why do you put yourself through the meat grinder? Andrea Waltz has a “Go for No!” strategy where you shoot for a no. You shoot for 10 “nos” an hour and learn to get excited about them. Every no is a step closer to the yes.
Darryl points out that people connect with people who tell stories. It makes the relationship real and tangible. If you’re reading from a script you will fail. No one will return your calls. But if you can tell a story, it gets people engaged. Then you can have a conversation and do discovery. It’s safe, you’re not a threat, and they’re giving you permission to engage.
What else do you need to do? Block time in your calendar or you will be distracted non-stop. Stick to it and protect that time. Be committed to your craft and committed to prospecting.
You have to develop the skill of social-selling, which Darryl prefers to call social marketing. It’s the skill of knowing how to engage with your community, how to position yourself as a subject-matter expert, and how to establish credibility. The first thing a prospect will do when they hear from you is Google your company and then head to LinkedIn and check you out. You have to be relevant on social which means being part of the conversation—not just reposting other people’s content.
When Darryl started at VanillaSoft, he was 50. He wasn’t familiar with LinkedIn. So he hired someone to teach him how to post, when to post, and how to format it. He learned how to engage and when not to engage. It’s a skill you need to have. What are Darryl’s top three dos and don’ts? What story does he share that taught him to build a better process? Listen to the whole episode to hear it all!
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
According to Carole Mahoney, prospecting is one-on-one, high touch, quality communication, and outreach. Lead generation is more one-to-many, general messaging, and top of the funnel. If you want to be proactive and fill your funnel they’re both important. If you’re not prospecting you’re not going after your ideal customer. If you’re not engaging in lead generation you’re not educating, you’re not putting the word out there so people know how you are. But how you do both matters. That is why great content in all of your messaging matters. Carole Mahoney—the founder of Unbound Growth—shares her expertise in this episode of Sales Reinvented.
Carole emphasizes that you have to put out content that attracts the right people. It needs to be about them and their problems. Prospecting is easier when people have heard of your product or service. It also brings opportunities that you may not have considered.
What is the issue that people are dealing with that you can help with? Where do they start educating themself? That’s where you want to be. You can put out content through speaking engagements, webinars, podcasts, eGuides, checklists, and more. Lead generation can be creating a social media presence and creating your own content like blogs and podcasts. You need to be in front of people that you can help the most.
If a list of people signs up for your upcoming webinar, you can turn on your prospecting skills and reach out to them one-to-one. What intrigued them? What are they hoping to learn? What questions do they want to be answered? Include those in your webinar. Then you can follow up with them after the webinar.
The first and most important thing is to be able to manage your need for approval. If you’re concerned about what people might think, it will be difficult to prospect. It will be difficult to ask questions or push back. People are afraid of putting things out on LinkedIn or blog posts for fear of being heckled.
Secondly, You need to have a plan and discipline developed around it. You won’t always see immediate results. It may be weeks, months, or even years down the road. You can’t just jump in and expect results. Carole emphasizes that you can’t be a perfectionist. Things will never go exactly as planned.
Carole believes most salespeople need to work on their copywriting skills. Sellers often take whatever marketing hands them and sends those into their cadences. They don’t think about what they’re actually saying. But you need to take the marketing message and customize it to who you’re talking to. “Set it and forget it” makes sellers lazy. You need to focus on the quality of your message. Carole notes you should also block time into your schedule to be consistent. You need to develop resilience. It’s paramount to prospecting and lead generation. What are Carole’s top 3 dos and don’ts of prospecting and lead generation? Listen to learn more!
Carole was working with a client who worked at a SaaS tech company who was struggling to get responses to her cadences. She was trying to move customers from a competitor to her product. But everything she sent out got a very low response rate. So Carole took a look at the first email. It was too long, it was all about her product/service, and she was asking the prospect to take a large leap—all in the first email. No interest or value had been established.
So Carole asked her to rework it. She wrote something that talked about their results and focused it on her prospects. She saw almost double the response rate and got conversations in the pipeline. She learned that you have to keep it brief, make it all about the prospect, and ask the right questions. Always focus on the potential value for the customer.
Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK