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Social selling is everywhere. In fact, connecting and engaging with audiences and prospects through tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook has become the new norm.
In this episode of the Social Media and Tech Podcast, Bill Banham and Jamie Jackson talk about what 'Social Selling' actually means and what tools should salespeople use.
Jamie Jackson is Senior Business Development Executive at Iron Mountain and a leader of Toronto-based group, Rockstar Sales. With over 15 years of sales experience, Jamie’s mission is to provide sales pros with solutions to increase efficiency in day-to-day sales activities.
Bill Banham: Jamie, welcome to the Social Media and Tech Podcast. It's great to have you here today.
Jamie Jackson: Thank you it's nice to be back.
Bill Banham: Let's jump into our questions. Firstly, what does social selling mean to you, because it means different things to different people, but what does it mean to Jamie Jackson?
Jamie Jackson: Sure, it definitely changes. As a front-line rep, what social selling means to me is it's using a different set of tools to gather information about my prospects and then engage with them. That process has changed over the last 10 years, it's changed over the last five years. Social selling is really the evolution of where it's going next.
Bill Banham: Tell our listeners a bit about you, your job and how social selling is part of your average day.
Jamie Jackson: Sure, so I'm a front-line rep for a Fortune 700 company and I sell into B2B prospects every single day. That's my job. I also spend a lot of time with Rockstar Sales, coaching sales people. In terms of how I use social media, I use some form of social selling every single day. The main tool that I use on a day-to-day basis is LinkedIn, and my activities as a rep probably don't look very different from anybody listening to this. You are building lead lists, you are connecting with those people, trying to book meetings. You're doing those meetings, and once you get those first meetings down, it's booking the follow up and trying to qualify those opportunities out.
My day, I would say looks very similar to most B2B reps. I suppose the difference is where social selling really comes in is the prospecting. It's finding out who you need to talk to and then engaging with them.
Bill Banham: Great. Thank you very much. In a moment we're going to speak a little bit about this multi-channel sales funnel and the general ecosystem, but before that, in terms of top lead generation tools for professionals, the in-house sales professionals, what are your one or two preferred software tools? I'm guessing you probably going to say LinkedIn is one of them. Please tell us more.
Jamie Jackson: Yeah, no problem. Actually there's two tools really for lead generation. When you come to building a list of people that you need to talk to and you want to reach out to, there's two tools. One is definitely LinkedIn. The Sales Navigator tool allowing you to select the type of companies you want to talk to, the type of postilions, the seniority level, and finding out what people do.
In the old days, we used to spend a lot of time calling up people and saying, "Can I speak to the person responsible for ..." I don't know if you remember those days? These days, long gone. LinkedIn can tell you that in five seconds. That's one way to build lead lists. The other major tool that I use is really Upwork. Upwork is a collection of freelancers who do all sorts of different things. I primarily use them to find people to build lead lists for me.
I find that as a rep, it's not the best use of my time doing administrative work finding out who the VP of marketing is for companies with more than 200 employees located in a specific geographic area. I can pay someone else to, one, use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, turn that into a spreadsheet, give me a hyperlink back to their LinkedIn profile and find their email address, and send them a blank email to make sure it's actually a real email address. That's how I find leads these days.
Bill Banham: Okay. So, you've got lots of people in the background helping you with the prospecting and the researching and so forth and so on. How do you then used LinkedIn? Would you then go through and send Inmails, try and connect with people? What's that process?
Jamie Jackson: Sure that process is actually changing. What's working right now may be different from what's working a year ago. These days, once I've found the people that I want to talk to, I typically have a four-contact strategy. Contact number one, I found now, actually the best way to start off that contact is with a direct email to their company email address. This has changed. LinkedIn hit a tipping point in 2014 where more than 50% of the users were now accessing LinkedIn on their mobile devices.
My theory was my prospects would start responding to that, because it's like sending them a text message, but something happened. I'm not sure what, I'm not sure why. My suspicion is a lot more people started buying Sales Navigator so they started getting a lot more emails. I found that InMail as that first tool, as that first contact is not the best way to go. I send an email directly to their company email address.
Probably first and second. My third one might be through LinkedIn. Usually, if I'm finding their company email address is bounced, they've usually moved on. They're now working somewhere else, they've quit, which does not necessarily mean you don't want to stay in contact with them. You do. People will end up finding another job probably doing something very similar to what they're doing now, so those aren't necessarily prospects that you write off. Still maintain a relationship and make sure you add some value there.
For me, it's two emails, then a LinkedIn, then there's usually a phone call, depending on the value of that prospect. If it's somebody that I really need to talk to, I will absolutely put in a phone call. Then, as a fourth, it's a final follow up email saying, "Hey, I've tried to reach you a few times, we've missed each other, here are my contact details, here's why we might want to chat. We'll be around if you need us. Does that make sense?
Bill Banham: Yeah. Totally. You've just spoken there a lot about the direct approaches, the sales approaches. What about the PR, the publicity, where maybe the marketing team comes in and supports. Tell us a little bit about ways that you found worked well when either sharing content on the LinkedIn Pulse, or perhaps updating on LinkedIn about an event that you're hosting either online or an in-person event. Do you find LinkedIn is a good publicity tool, or is it really all about prospecting?
Jamie Jackson: That's a good question. It is a good publicity tool, but in a way that most people don't think. What I hear about a lot in social selling these days is that, publish a bunch of articles, put great content up on Pulse, and your prospects will call you and say, "Hey, let's do a deal." I've done that. I've written a bunch of articles and I have a LinkedIn group, and I find that I do not get leads out of that. I do not end up winning business out of that.
As a sales person, it's very obvious. Either you're winning business or your not. What it is very useful for is watching what my prospects are sharing or writing. Or, people that work in a target company that I need to talk to, what they're sharing and writing because I find that allows me an opportunity to connect.
Yesterday, I saw an article from one of my target companies. It was actually a very interesting article that they had shared on Pulse. It's not somebody who I knew who was in the company. I reached out and said, "Hey, I really liked that article," and I mentioned a couple of things about that article so they know that I'd read it. I said, "What I really want to talk about is this, but I'm not sure how to navigate in the organization." They got back to me and they said, "I'm not sure who that person is, let me check and get back to you."
It offers an opening to connect, if that makes sense, but it's not necessarily a question of, at least for me as a B2B rep, publish a bunch of great content and leads will come to the door. It hasn't worked that way for me.
Bill Banham: Okay, let's now move away from LinkedIn, and instead, I'd like to talk to you a little bit about places where you store and search for prospects and clients. I'm talking here CRMs. What CRMs have you used in the past? What would you recommend? Any nightmare stories out there? It's a big part of the prospecting, having your data in a CRM where you can quickly go in and understand the warmth of a lead, what industry they're from, and so on. Tell us a bit about that.
Jamie Jackson: Sure. Not a problem. I've been around long enough, I've been doing this for well over 15 years. I remember the old ACT days. I remember Siebel Systems days, and right up to SalesForce and a lot of the newer ones that are free and a little bit more user-friendly. I think I've used pretty much all of them at one point or another. These days, I end up using SalesForce the most because it's what my company has told us to use. That's where the data goes.
That said, as a CRM system, I haven't found any of them to be terribly useful in terms of helping me guide my prospecting activity. SalesForce for me, and the way, the instance the way that it's set up, gives me a good view of the different deals that I'm working on and the stage that I'm working on, so I can nurture them, so that's useful. What it doesn't do, is it doesn't give me a list of people that I've talked to and who's responding to that.
Most of the time, how I'm managing that data, in terms of who do I need to actually talk to, to make the phone ring and generate business, I'm actually using Yesware most often. I'm looking at their reports, to see who's opening their emails, who's opening my attachments and who's responding to the stuff. Who's sharing it, because there's this myth in sales that you can convince somebody to buy something. That is a myth, it's a lie, it does not exist. You don't convince people to do things. What you do is you meet people halfway.
You find out what their needs are, you meet them halfway, and say, "Here's how I may be able to help that need." Then, they will either step forward and say, "That's really interesting," or they won't. It doesn't mean there's not skill and magic and all those other wonderful things in sales, but it's not the Jedi mind trick of sales and convincing them to buy something. What Yesware does is it allows me to see who's meeting me halfway. Does that make sense?
Bill Banham: It does. You've hit upon something else where I think we can have a whole different episode, and that's around they whole idea of, is there an inherent culture within sales departments which resists the use of CRMs, and instead goes off to those active contacts, and doesn't want to waste time on certain longer-term prospects when there are newer opportunities that you can measure through open rates and click-through rates. I'm getting very excited about that. I suspect you and I will come back on another show in the future and talk about that.
Jamie Jackson: That's not a problem.
Bill Banham: But, would you say that maybe using a CRM is maybe useful for more junior sales people. People who are first coming into a role that they're learning the trade. They're learning how to segment and treat a sales funnel as a 12-month thing. Do you think that's where it's most helpful?
Jamie Jackson: Honestly, no. CRM systems are built for the company to keep track of what your doing so that you can be easily replaced. That's what they're there for. As a junior rep coming in, you will find that the CRM systems that you're given will give you a couple of key pieces of information. It will give you a storage area for the contact details and sometimes email history of the different prospects. That, in and of itself it useful, because you have one place to go so you know how to contact your prospects and what you said to them last.
The other thing it will do is it will give you a sense of what deals are in play. Usually, when you're starting a new job as a junior rep, there's usually a couple of deals in play. They're usually stalled as well. The question is, where did that leave off, what can I do to move this forward, and what's the next step.
You may be able to rescue those stalled deals, you may not be, but you need to have a sense of where they are and make sure that you've got some ideas to move them forward. In my experience, at least, most of those stalled deals that you're going to inherit as a junior rep, are garbage. You'll be lucky to pull out one or two deals, it they give you 10.
Bill Banham: Love it, that's a great answer. This show is now becoming controversial with bold statements. Love it, loving it. Okay, so the focus of this episode is social selling and the tools that you use around the ... Tool is a general term, so let's use it in that way just for a second and talk about training and learning. Can you provide maybe two or three resources you'd suggest that sales people check out to learn more about social selling strategies and tools. That could be a course, that could be a website. Two or three of those.
Jamie Jackson: Sure, you mean aside from Rockstar Sales?
Bill Banham: Aside from Rockstar sales...
Jamie Jackson: Yeah, no problem. There's a bunch of information available out there. The first thing you need to realize is that, when people talk about social selling, if you're a B2B rep as opposed to a B2C rep, the vast majority of the tool that you're going to use is all LinkedIn. Start with the tutorials around LinkedIn Sales Navigator. They're free. That's where you start with social selling. Take a look at a lot of the research. LinkedIn publishes a lot of research and there's just a lot of research just on Google about when are the best times to publish.
If you're going to publish a Pulse article, when is the best time to do that. What are the best keywords to use. What are the best images to use. There's a lot of information available about how to make that more effective. How to make your Inmails more effective. We could just talk about that. That initial outreach email is a critical skill for most sales people, especially if you're a junior rep, that's the first thing you have to learn, if your a hunter. Even, actually, come to think of it, even if you're a farmer and you're developing that account, you have to be able to reach out to people and inspire them to get in contact with you and get a meeting.
That's a skill and it takes a lot of time. It takes typically about 18 months for somebody to learn that. We can do an entire podcast just on that. When it comes to social selling, yes there's some great tools available. Sales for Life has some great training out there as well, but if you're a junior rep just starting now, what you want to start with is start with the free information available on the internet in terms of how this all works and then tap into the real meat of it is, how do I reach out and contact somebody and get them to give me a meeting. That's what you need to learn.
Bill Banham: Jamie Jackson, thank you so much. That takes us to the end of this particular Social Media and Tech podcast episode. I'd just like to say thank you very much for being our guest today.
Jamie Jackson: Not a problem, it's my pleasure. Always happy to be here.
Bill Banham: Listeners, until next time, this has been the Social Media and Tech podcast brought to you by the CPSA.
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