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Topics Covered: <a href='/resources/search/?query=Sales funnels'>Sales funnels</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Podcast'>Podcast</a> | <a href='/resources/search/?query=Entrepreneurs'>Entrepreneurs</a>
Sales Strategy
Canadian Professional Sales Association, Sales Strategy Series lock

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Bill Banham: Today's salespeople have more channels available to them to identify and engage with new audiences and customers than ever before. When done right, social selling tools combined with traditional sales methods and a clear sales funnel strategy, can grow a brand and drive sales, but how does a sales person effectively manage their leads? How can you cut through all of the online clutter and noise to understand who you should target, and how you can prioritize those leads?

Our guest today is Rhonda Taylor. Toronto based Rhonda is a seasoned sales person, business leader, pioneer in the world of hockey and a social media influencer. Rhonda is VP of sales at HRmarketer, a tool which helps salespeople and marketing pros find and engage with huge social media audiences, and then to convert sales. In this episode of the Sales Strategy podcast series, Rhonda and I will consider how to effectively manage your leads, getting the most from your data, your CRMs and finding those golden nuggets.

Rhonda Taylor, welcome to the Sales Strategy podcast, brought to you by the CPSA.

Rhonda Taylor: Thanks Bill, I'm happy to be here.

Bill Banham: Rhonda, let's jump straight in. Firstly, tell me a little bit about your career history up to joining your current role at HRmarketer.

Rhonda Taylor: Okay. Well Bill, I was a Queen's grad and I came out of University with all kinds of visions of where I was going, and I had lots of great opportunities provided to me. I think that one was being a social worker, which was cash for life and a pension, or going into the sales side of a startup agency. I felt that opportunities were endless. During the startup I was very successful. I took the company to a significant level in sales. I wanted to be part of the management team, I wanted to be part of the ownership, a partner.

The opportunity wasn't provided for me, so I went home, spoke with my husband and I started up my own operation, had it for seven years, it grew and I was able to sell to Adecco. After that, I did consulting. I traveled the world doing some IT, recruiting for companies, I did facilitation for, and two and a half years ago I became the Vice President of sales for HRmarketer.

Bill Banham: Rhonda, from your time as a player and coach, what lessons did you take into your sales career, which helped you achieve sales targets and drive business, and to generally succeed?

Rhonda Taylor: Hockey was ingrained in me as a child, and it taught me a lot. It taught me to be disciplined, the need to understand that the goals of my team, what my team wanted to achieve, and I had to understand what my role was in order for my team to win the game, or to achieve its goals. I played at the elite level, and I played at the University level, and one of my coaches said to me, "Rhonda, when you go over the boards, make sure that you're going to contribute to the success of the team. If you're not going to be able to contribute to the success of the team, don't go over the board."

Bill, that's taking ownership. Be there, perform. If it is to be, it is up to me, and I think that says it all.

Bill Banham: You're also VP of sales at HRmarketer. Tell me a little bit about your role there, and what does an average work week, if there's such a thing, look like for you?

Rhonda Taylor: HRmarketer was traditionally a North American product, but now HR is global. Companies are international with their staffing and with their staffing problems, so we have learned in time to become international. The interesting side of my business is that as a VP of sales, I'm very much hands-on. On Mondays to Fridays, those are my research days. Those are my days to set up strategies, those are my days to set up my social media activities. I'll even do calls on those days but Bill, I'll very rarely will do a demo or a meeting on a Monday or a Friday, because there's a really, a high risk of cancellation. I turn around and tend to put them on a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday so my success is a lot higher.

I guess the other thing is in sales, is that if people need prices and products, they can just go to our website, or your website and buy. As sales reps, we're out there to promote relationships. We're developing a relationship. We're developing a bond between ourselves, our companies and our clients, and that ensures future business. As a sales rep, you need to be very, very relationship driven.

Bill Banham: In addition to being an entrepreneurial sales focus professional, you also train and educate sales teams about tactics and tools to use social media for prospecting and engaging new potential partners and customers. Can you tell me two or three tips that you offer to help sales people find and engage with prospective customers, partners and influencers through channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn?

Rhonda Taylor: It's incredible the doors that are open now with social media. One of the things that I like to do, recently there was a publication of the 100 top technology companies in HR to watch for 2017. What did I do? I immediately got their Twitter handles and I now have them in our software and I reach out to these people every six weeks. My goal is for them to turn around, to follow me, and that gives me the green light to reach out to them and say, "Hey. You just recently joined me on Twitter. I would like to connect with you on LinkedIn," and there's a perfect start, so that's the one thing is, I establish targeted accounts and work them on Twitter.

The other thing is, is that if you're going to shows, reach out to your clients and your prospects. Every sales rep who goes to a trade show always has meetings. Take time before the show to schedule some Tweets about these companies, "Drop by so and so, they've got a great new product that they're introducing ABC show." You're developing a relationship. They will probably re-Tweet you, you're providing a service to them because you're heightening their profile. Bill, you're also turning around and heightening your own brand awareness, because you're using the Twitter hashtag for that event, and it just gives you much more brand experience.

Again, Twitter hashtag, oh, they're worth their weight in gold. Oh my goodness. It just is common sense for me to be reaching out to them on social media and starting the sales process.

Bill Banham: Now let's talk a bit about how valuable and relevant content feeds into the sales pipeline. What do you see as some of the most effective content forms which help grow brand awareness, and then lead to signups and ultimately, hopefully, inbound sales leads?

Rhonda Taylor: If you've got pieces of good content that you've developed yourself, a white paper or if you've done up a report or a survey, it's a great opportunity to turn around and Tweet those out, and like as an example, that list of a hundred people, I have done that. I have sent out a survey report. In order for these people to access it, they have to give me their email address. I'm finding more and more, the less you ask for, the greater the chances of somebody completing the form and moving on to being able to see what your offering is so, I just, often just go for the email address.

Bill Banham: I completely agree with that. It's about offering valuable content. It's about growing brand awareness, and to your point towards the end there, I'm also a big believer in don't ask for too much information from people who've perhaps never heard of you before, or just getting to know you. Keep it simple, just ask for an e-mail address. If you have to ask for something else, maybe the name of their company or something, but just-

Rhonda Taylor: Yes.

Bill Banham: Too often, I see forms with eight or nine compulsory fields. A lot of people drop off and they just don't complete.

Rhonda Taylor: Because you're international often when you're on social, you're getting into the United Kingdom, Canada included, where there's all these privacy issues, and because of these privacy issues, more people are reluctant to give out their information, because they're feeling they're giving carte blanche for you to reach out to them.

Bill Banham: Obviously it's a different proposition in B2C sales Rhonda, but in terms of B2B, can you tell me a bit about ways to measure how engaged a brand might be with terms and content related to a product and what sales people should do to make contact with those engaged prospects in the right way. Does for example, klout scoring still matter? Are there ways to identify a brand’s online engagement with specific content?

Rhonda Taylor: This was my personal feelings on klout score and Peerindex. They were relevant about I guess three, four years ago, but Bill I'm finding more, especially klout, people were able to, if you did this you got an extra ten klout points. As a result now that when you're reading somebody's klout score, it's not necessarily indicative of the connection. It's unfortunate, but somehow through the process these have been watered down. I like being strategic on social. Have your marketing team identify prospects that you need to be watching. Salespeople, sure are prospects, but you need also to be engaged with the influencers. You need to understand the marketplace and who is who in the zoo, because these influencers and these analysts that are out there in your space, they can actually contribute to your RLI if you've nurtured a relationship. Pushing and commenting on these individuals ... so many people are into developing content. Bill, when you see these people that you're trying to be engaged with doing a blog, or if they've got an article, don't hesitate to sit back in three, four sentences, four lines, well articulated comments, that will help so much to drive a relationship, and help you be successful.

Bill Banham: Pulling back on this idea of ways to identify what brands are engaging with specific content. There are different tools out there that which will help you show brand X has engaged with this hashtag or this topic ten times in the last month say, but what then does a sales team do with that type of information? How do you go about developing, building a database full of golden nuggets from all of the clutter and noise that is out there on social?

Rhonda Taylor: My favorite line is in sales, if you're doing emails and you're doing phone calls, you're just like that Charlie Brown character, it's, "Blah, blah, blah, blah." You're just part of the white noise. This is where I turn around and I recommend to sales people, and I just did a training session on Monday. I said, "You need to develop yourself into a thought leader in your place, and you need to be commenting." So much of sales is also being ... is relationship, so don't hesitate to let people know about you personally. Develop that relationship. Put those people into your database.

The nice thing about it is that when you do make that phone call, after having a social presence and engaging with them on social media, the chances of them picking up your phone call, or returning your e-mail, are significantly higher. Bill, just stepping back, there used to be the movie, the Death of a Salesman, and I don't know if you remember, but Willy Loman, all he was was relationship driven; he really didn't talk about benefits or features at all, he just spoke about, you know, slap on the back, the good guy.

In a way, sales has changed. People have to be very knowledgeable of their product. They have to be very understanding of the market and they have to be focused, but they also have to be a person.

Bill Banham: Part of what I'm taking from that answer there then is to find those golden nuggets, to create a database of strong prospects involves listening to what's happening out there, who's engaging with particular content, who's engaging with it regularly and maybe trying to get at what their motives are, and at that point then trying to build personal relationships and drive people down the sales funnel. Is that correct?

Rhonda Taylor: That's right, and listening to what they're saying on social, exactly.

Bill Banham: Now let's talk about CRMs for a moment. You are a seasoned sales professional madame, so I'm sure you've used plenty of tools out there in your time. Can you name two or three CRMs that you've used and tell us a bit about why you've liked them, what's been good about them, any drawbacks maybe too?

Rhonda Taylor: In one company I used Sugar, and it was very user friendly. I liked it, I had really no problems with it, it's just that I moved on and it was a CRM that I tucked under my belt. Then I was introduced to Salesforce, which was like manna from heaven. It just takes CRM and the sales needs to a whole next level. The next one is Pipedrive. It's a great price, and it does the job. There's no sugarcoating on it. It's very basic, but it definitely serves the purpose.

Bill Banham: You kind of touched upon part of the answer to my next question a little while ago, but largely we've been focusing on social selling. This sexy term social selling I suspect in a couple of years it will just be called selling. From your experience, particularly in the last five years since there's been this huge onset of social selling, is there still a time, are there still times when a phone call, or an in person meeting, or even a good old fashioned print mailer can play an important role in pushing prospects down the sales funnel, and then converting them into clients?

Rhonda Taylor: For sure, and that's what your sales reps are paid for, is doing that phone call, or doing that in person meeting. Those other sessions are relationship building. That's where you communicate and you exchange information, you communicate and exchange your thought leadership, your needs are, but you'll also develop that relationship. You learn that he plays golf, or you learn that he's got a cottage up north. That's where the phone call and the in person meeting is so relevant. It's an opportunity to solidify a relationship. I listened to a web test that I had to laugh at, and I still love it, and it was ... I forget the lady who said it, but it was like, "Pick up the goddamn phone," and Bill, that is so important, that you need to be on the phone.

Email campaigns, they're great, they educate, but they don't build relationships. I often find that I like to do e-mail campaigns after I have developed a relationship, or they at least know who I am, because then there is a significantly higher open rate. If you turn around and do a cold email, it's amazing now how low the open rates are in cold emails.

Bill Banham: And not only that, focusing particularly on Canada, CASL means that you've got to be very careful of course how you go about communicating with people through e-mail.

Rhonda Taylor: Oh definitely.

Bill Banham: Okay, so we're coming towards the end of this particular show. Before we wrap things up, how can our listeners learn more about you and connect with you Rhonda?

Rhonda Taylor: Sure. Well, I'm on LinkedIn, Rhonda Taylor. I'm on Twitter at @social_rhonda. I love my Twitter handle because it totally is a reflection of me as an individual.

Bill Banham: Okay. Well, that takes us to the end of this particular show. Rhonda, thank you very much for being our guest today.

Rhonda Taylor: My pleasure.

Bill Banham: Listeners, thank you very much for tuning in and listening to the Sales Strategy podcast brought to you by the CPSA. I've been your host Bill Banham with our wonderful guest Rhonda Taylor. Until next time, thanks for listening.

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