Social selling

Solving This Sales Problem Solves All Others

As a sales manager or CXO responsible for revenue and customer experience, everywhere you look there are problems to address. I won't give you a list here because it will just increase your blood pressure – you’ve had enough of victim’s excuses within your team or partner channel. But when you’ve looked at all the squeaky wheels and eliminated the noise, what’s the most important problem to solve? Which problem above all others, if solved, would remove tension between sales and marketing, improve morale, create productive staff, drive growth and increase revenue?

Here it is – a pipeline of quality opportunities.

In my 30 years of professional selling, leading teams and running companies, solving this problem makes all other problems become good problems. But when there’s a terminal lack of revenue, people think about jumping ship or the blame game spirals out of control. With a healthy pipeline of quality winnable opportunities, the business is happy to invest and more willing to be patient. The leaders can rally the troops and resource a bid, improve the quality of sales team execution, bring sales and marketing together, and drive strategy.

Yet sales people typically lack the marketing experience, knowledge or discipline for consistently creating early engagement [strategic] pipeline … this is where sales management leadership, and sales and marketing department alignment are critical. Here are some strategies and recommended reading for equipping your team to create quality pipeline.

  1. Use traditional press and social media to listen for trigger events that could indicate an opportunity that is on the horizon. Has there been a crisis or scandal? Has there been a change in a key role? Has there been a merger or acquisition (M&A)? Has a new competitor entered the market? Are there new regulations coming? (Book recommendation: Shift by Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto).
  2. Create industry and solution experts who can lead and equip sales people or themselves engage with target verticals on the basis of insights into: world’s best practice, trends driving change, emerging technologies or disruptive commercial models. (Book recommendation: The Challenger Sale by Matt Dixon and Brent Adamson).
  3. Train and equip your senior sales people to become masterful micro-marketers, adept with social media to engage in communities the right way. No clumsy selling and spam on platforms such as LinkedIn; just positive insights, praise and wisdom to build their brand and contribute without a sales message or hook being included at the end of every conversation. (Book Recommendation: The New Rules of Sales and Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott).
  4. Identify, measure and manage the input activities that create quality pipeline. Managers should invest more time in coaching and supporting these activities than firing-up the blow-torch at the end of the month and quarter when it is already too late… you cannot manage revenue, you can only manage the activities that lead to it. (Book recommendation: Cracking The Sales Management Code by Jason Jordan).

Every sales person needs a balanced pipeline of short-term tactical and long-term strategic opportunities. They need both types so that they can achieve their numbers in the now, while investing in the future by moving up in how they sell. It is vitally important not to allow the urgent to squeeze-out the important. Everyone needs to filter-out the noise and focus on what really matters fortomorrow as a well as today – is there a solid pipeline of quality opportunities on the horizon?

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: Jeff Pioquinto, SJ

Top 25 Incendiary Social Selling Secrets

Can you close million dollar deals with social selling fully inside? Yes. Here are the top 25 ways how you can actually do it. It's being done right now in the field by a sales team near you [perhaps a competitor], it's remarkable and it's not for the faint of heart. Get a good night of sleep and unleash your inner advanced strategic social selling 'beast mode' tomorrow. I'm sure the naysayers will come out in full force over this content but I can attest, a new era of selling is upon us. It's a pastiche of panache par excellence, a mashup of the highest order.

To win in 2015 you're going to have to go so old school and new school at the same time, applying a dizzying array of multi-disciplinary principles that will give you an invincible edge. Just reading Jonathan Farrington's statistic that, 'the average quota attainment in B2B sales is below 60%,' prompts me to lay out a blueprint on how to fix it. If you're a sales person, sales manager or CEO that aspires to greatness this year and leveraging the new channels to book major revenue, remember that it's not just about social selling – it's about advanced strategic social selling! Tactics without strategy are a fool's errand. Don't heed those spam emails you get promising you impossible results on LinkedIn. There is no quick fix in social selling just like there never was in analog enterprise selling and never will be. It's a strong supplement not substitute and it's all about daily heavy lifting. The right strategies and tactics applied consistently will help you break through. The devil's in the details so you will win or lose in the execution phase. These 25 solutions form the bedrock to proven sustainable results with advanced social selling injected as a force multiplier:

  1. Move from push to pull marketing. While the whole world is blasting out white noise, start to leverage 'attraction' marketing and pull your dream customers to you. Launching your own LinkedIn Group below is 'pull.' Publishing edgy subject matter expertise content driven by insight with a strong polarizing opinion stands out: it's 'pull.' The name of the game is to create a garden for the butterflies to land on you rather than relying on bigger, better, faster nets. Trillions of dollars are spent annually on interruption-based push marketing. Flip the script. Be an expert and start to radiate out insights, solutions and your personality from your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, an Infographic Pinterest board (design the infographics yourself), get quoted in the media via deft press releases, speak at conferences and become omnipresent everywhere a customer in your industry would go on LinkedIn. This mind shift of mind share alone will work wonders for your personal brand, company brand and make the biggest impact on filling your funnel with qualified opportunities. Remember, you're now creating demand upstream prior to "trigger events" leveraging this strategy. This is pre-Challenger, before they've gone into RFP mode, before they've hit up the first page of Google to run the reverse auction on you and your closest 5 competitors. May the 'first in' win! Entice, beguile, enchant and extoll...
  2. Challenger Sales marketing and sales alignment. You're going to need to get your Sales and Marketing teams in the same room every week. Build one-pagers, white papers, brand collateral and an array of enticing sales material. Step one: study your competitors. Do not release the same exact material as them. If there's a magic quadrant report, figure out a way to package those statistics in Domo to inject some dashboard beauty and bring it to life uniquely before you go to market. Build out concise case studies with testimonials from your happiest reference customers. Build out a YouTube channel of customer testimonials. Bring a camera crew to the next conference your company hosts and interview the participants. Interview one hundred clients and prospects about the challenges they face in the sector where your solutions [be they product or services] are most relevant. Turning the camera on to the customers to garner their insight is a great way to align sales and marketing. Everyone in marketing should get trained on Challenger Sales and everyone in sales should study The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Understand each others' pain and come to the center with insight generation which leads to demand generation rather than reactive servicing of demand. You'll quantum leapfrog right past competitors with a few white boarding sessions here to build synergy.
  3. Go ballistic in LinkedIn Groups. You can join a maximum of 50 groups and consistently drop groups and add others. You never want to sell or link-bomb in groups. Don't spam, don't shamelessly self promote: at all, ever. The top group ninjas drop into dozens off groups every day and interact provocatively in the comment sections. Take Fresh Sales Strategies or Strategic Selling in the sales world. There are amazing threads in here that stretch to hundreds of comments. Why not put in your authentic two cents on every single one that grabs you? Chances are these topics are grabbing others by the lapels too. There are dozens of CXO groups and Marketing groups, some with hundreds of thousand of members. Yes, you can try to send a bunch of LinkedIn invites until your profile locks up into 'LinkedIn jail,' or perhaps try to start intriguing conversation in there. That's a limited strategy that could get your LinkedIn shut off. The strongest 'unlimited' strategy is to take interest in what your customers and the industry insiders are posting in there. You'll be amazed how many people add you based on awesome commentary you provide. Again, you're moving to 'pull.' Put thought into what you say but 'foster' discussion by asking open ended questions. Remember this is a 10X strategy. I recommend interacting with 25 to 50 comments every day in relevant groups where you have expertise and where your customers live. You'll be amazed at how this trail of bread crumbs can lead to a juggernaut of visibility in just a short time.
  4. Launch your own LinkedIn Group. If you're selling software and there are already twenty five groups on mobile marketing applications, still launch your own group. Seek to make the topics you share interesting. Take the time to thoroughly explain the nature of the group and why you've launched it. Invite in your entire network as painstaking as clicking that button over two thousand times is, it's worth it. When you post a question in your group, push that link to your stream and push it out to Twitter. This will help you massively expand the group. Be stringent about pushing articles and spam to the promotions tab. I would say, open source the group. Less rules are better but curate based on relevance so that clients, prospects and colleagues get a bunch out of it. To grow it faster, make all your inner circle admins on it. Your colleagues or sales team can add major value by posting relevant articles to it, questions and commenting in it daily. I've argued consistently every top seller should host their own group and every company that is serious about social selling should not only create a company page but also host their own conferences, executive dinners, thought leader lunches or Google Hangouts / webinars.
  5. Use up all your InMails every month. I can't tell you how rare this is that I've even advocated incentivizing sales people who do this as a KPI. In premium accounts or Navigator there are 25 InMails per month. Imagine, your sales people can reach whomever they please 25 times and they aren't using it? It boggles my mind. But change is hard and change management can take time and aligning incentives is a must. These are not spam template blasts, these are researched touches with the understanding that the ones that get responded to, now open up additional credits. When you succeed, LinkedIn gives you more so that's definitely incenting the right behaviors! What are the best messages? Reference a shared connection, a provocative insight, a compelling business case or a time you met someone at their company at a conference. Include multiple bullet points on your solutions and how they moved the needle, either make or save money for which similar companies. Leverage social proof or mash up all of the above factors. Short and sweet but as an acid test, send the message to a colleague and ask them if they'd honestly respond. One cool technique is to go talk to your own CEO's EA and see if he would respond. [They get dozens of these every day and have great insights. EA's are your best friend!]
  6. Leverage LinkedIn Sales Navigator for better segmenting and targeting. There's a ton of buzz building on this super-premium sales module for LinkedIn. I'm a proponent of it because it allows for passive tracking of executive prospect's streams. Again, this is 'pull' selling because you're not awkwardly collecting business cards at conferences and power adding. You're not risking going to 'LinkedIn Jail.' Start to build out accounts and lead lists in here and then become the sales analyst of the mega-stream that Navigator serves up. You'll see job changes, company news, news from your key leads, trigger events galore and just start to become a sponge for what's happening in the world of your prospects. When you have a valid reason to hop into the conversation, you now can and tailor a LinkedIn invite like never before possible. The biggest reason to use Navigator is efficiency! This software will save you hours of clicks based on daily lead recommendations from key accounts that it serves up to you on a silver platter. It's an efficiency machine! You need to drive deeper into the right accounts. Less accounts, far higher engagement is the name of the game.
  7. Track and harness trigger events. Craig Elias and Tibor Shanto wrote the bible on trigger events. Inside sales hunters are constantly calling the companies that get funding. In the book Shift, they posit that 'changes and transitions' are the strongest trigger event. CXOs in the first 90 days are change agents and frequently spend millions of dollars on new solutions disrupting the status quo and displacing legacy incumbents. With Sales Navigator, you can track these moves easier and interject yourself and your solution prior to the trigger event which is the most powerful thing you can do, in my honest opinion. There's never been more data on your customers readily available in social channels. Build lists in Twitter, listen closely to what your customer's care about and start to build out insight-driven marketing materials around those issues. Engage with them meaningfully in a pay it forward capacity. Be watchful of what really matters to them.
  8. Get warm referrals. I get generic referral requests constantly from people I don't even know on LinkedIn. Prune your network from your 9,000+ LION profile down to only the people you actually know. 1,000 connections that you've actually met or would know who you are is drastically more potent. Let me explain...As you reach out for a referral, if they've never even heard your name, that's never going to get forwarded. Refine your network with a 'deleting party' and start to rebuild with warm referrals from folks that will help you. It's reciprocal and you can help them too by offering to refer in return. Always help anyone you believe in reach their targets. I am constantly writing recommendations, facilitating warm referrals and asking for them successfully on here daily.
  9. Ghost drive your C-Levels profiles to connect. In fast moving startups, the C-Suite will often allow top sellers to power their profiles or if you email them to send a message to the key VITO contact in a target prospect on your behalf, they'll often acquiesce. A CEO reaching out to a CEO is the only way to get in on many occasions. If you're breaking disruptive technology in a new market, C-Level outreach can be mission critical. Leverage LinkedIn to 'neighborhood' your way into an on-site meeting or set an executive meeting request to give a demo. Your goal is visibility, so work on the key insight to bring to that outreach. You get five seconds to make the point on why she should be talking with your company so make them count. I know a company where the Chief Financial Officer has a Social Selling Index score of over 70 (out of 100) and even has a seat in LinkedIn Sales Navigator because he is such a super networker. He's constantly bringing in warm introductions for the sales execs. Very cutting edge!
  10. Publish SME B2B content daily. What does it mean to you to be a subject matter expert? Are you ready? You'd be amazed because you are. If you've been selling in a vertical for five to ten years, you absolutely have a combination of stories, real world experience and tribal knowledge that renders you an expert in some aspect of the business. What if you're just starting out? Well you're probably an expert in some facet of your life so mash-up insights based on that in your posting? I recently did a post oncycling and sales leadership on here that was well received. The goal is to break out of your comfort zone, apply some elbow grease and business acumen, roll up your sleeves and dive headlong into the deep end of massive action. Every strategy in this post is yours for the taking. Inaction can paralyze forward momentum and stunt your sales growth. Build a list of a hundred topics you know the most about. Build those topics into Publisher posts, tweets and questions to pose for your LinkedIn group. Remember, interactivity is the One Key Metric (OKM) of it all. Interactivity leads to sales, plain and simple. Remix other post topics that are trending in Publisher. A great example is a CEO who had sworn off ever hiring a salesperson again (gaining 500K views in three days of glorious link bat), so I crafted a series of patriotic responses as I feel selling is the backbone of the free market system and even our economic engine of democracy itself.
  11. Combine LinkedIn with top flight selling modules. TAS Dealmaker, Pipeline Manager, HootSuite, Marketo, InsideView, Avention, HubSpot. The sky's the limit in the Salesforce AppExchange. Turbo-charge your Salesforce instance with leading third party plug-ins such as Pipeline Manager, TAS Dealmaker, Pipeliner CRM or others to dominate Account Planning and Opportunity Management. Invest in front of funnel marketing automation to fill your pipeline with qualified prospects 24/7. There is an inside sales and social selling, front-end technology stack emerging that definitely includes auto-dialers and calling optimization technologies like to provide advanced analytics. Engaging with your inbound leads in any channel in the first five minutes is everything. Real time selling is something both David Meerman Scott and Andy Paul expand on their seminal work. You need to be listening to respond and engage. There are still longer sales cycles for closing six and seven figure deals fully inside in social. The accelerator is going to be leveraging a suite of technologies to streamline the pipeline, be ultra-responsive and get upstream, past the gatekeeper to be the preferred vendor going into the crucible of the decision. You want to have driven the key insight for change in order to win if the deal goes to RFP stages.
  12. Multi-step email and outreach campaigns. The biggest mistake I see even seasoned sales people making, is a lack of persistence. Calls, emails, InMails, Likes, Shares and Retweets are useless when done one to three times. You need to create a calendar or set alerts in Salesforce so that you have a cadence of outreach. As a gifted sales manager, you rise and fall based on the cadence of accountability that you set as a baseline benchmark for these behaviors. Focus your organization on the daily sales activities that are leading measures and will actually move the needle on sales results. Marketing automation and drip programs can be effective but they need to be tuned and A/B tested. Reduce your target list to just a couple dozen dream clients. Figure out where they interact the most: which social networks are they most active in? What is the highest value use of your sales team's time? Build calendar alerts for strategically reaching out to them. Go deeper not wider. Personalize and be consultative even in content generation. Unlock the pain points that will drive demand rather than servicing the obvious initial pain with a point solution. Ultimately, you'll close the most business by crafting a complex solution comprised of multiple products and services you sell rather than getting commoditized. Single solution social selling squeezes out the margin your disruptive business model so badly needs to grow and secure investment. Your competitors are spam blasting and boiling the ocean. Don't you be the one. Customize, tailor and drive to the target in a variety of media with contextually relevant outreach driven by key insights.
  13. The rule of 5 to 12 touches. Think social cross-training. Treat LinkedIn just like any other communications medium: telephone, face-to-face or otherwise. 80% of sales close on the fifth to twelfth interaction. Add value every single time: an article, white paper, screen shot of a tweet, retweet, comment on their blog, reflect thoughtfully on their annual report, a speech they gave and provide sound advice based on pattern recognition as you scour the landscape for trends and new ideas that work.
  14. Sell the meeting not your product or service. The holy grail is the opportunity to present on-site. It is possible to close a million dollar deal without ever seeing a customer but why not meet them with that much on the line? You can make this presentation effectively over Skype GoTo, or Webex especially if you operate intercontinentally. The sleeper hit is that this presentation is going to be a 10,000 foot Challenger insight opener and then an active listening session where your prospect is doing almost all the talking. As Neil Rackham loves to say, the more you're listening the more their propensity to buy increases. Show up and throw up presentations are fatally flawed in person and in social. "Look at me, look at me, now what do you think about me?" Snore, delete, yawn... Next! The word presentation should really connote prospect therapy. Peel the onion, get to the underlying problems under the symptoms, back out to 10,000 feet so your prospects are taking a hard look at the systemic problems affecting their divisions. Change management is hard. The risk of any initial call is getting too far into the weeds. The devil's in the details but detail orientation can stall a deal forever into a quagmire of inaction and "do nothing." What happens if they don't change? What are the outcomes and risks that decision makers seek? Focus there, air out the grievances.
  15. Curate over 200 items per day on LinkedIn and leverage TweetDeck or Hootsuite to filter the Twitter fire hose. Read ten to twenty publisher posts and authentically comment. Follow pertinent channels and add / follow thought leaders. OK, so you're thinking this is a ton of work. Well you'll flare up. Watch Timothy Hughes in the UK or Jill Konrath. The level of sharing, interacting and posting with some of the top social sellers is astounding. They are hyper focused on what matters most to their clients and the quality and quantity is staggering. You can preference quality over quality but with automated tools like InfusionSoft and Buffer, ubiquitous outreach is possible. Still take time to hand curate and respond personally. Turn the knobs up and down until you find the sweet spot of interactivity. It's not always bad when people complain you're sharing too much. I've turned up my content generation to 11 but kept the insight level very high, and received an overwhelmingly positive response. The demands of a bestselling author promoting a book versus a seasoned sales rep going to market are very similar, actually. Your enemy is obscurity. Your competitors are legion.
  16. Purple cow "Power of Wow" content. You're driving along the road and you see a bright purple cow. You stop the car and take pictures! So much of B2B content is hum drum, flat and boring. Spice it up with stories, humor, pop cultural references and hyperbole. Catchy, cinematic and over the top subject lines, post titles, tweet quotes or cartoons keep it light and fun and get noticed. Do something bold and original! Seth Godin only blogs, he doesn't even have a Twitter but his fans are so ardent they repost everything for him. Tell amazing true war stories. Remember that time when... Share the challenges of your customers and how you've solved them in the context of mashups, YouTube videos, Pinterest boards, infographics and data visualizations. Be as creative as possible to get multiple 'aha' moments and reactions in your presentations. Light up your social media streams!
  17. Polarize your audience by taking an authentic extreme stance. The truth is that you probably do have an extreme opinion that is still HR compliant and fully in bounds, wherever you work. If you're in virtualization of private clouds you've taken the stance that hardware for hardware's sake is a dinosaur. If you're selling high technology CRM systems, you're probably of the mind that CRM may be broken and the sector must innovate. Whatever massive problem you're solving in your industry, there's a polarizing stance. Shock and awe campaigning is just insight driven or challenger driven sales and marketing on steroids. Sometimes we need to shout a bit in social to be heard but this can be done artfully. It's a bit unusual to see corporations allowing their top sales people to share authentic opinions but I actually see this evolving in LinkedIn and Twitter in 2015. Don't be afraid to make a splash and express how you really feel. When I lecture, I talk about how corporations are lower and lower in the top 100 Twitter profile totem pole. Sales people need to become B2B micro-marketers. The vast majority of the top Twitter profiles in Australia now are the personal brands, it's the faces and names. It's real people, the faces of the corporation. The advantage is this humanizes brands. The risk is brand reputation so it's critical to train globally on social selling best practices and get the sales team trained on the advanced meta-strategies and strategic techniques. As a seller you have a responsibility to be a thought leader, a subject matter expert and open hearts, minds and eventually wallets. Bland, safe and cliched content won't get you to the finish line of exceeding quota. You can absolutely implement this strategy and maintain 100% integrity.
  18. Newsjacking. David Meerman Scott coined this term in his brilliant books. When you're building out Publisher content on LinkedIn, tweet it out at reporters covering a current event. Watch the Google Trends and Twitter Trending Topics. Watch the Pulse top searched keywords. Study the titles of what the highest ranking Pulse 25 are posting about. Integrate in a real-time newsjacking aspect of your social media strategy at least weekly. If it's the World Cup, write an article on how soccer relates to marketing. Newsjacking and mashups together are an unstoppable cocktail of awesome. You've gotta think of hashtags as landing pads and pepper your posts with them. Tweet at people who have written similar material or share your viewpoints. Tweet at people that disagree with you. Boldly go forth and just tweet! Showing up is 90% of the battle in social selling.
  19. Ghostjacking. Ghost-jacking is this idea of the LinkedIn War Room where you take a team approach driving each other's LinkedIn profiles to gain intel and turbo charge LinkedIn due diligence, outreach and referrals. It's also the concept of leveraging your own internal C-Suites social profiles to land key meetings and deals. The reason this is authentic is that many C-Level executives are now having their social profiles powered by an Executive Assistant. LinkedIn is the new cold call. And referrals without follow through die on the vine. If you know someone who knows someone one step from the target, start to message around them triangulating your way in, leverage your internal networks with TeamLink. Make your way in and do everything it takes to garner a meaningful introduction. It only takes one yes to succeed!
  20. Thunderclapping. This needs to be optional but is a huge part of a go-to-market strategy. Let's say you have hundreds even thousands of sales reps out in the field. Your CMO and marketing team should be distributing collateral in the form of suggested tweets, infographics and white papers, one-pagers, customer testimonials, sound bites and YouTube videos. Create an internal email distribution, Chatter feed or Yammer list daily or weekly with suggested tweets, shares and always, always, always ensure anyone who shares injects there own opinion. Hundreds of people sharing the same exact piece of content is a thunderclap but hundreds of people all putting an authentic spin on why it matters for them and their dream customers, is world's more powerful. This has an exponential ripple effect; tens of thousands of people will see it and you'll 10X your brand exposure in the marketplace.
  21. Endorsements at scale. I know we all love to hate it, those insincere endorsements we get. It seems like everybody is hitting the plus sign. It's a genius tactic on LinkedIn's part for increasing stickiness and adoption. Great job LinkedIn, we're bombarded by somewhat meaningless notifications from people we really don't know endorsing our skills all day every day. I am constantly endorsed by people who may only know me in a very specific 'weak ties' way. Hey, I'll take the endorsements, no complaints. You know what's more powerful than clicking those plus signs all day? Go through your LinkedIn connections list and write five authentic recommendations every day this year about people you've actually interacted with and worked with: could be direct customers, colleagues, channel partners, managers or speakers at a conference. They'll reciprocate! Don't be afraid to ask your entire network to recommend you. See earlier, where we 'pruned' the network to make every connection count.
  22. Provocative comment interaction. After you've published a blog or published to LinkedIn there are two ways to engage. Just hit the like button when people comment. Or, take the time to backlink to their name, write an authentic gratitude-based comment and ask more questions or tell more stories. Foment deep discussions. Debate and put yourself out there. Comment boards are for massive interactivity. Some of my threads have hundreds of comments and I do my best to engage in every one within 24 hours. I've gotten a slew of inbound LinkedIn invites this way and built my Publisher follower base from 1,600 to over 5,500 followers in under three months. Interactivity, authentically, consistently and daily. Any questions? BE fully there and enter the fray. LinkedIn and Twitter are the platform, all the world is a stage and they are the greatest modern pulpit of all. It's a bit of a soapbox here but I try to get off the high horse, humble myself, make fun of myself and genuinely seek outside opinions. I want to learn from dozens of disparate viewpoints and expand my horizons.
  23. Integrated YouTube strategies. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on Earth. Of course it is, it was acquired by Google. Take all your posts and repurpose them as YouTube videos behind a green screen. Interview a bunch of best selling authors on there. You can always take the risk of asking them to be interviewed. Launch your own mini Selling Power TV concept if you're a seller but focus on customer challenges and strategic objectives. Be like the CNET for your industry trends. This is time consuming but affordable investing in some basic equipment. Jamie Shanks and Sales for Life do a ton of selfie style 60 seconds of selling clips which is very effective. It drives Google Juice, super high SEO value and these videos are powerfully shared back into LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogs. YouTube is typically the biggest gap in the strategy for advanced social sellers. How do I do it? Grab a cell phone camera and start getting on there real and raw talking about how you're helping your best customers solve their biggest challenges. A thriving company that is selling the lights out should have a YouTube channel pumping out dozens of videos every month. There are a ton of formats to release them in. The star of this channel? Your satisfied customers!
  24. Hub and spokes - Metcalfe's law. The fishing is the best where the most fish are. Social selling is not rocket science. B2B prospects are living in LinkedIn. Take your LinkedIn activity levels and put them on 10X in here. Anything you are doing that is working, literally multiply by 10. Pick one or two social networks and spend all your time there; cut out the rest. Your fans will ensure you are amplified, trust them to do this well. I stopped blogging all together at my traditional website and moved my core blog focus here. As a result, I've had deeper levels of engagement, more lucrative speaking opportunities, am working on a new book [networked with a bunch of new editors and publisher executives] and have literally opened the flood gates of opportunity. I got that idea from Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin. You can do this too but make it authentic for you. Make one network the hub and the rest the spokes. When you share out to the others, don't just duplicate the exact post: pull quotes. When you tweet the posts out, pull 4 or 5 quotes to re-share it throughout the ensuing days in under 140 characters and link out with a bitly. I remember when I started on here, I was averaging two to three posts per day and I literally got warnings. Recently a top author was asked about cadence of posting in LinkedIn Publisher and they responded "daily!" It's a sea change and the tide is turning. The most is not the best but if you build the topic lists, mashup the content and share all of your intellectual property freely, lo and behold! – more connections, more book sales, more interest, more speaking gigs, more sales and more pipeline. That sounds pretty good to me, so I thank each and every one of you for joining me in this magical, bizarre journey down this rabbit hole in the last 90 days. You've put up with a Jackson Pollacking of my best extemporaneous and evergreen content.
  25. Old school meets new school techniques = Advanced Strategic Social Selling 3.0. It takes courage to reach for the top. Go find mentors in here and study the old school. Read the pantheon on SPIN, Solution Selling, New Power Base, Insight Selling, Consultative Selling. Study it all and become a student of sales. I'm coming out with a book on advance social selling with content I haven't seen anywhere. Make sure you have a stable of Millennials in your corner teaching you how they sell, too. Reverse mentorship will give you tidal waves of new social media game. I'll end this post with the strongest possible insight I could bring you. The most powerful social sellers are applying timeless strategic selling principles in an amalgamation or hybrid synergy with new school techniques and tactics. Selling in 2015 is more noisy and ultra competitive than ever before. This is because customers have near unlimited options. Point solutions are growing like Gremlins eroding marketshare from the market makers of yore. But understanding strategy, mapping political power bases, 18 month sales cycles on million dollar opportunities transposed into social selling environs for acceleration, the impact of trigger events and the concepts of Challenger Sale mixed with my battle tested framework RSVP, have made a massive difference to the sales executives that I coach and the global companies that I train. I have people I'm mentoring that have reduced their sales teams to just a few who get these concepts. They're leveraging full blown marketing automation to do the work of 3 years in 3 months. Their pipelines are full. They're closing consistent six and seven figure deals, many inside without ever meeting with their customer. I've seen a short cycled seven figure opportunity now close in one quarter with pure social selling leveraging the methods in this post. It can be done. The mythical strategic social selling beast has breached the surface. Check out this post I wrote on the mostAdvanced Enterprise Social Selling methods, as I hadn't seen much content on enterprise roll-out or how to do this at scale with a team of 25 or 100 account executives. It's a whole new era and it's alive and well. Please let me know if you have questions or I can help you in any capacity. I'm traveling now consistently to present on this subject matter and can train / enable your people:

Now it's your turn. Did I miss any? How are you nurturing and closing massive deals leverage social selling platforms like LinkedIn? I want to hear from you to complete the brainstorm. I've seen these methods working in the field all over the world. How do you tie this all together? What's driving the highest degree of results 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:

Main Image Photo by: NEC Corporation of America

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:

Sales Mastery or Sales Enablement?

I've worked with thousands of sales people in many different industries. Professional selling is changing rapidly with technology-driven automation and commoditization resulting in more than one-third of sellers losing their jobs in the coming years.

Sales people need to fund themselves from the value they create rather than from the margins that the product or service delivers.

For any sales person to prosper in their career they need to move beyond being good at building relationships to also embrace the holy trinity of sales mastery:

  • Lead with insight as a domain expert
  • Create tangible business value for clients
  • Leverage technology to be effective and efficient

Make no mistake, relationships alone are not enough. Buyers today are busy and stressed. They are not looking for new friends. They instead want greater value from fewer relationships. They care about how you can help them achieve their goals and manage their risks.

Lead with insight: Don't wait for your employer to hand you mythical silver bullets... you instead need to self-educate by researching and writing about the disruptive and transformative trends in your customer's world.

If you can't write then you can't sell.

There are four reasons to create and publish content:

  1. Educate yourself and develop domain knowledge and expertise
  2. Connect with industry leaders to build your sphere of influence
  3. Attract clients and an audience to support your business goals
  4. Build your personal brand evidencing credibility, value and insight

In an online world we are known by who we associate with (connections) and what we publish (insights). According to IDC research, 75% of buyers research the seller before engaging. What do they see when they view your profile? Do they see a credible domain expert worthy of trust and an investment of their time or do they see a mere salesperson? We must create own own narrative that sets us apart and earns engagement at the most senior levels. It is vitally important to publish thoughtful posts in your LinkedIn profile.

Creating business value: Move away from talking about who you are, what you do and how you do it to instead lead with why a conversation matters. What business outcomes can you deliver for them and what risks can you manage?

The language of business is numbers not words

Lead with why it is important and what it can do for them at a business level. Have evidence to support your claims. Know your best customers and why they decided to implement change within their organization. Understand their business case and the challenges they faced in change management. Bring this wisdom to new prospective clients and set an agenda that sets you apart from the competition.

Leverage technology: The best sales people combine proven old world practices with modern ways of executing. Building relationships and evidencing credentials and value can be done online. Buyers expect the sellers to arrive having done their research. Don't waste the customer's time asking them to educate you about publicly available information. Embrace a social selling framework to modernize the way you sell.

Social Selling Definition: The strategy and process of building quality networks online that attract clients and accelerates the speed of business and efficiency of selling, as achieved with a strong personal brand and human engagement through social listening, social publishing, social research, social engagement, and social collaboration.

Also use your company's CRM system better than anyone else. Work with marketing for lead nurturing with automation tools that keep prospects in your orbit without you annoying them or them wasting your time.

While sales individuals need to focus on 'sales mastery', the sales organization needs to focus on 'sales enablement'.

Sales Enablement

Most businesses do a good job in segmenting their markets, customers and products but what is often missed is the insidious impact of commoditization. Every product or service becomes a commodity over time as features that once differentiated drift back to parity as competitors catch up. According to Corporate Executive Board research, 86% of the time that sellers pitch their ‘compelling value,’ buyers perceive it as neither unique or compelling but merely features also offered by other suppliers. Every business needs to look at itself from the outside – how do customers really view us comparatively? If you sell a commodity, then face the awful truth rather than cling to expensive sales models where customers are unwilling to pay for the low value and high costs associated with a field sales force.

There is no such thing as a high margin commodity and the value they offer must stem from insight and wisdom rather than mere information and service. The first law of selling is that people buy from those they like and trust. They then seek best value and lowest risk. The key for every seller is to understand that ‘value’ and ‘risk’ are all defined by the customer. In selling, we are delegated down to people we sound like and this means that salespeople need to learn the language of leadership if they want to engage at senior levels. They need to be equipped to discuss the business case, delivering outcomes and managing risk.

If a product or service is a commodity then the sales model should be engineered accordingly; make it easy for the customer to obtain information, become convinced and then transact in a way that’s easiest for them including web, phone or channels. For products and services that actually are high value solutions then force the field sales team toward value through insight. Support them in developing domain expertise, genuine insights and business acumen to enable them to operate at a higher level. Product marketing needs to focus on differentiating what is being sold; and sales people need to differentiate by how they sell.

What are the critical elements of sales enablement and how do you create a framework for effective sales execution? There are three essential ingredients plus the catalyst of sales management leadership. The three ingredients are sales methodology, sales process and technology platform.

Few people can articulate the difference between methodologies and process yet these elements are distinctly different in complex B2B selling.

Methodology is the framework for formulating strategy and tactics to win; it’s also how you create your competitive deal strategy, identify risks, cover the political power base within the relationship map, and identify the best way to create compelling value for the buyer. But which methodology should you use? There are a number of well-proven methodologies including TAS, Miller Heiman, RSVPselling, and others. Success with methodology does not depend on which one you select but simply on how well you use it for opportunity coaching with the team.

Process is how you build a sales funnel and execute the sale; it’s how you qualify opportunities and progress through the deal stages with discovery, proposal, demonstration, closing, contracting, on-boarding and then doing win/loss reviews and case studies. Process steps need to be supported by the right tools such as a call planner, qualification tool, discovery questionnaire, proposal templates, win/loss review forms, and territory and account plan templates.

Platform is the technology you use to enable and automate your sales methodology and sales process. It is where you have a single source of truth about customers and opportunities. It must also be your coaching platform where there is transparency concerning pipeline depth and opportunity quality. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the ideal platform but CRM needs to be a strategy, not just a technology and reporting tool. To be implemented successfully, it must go beyond the mere functions of accounts, opportunities, pipeline and forecasting; it must instead enable the mapping of relationships and force discipline in deal stage progression with qualification scoring and action tracking. It must also include close plans with customer validation of critical dates. Finally, CRM needs to incorporate tight integration with both marketing, social (such as LinkedIn) and after sales support to provide a single view of the entire customer lifecycle from targeting, marketing, lead nurturing and selling through to account management, support, service, satisfaction and upselling.

This approach uses CRM to place customers at the heart of everything you do and provides the platform for being truly customer-centric. It also delivers transparency with deal quality and revenue predictability. It’s where sales people manage their opportunities and the tool that sales managers use to coach their people. This approach is designed to serve the sales people in improving their efficiency and effectiveness. Because it provides them with value and enables their manager to coach for improved win rates, they actually populate the systems with accurate and useful information.

When CRM is implemented with customers and sales people as the priority, and when it’s the platform for deal coaching and the enabler for sales process; then system success is assured. The synergistic outcome for management is accurate reporting and revenue predictability. The corollary of this is that CRM failure comes from implementing it as a reporting tool with poor alignment to sales methodology and sales processes. Many CRM implementation fail and it has nothing to do with the technology provider; here are the critical success factors for successful CRM:

  • Obsessively focus on the system serving sales and customer support staff
  • Integrate with social platforms such as LinkedIn and InsideView (for easy sales research and insight into Trigger Events)
  • Integrate with marketing for lead nurturing (to build sales pipeline)
  • Create a single view of customers and prospects (to be informed)
  • Embed methodology and process coaching (qualify, call plan, close plan, etc.)
  • Simplify reports and KPIs which can actually be managed (activities)
  • Support customer lifecycle post sale (cases, complaints, renewals, etc.)

With accurate data in a CRM the next issue to decide is what metrics provide meaningful reporting. A common mistake made by management at all levels is to seek to manage by results. Jason Jordan writes insightfully on this topic in his book, Cracking The Sales Management Code, highlighting that only 17% of the 300+ possible sales metrics measured are actually manageable. As an example, you cannot manage revenue, but you can manage the activities that create it. Rather than command sales people to bring in more revenue, they need to be guided in which activities are most likely to create the type of revenue you are seeking. Managing activities is the key to delivering the right results and this leads us to the catalyst that brings methodology, process and platform technology together for successful sales enablement – the sales manager.

Sales management is without doubt the most important link in the revenue chain for any organization. The right sales manager creates emotional commitment and belief within their team, they coach and mentor for sales success, they develop the right strategies to focus effort where the team can competitively win and they drive the right conversations with the right roles within the right targeted prospects. They also create organizational alignment with upstream marketing and downstream delivery, support and service to build a business with quality customers.

Sales management leadership is the catalyst that brings it all together: people, process and technology within the right strategy and a culture of excellence in execution. The type of person capable of delivering all this is an engineer rather than a warrior, they have empathy yet hold people to account. But the best sales manager in the world cannot be successful if their boss has them endlessly in internal meetings and reporting up. The sales manager needs to be a coach rather than an administrator. She needs to spend more time in the field than in the office, and more time strategizing and reviewing opportunities with sales people than managing reports. A great coach does not jump in and take over, nor do they do the sales person’s job for them. They don’t feel the need to rescue people and instead understand that people are best motivated by reasons they themselves discover. They focus on planning and debriefing to create constant improvement.

The Holy Grail of sales enablement is the seamless integration of the right methodology, efficient sales process, all enabled by Social Selling and CRM technology used to coach sales people by an effective sales leader focused on strategy, execution and building a positive team culture.

The very best sales operations bring people, process and technology together to be obsessively customer-centric.

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: Kreg Steppe Winner

Luddite To Leader – My Social Epiphany

200 years ago, English textile workers chose to actively resist the industrial revolution that was threatening to take their jobs. They decided not to embrace the disruptive technology of the day – no steam engines for them or mechanized mills and factories. An honest day of manual work supported by the horse had served them well for millennia. Human sweat was an eternal pillar of value creation in society.

They were passionate about their cause and took up arms, even assassinating mill owners. Amazingly, at one point in time there were more British soldiers fighting the Luddites within the UK than there were British redcoats fighting Napoleon. A 'Luddite' is defined today as someone who seeks to resist technology and throughout history there have been recalcitrants. When the phone was invented, religious leaders opposed it because it would encourage dishonesty and fraud. "If you can't look someone in the eye when you're talking to them, how can you trust what they are saying?"

Beyond those who resist are the people who underestimate the power of what's really happening. In 1943, Thomas Watson, President of IBM boldly stated: "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." In 1977, Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, said: "There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Industry experts are often wrong andpeople enjoying current success often foolishly ignore the trends that make them irrelevant.

I've lived through the pioneering era of mobile computing, ERP, CRM and cloud computing. They all crossed the chasm and right now social selling is making the crossing. Mike Derezin from LinkedIn states the case masterfully in the video below. It makes for compelling viewing and here is my challenge to you: Don't be a late adopter when it is all about catch-up without any commercial advantage. Right now is the perfect time to invest your time in understanding the power of moving away from the paradigm of 'interrupt and push' to instead 'attract and engage' where your customers are... in social.


I'm 53 and my own journey is testimony to the fact the those with grey hair and wisdom can become hyper productive and relevant in a Millennial ADD world. Almost exactly twelve months ago I was challenged to embrace social by a client I was mentoring in the USA. She convinced me to move from Luddite to leader by embracing social platforms. I turned my excuses into the very reasons for embracing the power of LinkedIn, Twitter and content publishing. It's been transformative for me and here are some reasons you should embrace it too.

Psy [in main photo] was a middle-aged oddity who went Gangnam-style busters because of YouTube and social media

Social selling matters because we live in the age of massively empowered buyers. Our customers can research and commoditise what we offer with just a few clicks. They can assess our assertions of value and then introduce competitors with ease. Sellers therefore need a framework for attracting customers through strong personal and corporate brands. But it’s not about spamming, pushing or annoying anyone. Those who narcissistically drone or aggressively sell are unfollowed and disconnected as quick as a click. Connecting to someone new and then immediately seeking to sell is a serious mistake. I define strategic social selling for business-to-business (B2B) as follows:

Social Selling is the strategy and process of building quality networks online that attract clients and accelerate the speed of business, and achieved with a strong personal brand and engagement through social listening, social publishing, social research, social engagement, and social collaboration.

In my definition, technology is merely an enabler but can be leveraged to create truly incredible results with the right strategies. Obviously, social initiatives are supported by the use of technology and social platforms but it’s really all about human connection and interaction to provide real value through insight or assistance with relevant content and conversations.

Social platforms, especially Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google have driven the era of personal brands and a new reality of transparency. The days of being able to project a manufactured persona are gone… people can quickly uncover the reality of who you are, how you operate, how well you’re connected, and the value you offer… all before you ever get to say a single word on the phone or face-to-face. Social proximity is a real factor that enhances or undermines potential connection, often without the seller ever discovering how their network (or lack thereof) helped or hindered their efforts.

Your social strategy will depend on what you’re seeking to achieve and where your market is but don't fall into the trap of becoming busy in social without having a strategy for both connection and content. For example, think about the reasons for posting in LinkedIn Publisher or creating Facebook pages. Are you seeking to attract and build an audience platform? Are you wanting to evidence your credentials? Are you wanting to provide insights and credibility to support your new business meeting requests? Are you wanting to proactively deal with potential objections you could encounter? Are you seeking to associate yourself with admired brands and thought leaders? Are you perhaps chipping away at commonly held myths about your disruptive solution set to cause a sea change? 

Social selling is a strategy, not a set of technologies. Most importantly, you need to know exactly who your target audience is and what insight or value you can provide before they would be interested in what you sell. Once you know what you’re seeking to achieve and have defined goals and metrics, then you can design your strategy and action plan to cascade down to the individual elements.

But more than all of this, moving from Luddite to Leader means being relevant in serving you customers and employer. You deliberately choose to give your intellectual property (IP) away and to adopt a 'pay it forward' approach to helping others. You reject the concept of trading favors and instead become a person of transparent goodwill. Leadership is about courageous service.

Once you are a person worthy of the success you seek, you then need a vehicle or platform on which to build your following. You need technologies that increase your reach and sphere of influence. Social is that platform today.

It is inevitable that all business people will embrace social and focus on building strong personal brands. so don't be late in having your epiphany; embrace social now. The very books I can recommend for you to read are The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott, and Platform by Michael Hyatt.

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

Main image photo by: Flickr: Eva Rinaldi - Psy

How To Outperform Your Competition In Sales


According to Lauren Mullenholz who spoke on October 8, 2015 at the LinkedIn Sales Connect conference in Las Vegas, those with SSI (Social Selling Index) scores above 70 achieve 200% more meetings, opportunities and new clients compared with their peers. Who wouldn't want to outperform their fellow sales people and competitors by 200%? Lauren's video is at the end of this post and includes a case study explaining how Microsoft is modernizing the way they sell with LinkedIn. The screenshots below are from the video.


The average SSI score within LinkedIn globally has gone from 21 to 28 in the last 12 months with North America and Australia leading the world with an average just over 30. But it's lonely at the top... achieving an individual SSI score of 70 or above places you in the top 1.4% of LinkedIn members. Click here forhow to create a strong personal brand in social with LinkedIn.


I've personally achieved a SSI score of 90 and the business results have staggered me. If you're serious about modernizing and improving the way you sell, thenknow the business case for social selling and create your own specific strategy. You can download a free white paper I've written defining 'strategic social selling' here (no form to complete).


I encourage all of my clients to embrace LinkedIn's SSI scores as the new KPI. My framework above is not dissimilar to the following four elements of LinkedIn's approach which drives the SSI score algorithm:

  1. Create a strong personal brand to attract buyers and evidence your relevance and credibility
  2. Find the right people within your network and identify who can assist with warm introductions and research
  3. Engage at the right level with insights that set the the agenda and influence the buyer's priorities, business case and procurement process
  4. Build relationships of trust and value

Many companies around the world are modernizing the way they sell by embracing social selling. The illustration below shows the results that Microsoft are achieving in three distinct areas: Enterprise partners / resellers, direct corporate sales and direct sales into the government sector. Watch the video at he bottom of this post to hear their story and how they are achieving these results.


Lauren's LinkedIn video below also features Phil and Brian from Microsoft with their case study. It's ideal to use during a 'lunch and learn' session with key executives inside your own organization. Introduce it by asking: "Could this be the way to modernize the way we sell?"

If you would like to see your own SSI score and understand how SSI scores are created, read this blog post.

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

Main image photo from Flickr

How To Create Your Personal Brand

Before you embark down the path of 'social selling' you must first stop using LinkedIn as your online CV and instead create a strong personal brand as the foundation upon which you will attract and engage a credible network and prospective clients.

This is important because 75% of buyers use social media to research sellers before engaging (Source: IDC) and 74% of buyers choose the seller who first provides insight and value (Source: Corporate Visions). It begs the question: What do people see when they find you online? Do they see a transactional pushy sales person with a profile designed to secure their next sales role or do they see a warm professional person offering insight and value?

No-one wants to be sold to but we all value assistance in making the right buying decision – we want to manage our risk and ensure best value.  Here are the essential things you need to do with your LinkedIn profile to cover the foundation of creating a credible personal brand to enable social engagement:

  1. Disable notifications to your network when changing your profile (account / privacy and settings/ turn off your activity broadcasts). This is important because you will be making lots of changes and you don't want to be bombarding your network as your change and refine your profile.
  2. Ensure your photo is a friendly close-up head and shoulders shot. It needs to be in focus and well lit (without a bright background). Note that my profile photo has been updated compared with the screenshot a few points below. I moved from 'professional power' to professionally friendly.
  3. Instead of your title and company, have a headline under your name that describes what you do for customers. What's the difference you make for clients?
  4. Have a Summary panel that describes the business value you deliver and the values by which you operate. Write it in the first person and don't be too over the top. This helps to create trust and set the agenda even before a single word has been spoken or an e-mail exchanged.
  5. Complete your contact details and personalize/shorten your LinkedIn profile link (the URL that takes people to your profile). This link should be included in your e-mail signature.
  6. Encourage people to both endorse and recommend you for skills that matter to potential clients rather than employers.
  7. Move your employment history to the bottom of the LinkedIn page (panels can be dragged up and down when you hover over them).
  8. Create three Publisher posts as this fills the panel in your LinkedIn profile as per the illustration below (again note how I've changed my photo).

Aim for 600 to 900 words in your posts (that's just over one page in Word) and here are three topic categories to stimulate your writing:

Once you build this foundation you're ready to identify the thought leaders (as regarded by your target market) who you will begin to follow in LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with to ‘curate’ their content and share with your network. You can begin to be a "forager for the tribe", as Michael Hyatt describes it, to be a content hub for relevant quality information about a topic domain or industry. You then have a reason why people should connect with you because you provide insight and value relevant to those in your network.

By changing your LinkedIn profile to be a personal branding microsite, you enhance the way you sell but with no downside for future career change with potential employers.

Personal brand reputation has always been important and even before the internet it was possible for it to be trashed. This very funny Budlight advertisement highlights how Jim Scott's social profile was destroyed. It's so much easier for brand damage today in the era of mobility and social media.

Seriously, think very carefully about what you post in Facebook even if you do regard it as a social platform for your personal life separate to LinkedIn for business. It's all one big discoverable pot for those who want to see past the persona you've carefully created.

Does your LinkedIn profile show why people should invest their time, energy and personal credibility connecting with 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

Main image photo from Flickr.