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Social Selling and Tech
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In episode 12 of the Tech Product Review podcast supplement, guest expert Andrew Jenkins chats with host Bill Banham talk about Discoverly - a tool to navigate your social data, making you more productive personally and professionally.

Listen to the show here.

Read the transcript:

Bill Banham: Today we are talking about Discoverly. A tool to navigate your social data, making you more productive personally and professionally. As always we are joined by the wonderful guest expert, Andrew Jenkins. Andrew, welcome to this CPSA's product review show.

Andrew Jenkins: Thanks for having me.

Bill Banham: Firstly Andrew, what is Discoverly? What does it do? What are some of the key features?

Andrew Jenkins: Discoverly is a Chrome extension. Let me set the context. If you're a salesperson, and you're trying to make your life easier by getting more referrals, I can't say that there's very many people that say, "I love cold calling." Wherever you can find the opportunity to generate a warm referral or warm introduction, you know, life just gets easier that way.

LinkedIn, which we've talked about before, and I talk about at length in the work that I do, can tell you, because it makes your network and the network of your connections transparent to you, it will tell you the mutual connections that you share. So that you can ask those individuals for potentially a referral, depending on the strength of their relationship or the comfort that they have with that.

Well, there are times when either in that situation or when you see on LinkedIn that the person is a third level connection, whereby you don't have a mutual connection that could potentially refer you, this is where Discoverly as a Chrome extension comes into play. When your Chrome extension is running and you're within LinkedIn, it will show you not the mutual connections that you share on LinkedIn, but whether or not you share mutual friends on Facebook. It will also surface social data about those people if you're in Gmail.

Let's focus on the LinkedIn component. That's where I use it predominantly and I think this is where most sales people will use it, especially if they're just at the prospecting stage. When you are within LinkedIn and you're looking at someone, a prospect that meets your criteria as a prospect, the Discoverly Chrome extension will disclose to you whether or not you share one or more friends on Facebook.

Now it's not going to facilitate you becoming friends on Facebook, it's only identifying that you share some mutual friends. You can then go to those friends via email, phone, or through email on LinkedIn and ask them if they would feel comfortable making an introduction in some way to that individual. This is just another way to surface or illuminate where and how you might be indirectly connected to someone and again hope for the end result to be a warm referral or introduction.

Bill Banham: Okay, you very carefully navigated the features there. Now let's explore the benefits a bit more. This is all about referral sales, I guess, the benefits being ... well the biggest perhaps is that a referral is often very strong compared to other types of leads. Talk to me a bit about what the rationale is behind that.

Andrew Jenkins: I used to work in film and television, and the only way that you would land work on productions was by who you knew, or calling someone up and saying, "Do you know of a production that is curing up where I could be of help?" Whoever you were speaking with at the time might just suggest, "Oh, give so and so a call." You'd call them up and say, "Well, you know, Mary told me to give you a call. She said there might be some work on this upcoming production."

Maybe the answer is yes or maybe call me back in two weeks, but the main point here that I want to make is, I didn't know who Mary knew. My relationship stopped with Mary. There was no transparency. In this day and age of social networks, I now know who you know, because your network is transparent to me. LinkedIn tells me who you know, unless you blocked your network, which most people don't. Discoverly is like that as well and it shows me who you know, or you have as mutual friends.

These are all important insights to me as I'm trying to be a productive salesperson. Will I cold call? Sure. Most sales people still do. However, if I can wherever possible make it that much easier on myself by getting an introduction or a referral, it's better for me because I'm guaranteed at least a few minutes to have a conversation rather than just falling into the dreaded voicemail or just the dreaded cycle of follow-up in hopes that I get a response. That's where the likes of Discoverly delivers value.

Bill Banham: Now earlier on you mentioned that you were going to, for the purposes of this particular interview, focus on LinkedIn over Facebook more. I just want to get your feeling. I want to gauge what your take is on ... is Facebook a selling tool? Is it okay to use Facebook to connect with people for the purposes of selling to them, like a lot of people do on LinkedIn? Is Facebook more of a personal thing and therefore it should be only used for personal communications?

Andrew Jenkins: I think you can use Facebook to sell. More so through company pages or groups, where you've earned the right of those who are in the group. If you've said this group is going to behave in this way and this is the kind of activity you can expect. If you've told people that there will be some promotional activities here. I'm part of some social media groups where they allow one day a week for you to talk about who you are and what you do. To be blatantly promotional.

The caveat I would say about Facebook is, you know, some of your friends on Facebook have no intention to be sold to nor wish to ever to buy you, so for example I have some friends that are realtors. They sell homes in Florida as an example. I have no intention ever to buy a home in Florida through them. That's no disrespect to them as a salesperson. It's just not in the cards.

When they share postings of houses that they have up for sale or listings, it's content I have no interest in. Now the onus is on me to either block content from them, but keep the friendship, or block them altogether. My suggestion in that case is if you want to use Facebook to sell, have a friend profile as in for yourself, personal friends, family. Create a personality page, so if you're a realtor, a mortgage advisor, public speaker, whatever, a music artist, or an artist, you paint or whatever, it's the equivalent of a business page. You can run ads from it. You can promote content more so than you could from a personal page. That's where you have the opportunity to be more salesy.

You're separating being a friend to others and doing your sales activity in another channel. Albeit still within Facebook. What I was referring to earlier was that Discoverly inside LinkedIn tells me the mutual connections we share as friends on Facebook, so it's just another data point with respect to another social network, but it comes about from data being mined on LinkedIn initially.

Bill Banham: Okay. Thank you very much. I know we got a little bit off course there, but I think that Facebook versus LinkedIn debate when it comes to social selling is a key conversation to have.

Andrew Jenkins: Let me just add to that. For instance, we've been involved in a project with financial advisors and mortgage specialists for a very large bank, facilitating content for them to share. The [inaudible 00:09:10] advisors, especially them, have their own business page or personality page on Facebook. Again for that reason so that they can boost content and run ads on Facebook, all in a compliant fashion with proper checks and balances with compliance and risk, you know, consultation with their employer. That keeps all that activity outside of or separate from their personal channel or personal feed on Facebook. That's proven to be successful for them.

Bill Banham: Okay, so thank you. You're talking about successes. Let's talk about limitations. Are there any shortcomings when it comes to Discoverly?

Andrew Jenkins: Just the fact that it only does one thing. Tells you what the connections you, or the mutual friends you share on Facebook. If you're inside Gmail, it will give you some additional social data, but again if you're looking at their profile in Gmail, as in you have their email account, in a sense you've already got perhaps a little more established relationship with them because you're now potentially corresponding with them.

This is, as I said earlier, really just meant to illuminate an opportunity for a referral or introduction. One very specific purpose, but a valuable purpose nonetheless, because where if this individual was a third level connection, where I have no option for a referral, where I might have to go in cold or join a mutual group, then the likes of Discoverly may make my life a little easier and give me a path through another connection to that prospect.

Bill Banham: Right. Now again, I'm going to take us down a little bit of a rabbit hole, just for a moment. In your opinion Andrew, what is the etiquette when it comes to ... Let's put Facebook to one side, specifically LinkedIn. You've spotted that you've got some connections in common. What is that etiquette going to one of your connections and asking them to offer a referral? Do you, for example, say in an in-mail to them or in an email to them, "Hey I've actually prepared what that message to them would look like. Here it is. Do you mind approving that and sending it to them?" Do you leave it up to them as to what they say about you? Do you have to be very, very selective about who you ask to do the referrals?

Andrew Jenkins: To build on your last comment there, I'll be selective in terms of ... Let's say I'm looking at a prospect or someone that I want to talk to, and it may not be about sales. For instance, I'm trying to navigate into a company now on behalf of a tech partner of mine that's in the U.K., and so I'm just trying to facilitate an introduction. I'm trying to find the strongest connection that can introduce me into that company. Strongest from a credibility. Strongest from reputation. Strongest from they've know one another for a long time. Maybe they worked together in the past. Whatever it might be. Those are the kinds of criteria that run through my head.

To your point about or your question about etiquette, well what I focus on is, okay, I have identified who potentially can make that introduction or that referral. I will send them a note by in-mail or by email and say, "According to LinkedIn you know so and so. I am interested in speaking to them about X. Assuming you feel comfortable enough to introduce me, here's how you may wish to, or if this helps with the introduction, here's what you can say to them as a way to introduce me and set the stage for that conversation." Then I usually close it with, "If, for whatever reason, you're not comfortable or this is not something that you can do at this time, I totally understand and that's okay." I give them a out. There's no obligation, no pressure.

That's just my take on it. Other people have different styles, because I get the request as well. I've said to people, people will reach out to me to meet up for a coffee to do networking, you know people that are in transition. I'm an alum of the Rotman School of Management so I connect a lot with newly minted MBA students that are navigating their career path. I mentor start-ups and a bunch of other things, so anyway, networking is a frequent activity of mine. People will be reaching out to me and saying, "Per LinkedIn you know so and so." They'll do much the same thing I described, but I will say to them, "Well I don't know that person very well," but I often say, "Well listen. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I don't have a problem reaching out to them, telling them what your intention is and seeing where things play out."

I do the reach out but in a non-threatening way and again I give that person an out saying, "Someone in my network wants to talk to you. Would you be okay with it?" I'm jumping ahead. I'm paraphrasing, but I follow the same etiquette. If they do, great, and I facilitate the interaction. I advise the person who had asked for the initial introduction, be gracious and respectful. My assumption is that you won't do anything that would reflect poorly on me for having made the introduction.

The other thing, I know this is the Canadian Professional Sales Association podcast, but one of the things that I talk about with sales people when I'm training them about LinkedIn and so on is that it doesn't always have to be about making a sale. There could be things that you're trying to ... connections you're trying to make within LinkedIn, maybe someday will become a sale or indirectly will lead to some sort of sale success. The example I give is that I joined a board, that I was on for three years, because I navigated through LinkedIn to the president of the board through a series of connections. I networked my way onto that board based on insights that LinkedIn provided me as to who I had to talk to.

That's nothing to do with sales, but those relationships that I fostered in order to get on the board led to fruitful business relationships, both for sales and otherwise. Often people ignore that. They think ... dismiss LinkedIn as just a job board or for sales people to just pound away for prospecting. There's a lot more value to be derived if you know what you're doing.

Bill Banham: Okay, thank you very much. Ladies and gentlemen usually we focus on the technology only, but I feel like in this particular episode you're getting a good glimpse into the personality of my friend Andrew Jenkins. Okay, just one last question for this particular interview.

Andrew Jenkins: Bonus material.

Bill Banham: Yeah, bonus material. Just one last question for this particular interview before we wrap things up. It's our favorite question as always, out of five stars Andrew, what would you give Discoverly?

Andrew Jenkins: I'd give it a three and a half. It's not meant that I dislike it. Very hard to give something like a five out of five that does one thing and one thing only, but it does it well. Occasionally sometimes it could be more of an issue of the Chrome browser crashing or insufficient data, so sometimes it doesn't ... or the simple fact is there are no mutual friends, so like it just sits there static. For that reason, maybe three and a half. I still think ... It costs nothing. The only requirement is that you use Chrome, but I think once you install it and see it in action inside LinkedIn, you'll kind of go, "Huh. Nice to have it available to me."

Bill Banham: Perfect. Well that just leaves me to say for this particular show, Andrew Jenkins, as always, thank you very much for being our guest.

Andrew Jenkins: My pleasure.

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