Bias toward action, the number one trait of successful people!

Make no mistake, selling is an extreme sport. 80% of your workday is actually wasted. 20% is valuable. The Pareto Principle is an inexorable universal power distribution law to fight. Assuming you're lucky! The distribution is more likely 99 to 1 of waste to efficiency in your output. I don't care how aggressively you sell. Time will slay you before you slay the dragon.

"It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best." - W. Edwards Deming

But you're not a machine and it's very hard to Six Sigma your way into optimal productivity. You could call 50 prospects and get nothing from it - just going through the motions. You could spend the entire day commenting in LinkedIn groups and have a few other interesting narcissists poke you back. You could research the perfect business case to high heaven! If a Bear researches in the woods... You get my point!

Time is the enemy in sales. For many of us, selling truly is an exercise in futility.

We are all allotted the same cosmic clock, so why then do some optimize this time for better results? This has been dogging management consultants, thinkers like W. Edwards Deming and Peter F. Drucker, throughout the ages since the days of Aristotle and Plato.

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths; in feelings, not in figures on a dial. We should count time by heart throbs. He most lives who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best. - Aristotle

How does one solve for this, really? Is it virtue as per Aristotle above?

I mean, you can have the perfect Domo dashboard pulling your Salesforce CRM data in. You can use Predictive Intelligence to suss out whom you should prospect next with your auto-dialer featuring local presence (area codes for the area) and optimal time of day. You can use Marketo lead scoring to see which prospect is hot based on rules. It's truly a mystery sandwich actually what to do tomorrow that's most effective. C-Levels are getting to Emperor's New Clothes levels with this cosmic puzzle:

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all. - Peter F. Drucker

So here are some areas where I would look to find the answer:

  1. Leading vs. Lagging Indicators. Very little has been written about proactive sales management but it's an important science to understand from rep level all the way to the corner office. There are myriad KPIs to measure but precious few smart actions that actually move the needle on revenue. Revenue itself is a lagging, "rearview" metric, and not one that can be moved by the SVP of Sales barking at the team to walk through the pipeline strategy again each week. (Check out Cracking the Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan to go deeper into this idea.)
  2. WIGS (Wildly Important Goals). These are literally daily goals you set that are massive. By focusing in on them, they gradually lever the boulder forward toward overarching objectives. "4 Disciplines of Execution" by Chris McChesneySean Covey and Jim Huling is a stellar book that looks at Execution as a management science for confronting the "whirlwind" of our day. For most sellers, just handling their email and getting to Inbox Zero is unfathomable.
  3. Pick a major action that scares you to do before lunch. Look at your pipe and think from the gut, who is the one person you could call today to truly move the needle. Who can sign? Who can say, "yes?" Who can only say, "no?" Who do you really need to phone in that account who you're petrified of calling? Board member? Time to go to the CEO? CTO? CIO? Are you scared to get too technical?
  4. Make strategic "warm calls," InMails and text. These are simply smart actions that no-one is taking. Literally, most of the 3 million sellers on planet Earth are either not contacting net new prospects at all, or just blasting templates in email. Sad state of affairs!
  5. Dial and touch better data. Use sales data intelligence services like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, ZoomInfo, DiscoverOrg and to make sure you're building lists of prospects that are "similar to your best customers." - Mike Weinberg.
  6. Prioritize "Interactivity" as the highest leading indicator of success. Who is returning your call, could be with an email, responding on LinkedIn, interfacing with your LinkedIn Publisher post, willing to have subsequent calls with you, inviting you on-site and asking provocative questions? "Interactivity" is the litmus test for prioritizing a book of business. When the prospect starts to drive the sales cycle from the front, you know it's going to close. Prodding with carrots and sticks as the conductor of the symphony injects unnecessary margin of error into your closing probability.

A few interesting quotes to share with you on this topic you may find valuable:

The number one trait of successful people is a bias toward action. - Dan Forbes
Have a bias toward action - let's see something happen now. You can break that big plan into small steps and take the first step right away. - Indira Gandhi
“ Today I will do what others won't, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can't." - Jerry Rice

The bottom line is few people are going to furiously protect their calendar to make 30 targeted prospecting calls happen in a 2-hour block, followed by VMail, InMail, Text or Email in Executive ADD shattering, rapid combos.

The bottom line is most salespeople enjoy the coffee klatch and like to check email and their Facebook. Most salespeople have less than 3 on-site meetings in their territory per week.

If you're willing to take 30-50 smart actions per day, every day, you'll kill it. This is like a commitment to brushing and flossing. If you have a beautiful smile and no cavities late in life, you get it!

To paraphrase the Rock, "It's simple. I just worked out 6 hours a day for 20 years."

Make a commitment to A/B test everything: email length, message delivery medium, script, UVP, subject line, time of day, cadence, length, message style, downtones, up tones, relevant clients, social, SlideShare, networking events, even how you dress in meetings: you'll crush it.

Fortune favors the bold and iteration is bliss.

Start testing a ton of combinations. The strongest triple I've ever found is Direct Dial, Voicemail, Email (in 90 seconds flat!)

Action is like a muscle and you can build it. To get going, shut down distractions. Get to inbox zero in the afternoon. Get a blank sheet of paper out and write down the Wildly Important Goals or WIGs when you arrive to work... or even better, before you leave work each day have the next lined-up with crystal clear clarity... stick the list on your computer screen.

Mike Weinberg has a pretty phenomenal rule of splitting the day. You hit 33.3% of the pipe top funnel, 33.3% mid and 33.3% lower. This is quality food for thought because the biggest action you'll ever take, per Cardone is: "follow-up, follow-up, follow-up!"

I can't make you stop being a two or three toed sloth. I can't tell you that you can do what you did today and start to exceed quota. It will take a commitment to understanding what the smart actions are that lever deals forward and truly produce leading indicators.

You've got to drive progression rather than accept continuation.

Let me give you a pro tip: Next time management jubilantly dumps a carcass of an RFP on your desk, push back with gusto! Even flat out reject it. As Lee Bartlett mentions in his fabulous book, No. 1 Best Seller, "Furiously protect revenue-generating activities." This means you have to be willing to check out of the glad-handing and internal corporate politics of your sales organization. Let the other yes men and women go get coffee with your GM. Trust me, you're better off getting one more discovery or on-site in that week. Commissions are worlds better than backslapping and a hangover.

These tactics won't make you well liked, they'll make you successful. Once you're incredibly successful, well then you're untouchable. Your actions protect you and so does your revenue. But rest assured, Sub-KPIs matter - pipeline cures all ills.

To pull off all the above will take a tremendous amount of focus. Commit to three cups of coffee per day or simply shut out the noise of all the social networks, mobile phone blips and beeps, and intra-office spam email.

Execute. Act. Get addicted to the hustle, flow and grind! You've got to move from wasting 80% of the day or 20% of the day driving 80% of the output to a reverse Power Curve. Make 80% percent of the day drives 80% percent of output. You will thank me!

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:  

Flickr: Action: Qrodo Photos, Aristotle Lion: BK, Felix Baumgartner: Benoit DUCHATELET, Action: Justien Van Zele

Top 40 Luckiest LinkedIn Growth Hacks - Extreme Edition

The harder I work, the luckier I get. Call me Edison or Casey Kasem, as controversial as some of these ninjitsu tactics may be, here are my top 40 wacky, wild and a bit wooly ways to get lucky on LinkedIn. Forgive me as I lift the proverbial kimono but I was inspired after speaking for Oracle in New Zealand today and reviewing for their Melbourne event tomorrow on Social Selling 3.0:

  1. Rewrite your profile optimized for keyword search but also rewrite it with Purple Cow Power of Wow content. Differentiate!
  2. Change your headline to something action based that differentiates you, stands out and is value creation focused.
  3. Launch your own LinkedIn group and host it curating it with great articles and posting provocative questions. Make sure it's a catch name like LinkedIn B2B Mastermind Social Thai Chi Practitioners!
  4. Use 100% of your InMails. You get 25, write them all. That's less than 1 a day. Not using InMail is just like not exercising or learning. It's the path of least resistance. InMails are a literal gold mine. InMail should be called GoldMail or PlatinumPings!
  5. Join 50 groups and actively participate in all of them as much as possible with relevant questions to foster engagement. Keep rotating out 2 to 5 of them to make sure every group is packing a power punch.
  6. Set your settings so that every update you post is visible to “everyone’s network.” You've gotta be visible if you're going to build the Hyatt Platform.
  7. Block visibility of your connections from the Settings tab to prevent competitors from poaching clients. You may be in an industry where it's better to be open but in highly contested disruptive startup waters - lock it down!
  8. Add an email address you're open to sharing in your about section to allow others to freely connect - especially pertinent as an author. Write it as 'tony at RSVPselling' if you're worried about getting scraped! My bio message immediately encourages topics to be sent to me and/or any questions or feedback.
  9. Publish wild articles in LinkedIn Publisher and push yourself to reach the 1,700 word (7 minute read mark). Think steak and sizzle. Iterate on thousands of topics, pull from that grab bag. Be a student of how-tos, extremes and hyperbole. You'll be told that 200-400 words is ideal for building followers but don't be afraid to polarize your audience... if it's good, keep going. Just be sure to respect your audience; they're smart and don't need you to them what they already now!
  10. Reverse look-up up valid B2B email addresses leveraging Rapportive. LinkedIn owns this company which pulls from the RapLeaf database. It's not always accurate but it's a good way to at least get a quick read on prospects from inside Gmail.
  11. Get a subscription to LinkedIn Sales Navigator and launch aLinkedIn War Room. The secrets of Navigator include passive lead tracking, lead serving daily, shares, company updates and TeamLink. In a bigger company TeamLink is a massive edge. You can map how your seat licenses map out to the greater organization and 3 degrees to the target.
  12. Connect with key influencers in your sector, they’re often more open to connecting. Thought leaders are often very open to mingling in social but make it count. Customize and personalize. Add them to a Twitter List and invite them to your personal LinkedIn Group. Follow every thought leader's blog with the Feedly app. RIP Google Reader, how we loved you so, I can't even count the ways!
  13. Build a custom Twitter list just off your top LinkedIn connections to make sure you’re listening to them in TweetDeck or HootSuite.
  14. Block your visibility when you view people for deep R&D or if you’re wanting to be seen, open it up – two very different strategic objectives.
  15. Build a private mastermind group!
  16. Find a reverse-mentor to teach you all the cutting edge Social 3.0 techniques. If you're under 35, desperately seek out a mentor to teach you how to actually do SPIN selling, TAS, Solution, Strategic, Consultative, Power Base and BattlePlan. These technologies close million dollar deals and mixed with social are lethal!
  17. Hit the plus sign on everyone's skills - everyone who deserves it - yes! Hold an endorse-a-thon! I know, it's annoying getting told how great we all are, all day, but so many of us are guilty of it. If you can't beat them join them on this one. LinkedIn is fundamentally sticky for this reason. Buzz the smartphone in pocket.
  18. Write personalized invite requests from mobile LI and LinkedIn. Get creative and be original. Remember that being likable for likability's sake doesn't always make you stand out. Be yourself and be real. Authenticity and candor are rarer than diamonds on here.
  19. Sort your feed by Recent Updates versus All so you can retrain LinkedIn's machine learning algorithm to populate ever more interesting stuff. Train your content dragon!
  20. Publish on Publisher 3 times per day for 3 months at 1,900 words.Super challenging but rewarding! Grew my followers 3X. Secret? Stop watching TV. I pushed myself to the limit and drove 300,000 views and followers to 3X in 60 days: 1,500 to 5,500... even while I was on family vacation in Vietnam... thank you family!
  21. Go out of your way to actually meeting people in real life - coffee and tea are the best for this especially before and after standard work hours. Never eat alone!
  22. 99% of just people hit the like button so leave meaningful comments everywhere calling out specifics. Actually read the articles. Get to the end. Mention something from the end. It floors people when you read every word. Most stuff on here is snackable. Go like the materials in the gallery. I'm shocked when top thought leaders gallery section of SlideShares and YouTube speeches is about as crowded as a graveyard. Get in there and make a joyful noise!
  23. Use the @mention feature to promote people discovering new connections from within your comments. Just hit the @ button anywhere you comment: you'll discover the secret of how this works. Always do it! Discipline yourself to leave a hyper-personalized reply comment on every comment you get. Comments are gold, go add those profiles; study those people and interact meaningfully.
  24. If you apply for jobs, try to apply to dozens or hundreds just to expand your horizons through weak ties. You'll be amazed the treasures that flow back. Remember your resume is in a pile deeper than the administration's revised tax and expenses backlog.
  25. Ask your entire network for recommendations.
  26. You thought you got me and I knew some of you grimaced at that one. 'Don't spam me Tony!' Before you do #25, do the good ol' deleting party so everyone in your network matters.
  27. Interact with other geographies, fields, cultures and age ranges.You'll grow so much more by embracing a global outlook on the business world. Agism is so passé!
  28. Keep LinkedIn open 60 to 90 hours per week on mobile LI and in a browser tab to study patterns and improve your content pattern recognition.
  29. Watch the trending keywords of "most searched" in Top 25 Pulselike Big Ideas 2015 and your write titles based on them. Follow all the thought leaders on a Channel, link in with them on LI and Twitter. If some CEO posts some link bait like: "I'll never hire a salesperson again" take a stand and counter act the post with one directly calling it out. LinkedIn take-downs are like fireworks. Remember debate class and Parliament. Make sure to respect your adversaries. You could start the post with: "Will the right honorable gentleman please hire some sales people."
  30. Share pictures of great quotes; images get huge interaction. Build-out your own selfie YouTube channel like Tibor Shanto; talking to the camera. Real, gritty and raw is world's more powerful than the 'slick.' I need to get going on video blogging... next phase for me.
  31. Build an international Twitter & LinkedIn Sharing network where you thunderclap out other people's stuff. It's not some secret cabal conspiring for clandestine Illuminati domination. Instead, it's really just sound business. The law of fellowship and affiliation prevails. Your people retweet and re-share your stuff in social and you return the favor. Make sure to add comments to pass back the Google Juice by making it non-duplicative.
  32. Newsjack and Ghost-Drive (aka GhostJack). Ghostdriving is the real-time concept of driving other peoples' profiles to see the world from new eyes. I call this pulling a Marcel Proust: "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes." Newsjacking is posting content in response to Google and Twitter trending topics. Hashtag cloud back into Twitter by linking your LinkedIn and Twitter. Remember, mentioning Kim Kardashian in anything defies all logic and reason and outranks everything on the internet instantly. Mash it up! Top 10 Things Kim Kardashian Would Do As A Sales Manager... LOL!!!!
  33. Create the longest, most over the top, profile ever created. Never worry about being too unique. The extra mile is a lonely road on social. Put every charity, award, society, interest you've ever had out there in full force. Why? Search engines crawl it and eat it up!
  34. Hub & Spokes - My signature social selling 3.0 strategy - break the mold and move your blog to LinkedIn [hub] - Leverage Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and Instagram as the spokes. Become the garden that attracts the butterflies. Stop building bionic nets! I just received 7 friend requests in the past hour. Pull the industry to your doorstep! #attractionmarketing
  35. Whenever anyone interesting views you, add them back with a personal message. Inbox them when they like your content or comment. Max-out referrals and personalize them all.
  36. Mash-ups - Fuse the old and the new, the Luddite and the Advanced, the shocking and the mundane. This is akin to Digital Power Clashing, wearing many shades of plaid and argyle to stand out.
  37. Leverage heaps of humor and satire - B2B is dry and dull, you need to take it up a notch and crack wise. I often blast out satirical political commentary and get awesome engagement. Always, always make fun and lampoon yourself! Share funny YouTubes and use GIFs and mashed up pics. Tweet right at other authors to urge response. Tweet at the media, they'll seldom respond!
  38. Tell true stories or build B2B Fiction - Get your statistics right so you don't mislead. Extrapolate the future and push the envelope. Build characters in your mind to create allegory.
  39. Make wild predictions about the future!
  40. Open source everything. Share every last secret openly. Give software companies and third parties permission (with authorship) to repurpose and remix your content. Remember Seth Godin gave away the biggest eBook of all time. He's still relatively unknown because of it. [NOT!]
  41. Bonuses...You know me. Tap into alumni networks. Adding alums gets a 95% accept rate when you call it out. Always ask Why when someone disagrees with you??!! Draw it out. Haters are gonna hate so develop a thick skin. If someone attacks you ad hominem do what Tibor Shanto did and eviscerate it, line by line with the precision of a Rhodes Scholar. He warned his frenemy the following: contains facts.
When you accept someone's connection invitation send them a message thanking them for inviting you to connect and ASK them if you can help them in any way. It's amazing how many times it pays off. They then 'really' look at your profile and you get to both start a conversation. - Sonja Firth

Finally, make sure you understand LinkedIn's SSI because those who score well have 50% more likelihood of making their sales target.

I hope you're laughing and also scratching your head! Now it's your turn: What did I miss? What LinkedIn hack works for you? How are you pushing the envelope on here or in social? What has resonated with you the most? Were you offended or did you laugh out loud? Did you hit share? So remember what happened to the cat. If you've lived 9 lives and are ready for more, count Curiosity as numero uno on this bizarre listicle data dump.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Dita Margarita

Secret For Success – Feed A Starving Crowd

If you were in the business of selling fast food, what would be the single biggest factor that could drive massive success? We all know about product, price, promotion, position... and these are all important but what you want is a starving crowd. This is at the heart of an insight delivered by Robert Coorey at an event I was part of today. It is especially relevant for sellers because the biggest competitor we face today is buyer apathy or the status quo that often results in the delaying or abandoning a purchasing initiative.

Obviously you need to have a viable market and offer a product, service or solution that addresses a legitimate need but the X-factor in success is highly motivated buyers. Robert mentioned Blue Ocean Strategy. If you haven't read it, you need to and go apply it to your sales process and product innovation lifecycle. It has applications for commanding a united front with your sales and marketing strategy. It contains the tea leaves on how to outflank your competitors by opening up new greenfield opportunities and totally outshining the competition by doing something that's Monty Python meets Steve Jobs, "And now for something completely different..."

I got to thinking about the above graph as it relates to Cirque Du Soleil, YellowTail wine, Apple, Southwest airlines and many other strategic movers and shakers that maximized profit and market share seeming to arise out of nowhere and go straight to the top in a rapid period of time. What exactly was their Blue Ocean Strategy to optimize their value curve and unique value creation elements? I then related it to sales processes themselves and a great deal of the sameness in the strategy of today's incumbents and the disruptors who seek to challenge them, quite frankly, evidenced itself.

“Value innovation requires companies to orient the whole system toward achieving a leap in value for both buyers & themselves” W. Chan Kim, Blue Ocean Strategy

To drive growth effectively in 2016, we must think outside the box to create a passionate audience hungry for what we offer. An essential part of achieving this to differentiate ourselves by how we sell, not just with what we sell, and this demands that we start to attract and engage rather than interrupt and push.

Here is Robert Coorey's nine point checklist for being ready to 'feed a starving crowd' and accelerate your success . He uses this checklist to screen his own potential clients:

  1. You must already have market momentum with and be beyond the pioneering and education phase. Reference customers and success stories are essential.
  2. You have credibility in your market. People buy from those they like and trust so personal brand reputation is essential. [Here is how to create your personal brand].
  3. You have a marketing database with people who do not regard your outreach as spam. The best way to create a database is to provide high quality content and this is important because is enables you you create pipeline without having to pay for advertising.
  4. Social media commitment with a strong. The best platforms are LinkedIn for B2B and Facebook for B2C. Social platforms are the modern way to listen, research and engage.
  5. Have a market offering that leads to a higher price products. Selling low price or free versions of your product, service or solution just does not fund what is needed to drive long-term success.
  6. A fundamental understanding of selling and internet marketing. [I highly recommend the book, The New Rules of Marketing And PR by David Meerman Scott].
  7. An established market with consistent demand over a long period of time.
  8. The competition is not particularly technology savvy and has not yet modernized the way they attract audience and create 'buyer experience'. [Think about what Uber is doing to the taxi industry].
  9. The business can scale with technology

Robert Coorey is the best selling author of Feed A Starving Crowd and has been rated by Huffington Post as one of the most influential online marketers globally. If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image: Flickr: Ahd Photography West Oak Lane Jazz Festival 2010

What Does It Take To Succeed In Sales?

Selling is not about our own success… it’s about our commitment to helping customers achieve a far better life and more successful business. Real sales leadership is helping someone achieve a far better state of affairs; and doing it with the belief of an evangelist, the passion of a lover, the courage of a warrior, the rigor of an engineer, the thoroughness of a forensic accountant, the diplomacy of a politician, the mindset of a marathon runner, and the discipline and determination a world champion martial artist. Here's the bottom line in what it takes to succeed in professional sales today.

If you've got the right mindset you then need the right 'narrative' and provide value in the initial conversation rather than seek to sell them your product or service. This is at the heart of 'insight selling' and 'value selling' becuase you provide something of value well before asking them to consider becoming your customer. Next, you must embrace technology by using LinkedIn for personal brand, Sales Navigator for building sales pipeline, CRM such as Salesforce for managing the sales process, and AI sales intelligence for changing the rules with research and personal productivity.

The people we are trying to reach and help are themselves facing a barrage of messages every day they come to work. Their inbox is clogged, their calendar is packed, everyone wants their time and their boss wants results without excuses.

An average buyer receives 100+ emails a day, opens just 23%, and clicks on just 2% of them [source: Tellwise]. LinkedIn InMails are increasingly regarded as spam. Office phones usually go to voicemail as people race from one meeting to another. 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting [source: The B2B Lead]. A team of 50 salespeople leave about 1,277 hours of voicemails per month [source: RingDNA]. 40% of emails are opened on mobile first where the average mobile screen can only fit 4-7 words max [source: ContactMonkey]. Subject lines with more than 3 words experience a drop in open rate by over 60% [source: ContactMonkey].

This is why it is esential to find the right channels to gain buyer attention and secure engagement. But there is a strange inertia to being human. Most fear public speaking, probably a bit more than death. Somehow, somewhere along the track, cold calling became high up on the list of loathing. Let's review general fears in descending order of magnitude: Cold calling, public speaking, disappointing your lover, being fired, death, falling.

I know that falling is #6 because so many skydivers hate cold calling, public speaking and disappointing their lover! The latter drives trillions of dollars of the global economy!

The phone is important because it's an act of courage that inertia is battling or assisting. The more you do it, the warmer it gets, the faster the pre-call research, and the more confident in every area of your life; not just sales. Automated sales engagement dialers hold salespeople accountable to the action of calling. The best ones deliver news and insights about the target account and individual at the moment of dialing. The best dialers are also systems that enable emailing and social outreach. The call with a local area code can increase ‘call to connect’ by 21% according to a study conducted by SalesLoft measuring the performance of 1 million calls. SalesLoft is a market leader for capturing sentiment and disposition during calls but most importantly, automated dialers build courage by shoving you into the fight cage and locking the door from the outside.

Facing your fears is a beautiful thing. Overcoming your fears and your ego is the biggest breakthrough you need to make if you are to truly succeed in sales. There is an amazing liberation that comes from not caring anymore about what people think.

Nevertheless, rejection sucks and so ‘inbound selling systems’ have become a panacea for the sensitive new masses. I'm here to tell you that you want to be a bit extreme as a seller. You want to embrace not just a high volume of activity, but activities that are heavily fear-based that you can turn into an unlimited sword of power.

Be the extreme person on your team that is breaking ice, opening conversations, and doing what's uncomfortable. You can leverage social platforms in this way also, by sticking to the value and going beyond the fluff. Never blast and spam your network with sales messages or publish anything that is inconsistent with your employer’s brand.

If you’re not in a state of fear when you go sell today, you’re not pushing hard enough or taking the actions that will enable you to truly excel and exceed quota. Make no mistake, everything you are doing is to avoid being fired.

Friending everyone and seeking to be a people-pleaser will not make you a trusted advisor. Nor should you grasp your way up the ladder via politics because it just makes you a lesser person. You can instead earn credibility by doing what's assertive, hard, and courageous. Fortune will literally always favor the bold. As Lee Bartlett says: "If you can pick the phone up to 10 C-level execs and chew the fat, nobody is firing you and everyone wants to hire you."

Only the strong will survive and only those who give their all, benefit from the law of reciprocity. I'm encouraging you to hunt. You can't feed the tribe without bringing back the kill and putting the pelts on the wall. You cannot harvest a crop without laboring in the soil and sowing the seed. You cannot achieve greatness with vapor. You must be committed to the hard things. So many salespeople are half-assing and managers are even worse, literally unwilling to do prospecting. Are you a CEO or GM or SVP? Yes, I'm encouraging you to prospect by phone after doing some research and preparing with the right narrative. The best ones do because they lead by example.

How do you overcome your biggest fears in selling?

Special thanks to Bernadette McClelland for the interview and to Salesforce for a brilliant event. If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image: Salesforce World Tour - Sydney March 2017

50 Shades Of Social Power

“The woman who does not require validationfrom anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.” - Mohadesa Najumi

Love, lust, closing massive business deals. What do they all have in common? The desire to close; the desire to be desired. The human condition... desire and fear pushing against each other... mucking up the lot!

As aspirational sales leaders, we can't deny we play in a world where a powerful, select group of people make or break us. Buyers. We rise and fall over a commission based on our ability to persuade, align, and collaborate with a power-base of masters of the universe in hard-to-get corner offices, chased by everyone.

We feel the sting of lost love, the sting of cutting rejection when we're dismissed after working so painfully hard for so long to seek the affections of the men and women who can, with the flick of a pen, set us free. But maybe we're working too hard, perhaps going about it all wrong, because we're not understanding what they're seeking. What do you get for the one who already has everything?

The most powerful people in the world are desperate to have their power stripped away.

The dynamics of power are a zero sum game. Whether you'll acknowledge it or not, someone always has the upper hand. In my career, domination and aggression have seemed like a red herring and those that employ that tactic may win temporarily, only to see scorched Earth on the back-end of the deal.

I prefer to be cunning and wily like a fox. Not in a negative way but you've always got to be scheming to defeat the competition and apathy of the customer. So it's no secret that Jim Holden talked about the habits of a fox that will play dead to throw off its prey and even cover it's own tracks or walk into the water so fire ants will crawl off its back.

But this article is somewhat about the New Power Base Selling by the great Jim Holden which was originally entitled, "Confessions of an Ivy League Street Fighter," a title I like even better.

To gain power, you must take it away. To take it away, you first must make them think they've taken it from you.
Behold: 50 Shades of Social Power

Let's walk through this scenario. We talked about how closing enterprise accounts is a lot like hitting on the hottest one at the bar. It's a game that few can win because they have to reverse the polarity to attract a butterfly but everyone is building a bigger, better, faster net to go after their targets. That's exactly why Marketing needs to move from PUSH to PULL and Seth Godin made world history by breaking through the Marketing Industrial Complex with permission-based marketing.

There is a dance that happens (in multiple dimensions and with surprising players) when you're in the throes of a heated, highly contested deal; when your competitors will make near fatal mistakes and you can swoop in and take the prize right our from under their nose.

“ Never interfere with  your enemy when he is making a mistake.” - Napoleon Bonaparte

And what is that mistake? They are going to get lazy mainly about one thing... showing far too much interest in closing - sealing the deal. As they show weakness, they acknowledge the power of the prospective buyer and thus have run the sequence backward pushing them away. Although they expertly displayed power to open the deal, most sellers then display weakness, hunger, and repel the client, snapping the line only to free the prized Marlin prey.

The correct approach is a confident, disinterested, consultative path where perhaps you look like the fox, innocuous, playing dead... at first! But then when they let you into the meeting on the premise of purely consultative, that's when you craftily engineer your own influence and ultimately seize power.

Remember the cardinal rule, Vampires have to be let in.

Call the baby ugly, grimace at the annual report, have a no BS policy, brass tacks chat about that 800 lb Gorilla lurking in the corner of the room. Transparency and truth delivered respectfully and powerfully unlock the keys to the kingdom of powerful hearts and mind. There is a paradox in the Challenger approach. You looked weak, they amused you and thought they could take your power - but psyche - you took there's. Clinch. Hilarious videos here.... George Costanza Meets Don Draper!

The powerful want to be set free by NOT being in control for once. Enter the trusted advisor and the customer is alas, in good hands.

So that is the true anatomy of the close. There are many undertones and overtones to this article. You've gotta be willing to be the wolf in sheep's clothing. If they show interest, pull back - play hard to get. If they pull back, display detachment - again they will become interested.

But here's the deeper way to win. Actually decide that you're okay to lose, fine not to make the commission check, happy to say, "next." Literally, in your deepest heart of hearts, make peace. Strip line the Marlin, let it run, let them think it's all going to be okay. From this vantage point, you want for nothing, need for nothing - you'll become infinitely interesting.

Make them chase you, they'll close on you. Until the prospect is pulling from the front, moving urgently to the next meeting, asking for paperwork, you're not dancing together. The foreplay of a close is this power struggle. Just like Salsa, the synchronized rhythm of the feet in counterpart is everything. One partner must lead but that leadership can switch.

Power dancing back and forth: such is enterprise sales.

This is what vendors who will never be partners don't get. Beating their chests in arrogance doesn't close deals. Self-assuredness will not get you there. This is a cryptic set of advice but it's just like dating, again.

There is a fundamental reason unattractive people often land stunning mates. Hint: it's not money. It's understanding the power dynamics: how to give power, how to take it away, how to dance the forbidden dance. That, my friends, is a very grey area indeed. Do I have your attention?

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

90 Days Of Social Media Mania. What Were The Real Results?

Back in 2014 I decided to get serious about social to build my global brand by publishing unique quality content on a daily basis on LinkedIn but I did something no-one else has dared to do and stopped blogging on my website and went 100% all-in on LinkedIn. It was risky and LinkedIn has indeed changed the way the Publisher platform works and it's more difficult to build following there today.

Please note that all of these screenshots (above and below) with my stats were before the 90 day mark. Actual numbers are within text of this article.

No click bait to take people away, just a pay it forward content strategy to launch myself on the global stage. Every day I posted at least one article and then amplified using Twitter. It’s been a simple strategy and rather than seek to drag prospective clients to my website, I decided to be where they are – inside LinkedIn. Why did I go against the advice of David Meerman Scott when LinkedIn is a semi-closed platform? Let me answer that by sharing some breathtaking facts about LinkedIn:

  • There are 540,000,000 members and 40% use it daily. 2 people join LinkedIn per second.
  • There are more than 400 million unique page views of content every day and more than 35 billion page views in an average quarter.
  • Every person I want to reach on the face of the planet is in LinkedIn. 90% of business decision-makers in Australia are members which is the 2nd highest penetration for LinkedIn worldwide behind Netherlands.

In just 90 days back in 2014 I blasted past almost all of my peers who had been building their follower-base over many years. Here are some of my numbers from just 90 days of social media commitment:

  • Increased LinkedIn followers from 1,600 to almost 6,600
  • 4,500 views of my LinkedIn profile in 90 days
  • 346,000 unique page views of my virgin LinkedIn blog in 90 days
  • Twitter followers up by 80% and I improved the quality of the base
  • Ranked in Top 100 Globally in Social Selling (Onalytica research)
  • Secured 5 paid speaking engagements with tier-one multinationals, and exceeded my 2014 speaking revenue in just the first 6 weeks of 2015
  • Invited by LinkedIn to author for them (see badge below and here is the post the comment relates to. Note that I always add positive spice wherever possible.. controversy is your publishing friend)
  • Invited by 3 companies to guest blog for them
  • Invited by Kelly Riggs for interview on The Business LockerRoom radio show (scheduled for Monday March 30th)
  • Initiated discussion with major publisher for USA book deal
  • Reached #1 in my peer LinkedIn network and #5 in my total LinkedIn network (currently #7) among my 3,000 connections.
  • The quality of my network went through the roof.
  • I launched a brand new hashtag called #strategicsocialselling to fuse the old school and new school and launched an official 100+ unicorn list of my own purely based on empirical sentiment analysis.
  • Executives from LinkedIn wrote in to encourage me to shorten the posts whilst I paradoxically began to get higher traffic in relation to best practices. I pulled my research from and analysis of Dave Kerpen's corpus, OKDork 3,000 and Buffer Blog - Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post. (Hence the 1,700 to 1,900 word sweet spot of steak to the typical short form sizzle / flash in the pan. I A/B tested like crazy!)
  • My friends and close family thought I was nuts and yelled at me to get off LinkedIn at dinner parties.
  • But...I received the following humbling comment dozens of times or some version of it, 'This is the best post I've ever read on LinkedIn.' 'I'm printing this out and sharing it with my sales team.'
  • Multiple adherents to my unorthodox methods cropped up and they started to publish on LinkedIn sending me their own success stories of lead generation.

My LinkedIn Social Selling Index score went through the roof and according toMatt Loop at LinkedIn Australia, I am one of the highest ranking members in the country – maybe the highest who is not on a Sales Navigator subscription. In case you ever get access to your Social Selling Index (SSI) score from LinkedIn, here are the current benchmarks from LinkedIn:

  • Average: 49
  • Leader: 61
  • Best in class: 65

Australia has the highest penetration for LinkedIn globally and the average score in November, 2014 was just under 24 across all industries. My current SSI score is 87. If you're not a Sales Navigator subscriber and have a better score than 87, let me know out I'll hat-tip you to the world ;-)

Many of my posts achieved well over 1,000 reads and many were also featured in LinkedIn Pulse feeds. Here are two examples.

Imagine the cost for all these results if you went to a traditional PR firm 10 years ago! Their advice would be to work with a journalist to have a thought leadership piece published in a magazine. They would have charged at least $5k per month for a 6 months retainer contract and delivered a nice folder with clippings of the press mentions achieved. Now I'm embarking on YouTube videos. $2k for the equipment and I'm all set-up with my own studio in my office so I can now upload for free on my global channel... it's staggering. There are 1 billion views of YouTube videos every month in the world.

But how does all this monetize you ask? Being in the top 1% in LinkedIn has yielded incredible results. I'm #1 in my peer connections (professionals like me) and currently # 7 among my more than 3,000 overall connections.

Business is coming to me and the conversations revolve around my availability and what I charge, rather than why I should be considered… Like CEB says, 'they are on average 57% through the buying process but with my rich sticky, open source content where I share every secret to closing million dollar deals from 30 years in the field and a 90 day deep dive in social – prospects are 90 to 100% through the buying process. They literally hire me on the spot. It's magical! It’s almost as if I don't have to sell myself when I’m having a conversation. People read my content, review my credentials, decide they want me to help them with their team, and then they contact me. I’m engaged in conversations for keynote speaking engagements in Europe, America and Asia-Pacific. Tier-one vendors are paying me to attract audiences at their events.

I'm a grey haired dude from the old guard. If there's one lesson you can learn, if you excel at sales, marketing or writing you can do this too. You can most likely have even more success than me! Find a Millennial and beg her to train you.

Leads come to me, self-qualified and well advanced through my sales funnel… it’s unbelievable. In a recent post about CRM a person said he needed to buy a CRM for his company and put his phone number in the comments thread. I called him and then passed the lead on to someone I trust to look after him. No referral fee; just 'pay it forward'. Click the link and see for yourself.

I prioritized ideation over creation and creation over curation. I newsjacked, I mashed-up and I went big in long form. I gained hundreds of supporters for every detractor and had many a detractor write me back declaring me an 'innovator' in this medium. It has been exhausting, humbling and rewarding. Parkinson's Law was my guiding light, 'work expands to fill the time allotted' and I was able to write a 4 hour long post in under 2 hours and then a first draft down to under 1. I shut-off the TV, cracked open my reference library and built a YouTube channel. Here is a screenshot of a LinkedIn report showing my network characteristics.

My ultimate goal in building a publishing platform within LinkedIn is to create a following for my new book. My strategy has been largely based on the excellent writings of David Meerman Scott (The New Rules of Marketing and PR) and Michael Hyatt's book, Platform.

While you’re wondering about social selling, your competitors are attracting and engaging your customers and prospects.

Do what I did 90 days ago; take massive 10X action and embrace LinkedIn Publisher for content marketing. You will educate yourself, attract a quality network, build your personal brand, and reap commercial rewards.

I double dare you to take the 90-day LinkedIn Publisher Challenge?

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: B Rosen

Women Sell Better Than Men

Women are the more evolved sex in every way. If they lead every country on the planet, there would be peace. When they're given a shot at the C-Suite, they turn companies around. Here's why?

  • Greater empathy
  • Better multi-taskers
  • Higher EQ
  • Neurologically superior brains (more connected synapses)
  • Better conflict resolution as managers
  • Better emotional resonance through story telling
  • More caring and nurturing for the actual helping of the solution
  • Deeper intuition, gut instinct and sixth sense on the deal and reading people
  • Let's be honest, they're 50 moves ahead of men
  • Women handle stress better than men
  • Better memory (remember the nitty gritty details and names)
  • Higher pain tolerance (hint, they don't take rejection as hard)

Well, there are no secrets here, folks. Women have been running this planet for quite some time. If a world leader is a man, it's really the woman running the show behind the scenes. We all know that!

One thing is clear, we need more than 4% of leaders in elite systems to be women; down from 5% in the previous survey. How do we fix this in male-dominated worldwide sales? The thousands of men who will read this disproportionally to women mainly because of the controversial title and provocative picture, if you'd like to change this system - hit like and share this with your network.

Women, please comment and give me even more reasons and article link outs and I'll keep updating the article.

Managers: I believe in meritocracy and hiring the best candidate for the job. If you have the ability to practice equality and eliminate bias in your organization, make a conscious effort.

I was struck by a story I heard about Mike Derezin from LinkedIn who was asked to join a panel of male speakers but waited until they included women before he agreed to join. I know I've touched the third rail of gender equality in this post and will be accused of reverse sexism.

Personally, I'd prefer to work for a woman, wouldn't you?


The Women In Sales Awards

5 Tips for Women in Sales: Get Ready to Change the Game (Joanne Black)

Girl Power—Men with Daughters Get It (Joanne Black)

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image: Flickr

Pricing Insanity - Epic Sales Blunders


I recently read an amazing book, Sales Insanity by Cannon Thomas, and it's a mind blowing compilation of actual sales blunders made by real people in real businesses being real stupid. Every salesperson and business leader must read this excerpt but who is Cannon Thomas... really? It's not his real name and I managed to uncover his identity and then obtain his permission to share some of the insanity in this post. He is one of the best sales consultants on the planet. Enjoy gobsmacking true story and if you think you know who he really is, send me an InMail and I'll confirm.

An industrial distributor hired me along with a team of consultants to help identify ways to increase its profitability. The company was eking out the slightest profit, but it was headed toward losses that it could not endure. Its executive team knew that there was profitability hiding somewhere in the company, because its similarly structured competitors were performing much better in the same economic environment. They were confident that the operations side of their business was running efficiently and that their missing profits could be found in the sales force. We subsequently sent our search party into the field to test their hypothesis.

We began by interviewing the company’s salespeople. Among other things, we asked each seller, “Who are your very best customers?” Not surprisingly, the salespeople immediately responded with a list of their very biggest customers—the customers that generated the most revenue for the company. And from their perspective, these were their best customers, because they yielded the most money in commissions. The incentives of the sellers were based on achieving revenue targets, not achieving profits. Therefore, bigger was better.

We also asked the salespeople who they thought were their most profitable customers. Again, they listed their biggest customers by revenue. We asked, “Don’t your big customers negotiate lower prices with you, because of the volume of products they buy?” “Of course the pricing with those customers is a little bit lower,” the sellers all responded, “but the absolute dollar amounts of the profits must be high despite the lower margins.” Except that they weren’t.

At the same time we were conducting the interviews, we were also busy calculating the actual profitability for each of the company’s customers. It turned out that in addition to negotiating lower prices, the sellers’ biggest customers were also the slowest to pay their invoices. And they returned a lot of products. And they demanded the most customer service. And they received volume rebates. When all of the costs to sell and service them were taken into account, the company was making a profit on just 14 of its 50 biggest customers. It was losing money on 72% of its ‘best’ customers. That’s where the company’s profits were hiding.

In itself, this didn’t shock me. The salespeople had no knowledge of the actual profitability of the products they were selling, and their financial incentives clearly inspired them to close any deal no matter how low the price. What did surprising to me, though, was the vehemence with which they defended their price discounting practices.

Every salesperson in the company had large customers that were sucking money out from this company. We pointed out that they were essentially paying these customers for the privilege of selling them products, and if they were to stop selling to 36 of their 50 biggest-volume customers, their company would actually be more profitable. We suggested that they needed to raise their prices to these profit-sucking customers, or else we would be forced to fire them—their customers, not the salespeople.

But to a person, they defended their pricing tactics as what they had to do in order to ‘get the business.’ In fact, they claimed that getting this business was the privilege they had earned over decades by developing great personal friendships with their customers. These customers were generous enough to give them the ‘last look’ at each potential deal, so they could beat the lowest price that their competitors had to offer.

Again, we pointed out that this was a bad strategy, but the salespeople were steadfast that they were simply meeting the ‘market price’ established by their competition. If they didn’t sell the products to the customer at the ‘market price,’ then their competitors would win the business. To which we responded, “Great. Let your competitors win the business. Let them pay the customers to buy their products. Then your competitors will be the first to go bankrupt, not you.”

Alas, no amount of reasoning could convince these salespeople that selling products at a loss was a losing proposition. They were convinced that they should continue to ‘get the business’ at the ‘market price’ by leveraging their ‘friendships’ to get the ‘last look’ at every deal. No wonder their competition was performing more profitably than they were. The competitors’ salespeople were smart enough to say no to the worst deals.

Gratefully, this story had a happy ending. The executives realized that the sales force’s financial incentives were not aligned with the company’s. They cleverly redesigned the compensation plans to reward profitable customer relationships, not just big ones. Within a year, the distributor’s profits were on the rise, and they continued to grow substantially for several more years.

As these changes were taking place, I liked to imagine the amazed reactions of the competitors’ sellers as my client’s salespeople began to walk away from bad deals. The competitors must have marveled at their good fortune. Suddenly they were getting the last look at all the deals they’d previously lost to my client. They were able to win the business, and win it at the market price. Their revenues were surely on the way up. But their profitability was on the way down.

The Good Ideas

Good Idea 1: Bigger Isn’t Necessarily Better

There is an intuitive appeal to bigger customers. And all things being equal, they tend to be better for you, too. But not always. Sometimes your biggest customers might also be your worst, because they’re either less profitable, less strategic, or just more annoying. Be sure to understand the type of customers you want, and then do what you can to attract and retain those. You don’t need every customer, just the ones that are good for your company.

Good Idea 2: Beware the ‘Market Price’

The ‘market price’ is a customer euphemism for the lowest price that anyone has ever spoken aloud. Don’t lead a race to the bottom just because someone tells you a lower price exists. You shouldn’t have to give away your products—they deserve a price that reflects the true value you provide to your customers. If your customers won’t buy at a price that you want to sell, then politely walk away. Let ‘the market’ have the business instead.

Good Idea 3: You Might Have to Fire a Customer

Salespeople spend most of their energy trying to acquire and grow customers, so it’s almost unthinkable to purposefully end an active customer relationship. But like any relationship, some customers who start out as a dream will end up a nightmare. If they’re a bad customer to you, hopefully they’ll be an even worse customer to your competitor. Let them be just that.

Thanks Cannon Thomas... who ever you are! Priceless. You can buy the book on Amazon here. Over to you the reader. What pricing blunders have you witnessed? Let me know in the comments. Who do you think Cannon Thomas is... really? Could he be Anthony Iannarino or maybe Mike Weinberg? Maybe Jeb Blount or Lee Bartlett? Let me know your guess by sending me an InMail.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image: Google Images, source unknown

Infiltrating The Social Selling Mafia

The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club. The second rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club.

Ladies and gentlemen, I've recently been accused of being inducted into the Social Selling Mafia as a 'made man.'

I assure you, this is patently untrue but even if it were true, I really couldn't admit – could I? Live by the social media, die by the social media. I have no intention of 'sleeping with the fishes.' I prefer my shoes to be Italian leather rather than lead.

But seriously; I've been pushing like crazy in LinkedIn for 90 days and it really does work. You can leverage it more effectively than a telephone. What case study am I referencing? My own success in the channel and that of those whom I mentor. I think it's because I approached it with an open mind and little experience.

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance." - Socrates, from Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers

Instead I decided to use RSVP, TAS, Battle Plan, Challenger, Strategic, Solution, Power Base, Miller Heiman and especially SPIN in the channel. Since I couldn't find it anywhere, I coined what I'm doing as #strategicsocialselling and launched a new hashtag. That's not to say that many of the #socialselling elite are not strategic. Many are and I'm meeting them along the way, as they agree it's about fusing old and new school methods together. I called many out in a Strategic Social Selling Unicorns Post.

I was writing a post about the power of 'Pay It Forward' and that being 'interested versus interesting' is the great hidden secret to all social selling hiding in plain sight in order to generate profitable new business via LinkedIn when a thought leader responded that 'Social Selling is a Myth' and he does not agree with the tenets of the ruling families of the Social Selling Mafia. I thought it would be amusing to write a retort as a post. Also, I don't really see myself as part of any mafia of any kind. As Groucho Marx stated facetiously, "PLEASE ACCEPT MY RESIGNATION. I DON'T WANT TO BELONG TO ANY CLUB THAT WILL ACCEPT PEOPLE LIKE ME AS A MEMBER." [Rimshot!]

I've blazed a trail as a pioneer out on my own in social selling endeavoring to make it more strategic and writing about ways to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, InsideView, Avention, Trigger Event Selling and stealth B2B technologies akin to or FrontLine Selling. I've tried to just go out and produce results via massive action rather than buy into any of the prevailing theories out there. Thus I've posited various paradoxes I see in social selling as well as ways to leverage it in every aspect of the traditional prospecting engagement funnel. I'm pleased to hear that thought-leaders are reading and thinking about my work. Rest assured, I serve no master but the truth and am looking for ways to tangibly help those that I coach achieve cut-through leveraging the new tools.

Unbeknownst to me, by promoting LinkedIn so heavily, I inadvertently got hazed into the amorphous mob of the social mafia. I ended-up on a Top 100 Social Sellers list from Onalytica, within a few months at #87. I started to newsjack and leverage David Meerman Scott principles which, blended together with my RSVPselling Methodology, gave me what I've calculated to be one of the highest read blogs in my network. Humbled and grateful to be there; thanks for your support!

The truth is, that everyone who's taken the deep dive into Social Selling 1.0 and 2.0 are the trailblazers. They've laid a foundation for a brave new world. They've gotten in the covered wagons and gone West toward their manifest destiny (or in Australia where I am, East – over the great dividing range). LinkedIn is so much more than a yellow pages or CRM of contact records. It's so much more than noise and hype. It's everywhere that you want to be. It's where all your prospects are and with Navigator, you can now passively monitor your prospects' streams. At long last, by leveraging that one relevant insight to crowbar in a 'warm introduction,' you are 500% more likely to secure a meeting.

So in many ways leveraging LinkedIn for B2B upstream engagement is exponentially more successful than a traditional phone. You move from servicing demand to creating it. You move from prospecting to uncovering latent demand pre-trigger events. You're upstream to Challenger. You're upstream to the 57% of the decision making process. You're serving them insights and new solutions to problems they may not even know they actually have.

Only 2% of attempts on a phone get through for a result and it's just not high enough. I've made 100 calls in one day – I won't settle for second prize or a set of steak knives! I want to be the CEO in charge of my own life. I want to win. To sell I need to make contact. I need someone that I can sell to. What I will say, is that seeking to get in without a compelling insight, without speaking CXO, without ideation in your go-to-market strategy that aligns sales and marketing and challenges the sector's status quo: that's high risk. You will fail. So social selling just to 'open' faster, is transactional whiz-bang. Strategic insight applied to social 'opening' as a conduit to meaningful value exchange [the V in RSVP = value creation], landing the coffee meeting, on-site and then hopping on the airplane – that's the tour-de-force trifecta or four-fecta! Fuggedabouit!

I come to social media with a completely open mind. I'm on a clandestine operation of old school strategic selling, a cunning fox in wolf's clothing. I approach every day like a rookie would. I ask why? I explore every possibility and I read the #socialselling hashtag like mad. But I also watch all the top sellers on Amazon, read the consultants' white papers, research any credible data I can get my hands on and follow many blogs of the contrarians who believe social selling is a myth.

The argument that is accurate in my opinion is that any communications channel mistakenly leveraged for cram and jam, slam selling and push button gratification is inherently fatally flawed. Agreed. Can you use social media and elevate it into sending the language of outcomes and risk over the wires to the right executives to break through in dream accounts? Yes. Can you build the right target network and engage with them in Groups, InMails and respond to their Publish, Blog and Updates on LinkedIn? Yes. Proof? I receive e-mails and invites from CXOs constantly in response to what I write. The proof is in the commentary arguing against Social Selling. If you're not using social selling to engage, how are you reading all of my articles and leaving long meaningful comments? Your existence as an executive in the channel is empirical proof of its very success.

So thus: WE ARE ALL IN THE SOCIAL SELLING MAFIA or perhaps we are just selling. 330+ million on LinkedIn strong are getting a spectrum of results every day based on their ability to wield the technology by making meaning in their message. It's communications 101 or maybe 202. Sellers are as powerful as the quality of their insight – in any channel – and that's the way it will always be. So what's really changed? The medium but not the message, dare I say. A Twitter with 200,000 followers cannot hold a candle to the right 1,000 connects [thousand true fans] on LinkedIn that are hyper-targeted and segmented to match to your solution fit.

Ultimately, if we study Metcalfe's law and the history of network effects we find that there is always a network with nodes. It's all a human communications systems grid. Text messaging surpassed voice calls for Millennials. Snapchat and WhatsApp exceeded Facebook. Ultimately, it's all just network communications with changing media. Wherever the majority of customers communicate will always be the penultimate channel for business success. Penetrating a social based ecosystem with a telephone is in violation of the basic laws and science of network effects. There's a basic scientific argument that would support the efficacy of social networks, the internet and Web 3.0. Wherever the fish spend the most of there time is where the fishermen go. They even risk their lives for the deadliest catch! The bait is quality insight-driven or Challenger content. Call it what you will! It's factual and empirical. Just like early phone sellers who didn't master a strategic approach, the phone was rendered worthless. Because of the way LinkedIn notifications hook into mobile, you're literally buzzing their smartphone in pocket.

My prediction from 2015 toward 2020, is that social sellers will become increasingly strategic by fusing the old and the new. The universal methodologies and frameworks that have always won enterprise business will fuse with the new technologies that enable sales acceleration and omniscience. The role of big data, predictive analytics and smart AI algorithms cannot be overstated. The Social Selling Mafia stigma will fall away. This is just like I argued the future of CRM is not CRM although I'm sure that's what it will still be called. Everything will solely become 'selling' once again and I doubt there will even be mobile phones. It will all be about wearables, smart contacts, Google Glass II Designer Edition and we'll have heads up (HUD) displays giving us readouts from managers hooked into the cloud, seeing what we see in a virtual space. Can you imagine? Live sales coaching in real-time?

You may think I watched Minority Report one too many times. The keys to unlocking the riddles of the future of selling are hidden in our deepest past. It's the alchemist – the answer is hiding at the beginning of the journey, buried treasure right beneath us, hiding in plain site. Communication is the most powerful thing we do as humans, much of it is even non-verbal. Communications networks follow the law of divergence, not convergence. They're extremely powerful leveraged in concert. When salespeople connected with prospects through GoToMeeting and turned on their webcam, they had a 34% higher closerate than when they connected through GoToMeeting without video. This is because 10,000 possible facial expressions speak volumes more in universal parlance to humanize our brands. We read people via Gladwellian thin slice, don't you? The majority of Top 100 Twitter profiles are swiftly becoming brands so personal branding and thought leadership via content strategy at scale becomes a profound trend we're seeing.

The future will belong to strategic social sellers 'opening' sales opportunities upstream with holographic and Skype-like means of first calls and demos. There will be stratospheric travel that shrinks the globe so that C-Levels can interact for on-sites to create partnerships in a single day trip. The phone will still exist of course but all the virtual conferencing innovations will be the method of choice. Just look at the explosion of FaceTime, Skype, Join.Me, WebEx and GoToMeeting!

I respect all the sellers out there pushing the envelope regardless of their moniker. Social selling is neither myth nor lie. There are very real case studies. Check out the LinkedIn Navigator success stories in the enterprise and testimonials at that link. There's your social proof on social selling and the data does not lie. Look at all the real world case studies these leading enterprises are touting. Multiple 300K+ deals, 40% pipeline growth and millions in net new revenue!

Shakira said it best, 'My hips don't lie!'

Huge increases in engagement lead to higher revenues. LinkedIn is clearly the new effective cold call if done strategically with relevant insight in context. We must challenge ourselves to approach the new tools strategically. Welcome to the brave new world. I never intended to take the 90-Day Social Selling Challenge on LinkedIn in order to join some 'mafia.' I was seeking to get on board the superhighway like Einstein riding the light beam. If good ideas that work are mafioso, then we're living in an upside-down world. I don't care much for tools or rules.

I do whatever it takes maintaining integrity, to get the deal over the line and I suggest you do too. The greatest strategy of all is the one that works in that moment on the field. 'Opportunities multiply as they are seized,' Sun Tzu. The mafia know who I am and have been encouraging so far, more proof perhaps there isn't mafia at all. More just luddites against the early adopters. I have seemed to upset a few people by putting myself out there to this degree. It was worth it to gain thousands of new connections to help us collectively figure this all out. Disruptive change is hard on everyone. People fear change and seek security and stability, something impossible in high technology markets. Let your results speak for themselves and boldly go where no one has gone before! Adaptation and agile learning are the key. Only the curious will survive.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Eneas De Troya

Return of the Dragon #strategicsocialselling - new hashtag, old twist

The dragon we've all been trying to slay is the strategic [up and to the right] aspect of this value quadrant. 'Up and to the right' is right: get the strategy right and you'll be a sales sensation. Strategic sellers make it rain but how? CEO's often explain it as he or she 'just makes the magic happen'. They've fumbled into the ecstasy of anthropomorphism in describing strategic sellers who effortlessly seem to become trusted as advisor eagles or lone wolves (if they're not housebroken) or even mythical beasts like Lewis Carroll's Gryphon. They've got a similar graph like this on the universal hot vs. crazy matrix (see YouTube sensation below). Aka; the Unicorn. The more you look, the less likely it is to be found. Typically, as humans we fear what we don't understand. Not with top sellers. The leadership may not understand them but they certainly love them. One word – revenue. Then how on Earth could you get more of them into your organization? Maybe you need a unicorn catcher consultant like Dana McLendon in the video below who explains to men the unicorn zone when seeking to find the right women in your life?

For your edification (and my own no doubt!), I took the time to generate THIS STRATEGIC SOCIAL SELLER UNICORN LIST after a few months of scouring the internet and continuing to lose sleep! This compilation is actually dead serious and devised to help us all identify who these folks are. I intend to keep revising and adding to it in contrast to many somber advanced analytics based ways of generating the top 100 social sellers. It's not easy to dominate social selling but it is easier to game algorithms than be strategically seasoned, applying real world methodology that actually produces concrete revenue results and factors in #social.

It's always cool to compare the size of our Klout rankings, Social Selling Index Scores (SSI) from LinkedIn or PageRank of our vlog. Ultimately, I'm simply looking for an insight into the strategic sales process, methodology and traditional frameworks that still work on massive enterprise deals whilst selling into big companies and government infused into the modern social selling methods.

What does it mean to be truly strategic in major deals? That really depends on how you define strategy; something almost any sales person I meet with struggles to define. To me, strategic selling is about engaging early at the highest levels with provocative insights that foster engagement. The quality of your insights will dictate the acceleration of your deals and commensurately, the velocity of your pipeline.

Pure Matter Blog released a list of the top 50 social selling experts it polled aboutthe biggest challenge social selling experts face. There are some wonderful answers here. Outside looking in, as I've only been pushing hard in social for under 90 days, I'm dead certain it's the following so please tweet these if you agree:

Social Selling must become strategic to be leveraged effectively and sustainably in closing repeat enterprise deals.
To achieve a strategic social selling plan for your company, the answer is simple: It's a mashup of what came before with the cutting edge of what's next.
Strategic Social Selling means fusing old world and new world selling methodologies to close enterprise deals and generate predictable revenue.

Who's leading the charge in this regard, especially writing about it?

  • Mike Weinberg who wrote New Sales. Simplified. and riffs on it here.
  • Tim Hughes at Oracle UK. Period.
  • Jill Konrath has always innovated at the cusp. She's even broken this down into agile learning as a meta-skill for high value selling.
  • Jill Rowley - I tweeted out she's a strategic social selling unicorn and she requested to be a bacon #socialselling unicorn. She gets the mashup! She's exceeded quota year after year so she understands the pressures in the enterprise on ACV and crushing the number. She speaks CXO here.
  • David Brock whose Partners In Excellence blog sets a gold standard for prolific B2B writing. He's even more prolific than I've endeavored to become... I don't know how anyone could live on less sleep than me doing all the writing after days filled with clients.
  • Mike Kunkle is a sage - a master of enterprise enablement, I can never stop learning from his posts that seem to presciently fuse everything great on enterprise selling together. He has encyclopedic knowledge of every facet of sales, coaching, enablement and the underlying tech. True gift to the industryLinkedIn Publisher ecosystem. I vote LinkedIn makes the Influencer Network open again and elects him into it.
  • Koka Sexton - There's no secret why Koka is the face of content strategy for LinkedIn. He needs no introduction. Follow him religiously!

How do you prevent history from repeating? Simple. Study it. How do you take social selling and elevate it to a point where it can withstand the forces of procurement, buying committees, more decision makers involved in the buying process than ever before, complexity and commoditization?

It's crucial to have a rock solid strategic social sales process. Have you mapped the politics, power base, picked a military strategy and built a multi-channel plan of attack that includes social as a force multiplier, not the core? Insight is the core. You are the core, the differentiator and the why. People still buy from those they know, like and trust. But they won't let you waste their time, especially executive decision makers.

Sellers fall into hunters and farmers but that's a glass ceiling we've bought into. I'd argue hunting in named account is closer to the mark. And beyond that, moving 'up and to the right', becoming the mythical beast, slaying the dragon or becoming one is our moment-by-moment challenge. Without strategy you are blasting, spray-and-pray, in a house full of smoke and mirrors. Just like martial arts takes years of focused discipline, so does becoming great at strategic selling. Hope is not a strategy and thinking strategically is interdisciplinary in that it requires improving business acumen as well as selling and communications skills.

I love Bruce Lee. He said some incredibly profound things in his short time gracing the world with his gifts. He was a bright light gone to soon but he had a vision and he said the following which applies to strategic selling more than any other quote I could find; it's not what you're expecting! Bruce also believed in his ability to rise to the top, something you must do to stand out as signal in the noise in #strategicsocialselling against a backdrop of #socialselling.

Love is like a friendship caught on fire. In the beginning a flame, very pretty, often hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. As love grows older, our hearts mature and our love becomes as coals, deep-burning and unquenchable.”

For some, familiarity breeds contempt. The same old marketing pabulum certainly does. Let us strive to fall in love with our customers and help them to fall in love with good ideas that truly break new ground. Let us leverage social media to passively listen to them, which LinkedIn Sales Navigator at last allows us to do. We're no longer the 'awkward fast friend.' Let's engage with relevance, context and meaning. Let's understand where we came from as a global selling community. One of the ways we can protect our livelihoods and jobs is to become more strategic in everything that we do. It starts with you.

Strategy in advanced selling situations is a great deal like learning something as ephemeral and metaphysical as 'swing feel' in jazz. You must play it to feel it and feel it to play it. Experience is how we learn. The joy is in the doing, the magic is between the lines. The music is in the silence. Ride-alongs by a gifted mentor or sales manager are a good way to get a feel for this when interacting with intimidating executives one-on-one. Coaching your people to look for strategic factors is a great exercise. Strategy sessions where each team member takes turns strategizing about how they'll engineer the win, where are you blocked, who your competitors are, all yields residuals for quarters to come. Laying this all out in TAS Dealmaker or Pipeline Manager... I cannot overstate the level of high value activity this represents.

I've recently received requests to consult companies in setting up a Social Selling War Room. That link contains my blueprint on the LinkedIn War Room I debuted on LinkedIn Publisher featuring the most enterprise-focused application of I've ever seen. I've innovated on it with a social front-end technology stack. It's the way we combine LinkedIn Sales Navigator with CRM, automation and third party plug-ins that truly makes it game-changing. Here's how you can get the output of 20 inside sellers with a Tiger Team of 5 of your highest performing reps.

I'll be tweeting out insight at a new hashtag I believe I may have been the first in the industry to coin: #strategicsocialselling – Please join me in that stream... I would love your thoughts? How are you making social selling strategic? What is influencing that intention in execution? How are you mashing-up the new school and old school? As thought leaders, let's unite to move social selling from a fad back to just 'selling' - strategic, powerful and thoughtful. Let's make it matter more to our customer and customer's customer.

There's the logistics, the tasks that you outline, that must be done to get you in front of the right people at the right time; and then there's the interpersonal skills... the charm, the charisma, the emotional quotient. I believe the logistics can be learned, but what about the interpersonal skills? Is that something you either have or you don't? Or can it be cultivated?" - Bob Leonard

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Kenny Louie

Top 10 Negotiation Hacks To Protect Price & Preserve Margin

Complexity and commoditization run rampant. There's an entire library of congress of books on this subject so I thought I'd list for you some practical, real-world life-hacks and techniques that actually work. You're going to have to completely differentiate your offering and get into deals early to knock out the competitors. Ultimately, savvy buyers will still bring in all your competitors even during the denouement (climax) of the deal so you have to be ready to have an edge to box them out.

First, David Brock of Partners in Excellence weighs in:

Tony, you've covered a huge amount. Here are some additional/supplementary thoughts: 

1. Too often, sales people work on negotiation positioning, protecting pricing or margin as the move into the closing stages of a deal. This is far too late. You need to begin establishing your positioning from your very first qualification meetings. 
2. It's impossible to preserve pricing and margin if your solution has negligible differentiation meaningful differentiation from the alternatives. There are a few key words here. The first is meaningful--it has to be critical and important to the customer. Just having more features, functions, better service, better quality, etc is meaningless unless the customer cares. If you aren't differentiated--if you haven't provided leadership in driving the customer to think what you have is the most important, you will never be able to defend price/margin. 
3. The customer has to find their current state is absolutely unacceptable. Doing nothing is not an alternative. Then combined with 1 and 2, having a strong business case positions you strongly to avoid discounting. 
4. Finally, making sure the customer understands the context. If arguing for a percent or two prevents them from Millions in profitability improvement, remind them the silliness of wasting time to achieve these goals.

At the very least, you want to engineer your win into their process, by establishing the requirements and exerting positive control over the deal at every step. By being the decision maker's 'emotional favorite' going in and co-creating the most compelling business case for mutual value creation and the New ROI, you've helped them advocate for your solution and build enough of a consensus internally to secure the win. Let's deconstruct a rather elaborate topic into 10 central hacks:

  1. Anchoring & Threshold Gating – Anchoring the sale is both procedural and psychological and this fits right in with threshold gating. You need to set a minimum threshold for the deals you'll take on. Allowing for endless 'Seemore Sydrome' meetings, pilots and proof of concepts (POCs) could sink you. Many get romanced by the notion of 'land and expand' but $250K up front is an effective enterprise pilot, not zero or $5K. You can land and expand only if the client has enough skin in the game. We know you will with infrastructure costs and the investment you'll be making to ensure your customer is successful with your solution. Psychological anchoring is simply the concept of painting the larger vision of what a strategic partnership could look like economically and solution-wise. If you offer that full vision at $200K, they're going to look to get involved for 1/10th of that. If you factually state your typical annual deal size is $1MM, they're much more likely to transact with you in the realm of an acceptable enterprise size engagement. These are two concepts that are thousands of years old but they are alive and well in complex B2B selling so utilize them respectfully, artfully and with integrity. Be transparent with your pricing model. Be willing to 'fire' high maintenance tire kickers and set the tone for the partnership up-front. You will not scare off a great customer as exclusivity drives sales. Top companies want the best solution and are willing to invest if the ROI is there. They're not necessarily looking for a free trial. They seek Cialdini's social proof, case studies, reference clients they can call for 'proof of life', vis-a-vis: true testimonials. Many ask for retention information in RFPs because they're clamoring for stability in an overcrowded market place where many companies are not looking for the 100 year run; they're notoriously seeking a three year exit and vulture capitalists are pushing for that. Maximize customer value over shareholder value and build a relationship on the basis of longevity and trust.

2. Bucketing – The bucket technique works. This concept comes out of systems as disparate as charitable giving engines to models of lease tiers for European luxury cars whose finance departments operate similar to banks. I realize some pricing analysts will be reading this as I'm networked with you, so I'd love your thoughts in this sphere. Essentially, when presented with three options, human nature is to select the middle one. An even larger overarching concept, as you look to build out your pricing grid or SaaS tiers – you need to present your pricing in such a way as to land customers in the stratification you intend. Remember, this is in their interest as well as yours. To grossly oversimplify, if you're looking to sell deals at $500K, create tiers of $250K, $500K and $1MM. The Challenger Sale talked about creating constructive tension and discussing price early as two of the most powerful things that Challengers did naturally. My take on this is that it displays transparency and confidence. Cut through the placation and hot air. Get down to brass tacks. Pricing conversations must be delivered with finesse. If you present the matter too early, you can risk killing the deal. Invariably, if you are interacting at the most senior level in an organization, they will move toward the pricing discussion with force and great intensity rapidly. That's when being prepared with a bucket like, "Typically our engagements fall into the realm of $250K for a pilot and $500K to $1MM on an annual basis. We need to fully scope the project to understand the unit economics at play [professional services] or we need to understand exactly what modules you'll need [SaaS]. Which of these numbers speaks to you?" – I want to give some credit to Bryan Kreuzberger, the originator of Quad Emailing for some of the phrasing and verbiage here. You don't want to alienate buyers with this line of reasoning. If well timed and especially face-to-face, you're going to rapidly accelerate your ability to find out the available budget, the comfort level and merge this with a query into "success criteria" so as to understand what precise value they're looking to derive from their investment and how they intend to measure it. Maybe you can measure it together...

3. Elasticity of Demand: Suite of Solutions vs. Single Commodity –It's a mistake to sell single solutions into the enterprise even if you sell one thing. Let me explain. A single solution looks and smells like a commodity and so you'll be commoditized. Period. Point solution providers can pull this off because they've either gone Google and vastly undercut pricing to 'democratize' the industry, they've got way less overhead running fully lean in the cloud with limited Op-ex vs. Cap-ex, or they've figured out a more transactional way of offering one feature of a large enterprise solution to those 'looking for a deal.' Nobody got fired for buying IBM so over-simplification is actually an Achilles heal. Companies with a healthy bottom line are not looking for the 'low cost, loss leader.' If you're the incumbent, the argument is the little guy has vastly fewer resources and R&D to invest back into its suite of solutions that allows an end-to-end holistic approach. Often the incumbent is also vastly more secure with understanding the customer's business processes and people, so make sure you check that box if it's a competitive advantage. If you are David going against Goliath, perhaps you can provide a level of concierge service or place this dream client in Beta and that's very attractive to them to be this hands-on. Here is a Case Study.Perhaps they can even use both solutions at once, 'truly land and expand,' to multiply the effectiveness of what they're already using. Many amazing point solutions scale and providing a suite of solutions creates a situation of 'elasticity of demand.' You can also allow for consulting, setup and management fees which are standard practice and act as a mechanism to preserve margin.

4. Value Focus - We're all trying to sell value but value is not enough. Senior executives purchase based on delivering outcomes and managing risk. Leverage risk as a weapon and provide unexpected value by focusing on mutual collaboration and value creation over the life of the proposed partnership. Span your attention out and discuss what the potential growth curve looks like in the first, second and third year and some of the benchmarks other clients in a similar vertical are achieving at these levels. 'Just sell value' is a hard pill to swallow as this is the mantra in all the competitive companies for most sales managers. Sales executives must teach customers with new insight and provocative compelling business insight they've gleaned via industry expertise.

In a previous post, I highlight the physics idea that Elon Musk utilizes called First Principles thinking where you reduce a system down into its fundamental parts [Ferris Deconstruction: Deconstruct, Selection, Sequencing, and Stakes] and then rebuild it in your mind or a brainstorm... from scratch. The battle royale is to be won with disruptive insight. Ideation is a big deal and precedes Challenger. The strategies and tactics will matter little if there's not a unique and compelling reason to buy from you. Ultimately, separate yourself from vendors and present instead as a partner and trusted advisor. Do this by sitting on the same side of the negotiating table and add so much value from inception that they: a) feel they'd pay you $500 just for the initial consultation and b) they feel they drove a huge bargain even investing $1MM because you're going to make or save them millions net net. Pretty simple but this gets incredibly muddied with thousands of books that tell you WHAT the outcome is without a blueprint of how to get there. I recommend any book or blog by Mark Hunter for a deep dive into these subjects of high profit selling.

5. Pre-Trigger Penetration - Craig Elias & Tibor Shanto extoll this revolutionary concept of 'first in'. Frankly, I believe that InsideView, Gagein, Avention and even components of LinkedIn Sales Navigator stem from seeds of ideas in the concepts of Trigger Event Selling in the clairvoyant book -Shift!. Pick this one up and start to study the 3 main trigger events: a) changes and transitions, b) awareness, and c) bad supplier. You'll need to get upstream pre-Challenger via a slew of techniques I've coined strategic social selling to do this effectively. If you're 'first in' you can set the tone, engineer in the requirements and continuously educate the customer. I've often stated, 'look, even if you don't choose our solution, I'm going to do everything that I can to help you to make the most educated decision.' Big enterprise sales teams talk about 'swagger' and how 'the swagger breeds.' It's this big machismo Glengarry Glen Ross target practice devaluing the industry into something less human.

To de-risk the head-to-head Running of The Bulls at Pamplona strategy with the competition, I would advocate listening and hunting for trigger events so that you can introduce yourself, provide value and edutain before the prospect even knows they need to look. You interject a disruptive way to execute on a major initiative already in play and bingo – major sale.

6. Offer Limited Concessions - Hard negotiating is about making limited concessions. If they ask for a discount, Mark Hunter will tell you to always hold firm on price but negotiation experts might advocate a very minor concession over a holdout time period. The bigger concessions you make earlier, the less chance you get to an effective win-win close. And don't forget, by the time you get to procurement they're going to ask, "Why is your solution 4X more expensive than the other 3 vendors I use for this offshore?" Or, 'Why's the license fee astronomical compared to these other three [point solutions] who are willing to take us on in a free trial?" That's when you may need to place a call to your executive sponsor in the account if you're getting blocked in procurement and shaved down. I've had situations where I reached an absolute stalemate with the purchasing team after daily half hour calls for weeks on end. Complete Groundhog Day! Be confident in your pricing model and stand firm. 'Friends and family' discounts are a slippery slope and training your customers to wait until New Year's Eve until your leadership is desperate to close, is a bad idea and sub-optimal business practice that pads numbers, to say the least.

7. Don't Be Afraid to Walk Away - Hit pause on the negotiation and grab dinner. Be willing to walk away from the negotiation table and even the entire deal if they've got you over a barrel with an offensive counter-offer. Call their bluff of posturing over you for pennies on the dollar. The power-base knows your price and knows the market. You're not alone in this deal. It's quite common they're going to find 3 other suppliers just to run a reverse auction and wave the lowest pricing schema in your face as a bargaining chip. Top executives drive a truly hard bargain. Don't you? I'm stunned when haggling breaks out but I'm never shocked when I get low-balled. Enterprise tiers are non-negotiables and when you're trying to grow revenue scalably and predictably, you cannot stoop to slashing pricing. The margin and even the entire business can suffer. If somebody keeps low-balling you and puffs their chest out like a peacocking lion, hold firm and take the high road. If they keep going there, be willing to walk out of the casino. Realize that a) They're doing this because they want your solution that bad and you've already clearly differentiated and won the value war, and b) It's very much posturing. You need to apply the principle of non-hunger, set the tone that you have many enterprise deals in the queue and batten down the hatches until this perfect storm blows over. Motivational speaker Tony Gaskins says "You teach people how to treat you by what you allow, what you stop, and what you reinforce."

This applies 100% to customers. Walking away from procurement for a while (while still remaining engaged wit the power base) could be the last strategic card to play and a better strategy than dropping price to lower a deal. You begin a relationship in weakness or strength – that choice is always yours. If you train the client they can simply apply pressure to your jugular at any point to get their way you'll erode any virtuous cycle to up-spiral a relationship. Deals that are won at the end of quarter with price drops are the same ones that renew with the customer shopping you to every competitor under the sun and coming back to demand 'lower fees' or else they're going to the competition. Even if you are the most innovative, market leader and integral to their core business! You could be the engine of their entire growth plan and you've still opened yourself up to the susceptibility of hostile negotiations. What's uncanny about this, is that I've seen the same customer treat one vendor like gold that didn't buckle on price and another like dirt who did. Think hard on that point.

8. ROI Calculation & Co-Creation [Drive Revenue] – Many methodologies speak to building a value hypothesis that's both qualitative and quantitative [Jeff Thull] and co-creating to prove it out with the customer. Some cautions here: Calculating a 3,000 percent increase is disingenuous. Pragmatism and realism are essential when communicating with CFOs and CIOs. Don't attempt to apply lipstick to a pig or present a pie in the sky 'push-button' fix even if your solution is completely transformational. We all know the devil's in the details and our success will rise and fall on delivery - the execution phase - when the rubber meets the rode and we look to bring about lasting change. There's an entire sector of consultants who can help with building out ROI Calculators. I think benchmarking by polling or surveying existing customer data is a very effective strategy. 'On average, our customers are realizing anywhere from a 3 to 5% revenue lift.' Remember that metrics that matter vary wildly so giving some study into the one key metric powering the buyer's purchasing decision and how you can influence it, is a worthwhile endeavor indeed.

9. Engineer in the Requirements – Build a document which prepares a client for RFP. Even provide them with a template RFP to make their job easier... I've done it with incredible results selling to government. Make sure to include all the questions that help them to assess how your solution better fits their requirements. Chances are, most competitors will not have the forethought and preparation to build a RFP checklist to share with clients. But if they have one too it can become a situation of a requirements stand off. Too many bells, whistles and features can work against you, presenting fear of scope or feature creep. It can interject implementation risk unnecessarily. Compatibility, extensibility and interoperability are ubiquitous buzz words but at the end of the day, are your people committed to getting the solution live and doing whatever it takes to make the client successful.

10. Venn Diagrams, Opportunity & Relative Costs [Create Cost Efficiency] – What's the impact of not making the change? What's the sunk costs of just holding the dozen meetings you already have? [Government] If there are four main factors that a decision can be made on, what's the Venn Diagram of the most important two? Map that out on a white board. It's often impossible to reconcile all the demands a customer is looking for. If they're painting a utopian reality, we know for a fact going in that no vendor is going to be able to satisfy them. At this point, it's worth building out an opportunity cost calculation or presenting a diagram that highlights these paradoxes and contradictory forces. Here's a humorous one to trump up the point!

And finally, an amusing story about competition in enterprise deals to share with you which will highlight just the level of psychological warfare actually involved in all of this which I'm sure many of you are far too intimately familiar with already... There was a point solution that presented itself as more advanced and sophisticated as the competitor. They had invested nowhere near the R&D and resources into improving the product and their system was legendary for going down at peak times. But every prospect that called in was given this song and dance: 'We're the leading enterprise solution. We're exclusive. Let us know when you're ready to make a real investment." Incredibly with a product that was nowhere near as good as other direct competitors, they cornered the enterprise market with the power of exclusivity alone. That's a hard argument to punch a hole into. Beware of this tactic if you are the leader or disrupting one. 'Oh, and call me back when you're ready to get into the elite version...'

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by: U.S. Army

The Era Of Personal Brands Is Now. Are You Ready?

We're living in the age of the rise of personal brands, and I recently sought some advice from one of the world’s experts. You may not know his name but you’ll recognize his clients. Two of them changed my world, expanded my mind, disrupted my thinking. Both of these luminaries have been instrumental in shaping my own business and marketing strategies.

The first is Simon Sinek: Start With Why. He helped create clarity for me in my professional purpose and pushed me down the road where you make a difference.

The second is David Meerman Scott and his book, The new Rules of Marketing and PR is mind boggling and answers the questions around sales and marketing convergence in the digital era. He convinced me to give my content away for free.

So who is the man who has helped these luminaries? His name is Mark Levy and I sought him out to ask him for some thoughts and advice on personal branding. Strap yourself in because like Morpheus, he offers us the red pill. Are you brave enough to swallow it see how far the rabbit hole goes?

I was and I’m embracing it all. I’ve never worked harder in my life but the results have been truly staggering. Whether you’re seeking to implement Challenger or to inject yourself upstream, early at senior levels with target customers; all of this is highly valuable. Mark Levy made a few important points with me and here they are:

“Don’t feel confident unless you have reason to feel confident.” Mark told me the story of a businessperson whose stated problem was a lack of confidence. The businessperson was about to attend a high-powered conference, packed with top prospects, and he didn’t feel confident about his ability to grab and hold people’s attention. When he heard the man’s elevator pitch, Mark said: “Lack of confidence is not your problem. You have every reason to lack confidence. Your pitch is unfocused, and all your claims are based on your opinion. Instead of working on your confidence, let’s work on your elevator speech and pitch."

“You don’t need phony confidence. You need an elevator speech that's so brutally honest and relevant to your audience that you’ll stop people in their tracks. When you feel confident in your material, confidence in yourself comes naturally.”

“Pull them in with facts.” For four hours, Mark interviewed the businessperson about the company he founded. In particular, Mark was looking for facts. What kind? Facts about how the company began, who exactly it helped, and concrete evidence of the approach the businessman took in his projects.

“I was looking for tangible things,” says Mark. “Things a camera would see. Sometimes that camera would be shooting a close-up: 'Tell me about how you helped one company.’ Other times it would pull back for a wide-angle shot: ‘Tell me about one commonality among the hundreds of companies you’ve helped'. Big picture and relevant granular details are both important."

Soon, Mark uncovered ten factual statements that formed the basis of a powerful pitch. Remarkably, the person was able to use one of those facts to demonstrate that his firm was, in a specific yet important category, the #1 firm in his industry. This was a position the businessman had not realized he could own until he had invested the time with Mark.

“When it comes to finding a big sexy idea and a strong marketplace position,” says Mark, “philosophy, opinion, and point-of-view are critically important. But when you look at the facts, at the telling details, you see things in a whole new way. Looking at the facts takes the pressure off. You escape the demands of your mind, and you’re more clearly able to see all the ways you’ve helped people.”

“Start with where your audience is.” Mark and I discussed how best to pitch an idea (or, what he calls “a big sexy idea”). He says that a problem some people have is that when they share the idea with others, they jump into explaining their solution too quickly. “If you jump to your solution,” he says, “you’ll do one of two things: both bad.

“First, the person you’re pitching to won’t know that you truly understand who they are, what they’re facing, and what they want to accomplish in the world. Before you tell them how you’re unique, they want to know you recognize how they’re unique.

“Second, if you jump to your solution, you’re forcing the other person to make sense of it and how it fits into their life. You’re asking them to do too much work. That’s work, by the way, they won’t do. They’ll ignore you or they’ll put on a false smiling face while they think of reasons to leave."

“When pitching an idea, start with where your audience is. They haven’t lived your life. They’ve lived theirs. Make it easy on them. Talk about things important to them. Talk about situations pulled right from their daily work. Show them that you know what they’re experiencing in ways that they themselves may not have even articulated. Then, and only then, should you talk about solutions and what you have that’s different.”

“To find your big sexy idea, look at your business as if it’s a book.”Clients come to Mark to find their marketplace position, or get help in writing a book. Mark, in fact, has a long history in the world of books. He’s worked in publishing, book wholesaling, and book retail. He’s written books, ghost-written books, coached people on writing books, and taught writing at Rutgers University.

“It’s no wonder, then,” says Mark, “that when I look at positioning your business, I look at it as if it’s a book. See, whether you realize it or not, like a book your business has a main idea. It’s ‘about’ something. That main idea may be sharp and distinct, or it may be general and commoditized. It may be easy for people to talk about, or it may be fighting with other ideas, so talking about it is hard."

“I look at your business and think, ‘Right now, what’s the main idea here? What’s the idea, and what are all the things substantiating that idea? What are the facts, stories, pieces of philosophy, exercises, frames, endorsements, and so on."

“While I’m examining things, I look for story-lines that might be buried, or that the business owner hadn’t thought about before, and I ask myself: ‘If this storyline were brought to the fore, how would that change everything? What would the business’s new focus be? Who would be its customers? How would it make a difference in their lives? What would they be buying? How would they be talking about it?’

“It’s really about trying new story-lines that are honest, but unused. It’s searching for a way to make a book into a page-turner. Sometimes – not always, but sometimes – a little change can make a commoditized idea into a big sexy idea. It can make a good book into a blockbuster. “

I asked Mark about how his ideas on positioning and branding applied specifically to personal brands. He told me: “It all applies. Everything I’ve been saying works for big businesses and brands of one. “Your brand, no matter what the size, always needs to be about an idea. Right? It’s not about you. It’s how you make a particular audience’s life better. It’s what you stand for and what you symbolize.

Mark's parting wisdom: “You’re never selling your humanity. You’ll always be selling an idea.”

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flicker: Sir Richard Branson by Jarle Naustvik

Ode to"Blount" - Blunt Truth on Sales Results


I get harassed about why I stopped banging the drum for an all social selling approach and went full throttle for phone. The blunt truth, is without the human voice on the line, your KPIs in generating net new business are toast. Jeb taught me that but let's dig a little deeper.

I think Jeb Blount is heroic and may just be the "hardest working man in sales" on Terra Firma so I'm doing what I can to catch up and so should each one of you! Here's why: He's been writing arguably the best books on sales on the market today, picking up where SPIN and Challenger left off. Those books were like Beatles records of sales but leave almost every reader dumbfounded on how to "earn the right to challenge" and where on earth to generate the "insight." Jeb argues that with the crazy busy modern executive, there's just no time to "teach, tailor, or take control" without leveraging a level of persuasion and emotional intelligence to even begin to tell your story.


From my lens, Jeb's focused on 2 major themes hidden from view in the modern sales canon. They differentiate his work from the rest of the 10,000+ sales books out there except maybe content Ben Zoldan and Mike Bosworthtouch on in "What Great Salespeople Do." You almost never read about emotional vulnerability or storytelling at this level. The majority of strategic sales methods are highly analytical and heavy on control.

C-Levels like stallions, aren't fans of saddles so if you break 'em they certainly will not buy you.

Sales programs are typically constructed by those that can't do but love to teach. Many sales methodologies and processes are so complex that they tend to confuse reps limiting adoption and results.

Jeb delivers in stark contrast. Just go read the hundreds of glowing reviews on Amazon.

Where Jeb Blount, pronounced "blunt" - bluntly breaks new ground with evergreen themes:

• Emotional Intelligence or Sales EQ: People buy on emotion and rationalize with logic. There's neuroscience behind this but it's this simple truth that earns us a seat at the table and allows us to WIN. Even if we have the weaker solution and approach the meetings, those ultra high performers that trigger an emotional connection will win. The kicker, the customer will even have a rational explanation for how it's better. The analogy that COKE only tastes better than Pepsi when drinkers first see the can is a wild truth.

• High Quality Daily Sales Activity: This is the 80/20 rule that allows top performers to consistently fill their pipeline. I argue in my upcoming COMBO Prospecting, that if you could isolate the 20% most effective things to do on a daily basis and then only do those at scale, just imagine! He provides that blueprint, too. We're all familiar with the "busy fool syndrome" and social selling has been the ultimate scourge of that. Lots of bad activity amounting to little revenue, if any. It's not only about performing the right actions but prioritizing which "dream" accounts – in Iannarino parlance – and "dream" stakeholders to fire on every single day, with which message and how to follow it up in the right bold sequence to get noticed and progress micro-commitments.

What makes Jeb so credible? He has been a top performer in the trenches himself working up the corporate ladder. He's done seven figure deals. He's scaled his own consultancy. He's a master of all forms of selling from transactional to strategic. He hones his craft and reads voraciously. He uses all the tools in the toolkit building a bridge across the generations.

What I love about Jeb is his charismatic ability to weave personal stories from his time in the trenches into his material. He has a great sense of humor, no nonsense approach and always massive amounts of warmth radiating off the pages.

In many ways, my new book "COMBO Prospecting" (pre-order for January release) is like an Aussie Love Letter to Jeb. He is so relentless it's downright controversial in a world where sellers really just want the easy button. SDRs graduate to an AE thinking they can stop prospecting. Sales VPs graduate to CRO thinking they can just become "spread sheet jockeys," removed from the messy business of Human to Human interaction. But it's actually the opposite. The higher up we get on the sales food chain, the more important "true connection" becomes.

I would greatly encourage you to buy the following 3 books immediately. Better yet, move them to the front of your Audible or Kindle queue. I challenge you not to find them in the top 5 sales books you've ever read. My synopsis.

  • People Buy You: Why? This is not about becoming a relationship seller. It's more speaking to building true connections and the little things like manners, integrity and polish that differentiate you as a seller. I think CEB confirms 53% of why C-Levels buy is the experience they have with the salesperson as all solutions become increasing commoditized in this time of AI, automation, and offshoring.
  • Fanatical Prospecting: Why? The truth is, you've got to understand axioms like the "universal law of need," "law of replacement" and Horstman's Corollary to play in the big leagues. In short, you can't have needy commission breath. You can't only prospect when your pipeline is empty because you'll roller coaster. And, "Work contracts to fill the time we give it!" This is the best book on prospectingever written and greatly inspired mine.
  • Sales EQ: Why? There is actually a great deal of smoke and mirrors around NLP, trusted advisor and insight selling. This is the research on neuroscience that describes the emotional world of buyers and how it's the ultimate edge for the top 3% of sales eagles. Essentially, challenging buyers with insight is impossible without earning the right by setting them at ease with empathy.
"It's the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen." - John Wooden

Jeb likes to chop wood and further confirms that sales in the modern age is the most blue collar of white collar professions. I've coined the expression, "Modernized selling requires a pale blue collar." You've gotta connect to power, powerfully connect, build value collaboratively and then be well liked enough to inspire change. That's hard. I'm the duck, poised on the surface, paddling like hell underneath!

Jeb will teach you how to be more likable even if you are having the worst day of your life. He'll give you actionable, simple advice that cuts through the noise to produce sales results in any market.

I'm on the edge of my seat to see what Jeb will do next in his career. His work ethic and mastery of the fundamentals remind me of Coach John Wooden, nicknamed the "Wizard of Westwood," who won ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period as head coach at UCLA, including a record seven in a row.

Jeb's a brilliant coach who truly cares about people over profit. It radiates in all his work. He's the real deal. I trust Jeb to filter out all the BS coming out in sales books these days that honestly will be a theoretical practice for your team and will fail your pipeline. There are so many brilliant minds in sales today but for some reason, Jeb is ahead of the pack.

What are your favorite theories, quotes and concepts in Jeb's work? Have you read his books, followed his exceptional podcasts or interfaced with him directly? Let's fill the comments here with some gravy-laden love and "results" oriented stories for Jeb so he keeps raining golden nuggets for many decades to come!


If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

The Definitive Business Case For Sales Navigator

Business is done at the speed of trust and this is why relationships still matter. LinkedIn is the #1 platform for building a strong personal brand to show insight and value. But you can also use it to go to the next level in driving profitable sales revenue. 

I don't work for LinkedIn nor do I receive commissions. I am a best-selling author and the #1 influencer in professional selling in Asia-Pacific (Top Sales Magazine). I have three decades of business-to-business (B2B) sales success and my sales methodologieshave delivered hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. I come from the real world of complex enterprise selling and here is a truth I share with all my clients as they strive for greater sales success.

Everyone must embrace a modernized approach to selling by leveraging social platforms for increased reach, building sales pipeline and improving sales efficiency.

Most enterprises have already invested in Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and some wonder why they should also invest in LinkedIn's Sales Navigator. Both technologies, along with marketing automation tools, are essential to drive revenue, reduce customer churn and create outstanding customer experience (CX). CRM enables corporations to manage qualified sales opportunities, customers and partners but Sales Navigator is the tool for proactively building pipeline to fill the sales funnel. Sales Navigator is also the way to manage risks for employers who rightly worry about their sales people potentially taking their contacts, prospects and customers with them when they leave.

Before we look specifically at business case for Sales Navigator, it's important to understand the definition of 'Social Selling' and the business case for investing. Click on the link above or the image below for details.

As an example of the power of Social Selling techniques and the LinkedIn platform, here is proof that LinkedIn beats phone and e-mail for generating results. John Dougan did the real world test without any pre-conceived notion of which outreach channel would deliver the best results in selling tickets to an executive breakfast event. These are the results from 300 outreaches using an equal spread of LinkedIn's InMail, outbound phone calls and traditional e-mail:

  • 100 InMails sent generated 67 responses and 44 event registrations
  • 100 phone calls generated 32 connections and 20 registrations
  • 100 e-mails sent generated 12 responses and 6 registrations

LinkedIn responses outperformed e-mail by 558% and LinkedIn responses outperformed phone by 209%. But none of this so far is about Sales Navigator... What is it, how does it work and why is it important?

What Is Sales Navigator?

Sales Navigator is a separate platform from an individual's LinkedIn account (their free or Premium LinkedIn profile). Navigator opens up the LinkedIn database (433 million of the world's professionals) regardless of degree of connection. Whereas the free version of LinkedIn limits a user to their first and second degree connections when searching and Premium extends to third degree connections, Navigator provides the ability to send InMail to people who are not direct connections. But the biggest value is the search capabilities to create leads and monitor for trigger events. Here is a feature comparison


Why Is Sales Navigator Essential?

A Harvard Business Review article highlighted that 90% of decision makers never respond to cold outreach and according to Corporate Executive Board research, 97% of cold calls yield no result. Today's procurement departments often obscure their buying processes and decision-making power-base comprised of 5 to 6 people. Despite the need to achieve consensus in decision-making, they often deny access to the senior executives driving change and making the real decisions in any significant investment.


75% of buyers research before choosing to respond or engage and this is why a strong personal brand is so important. When making a significant investment, where there is complexity and risk, executive buyers focus on trust with individuals before entertaining any form of pitch on brand, 'solutions' or organizational capabilities. 

Research conducted by C9 Inc. found 7 times more pipeline and 11 times more revenue (36 companies and 9,000 sellers) was generated by those who embraced the LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator tool. LinkedIn themselves analysed a cross section of new and existing sellers who increased pipeline by 45% and the probability of achieving their sales targets increased by 51% simply by improving their standard LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) scores.

Would you like to improve the likelihood (not 'chances') by 51% for sales people to achieve target? Sell the benefits to your up-line management or board and then buy Sales Navigator but also invest in change management to role it out to your team successfully.

The business benefits of investing in Sales Navigator are:

  • More sales pipeline and revenue growth
  • Greater sales efficiency and CRM integration
  • Less risk from competitors being able to monitor sales activities
  • Less risk from sales people walking out the door with direct relationships with sales pipeline relationships.


The Sales Navigator platform is separate from a person's individual LinkedIn profile and provides a different view that is uncluttered with feeds and 'noise'. At a more granular level, the benefits are:

  • Gain access to world's most powerful and accurate database of business contacts where the degree of connection and relevance of roles can be identified without the need to send connection requests. Sales Navigator provides 25 unlocked database searches (unlocks hidden profiles) with InMail communication every month.
  • Save time in identifying and securing trusted introductions as the best path for warm introductions to those who make the decisions. Opening is far more important that closing and Sales Navigator transforms the way relationships are established. Team Edition of Navigator is invaluable for large organizations because it identifies which of your colleagues or management team knows target contacts based on same fraternity, common interest groups, etc. 
  • Monitor role-based trigger events to generate of quality sales pipeline where you can engage early, embed your value within their business case and create a bias toward your solution features or business model.
  • Dramatically improve the efficiency of selling with CRM integration, and the ability to research, build a power-base relationship map, collaborate with others who share common connections. Microsoft's acquisition of LinkedIn will no doubt bring significant integration enhancements as they seek to unlock greater value from Dynamics CRM and LinkedIn.
  • Stay ahead of your competition by being able to see their prospects and clients but without allowing them to see your business pipeline relationships that are not yet secured as loyal customers. Sending connection requests to early stage prospects can damage the chances of success and create competitive threats.


What Does It Cost?

Sales Navigator is approximately $100 per month but everyone should be on Premium anyway which is approximately $50 per month.

The delta is therefore only ~$50 per month

Sales navigator includes a Premium profile so you do not have to pay for both. Compare that with the cost of employing a sales person and it's a no-brainer. It's roughly the cost of a cell phone per month. Selling is difficult and how can anyone expect to be successful without the right tools!

Trying to sell without Sales Navigator in a business-to-business context is like a freight courier business without satellite navigation and tracking... it's just plain negligent. 

If you would like to see how Sales Navigator works, here is where you see a demo from LinkedIn and obtain more information from them. The video below enables you to view a demo without needing to complete an online form.

Beyond the basics of building a strong online personal brand, the new KPI for intelligent business-to-business (B2B) selling is the Social Selling Index (SSI) score and the video below provides a brief overview.

I've also published an article explaining SSI here and you can also see your own SSI score by clicking the image below and then the link within the article.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image: Image: Tony Hughes using two LinkedIn public branding graphics

The Greatest Secret to Social Selling Success Is Hiding In Plain Sight


That's it. That's the rub. Millions of words, tweets and concepts compiled everyday on the interwebs about this tragically beautiful human thing we call selling and the social networks we're all grappling to understand boiled down into two words.

It's simple, it's not about you. It's about your customer. It's about your network. So how do you move off the solution, move off yourself and start to be present for others? Being geniuinely, authentically interested in what's in it for them, other's success and OPC - other people's content - will produce shocking results.

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou

I moved my blog to LinkedIn but I released all the intellectual property I had here. I endeavored to give every shred of knowledge I have away after 30 years in selling back to the world for anyone interested. From 1,600 followers on LinkedIn Publish to over 6,000 was an incredible journey of discovery of each one of you in these last 90 days. So many interesting people have reached out for advice, mentorship, with partnership opportunities, asking about specific business challenges and sharing their story.

The benefit to me is not book sales or speaking gigs. That's the byproduct. The true self-actualized fulfillment is knowing I'm helping you. What I try to do every day is listen in social. I compile lists and add intriguing minds to them on Twitter so that anyone with something uniquely original to say makes it to Web 3.0 Champions. This list is closing in on 700 people. I listen around the clock in TweetDeck and retweet interesting things back out to my followers.

It's lonely on the extra mile of social selling. It's lonely taking five to ten extra minutes to read an entire article and pull out that one tidbit of genius it's self evident that writer worked so hard on. I'll comment that back. I'll ask a question about that silver lining. It's almost like SPIN listening. I want to know why? Why did they think of that brilliant concept? What influenced their writing? What was the situation or story behind the story?

LinkedIn is a gold mine. Not for what it can do for you but for what you can do for others. It's life-affirming and enhancing. You can unlock its secrets and world changing power only by thinking altruistically, philanthropically and in a pay-it-forward spirit of service. Service is the highest form of consciousness and Go-Giver selling is a unique reverse-pyramid paradigm. I'm always looking to take a step back and be thoughtful, to be 'fully there' present, giving that connection my full attention. Does this set me apart?

I'm always impressed when Mike Kunkle reads my entire post or David Brock weighs-in. They are so prolific it's mind-blowing. I read Dave's Partners in Excellence every day and marvel at how he fuses cutting edge social selling with advanced B2B strategic methodology. How about Anthony Iannarino? He's done 2,000 posts and look at the quality and level of insight. Jill Konrath is prolific in social, giving it all away. Jill Rowley makes the most thoughtful comments. She's a master at social listening and recently tweeted a plate of bacon at me – creative genius. The more they give, the more it comes back around in karma. When you write something with the intent of helping people, which hopefully this article will do, it not only puts out more great energy into the universe, hopefully the reader gets a result. They feel empowered, inspired and ready to go surmount the obstacles in their day.

Content marketing and social selling have become an addiction for some. I'll admit, I may not sleep as much as I used to. I am addicted to helping others. My iPhone buzzes with a tweet from the UK or an e-mail from The States. I'll get a new review of my book that makes me tear up for a moment. For those of you that have written a book, you understand the labor of love this represents. I'll get a profound question posed in a thread or group on here and I'll really think about it. Sometimes the questions are more exciting than the answers; the articles on LinkedIn Publisher are so thought provoking I'll wake up in the night with a new answer.

Inspiration is what LinkedIn gifted traditional selling. It opened up all our networks in an exponential way expanding our horizons. It makes the world smaller and breaks down barriers and that's a good thing. It's keeping us all more engaged and inspired than ever before. It's open sourcing knowledge and this synergy is making us all better.

I've warned my readers not to live on a computer even the supercomputer in their hand. We weren't meant to have 3 arms, wouldn't you agree? Maybe it's a bit more of a luxury for me as an independent consultant who's blazed a trail speaking, coaching, training and writing for a living. I hope you find these words helpful and explore what I call MY CORPUS. Dig around in there daily and apply some things to the real world every day. Please let me know how it worked, or could have worked better. After 30 years and many million-dollar deals fought for, won and lost; after incredible failure, rejection and success – I do believe what I've encapsulated here is the essence of professional selling success at the highest level.

Social Selling can be strategic. We can elevate it. It can be your edge and competitive advantage. Social selling is very much about being interested. The more hours you take understanding your customers, the greater partner you are able to be. The more you listen in meetings, the higher propensity to close. Actively listening is one level and the ultimate level is being fully there, smartphone off, notepad ready to write it down, making eye contact. Don't sell with your eyes. Just be there, shut off the past and future and contemplate every word. Don't look to interject or craft the next persuasive retort. Let go of all that: it's worthless, really.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes. The greatest mysteries were often hiding in plain sight. All of sales can be reduced to two words. BE INTERESTED. It shouldn't be that simple but if you just did that every day, you'd quantum leap all your competitors. It's not even about competition, it's about creation and sharing. I recently had the privilege to consult on an eight figure deal with an executive that hardly spoke. Just eye contact, listening and deft note taking. Timely follow-up displayed the depth of their understanding.

If you made it to the bottom of this post it's definitely going to pay off. How can you become more interested? Many people act like they're in Hollywood on LinkedIn: 'Enough about me, what do you think of me?' Buzzer! It's not about you silly!

  • Sort your social stream by Recent Updates so you can see them all.
  • Scroll and wait for something to jump out and grab you.
  • Read through slowly and don't just hit the like button.
  • Click through, read the entire thing.
  • Comment and reference something in the text, image or video.
  • If they reply, comment again.
  • Share a link.
  • @Mention them (use the @ sign to backlink to their name or others who should read it which will notify them and help others discover their work).
  • When you do a big LinkedIn Publish post, pull quotes from the readers underneath and add them back in with the quote feature. I love doing that! #interactive
  • InMail people, message them and admire what they wrote.
  • Give, digitally give. Define what that means to you! I get a thoughtful message from one author after every single post I write. He's a social selling champion.
  • Grab coffee
  • Take it off-line
  • Join 50 groups
  • Start your own group asking provocative questions of the group members.
  • Foster discussion don't just thank. You're giving when you want to know more.
  • Ask why!
  • When you retweet add a comment in that 140 characters.
  • When you read something inspiring, write something of your own in response and Tweet it back at that person.
  • Hashtag thoughtfully don't just stuff every tweet (guilty! – learning...)

This post has profound implications on CEOs and leaders. Please spend twenty minutes a day on your own LinkedIn profile. You could literally change lives with the power of social media by allowing more access to you. Writing a weekly update on Publisher as a thought leader helps many people. It elevates the sector. In order for social selling to work, we need the entire business community to all get online in here forming a super network. It's the promise of the utopian virtual reality. Ultimately, hiding behind a gatekeeper is again convenient for you but you're only further from the end customer you serve. I'm astounded when I tweet something at a brand and they don't respond to my tweet when others pick it up and respond in minutes. Social listening not only protects brand reputation it surprises and delights customers, the lifeblood of your entire business no matter your market share. CEOs: Your boss is ultimately a satisfied customer!

It's extremely difficult to be interested when you have over 1,000 friends, a deluge of Twitter handles you follow and streams that look like stock market tickers from Hudsucker Proxy spitting out data faster than a texting teenager. Get a list together in HootSuite or TweetDeck. Filter out multiple lists by vertical. Slow down to speed up. Re-sort your LinkedIn or Facebook feed to see all the posts and retrain the algorithm by liking different things. Make an old fashioned spreadsheet of targets and check in on just the top 30 each day. Start up conversations with dream customers.

Ultimately this subtle change starts with you. Paradoxically it's not about being more interesting, it's about being more interested! I'm interested in your thoughts about this idea so please leave a comment below. If you seldom ever leave comments make a violent exception even if it's just a share or like. Thank you!

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Ricardo Liberato

The 5 Most Unusual Daily Habits Of Highly Effective Social Sellers

They publish daily.

Believe it or not, top social sellers publish content to LinkedIn Publisher, their own blog or in Medium, everyday. They don't just publish what they think, they maintain a running 'string' of backlinks to mash up into the articles providing social proof of what other thought leaders think. This builds a content foundation of authenticity and veracity. They reference other articles, they newsjack current events and they respond to technology trends, world news and Google / Twitter trends. They are unabashedly utilitarian in helping their following with Youtility content; this is highly actionable content their dream customers can use to better their business and lives – right after reading it and in real-time.

  • Are you publishing daily on LinkedIn – yes you read that write – daily? Do you publish for others? In other words, is your work featured on other highly trafficked sites with author attribution?
  • Have you built a list of evergreen sources and a strategy for mashing up recent topics that matter?
  • Are you a trusted thought leader, subject matter expert and referenced source on the bleeding edge of your industry?
  • Do you have an active YouTube channel where you curate other amazing video content but also your own videos? Are they real raw and authentic or overly slick?
  • Do you participate in Twitter chats, Tweetups, Google Hangouts, Social Hangouts on YouTubes and interactive webinars? Are you a guest speaker on webinars for software companies?

If not, this is the number one habit I suggest and witness top enterprise sellers picking up in 2015 to rocket their success in #strategicsocialselling. Teach your customers with new insight in a public forum. Like Challenger says, teach with new and compelling insight that you've garnered from being active in your sector by listening to the common challenges and pain points that run rampant in the key verticals that you serve. Provide a channel: be the brand and face of that brand, channel and company. We are living in the age of the 'rise of personal brands' after all. Think edutainment! Share stories of customer success and case studies. Collaborate with other elite social sellers on content – very soon you'll be one. Even collaborate with your customers and friends, encouraging them to guest post on your blog.

They comment daily.

What's unusual about the most active sellers in your company on social media? They're frequently the top sales people too. Back in the day when social media was controversial, they studied top performing university students and found paradoxically that those most active in social media had the highest marks! Your top sellers frequently have a Social Selling Index Score of over 70 out of 100, which is quite rare. (It's humbling to see that mine has shot up to 82 after applying these methods.) Yes, they have a high Klout score too, a dizzying array of followers on Twitter and their stream is so jam packed with useful, wow content – you'd probably wonder, 'when are they actually working and how are they putting all this out to good use for our bottom line?'

But that's just how effective they are in social media, nurturing the funnel, edutaining and providing unexpected value daily. What's better for the bottom line than deeply satisfied customers and your customer's customers? What's better than a new customer that converted 90% of the way because they've been following your top reps blog for 9 months! As the face of your brand, they are proactive meets interactive. And commenting is a science and art form unto itself. Top sellers are actively participating in groups with provocative comments that foster deeper conversation and peel back the onion on commonly shared pain. They participate in the groups where your top customers go like CMOs or LinkedIn CXOs. They ask the questions that matter, effectively and frequently. When they read an article anywhere on the internet, they take the time to comment at the bottom with a track back to their blog or your companies site unlocking a landing page for a free white paper with game-changing insight. I've noticed an incredible delta between the interactivity levels of top social sellers versus those that are passively curating and monitoring.

  • How many comments do you post per day?
  • Are you solely hitting the like button or are you slowing down to fully read what's compelling in your stream?
  • Have you set up Lists and Filters for Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, etc. so that you have a 'string' to cross reference when you write and comment?
  • Are you open sourcing everything to reduce friction and make it easy to buy from you (3.0) or gating everything to get backlash, increase bounce rates and negatively impact conversion rate optimization (2.0)?
  • Do you go share these social updates and push them out in non-duplicative ways to each social network or is it the same link inelegantly spammed everywhere hurting your SEO? Don't post the same link in every group you participate in, not even two? Never do this! Participate in groups by asking open questions and actively threading. It's a paradigm shift... trust me. I get many invites each week from this meta-tactic alone.

They courageously connect daily.

If you're not leveraging a Premium LinkedIn account, I would argue you're missing the full value of the system. It's incredibly affordable if you sell anything over $100. If you sell products and services over $250,000 into the enterprise, it's worth its weight in Inca Gold. Let me explain... Like any tool, it's how you use it – you'll get what you put in. Top social sellers exhaust their InMails... every single one. I use every InMail that I can and I'm courageous about it. I recently wrote a very senior executive at LinkedIn and was thrilled to get a warm response and some good strategic advice on improvising / improving content strategy. It's gratifying to see the team at LinkedIn 'dogfooding' their own product and practicing what they preach. People often ask if I 'work for LinkedIn?' No, I promote it like crazy because it works and the network effects are singular. I pay a premium for it because I would pay 10X more for the tangible revenue it drives into my consulting business and the power of the network alone that it's allowing me to build as a speaker, bestselling author and consultant who is well known in Australia but still breaking into international spheres:

  • Honestly, are you exhausting every InMail?
  • Are you courageously writing to the actual CEO, President or very important top officer (VITO) that can sign your contract?
  • Are you being courageous when you reach out maintaining relevance and respect or are you playing too small in social?

They listen, curate and share daily.

Top sellers don't just hit the 'like' button. They go further than that. When they read something in Publish that inspires them, they send a friend request with a tailored message. They take the time to study targets before connecting. They often have the luxury of an enterprise LinkedIn Sales Navigator subscription that allows them to passively monitor key contacts in major strategic accounts so they can stay alert for trigger events before reaching out. Top sellers are listening to the Crunchbase feed to see who gets funding and connect in with them – daily. Funding is a phenomenal trigger event as is M & A, as are job changes and transitions, promotions or a big initiative on the docket announced in the media. The biggest, baddest, boldest trigger events are often hiding in plain sight. It's all about how we look at our streams as highly effective social sales people of the new age. Train your team on all the mechanics of Trigger Event Selling and build in measurable KPIs, metrics and critical success factors into your CRM dashboards to track leading measure activity levels. Something like an SSI score can even be SPIFFed or bonused around. At a few leading enterprise technology companies I'm even aware of a special status for the highest ranking social sellers in the company. Hint, one of them is top top social seller on my strategic social selling unicorns list!

Top sellers are cross referencing with LinkedIn Premium Data, with Rapportive for reverse email lookups. They're calling into the switchboard to verify phone numbers, understand political power bases and mapping organizational charts. They're being hyperactive in how they combine all mediums of outreach: Social, Mobile, Calling, Research – Google+, Facebook, Twitter. Top sales people are tracking email w/ Yesware and watching in social – putting all of this together into a gestalt to generate intel and insight. As they listen, they share. As they curate they comment and 'prosume' which is the opposite of consume. They write blog posts in response to other blog posts. They remix and mashup. They stoke provocative comment threads and take those conversations off line or amplify them back online in their own groups. Yes, they start their own groups and frequently help to moderate the company's official Facebook Page, Twitter Account or LinkedIn group. (Which can have several admins by the way!)

  • As a manager are you bringing Sales and Marketing together weekly?
  • Are you encouraging your top sales people to become micro-marketers?
  • Are you just phoning it in with the like button?
  • If you had to meet the last 5 authors of Publisher Posts you liked in person, would you be able to honestly reflect on what they wrote? Just think, these could be your next dream customers!
  • Are you filtering with TweetDeck or HootSuite? Are you leveraging social filtration technology and tools to step up your game? Are you leveraging Buffer App to Tweet while you sleep to accommodate your base on different time zones? Are you building highly targeted Twitter Lists so that you can retweet with comment?
  • Here's a big one: Are you sharing your compelling sales story and you personal life story? Are you featuring customer wins and testimonials? More importantly than anything else in this article – are you making the content about them? For them! Is it immediately useful and applicable to their job today?
  • Are you writing passionately about the things you know best in life and tying these insight back to business? (Sports, music, philosophy, history, politics + your brand + your software + your UVP!)

They aim straight for the top daily.

This last point is a fascinating one. I was approached and am now coaching an executive who read my book that is consistently closing six figure deals in under a 90-day sales cycle fully inside, by applying my RSVPselling framework and this last point daily. I have been consulting companies on how to build a LinkedIn War Room to ramp revenue and dramatically lower cost of field sales, which is very different from a traditional Web 2.0 Social Media Command Center.

Don't be intimidated by the senior executives in social media. Every CXO was once just starting out. Richard Branson encourages a leapfrog strategy in which you go high courageously. LinkedIn InMails give you the ability to write to just about anyone in the system. Do not waste them. Do your research and reach out with a compelling business case. My book, The Joshua Principle, tells the story of how a fairly junior sales rep landed a key meeting with the CEO of his biggest target account to bring home the biggest deal of his career and jumpstart his trajectory into sales leadership. I recommend you read it as a blueprint for generating just what that key insight will be as you improve how to develop the acumen to connect at the very top.

Senior executives focus on outcomes and risk. They'll be more impressed if you understand their balance sheet, annual report and what they're sharing in social, at conferences and in the minutes of their quarterly call, then if you parrot puffery and cliches back to them or show up with static thoughts printed out. You can't be canned – you have to understand! You would be surprised how much subject matter expertise you already have and in many industries, how little exposure business leaders often get to technology acceleration and change from the corner office. If you're in a disruptive business or unit of a big company acting disruptively, you have a severe edge. The savviest CEOs I know are always looking to constantly converse and network to keep their skill set sharpened and their knowledge ahead of the curve. They want to meet with Millennials – they're looking to be reverse mentored. So many sales people will aim lower and be too intimidated. Reaching high will make all the difference in your ability to sell top-down as you beeswarm and build consensus with social connectivity across the organization. Be careful – not everyone in an account should be wantonly added in social media. There are always frenemies and competitors in every deal, the greatest of which is 'do nothing' aka the dread status quo!

  • Are you analyzing a company and aiming one level too low? Are you afraid to access the C-Suite? Are you just sending a passive friend request rather than researching for 15 minutes to a half an hour and writing an extremely targeted and customized message that is timely and relevant with your bespoke CXO LinkedIn invite or InMail?
  • Are you slowing down to connect with less people more meaningfully or mass adding off a conference attendee list?
  • When powerful people add you back on LinkedIn or Twitter are you sending a personalized message?
  • Are you tweeting at top thought leaders, bloggers and the tech media that covers your sector? Are you inserting yourself into the conversations that matter? Are you paying it forward - giving to get? Sharing to be shared?
  • Here's a really big one: Are you playing up to your audience's intelligence or dumbing yourself down? Why not write content to help leaders in your industry advance even further? That right there, is the yellow brick road to the emerald city of Trusted Advisor – digitally. Paradoxically, you'll get noticed if you cater to your audience's existing expertise and advance the knowledge base further rather than the constant drone of: basics, basics... basics.

Now it's your turn: What are the daily habits and routines of the most effective social sellers that you've noticed, that I may have forgotten to include on this list? What's your secret sauce in social? Are you willing to share it below in the comments for the Youtility of everyone reading? If so, thank you!

I'm endeavoring to live every principle in this post every day right here.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: Mike Licht

Empowering The Next Generation Of Sellers

There's a new generation of sellers that are dipping their toe in the water but not sure that they're ready to dive into the deep end. Everywhere a Millennial looks, there's a mirage of a growth hacks, quick fixes or automation. Are we going to slow down and teach the next generation the back-to-basics approaches of the great sales masters who came before?

I want to strongly encourage the next generation to enter the field of sales. Nobody ever felt as good as a salesperson closing a deal that makes her quarter. The prism of emotional endorphin based experience is impossible to produce without the overlapping of three separate inputs:

1. Being useful to another person...making them proud of an accomplishment that couldn't have occurred without a successful sales experience (SSE).

2. Feeling that your value is holographically fractal, that what has begun in your deepest emotional core, is repeatable and drives you further to begin limitless new sales cycles.

3. Being acknowledged by superiors or opinion leaders that lead directly to the achievement of your financial goals.

This triumvirate effectively unmasks the current phony value of the proverbial college education...NO ONE LEARNS ANYTHING about how to create the SSE!! Get these kids selling!! That will produce a generation of spectacular capitalists, who have achieved the one thing that has been elusive since the beginning of time...HAPPINESS.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main image photo by Flickr: Andrea Rose

Top 15 Insidious Social Selling Myths

Not everything is a mermaid that dives into the water. - Russian Proverb

Don't be seduced by the siren song of social selling mermen and mermaids romanticizing you to wreck your strategic social selling vessel with sails for insights on the shoals of mediocrity... There will never be a magic bullet to closing deals, especially large complex B2B engagements with highly matrixed Fortune 2,000 enterprises. There have been a great deal of Do-It-Yourself programs and Easy Social Selling hot air Zeppelins being blown around on here, oversimplifying just how much of a science and art form professional selling represents.

Veiled attempts to placate and console us with oversimplification as a finger in the dike, won't fill the gaping hole that is the dearth of advanced strategic approaches infused into social. It still takes years to develop a sound sales process, business acumen and the wisdom of experience to successfully navigate strategic partnerships and big ticket closes. We face a constant threat of complexity and commoditization. If we are in the incumbent, we are being disrupted by point solutions. If we are a smart incumbent we are working to disrupt ourselves with Skunk Works groups like Google X within our own walls. If we're in a point solution, we are going up against legacy systems, David versus Goliath so we must be more cunning and strategic than ever to topple the Death Star.

Any way you slice it, selling is a full-contact sport and physical, mental and emotional challenge - not for the faint of heart. Here are the top myths I've seen promulgated that are truly misleading Millennials joining our ranks and giving seasoned pros who manage a team beginning to embrace 'social selling' a headache. There are many get-rich-quick social selling systems being sold that make money for their creators but simply won't work if you're aim is to be successful as an enterprise account executive, VP, SVP, or Managing Director of Sales; even as a founder or entrepreneur selling in social.

First, a great summary of where LinkedIn leveraged for sales is right now with a poker analogy in a thread with Peter Caddick, Co Founder at Sales Ammo & Social Ammo revealing critical new insight:

These myths of Social Selling apply to SMBs all the way up to major corporations. I'll unpack them now:

Myth #1 – Social media can replace the telephone completely. Social plays in at the top of the funnel for inbound lead generation, warm referrals, warm introductions and due diligence on the key stakeholders in accounts. It's ideal for trigger event tracking and now possible passively [thank you LinkedIn Navigator]. If you connect in there, immediately arrange a call, a skype, a coffee or an on-site for any qualified opportunity. Social works like magic in tandem with the phone, not irrespective of it. Blend all your communication channels together. As you move through your sales process (and you absolutely need to have one), leverage social to increase interactivity (the OKM - one key metric of social selling success). To do this, watch what prospects are doing in LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and comment on it thoughtfully, or send them an interesting article, case study or white paper that contains additional insights to make your case. Show that you're paying close attention! Your competitors aren't unlikely to be. Remember that 99% of the time, once a customer starts to seriously consider your solution they're going to hit the search engines, check out 3 to 5 other competitors, submit to their web forms, get demos and pricing and stack you up against them even in a value-flattening grid. In 2015, there are no more bilateral deals. The information economy has infected all of selling. Every deal is now a bizarre love triangle, trust me on this one. So you need to be interacting five to twelve times along the length of the sales cycle with friendlies in the account to help them preference you as a vendor and move into the trusted advisor status you seek by teaching with new insight and adding value: every step of the way. If you haven't studied military strategy or strategies to politically navigate accounts, good luck. You'll run screaming into a hornet's nest briar patch full of land mines. Yes, while your competitors rest happily like Brer Rabbit waiting to profit off of your mistakes.

Myth #2 –You can hard-sell in social media. Slowly chip away at the myths if you sell a disruptive solution. Leverage content marketing to build awareness. Think of social selling in terms of enablement, edutainment and a ladder of engagement. Hard selling will absolutely fail! Disruptive solutions are often very hard to differentiate outside looking in. Applying force or pressure, trying to hard close or run one of the 25 old-school Glengarry Glen Ross closes like the 'slick close,' 'intelligence close,' 'one-call close,' ad nauseum will fail.

That stuff was proffered up in the 80's during the feature, function, advantage, benefits (FFAB) era. You can't trick or collapse time on customers in social. You'll emit a foul smell and they'll see right through you. There's massive debate around whether 'helping' can 'replace' selling. To fully clarify, consultative and strategic selling are alive and well. Simply imagine how you'd apply these universal principles via this medium. Perform due diligence, actively listen, diagnose before you prescribe, focus on the quality of your questions, asking Implication and Need-Payoff questions to get to the heart of the matter [SPIN]. I literally receive hard pitches on LinkedIn daily and through auto-responder Twitter DMs. 'Tony, are you looking for lead generation? We have the best lead generation with the highest results.' So many apocryphal, disingenuous ROI claims, it's a cacophony. Delete.

Admire others, follow what they're doing and saying. What matters to their business? Engage meaningfully there. Present a compelling business case that highlights unexpected value and recurring value creation over time. Connect, convince and collaborate [Mike Schultz] the whole way. The real-time repartee is the luxury social has afforded us. We're closer to our dream customers than ever before so we're also under the microscope and bad etiquette will kill deals. Challenger selling does not mean to disrespectfully 'challenge' or be pushy. Being condescending toward senior executives by claiming you have more insights then them (even if you do as a specialist) only leaves them with a bad taste in their mouth. In fact, I hear many horror stories of 'overnight Challenger' sales people transferred to new key accounts and challenging with disruptive insight in the first meeting only to have the customer complain to a Regional Director that they don't like their new Account Manager - they are 'rude and snobby.' Can you imagine? Don't forget to set the tone by building a relationship where you're known, liked and trusted first before you lock bullhorns.

The Trusted Advisor by Charles H. Green is an important book for every budding Challenger sales person to read to help temper the cold steel of their insight blade.

Myth #3 – Enterprise sales cycles completely fall away with social making business development instant. You've got to understand my background includes the blood, sweat and tears of selling to government. The cost of engagement is high and one is often brought in only to help them go with the vendor they already like; often not you. Sales cycles for deals over a million dollars have traditionally been high. There is a case for leveraging stealth B2B lead generation automation to uncover latent need, effectively chopping off the top of the funnel. You're still going to need to adhere to the nature of the time it takes for senior executives to make a decision (often by committee or cast of thousands?!! ;-), the reality of corporate procurement divisions incentivized to cut costs and the heavy inexorable weight of 'do nothing' and the status quo. An executive I'm coaching, recently closed a seven figure deal in under 90 days by intercepting a massive compelling event... so it can be done! The land and expand tactic is very possible on here. Building out a multi-million dollar order with cross-functional technical and strategic teams may still take 9 to 16 months even with accelerants in social. Respect the timeline. Remember that silence, waiting a day or week can be highly strategic as it pertains to the timeless Principle of Non-Hunger. If you act too desperate you'll snap the 500 lb. marlin on the line. You'll violate exclusivity and you'll risk looking cheap. Timing is everything!

Myth #4 – Social selling is 'free.' Social selling trainers may claim they can reduce the cost per lead to under $50. Back into your FTE costs, keeping the lights on, utilities, rent, employment costs and the overhead of running the business not to mention taxes. Nothing is free in Water World!

Can it reduce the cost per lead generated? I believe it can. That doesn't mean that traditional lead gen channels like PPC and SEO aren't worthwhile. The blend creates the synergy. A comprehensive sales and marketing organization aligned in their go-to-market will produce a windmill effect of positive upside results. Social selling requires time, adaptation, research and consistency. It requires a great deal of patience and persistence in order to constantly tune for resonance of message with A/B testing. You're still a highly paid inside or field executive [emphasis on commission risk] who must hit or exceed a target quota number to achieve OTE. Social selling will lower cost of sales (COS) dramatically once you create a scalable, repeatable process mapped to the buying journey that minimizes air travel and maximizes revenue closed fully inside. This is why I believe Aaron Ross and Predictable Revenue coupled with Trigger Event Selling application and a LinkedIn Sales Navigator enterprise license is lethal in an internal Tiger Team of 5 broken into a Social Selling Command Center or LinkedIn War Room.

Myth #5 – The size of your LinkedIn network matters. It's not the size of your network, it's how you use it. Your net worth is determined by your network. True but one hundred of the right connections that are relevant to growing your business will trump a 5,000 LION any day. It's a game of quality and quantity. How can you reconcile these factors? It's a paradox, isn't it? In every system on Earth, the axiom of quality, not quantity holds up except mother nature was able to create the Great Barrier Reef: an absolute explosion of flaura meets fauna abundance.

But we have a science of the 'wisdom of crowds' and strength of weak ties that Reid Hoffman has written extensively about. If you only tap your closed silo of friends, you'll never really break the fourth wall and glass ceiling of your own career advancement. Just be choosy about who you let in, don't connect with everyone and make sure there is context. As an author, I cast a wide net and have a larger base. I encourage my clients to segment and target their LinkedIn networks, leveraging the tagging feature to place their friends in buckets and breaking out spreadsheets or a CRM designation for the accounts that matter most pulled from LinkedIn, is sound logic. You can rapidly download the connection lists of your top reps and then sort them with a VLOOKUP in Excel to level the playing field and understand the collective networking power. TeamLink is an advanced feature in Sales Navigator which shows the relationships of your sales team to the greater organization and how your network overlays over theres. Major time saver!

Myth #6 – You don't need a CRM anymore. Who knows where Navigator is going, could LinkedIn launch the most lethal Social CRM ever configured based on their treasure trove of data? Potentially. They've become the Bloomberg Terminal of the economic graph! They've recently closed the API and I can understand that tactic as it's similar to the Apple ecosystem. Navigator works in Salesforce and that's a great start. One holistic solution is always the holy grail but we all know front-end technology becomes a stack. Using InsideView with Navigator with Nimble CRM, with SFDC or Sugar, with Pipeliner and with Marketo or HubSpot is a good idea in the enterprise. You're going to have many competing interfaces but holistic capabilities and intel give you the ability to create a bespoke utility that is most tailored to your business, the sales cycle, the buying cycle and the way C-Level decisions makers specifically interact / engage with your brand. You still need a CRM and CRMs need to get smarter to synthesize in all the data so they can remain the single source of truth on the customer.

Myth #7 – It's easy to leverage social selling and takes little to no work. Set it and forget it, right? I frequently see YouTube videos with a case study on how X or Y salesperson drove a 200% number. Then they interview them and little is articulated. I'm not buying it. If you can't explain to me specifically how and what you did activity-wise to move the needle, it's really just 'hope' and 'positivity' misdirected. I've now gone ballistic in social for almost 90 days and I can tell you it's a slow burn, to a simmer to a boil. My reverse mentor Millennial counterparts warned me it would take a great investment of time, passion and enthusiasm and the results could hit 45 days out. Those that I coach say the same thing, it's a daily discipline - a marathon, not a sprint. Carve out thirty minutes to two hours per day, write out a strategy and select the tactics and specific social networks you will use. Be strategic in how you eat this elephant. You can be the conductor or the symphony. You'll need to keep all (yes all!) your core selling activities up to a maximum and add social in over the top to maximize the opportunity. I do not suggest replacing cold calling to set appointments, discovery calls, on-sites or taking the time to customize compelling presentations.

Myth #8 – All CXOs can be reached to set appoints on here. In some industries like manufacturing, there's still little adoption on LinkedIn. The majority of CEOs are still not actively on LinkedIn and the one's that are often have their accounts managed by an Executive Assistant. Welcome to the paradigm of cold calling taken to cold selling. Consensus-based selling and referrals into the power base are key. The right contact could give you a direct line or cell phone to that key SVP target or C-Level contact who holds the P & L and decision making power that you need to get ahold of to move the deal forward. LinkedIn holds the bread crumbs to the castle and a back grate into the moat so you can slip under the castle wall.

Myth #9 – Everyone is listening and paying attention to everything you say. Your best content is seldom ever being read in full. The majority of people are on a like-a-thon. They're not really reading what you say. That being said, don't shy away from posting in long form, emoting and pouring your heart and soul into daily LinkedIn Publisher posts on here. A bestselling author castigated me for frequent posts on here 90 days ago. Now that same author recommended to another friend to post daily. That's how fast the sector is changing. Being prolific won't hurt you. Your content is forever on here and evergreen. Be open to going back to the archives and sharing a post that did well last year - edit it with a revision or update in a new unit of time. I love reading the top 10 posts of 2014 synopsis from leading bloggers. Post in multimedia formats including YouTube, Infographics, Pinterest Boards, Cartoons, White Papers, Memes, Analyst Reports, Case Studies and SlideShare is going to be huge in 2015!

Myth #10 – You don't need paid accounts. If you're not using LinkedIn Premium, it's majorly limiting. It took me years to upgrade. It's a very small price to pay for the Advance searching capabilities to sort organizations in seconds by CXO contacts in them. Those that use all their InMails crush their quota. It's a statically proven fact. Stop trying to growth hack your way to the promise land in here. Most organizations are open to exploring premium versions of these tools. Sales Navigator is deceptively simple. Get your people trained on it and study the case studies for tactics that merge with your strategy. It's very powerful to be served leads to your smartphone daily. It takes all the manual guesswork out of the process.

Myth #11 – You don't need a sales process or to be strategic. Social selling methods make selling simple? Wrong! There is no need for advanced enterprise methodologies or frameworks? Dead wrong. I've become the poster child for the old school, greyed haired, way. My real goal is to introduce a brand new generation to SPIN, TAS, Power Base, Solution, Strategic, SNAP and my own method RSVP (Relationships - Strategy - Value Creation - Process). Why is this incredibly important? Smart millennials will study the past and apply it in the future. CEOs that proclaim sales is dead and move to a self-serve model will rapidly be outflanked and obsoleted by strategic social sellers who usurp their market share. I'm sorry, self-serve customer service cannot sell the intricacies of enterprise hardware, software, cloud, mobility, ERP, HCM, ITC, Security, Big Data, Predictive Analytics and Automation of Everything. You need a guide who can speak CXO, understand the ramifications to the top and bottom line, seek efficiencies and become a trusted partner in the journey of mutual growth and collaborative discovery.

Myth #12 – You'll lose followers if you post too often. Guy Kawasaki was the first to go nuts on Twitter. For every follower he lost he gained 100. If you don't find that I add value, please unfollow me - you have my express permission. I post once or twice a day when I'm inspired. After 30 years in selling, I feel like I have many things to say. Who knows? For every 200 positive comments I get, I might get one bizarre comment. I've only had one hater ever but oddly he attacked another leading author so that flamed out in a day after he attacked me unilaterally and summarily for no reason: it was amusing. The most prolific people I know blog daily. Who set the speed limit on LinkedIn to once a week? Post daily, share and provide value. You sell every day. Write every day! You probably send out 5 to 25 decks everyday if you're on the front of the funnel. Why wouldn't you put out quality content in short or long form daily bristling with provocative insight that could tip that customer into your funnel? It's a free form of proactive pull marketing and it's virtually unlimited!

Myth #13 – You can't host a blog solely in LinkedIn. It wasn't intended to be a shock-and-awe move when I shut down my blog and went fully blog native in LinkedIn Publisher as the hub. I have noticed that my least engaged post is exponential to the readers of my blog. My posts frequently reach over 1,000 unique views in 24 hours which is staggering and unusual to me. I even had one hit 200,000. As much as I wish they'd re-open LinkedIn Influencer because as a bestselling B2B business author in Australia I feel I have a platform to speak from, the standard mere-mortal Publisher capability is still more widely read and higher value than a blog, IMHO. Blogging is a 2.0 construct. LinkedIn has taken this to one thousand mobile screen types - mobile optimized - responsive - and features of a beautiful CMS and comment management - in platform. The fear that we must own our content and it's unsafe to center it in LinkedIn is just that, an unsupported fear. LinkedIn is not going anywhere [the other social networks are at risk] because it contains the economic graph, everyone's digital CV and is the recruiter-hub of business. It's the spine or nervous system of the global economy. LinkedIn has no desire to shut down the authors and take their IP. I'm not afraid in the slightest; I may relaunch a robust off-LinkedIn blog just for SEO value but it will only ever be a spoke as long as the hub of where my public is, resides within LinkedIn. Monetize a blog? Monetize your LinkedIn - that's what the founders created it for!

Myth #14 – You can engineer your content to go viral. There are several bestselling books now touting the ability to learn how to make content viral. Good luck! There is no rhyme or reason to what's going to take off. Hyperbole, list posts, how-tos - these rank well. But ultimately you have to be open to push the envelope on every quality of a post and create the art that honest, heartfelt communication represents. Providing real world advice to actually help someone, trumps everything. Utility or shall I say Youtility Jay Baer content with the intent to help the reader immediately improve their day, lives or career is a public service - it's the quintessence of knowledge sharing. As you can see, I mix it up, experiment like crazy and just try to have a blast producing this. The new wave of content strategy and content marketing is about 'engagement selling.' Below the list is a video from David Meerman Scott at the HubSpot Inbound 2014 conference that blew my mind. This is the future of sales and marketing alignment and content engagement selling. Stellar regions!

Myth #15 – Going negative like the media will give you the most attention. I've been surprised and completely impressed by the role of inspirational, positive content on LinkedIn. It goes viral and it moves people. Negative and shock jock material also blows up in here like the CEO who suggested 'never hiring a salesperson' again who garnered 500K unique views in a week and then his rebuttal to it [not apologizing] got another 500K. The collateral damage to the negative shock blast? Huge dissent. He had a free trial link on both posts so he was selling and embodying full blown hypocrisy. Collateral damage comes from going super negative. I've been brave to express freedom of speech like my thoughts about Microsoft versus Apple but I always maintain a constructive approach, positive attitude and keep the viewpoint of the golden rule. If your'e passionate about something, mash up your avocation with vocation. If you love cycling as much as I do, compare it to enterprise selling. If you are fired up about some current event in the world, newsjack it in a tweet but then talk about what you believe it should be - don't just slam it. Positive energy oddly reigns supreme in here. How unexpected! Should CNN take a page from this book? I wish.

Now it's your turn: What do you see as the biggest myths being propagated in the social selling movement or cottage industry of social selling thought leadership today? Have I missed any? Please comment below...

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photo by Flickr: Frank Kovalchek

Strategic Social Selling Defined... By Someone Actually Doing It.

There are so many people out there giving advice on strategic B2B and social selling yet so few have achieved consistently in the heat of battle, survived jungle guerrilla warfare, lived in the desert of selling into the white space and adapted to embrace social maneuverability with old school battleship clout.

Read this article with confidence. I've personally won hundreds of millions of dollars of deals over three decades in multiple industries. I sold to IBM themselves at 70% higher prices than the incumbent competition and it was the biggest deal ever in the industry. My record was never broken and even more than two decades they are still a customer. I've won President's Club in the telecommunications industry; earned Asia-Pacific Account Manager of the Year in the IT industry; sold the biggest deal in the world for a tier-one software company which earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in commission from a single deal. Just over two years ago I left the corner office as Managing Director and went out on my own to do consulting. Less than 90 days ago I truly embraced social and the results are shocking (case study by LinkedIn themselves in the next 30 days). Here it is now!

I want to help you define Strategic Social Selling, but first let's define it without social. Before we can understand what good looks like, let's look at the bad. This is reactive selling. The type of selling where you are disrespected and treated like a mere commodity, where they jerk your chain and bark orders to complete inane tender documents within unreasonable deadlines, to perform magical demonstrations with almost no time to prepare, where they won't tell you who will be in the audience or what their roles are.

The illustration below shows the buyer's journey in its varied forms but the defining element of reactive selling is that the customer is in the driver's seat from beginning to end. They decide when to invite you in to their process and on their rules. There is inevitably a focus on price, assessment of features and functions, ratings of risk versus bang for buck; and you are blocked from talking with the real decision makers, instead being forced to comply with their process and timing. It feels like you're flying blind. Many adhere to old adage: If you didn't influence their tender, don't bother responding... delete. But I have won business where we were late the party in government deals... it can be done.


Strategic selling, on the other hand, is defined by being proactive in researching, targeting and planning. The best sellers seek alignment with the ideal prospective customer rather than attempting to raise the dead through extreme evangelism. The way they achieve this is by focusing on win review with their best customers to identify the triggers that caused them to invest in a solution. There is a very important distinction here – it is NOT about discovering why they bought from you over the competition; it's instead about identifying trigger events that caused them to decide they had a serious problem or opportunity (before they decided who to invest with; you or your competitors).

Continue looking at the far right of the illustration below and notice that it is the completion of the customer experience. Sales people are wired to behave as if closing the sale is the end of what matters but in this model there is an entire group of new items extending to the right. For the customer, it's where the risk begins and they want to buy from someone who cares about their entire lifecycle to deliver the outcomes they are seeking. Customer eXperience (CX) is the new sales model for driving sustainable competitive advantage. Sellers who take the time to do post-implementation reviews with ROI validation are the ones who generate the most powerful case studies and testimonials.

But there is another magical thing to also focus on to create ultimate buyer empathy, insight and alignment... it is the power of thinking about your customer's customer. B2B2C is what you're really doing. The sellers who genuinely care about their customer's challenges and opportunities, to help them reduce costs, gain market share, reduce customer churn, improve customer satisfaction, and more; are the one's who change the rules on the competition through the way they sell. It demands that sales people go vertically deep in industry segments and it requires substantial investment... this is where insight selling or Challenger ideation occurs.


Now look to the left and notice the first [upward] red arrow. Differentiation occurs in the way that selling occurs rather than in what is actually being sold. The way we sell has always been more important than what we sell and in social selling its never been more important. The sales person and how they sell is the single biggest differentiator and Corporate Executive Board research proved it. The very best prepare fully, arrive early and engage at the most senior levels. They challenge the status quo with evidenced business insights while setting an agenda with an inbuilt bias within requirements toward their strengths. Finally, they embed their unique value in a compelling business case to overcome apathy and the status quo. They use risk as a weapon and fear as a positive motivator to position as lowest risk and best value. They create a strong focus on business value creation and risk mitigation while aligning with those who have genuine power within the power-base political structure.

But there is more to #StrategicSocialSelling than an early engagement, proactive approach. Notice the second [downward] red arrow. This is where your activities in social result in you being invited to participate in the the most important part of the buyer's journey. It takes a serious investment of time and real skill to operate at this level. The very best sales people today embrace this role and become micro-marketers to drive their own demand-generation machines.

At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. 56% are not ready, 40% are poised to begin. - Steve Richard, Vorsight

And now... lets add the X-factor to Strategic Selling which is Social Selling 3.0. The term 'Social Selling' is a misnomer because in the context of business-to-business (B2B), the best social sellers don't sell at all. They do not engage in digital spamming, interrupt marketing or push selling at any time. They instead use proven old school methods of selling on new school social platforms to deliver massive leverage, scale and amplification of their efforts. In the slide below I provide some examples. Yes, I know that the platforms referenced are not exhaustive but they are the most important in B2B. CRM encompasses social collaboration and there are many best of breed collaboration tools. The Holy Grail of sales enablement is in fact when it all comes together for deal coaching and this link provides my detailed blog on the topic. Let's explore the Pillars of Social Selling.

Social Listening: Are you segmenting and targeting your ideal buyers and putting feelers out to filter out their signal from the noise? This can be done with tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck. I'm surprised at how few sellers are creating basic Twitter Lists to listen by segments of 25 individuals or less that are actually practical to track. Stephen Covey said, 'seek first to understand than be understood.' You must first open your ears, heart and mind. Be present and make sure that you have a dashboard set up to glean every aspect of what your dream prospects are putting out into the social ether: press releases, white papers, reflections on the annual report, balance sheet, interviews, YouTube videos (subscribe to their channel), Tweets, Facebook shares, Google+ updates, Pinterest boards, Instagram, SlideShare and even search the first 15 pages of search results of Google with a fine toothed comb.

Measure twice cut once — English Proverb

Social Publishing: Don't just blog - that's Web 2.0. Take the plunge on LinkedIn Publisher into Web 3.0 - the web of context and social proximity. Understand the inter-relationships of your networks and network's networks. Share your subject matter expertise and thought leadership on here daily. The network effects and engagement are without parallel. I controversially advocate moving your blog to LinkedIn where you'll get exponential views, reads, likes, shares and comments. Basic math unveils this. Imagine you're a rockstar with 200,000 followers of a traditional blog. Now let's just say you've written the most compelling article ever and you manage to get a 5% open rate. That's just 10K people that read it. But the reality is more like 2% that will actually read it - not just open it, skim it or star it for later. At 2% we're at 4,000 people and that's the grim reality of the blogosphere in 2015. Blogs are often reliant upon an email list, auto-opened in gmail or ignored.

By moving my blog to LinkedIn I've had many posts reach over 10,000 views, another climbed to 200,000. It's rare to have a LinkedIn publish read over 1,000 times and what I notice on here is that engenders 400 shares in many cases and two dozen comments. I respond to them all thoughtfully. How do you become a subject matter expert in the vertical you're selling into overnight? Paradoxically, writing everyday on here will do it. Parkinson's Law states that 'work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.' I set the goal to produce the highest quality piece of content I could in LinkedIn Publisher every day for the last 90 days and many days the inspiration flooded me from following all of you, and I was able to put out more than that. Plant seeds and be curious...

The second huge way to amp up your social publishing, is to get in front of as many qualified buyers as you can and bring those insights and that pattern recognition back to what you write. As Andy Rudin calls it 'mind the string.' Start to compile a list of links as you peruse the internet so that you can cross-reference and backlink to them in your posts. I also keep an ever-growing Evernote file with thousands of topics; I'll often mash up a few to craft a post. Other than becoming a great B2B writer by traditional means and cutting your teeth at GigaOm, becoming a phenomenal social publisher is more so about overcoming fear. If you got into a career in sales because brevity is your strong suit, you love picking up the phone and talking with clients - well, you're probably already a top producer. I would suggest writing in LinkedIn as if you're writing a letter to your biggest client helping to explain how your solution solves their technology challenge. You'll notice you write volumes every day in email sharing your hard-won expertise and insight so carry that intensity and your authentic voice into social publishing. The fastest way to build compelling posts is mashups: newsjack a current event mixed with a sport you know about and mix in some business rules: bingo - an intriguing post based on your real world experience and strong opinions to polarize!

Here are the top four links that I've found that completely changed the game for me in LinkedIn Publisher. I've taken a wildly data-driven approach architecting my social publishing blueprint from these sources like Dave Kerpen who has had the highest read Publish of all time with over 2MM views:

Social Research and Social Engagement: Challenger Sale leaves most readers with this burning question: 'But how do I get upstream with insight?' I know I need to 'teach with new insight' but how do I generate it? The world is crying out for a prequel rather than a sequel to Challenger! Social research will allow you to understand the precise moment when to strike. Passively monitoring the leads in the top accounts in your territory will bear fruit. A) You'll start to notice patterns in what your prospects are posting that will influence the insights you can share. B) You'll start to notice a consensus (near ubiquity) of challenges and strategic objectives both harmonic and dissonant to competitors. The differentiators in your suite of solutions emerge to be shared and amplified. C) With a deep understanding of trigger events, you can be there during the most powerful one: changes and transitions. Read Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto's book 'Shift' for the blueprint on this.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. - Abraham Lincoln

Awareness and bad supplier triggers are often not enough to impel a change from the status quo. The best type of research you can do is on previous signers, buyers or advocates in past or current accounts that have now either been promoted, switched into a new role where they have the ability to disrupt a new company's culture [and spend money - 7 figures - in the first 90 days] or are broadcasting a recent understanding of the emergent paradigm. Engagement is all about subtlety. Blasting updates at a Twitter handle can and will hurt you. Awkward connect requests or InMails that are super relevant but non sequitur out of left field will cause a 'crickets' response. Engagement has to be meaningful for them, not just formulaic and self-serving for you. My favorite email each week is the company leader that explains in the preamble how they are 'personally inviting me' or 'wrote to me personally.' Then I check the from address and it's been spit out by a mkt-auto drip campaign! I wrote an entire post about the subtleties and nuances of how to move from 'interesting to interested' here that very much speaks to the ladder of engagement and slowly warming up prospects from a simmer to a roaring boil in social media.

Social Collaboration: It's amazing what happens once you start to form digital bonds with a super network across the globe. You'll attract thought leaders with radio shows reaching out to interview you. Bloggers in vertical industries will look to feature your writings to a broader audience. You may be invited to mastermind groups, to contribute to white paper studies by software companies, guest blog on other highly read sites, participate in social hangouts and even new speaking, coaching and training opportunities will emerge. This is all social collaboration in its highest form as you're building a virtual network to brainstorm, become a master mind and push the entire industry forward. The best way to collaborate is to embrace open source - give your IP away freely (with attribution, of course) and co-create. Social collaboration is about an ongoing value exchange and creation of innovative ideas. Once you're writing daily, open up an email address so readers can provide feedback and request topics. When a reader leaves a candid comment, ask questions to draw the conversation out further. Why do they disagree or feel passionately on the subject?

Social collaboration is the concept of synergy, the result of many minds coming together creates the mastermind in stark contrast to the bureaucratic hive mind of the closed water cooler confines of the traditional organizational hierarchy and strict command and control. Social media plays a democratizing role flattening the Earth into a global village of a vibrant knowledge economy advancing all industries.

Let's say you're building out a white paper or report. Look how PureMatter asked the top 50 social sellers that Onalytica rated with their analytics process what they thought the biggest challenge organizations will face as they look to implement social selling. This is the quintessence of social collaboration because it creates a feedback loop of new insight and collective knowledge sharing and brainstorming in real-time. Corporations can do this with their customer base. Authors can collaborate with their readers to push their work even farther forward and closer to the customer's true reality. Sellers can collaborate with customers during the course of the decision phase of the buying process to further customise a solution that is bullet proofed against competitors. Further interacting with social to provide service and to garner and share key case studies is key. Nobody sells your product better than your satisfied customers and we must sell to our customers in their own words.

The key to success with strategic social selling is 'strategy.' If you're looking for a speaker and workshop leader at your conference to transform the way people sell and train your team on how they can deftly leverage strategic social selling at every aspect of the deal funnel to accelerate results, please contact me here on LinkedIn, and I can bring all of this to life for you.

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

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10 Avant-garde Twitter + LinkedIn Tactics Leading Directly To Revenue

I listen to the space 24/7. The majority of social media advice covers the basics and that's great, because many in the enterprise are behind the eight ball in adoption. But the biggest questions I get are about how to use social media in more advanced ways to accelerate pipeline, close deals and make an impact on revenue? 'How do we push all this to 3.0?'

The fundamentals work very well, like optimizing a profile for a prospective customer, ensuring things are kosher for SEO, leveraging referrals, InMails and Groups. But the risk is a broken record of basics without speaking to those who are already driving revenue in social and instead looking to increase the velocity of attraction and engagement through advanced strategic social selling 3.0.

It's a bit different when you're managing a dynamic sales team or looking to accelerate an enterprise deal on a longer sales cycle with up to a dozen decision makers. I've found a huge gap in the knowledge-base around advanced guerrilla strategies and tactics for social media, content strategy and social selling so that will continue to be an enduring theme of my posts. If you're aware of any stealth companies, cutting edge or bizarre social selling techniques or technologies please, please forward them my way immediately – tony at rsvpselling dot com.

Many emerging social networks are fatally flawed and white noise. For B2B, it's my contention that the main two networks that matter for driving revenue areLinkedIn amplified by Twitter, especially applied in concert. In fact, it's possible to exponentially increase your reach by only participating with a LinkedIn Premium (Yes, invest in a $100 a month account or more!) and Twitter Account. You'll also need a listening tool like TweetDeck. What about blogging? The read rates are dwarfed by what's possible in here based on low email click-through risk of traditional blogs even powered by InfusionSoft or Aweber and the lack of network effects off social.

I advocate for a fully open source strategy. I think driving market qualified leads via gated white paper content and web to lead forms, is 2.0. David Meerman Scott talks about giving the content away for free, referencing the Grateful Dead's meteoric success. I advocate pushing your publishing on LinkedIn Publisher to 10X and then teaching, providing thought leadership and sharing SME content everyday. Result? It's been huge for my consulting business. No web forms were necessary – I'm actively pulling clients to me every week.

For those of you who have seen it all and read it all on social networking, content strategy, social media and social networking, here are 10 advanced methods you can use to improve your results today. The global audience is crying out for advanced tactics and strategy. Let's dig in!

Twitter: Implement these advanced techniques and you will enter the ranks of the Twitterati in no time.

  1. Unlimited Listing: Twitter has not gated your ability to build out as many lists as you want. So although Twitter has a reciprocal nature where someone must add you back in order to send a Direct Message (DM), the very open loophole to be exploited as a guerrilla marketer in Twitter right now, is you can go build a list of 1,000 thought leaders and buzz their smartphone – every single one of them can get your digital acknowledgment that you see them as a thought leader. Personally, I'm always jazzed when a thought leader adds me back to one of their lists and what that list is named like: Social Sellers or Social Ninjas – whatever that may be. This isn't about glad-handing or self inflation of ego – it's about building powerful social networks that increase your reach. It's like a secret handshake on Twitter right now. Then it's up to you to build out an authentic lists of verticals. Create a list for Social Sales, Social Media, Content Marketing, Enterprise B2B, Marketing Automation, Big Data and Predictive Analytics. Add 50 to 100 people to every list; access them as stock tickers in TweetDeck and begin to Retweet with comments, Follow and curate. Leverage this as the bedrock foundation for the content you'll create. Much of what I create is reactionary to other ingenious posts... Is it proactive to react? – yes! In the case of content, TweetDeck becomes a sounding board for what's taking off and you can spot patterns, go create a post in response or express a difference of opinion, linking back to the original post or Tweeting back at people participating in the conversation; frequently heated debate. This is what makes Twitter so incredibly powerful as an amplification system for B2B right now. I've had several articles retweeted hundreds of times. I go back and search Twitter under my handle so that I can star and thank many. The SEO implication is as you push out enough rich relevant content, your work starts to appear all over the greater blogosphere causing link backs and giving Google juice!
  2. Tweeting @Media: By now, it's my hope that I'm preaching to the choir and you're all publishing content to LinkedIn at least on a weekly basis. So how are you going to get that read and distributed? Follow the press in your industry and Tweet your best work at them. Just pop their handle into link to shorten the LinkedIn post and add several reporters or influential bloggers at a time. You'll start to get quoted in the press, even interviewed on various topics. The same strategy can be leveraged with hashtags and hashtag clouds that influencers may be following. #socialselling is always a busy one as is #CXOtalk. In time, I'm confident I'll build #strategicsocialselling into a hashtag for a community of complex B2B sellers looking to innovate with social media driven 3.0 methods. 3.0 is simple, it's the web of context and social proximity, it's always on and mobile, responsive and optimized for any screen. It's the interest graph meets the social graph and with LinkedIn: literally the economic graph or backbone of the global economy is being mapped in real-time. The most advanced social seller of all time you never read about framed like that? Reid Hoffman – he's the architect of networked intelligence and his books tell the tale. He is the Wizard of Nodes. Read them...
  3. Newsjacking: There's an artful way to newsjack with integrity and it includes a mash-up. If you're about to write a blog post on any subject, think about integrating an angle from the news of the day. Maybe elections are happening and so you could compare a candidate to a rep on your sales team.Sporting events and holidays are good for this. Experimentation will bear fruit just stick with it. The virality we all seek is much like love or happiness; the more you seek it out the harder it is to find. I've substituted the word 'happiness' with virality in this famous quote:
    [Virality] is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you". - Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Be artful in how you push out articles at Twitter Trending Hashtags or Google Trending news. You just might hit page one. This is an advanced strategy in contrast to how often I see it done blatantly and it backfires. Several of my LinkedIn Publisher posts have made it all the way to Pulse News and started to trend in Google News. Go study David Meerman Scott's YouTubes on this intriguing subject and get a firm grip on the subtleties and nuances of this tactic as it applies to B2B. Hashtags are another common thing that I often see misused. It's not just a cool word with a pound symbol, and no you're not a model because you used #models or an expert because you hashtagged #thoughtleadership! The whole goal is to leverage newsjacking and hashtags as a flare gun to attract the listeners you want. Move from push to pull!
  4. Snippets: Once you post something (preferably in LinkedIn Publisher), pull out 3 to 5 of the best quotes. Take the URL string and bitly it. Then go into Twitter or TweetDeck and repost the article next to the five quotes with the shortlink, a couple of trending hashtags and a few influencers to encourage they read and share it. You're causing a mobile notification right there and making the social snowball roll. You need to think of a starburst, hub and spokes or firework. Make a joyful noise and get your content out there in front of the people who will appreciate it most. I frequently tweet snippets at Koka Sexton, Jill Rowley, Timothy Hughes, David Brock, Mike Weinberg, Jill Konrath, Anthony Iannarino and various other unwitting targets in the greater Australian press.
  5. Create your own Top 100 List of Influencers: Recently, I posted a LinkedIn Publish of my Top 100 Strategic Social Selling Unicorns. I then went to Twitter and tweeted thirty times in a row including the article, why they were mentioned, and why they should read it. I presented an empirical view that was unbiased by PageRank, Klout Facebook popularity (first mover advantage of building such networks) or Twitter gaming that occurred early back in the glory days where we could all get 30,000 followers in 2 weeks. I posited that a list needed to be constructed for B2B Social Sellers tipping their hat to old school frameworks, processes and methodologies like SPIN, TAS, etc. bringing this to social media. So I filtered out 500 people from top lists, went and discovered their content and pulled in a hundred names to an Excel spreadsheet. Then I polled the audience for anyone I was missing in the new guard and old guard and made it a living breathing list. I'm still getting tweets about it and adding names... If you're reading this, please click the list and tell me who I'm missing. The result was hundreds of views and continuous retweets for weeks. You can get very sophisticated with how you tweet at people and have conversations. Tim Hughes @Oracle UK tends to introduce folks with a Twitterduction (Twitter + Introduction), which is a very cool strategy I haven't seen often. There are also live Twitter Chats and Tweetups mixing offline and online events happening constantly around B2B themes like CXOtalk and social selling hangouts so keep an eye out for those.

LinkedIn: Basic methods will yield basic results. You're going to get what you put in so hit full throttle on LinkedIn with these:

  1. Reverse look-ups with Rapportive: In B2B sometimes you just need to look-up an email address and get in touch. Rapportive was purchased by LinkedIn and is an uber-effective tool to reverse look-up most any email address via RapLeaf integration from within Gmail. I would imagine most of you are using it already at this point. Coupled with LinkedIn, it's a fantastic way to send an invite leveraging a public B2B email and writing a personalized trigger or pre-trigger driven message. #relevant
  2. Translate Top 100 Twitter Lists to LinkedIn Network Growth: For example, I encourage adding this entire Onalytica Top 100 Influencers list of thought leaders with a personalized invite. (Full disclosure, I made it to the list leveraging all the social strategies I open source in these posts.) Influencers are generally open to expanding their network with relevant contacts. Is it worth being connected to these 100 brilliant minds elevating the global sales training industry beyond the limitation of a niche 'Best in Show' cottage industry on Twitter and LinkedIn, then building a Twitter List with all of them? Completely! Here's a brilliant KiteDesk Twitter list already created for you. Collect them all – follow them and link in with them. Interface with them and be hyper-curious. Ask why they teach what they teach? Many will coach and mentor you virtually. You'll be amazed at how accessible they are because they get the principles in this article. Imagine the top 100 thought leaders advising you daily to help improve the way you sell! Synthesize these lists and listen closely.
  3. Leverage the LinkedIn Connected App and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Standalone App: Connected let's you monitor birthdays, updates, job changes and anniversaries. It's ideal for pre-meeting intelligence. Start your day with it. Reach out when meaningful meets relevant ... Sales Navigator is going to literally deliver you leads as you're waiting in the lobby! Need I say more? It will show you trigger events in real-time. LinkedIn's suite of standalone apps continues to become more powerful. Their roadmap will redefine the industry, make no mistake.
  4. Group Participation @10X: Chances are, you're not active enough in LinkedIn Groups. Take a moment to go to Fresh Sales Strategies (Jill Konrath's Sales Group 14,000+ sales people strong) or Strategic Selling (byJohn Smibert) and spend a half-hour to an hour in there going through the threads and writing thoughtfully with open ended questions to stimulate further conversations. What's unique about Smibert's group is the thread levels are insane. There are literally hundreds of detailed B2B complex strategic sales answers, techniques and insider cricket happening in there. Don't miss it! It's Inca Gold. CAUTION: DO NOT promote your company or insert links or name drop. Simply add value and help with your own thought leadership and bold ideas. When in doubt, ask questions and 'go with gratitude'. John and Jill are very helpful in moderating these rich gardens of content. But there's no way you're active enough! Trust me on this... Follow 50 groups that are as specialized and have the highest traction and get going in there today...Once you cap out on groups, if certain groups get slow, drop out of them and join others. I always have a revolving series of groups that I'm monitoring for brilliant ideas, who's in them and I'm transitioning in and out of them based on their stickiness and volatility. Step two, is to post provocative questions in there frequently. THIS DOES NOT MEAN posting your same article to 50 groups – This FEEDCLOGS and is the bane of how the sorting algorithm in LinkedIn works. I've had more LinkedIn invites come in from high participation in Groups than almost any other channel, other than Publisher.
  5. Blocking Visibility and Friend Lists: Many of you reading this are in super competitive industries such as B2B CRM and Marketing Automation, ERP or HCM, ITC or any cloud-based start-up. Markets with a PaaS, IaaS, SaaS and hardware virtualization are constantly being disrupted and your sales team aka cast of thousands is against theirs like Braveheart. It's an arms race for market share. It's dangerous to expose your connections as competitors can fish clients. Also, if you're constantly in LinkedIn looking at competitors, prospects and clients you want to change your visibility in settings to anonymous. All is fair... remember it's just business and business is war. But you can be responsible about it and maintain gravitas and inner peace out on the battlefield by keeping your cards close to the vest. Be aware that as you search, you're being searched and you need to fireproof yourself against competitive threats. Private groups are a good solution to loop in key clients for active enablement conversations. Think edutainment!

Happy closing! All I can say is that the fishing is the best where the fewest go but where the fish are happily swimming. It's not what we sell, it's how we sell it. So it can't ever be the social media or widgets we use, it's always how we use them that will separate us. A couple overarching concepts I always think about almost like an inner mantra on social as I look to advance it into an art form are:

  • The power of my brand is inversely proportional to it's scope. [Al Ries] – How can I focus on less tactics even less social networks and tools? How can I specialize even more to move the content from a firehose to a laser?
  • Youtility [Jay Baer] – Is my content snackable and actionable, effective in the field today? Can someone literally print this post and go make a sale, accelerate a deal or breakthrough into an impenetrable dream account? I'm highly conscious of the usefulness, inspiration and motivational factors of every post.
  • Platform (Michael Hyatt): Am I building a platform of 1,000 true fansthat I can take to the Publishers? Am I building an engaged tribe that will sneaze my content to the ends of the Earth? [Godin] Content is not enough anymore. Neither is context. Neither is audience. You can't build a career or business on these alone. You can only become a bestselling author, successful entrepreneur or leading brand to capture marketshare, hearts and minds, if you focus on building a massive platform as the foundation of your strategy: first! You need a massively engaged, focused audience around your brand and so this post is that blueprint. Imagine if your entire company read it, and applied it next week? [I train companies on this...]
  • Ultimately, REVENUE is the One Key Metric (OKM): In any free market economy where capitalism is thriving, eventually you're going to be gauged on success based on the hard revenue results you generate. It can take 45 to 90 days of persistent advanced strategic social selling efforts on LinkedIn to begin unlocking larger deals, speaking engagements, consulting clients and all sorts of new opportunities. I'm doing my part by spilling all of its secrets... but most don't dedicate the time and focus to produce dramatic results because it's a slow burn – a marathon sprint. Patience is the hidden virtue in social that will make you lethal. "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." Sun Tzu is the master of strategic social selling but the wildest paradox of all. He created the blueprint for social selling success in 500 BC!!!
  • Duplication is the enemy of SEO. Google's updates, be they Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird or Whaleshark (hehe! are you paying attention, that's not one but should be!) are looking for frequent, relevant, authentic and well written content. Good is the enemy of great. Never post the same thing twice anywhere on social media – ever! If you're putting a link on LinkedIn, add it in a different way on Twitter, Google+ and anywhere else. The spiders are parsing text and the machine learning algorithms are looking for duplicate content to give you demerits. Always be aware that when you're sharing the same thing the same exact way over and over again, you are authentically not only spamming but reducing rank, traffic and conversions to your I.P.

And finally some cautions and cautionary tales:

  • Generic content will fail on LinkedIn and Twitter. You can't be a walking brochure in a meeting and you can't simply release white papers and thickets of inane B2B statistics unless you are seeking an incredibly niche audience. That's my opinion. Boring will get you unfollowed immediately. There is power of wow, there is power in a bizarre purple cow. Dare to be different and always ask yourself this: "What would you click on?" It's just like Gordon Ramsey yelling at a line cook to 'taste your [expletive] food!'
  • There are very few practitioners of #socialselling fusing old school strategic selling methods with the new school tools. The fundamentals still matter and those with decades of experience have an advantage on here. Milennials can learn from Baby Boomers and vice a versa. Miles Austin wrote this ingenious recent post called Tools Don't Make the Carpenter where he states, 'Using sales & social tools without core sales training kills more sales than anything else.' It was a brilliant mash-up in my opinion because if you gave me a bevel and a saw and asked me to make a Baroque bannister, I'd instantly deliver you a dog's breakfast. That's worth a read and following the hard hitting strategic sellers listed in there including Mike Weinberg, Anthony Iannarino, Mark Hunter, Andy Paul and Jeb Blount. That leads me to another couple posts by Iannarino on these topics you should immediately take in: • 15 Things I Would Train Salespeople On Instead of Social Selling • How Social Selling Jumped the Shark
  • You can spend 90 hours a week on social media and completely destroy your business or break the sound barrier with outrageous success. Social procrastination is vastly different than social empowerment. You can spend a focused hour per day in here and accelerate your results. It requires a disciplined approach and going beyond basics like profile optimization, referrals, InMails, buying Sales Navigator, creating a Twitter and building out all your social media profiles. All the basics are critical to 'get live' so you can crawl but the walk-run stages actually require a great deal of focus and discipline. It's just like the difference between when you learned to ride a bicycle and that BMXer who back-flipped over the Great Wall.
It's more mission critical what you are NOT doing in social media, content strategy and social selling than what you are doing."
Einstein's warning applies to Social Media Driven Selling & Content Marketing writ large, ' Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.'

My coaching clients globally are generating real new business. Consistently closing six and seven figure deals is possible with Premium LinkedIn and LinkedIn Publisher as a focal point [hub] and Twitter as the spokes for amplification. I preach this because it's worked for me. Many top consultants in Australia have put these strategies and tactic into use, tailored them and executed on them with stellar results. Here's a brilliant new friend reflecting on the advanced techniques I've espoused which has lead to a chorus of agreement in complex B2B, consulting and enterprise sales. Nathanael is killing it without even a need for a CRM –

In closing, I encourage you to go read the compelling case studies that LinkedIn is putting out that apply to your vertical or business makeup, especially if you are reading this incredulously and need empirical proof:

If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website:

Main Image Photos by: Eva RinaldiMaryland GovPicsChris PiascikGary Koelling & Post Memes