fbpx

Is Thought Leadership The FUTURE Of B2B Sales?

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, James Buckley shares his thoughts on the importance of becoming known as a “thought leader” in your industry and how to become one fast.

We dig into the difference between thought leadership and influencer marketing as well as the difference between followers and an audience.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:
Win More Deals Or Your Money Back.
Selling Made Simple Academy: The proven way to improve sales results. Trusted by 2,000+ students.

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - James Buckley
Director of Sales Execution and Evolution at JB Sales

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of The Salesman Podcast.

 

James Buckley:

So now that we have this great foundation, let’s look at a completely different definition of thought leadership, right? Russ Cline in April of 2020, right after the pandemic really started to get crazy here in the States. He is at ama.org and he poses this.

 

James Buckley:

One way to think about your career is to decide whether you want to build your value, which is that that you bring to an enterprise or society on what you know, or what you do.

 

Will Barron:

Hello Sales Nation, my name is Will Barron and I’m the host of The Salesman Podcast, the world’s most downloaded B2B sales show.

 

Will Barron:

On today’s episode, we have the legend, he’s been on the show before, he’s an absolute legend. We have James Buckley. He’s the director of execution at J Barrows Sales Training. On today’s episode we’re trying to answer the question, is thought leadership the future of B2B sales? The answer is, probably yeah, it probably is. Everything we talk about is available in the show notes for this episode over at salesman.org. With that said, let’s jump right into it.

 

James’ Definition of Thought Leadership and Personal Branding · [01:22] 

 

Will Barron:

So today we’re going to try and answer the question, is thought leadership the future of B2B sales? It’s a slightly loaded question because I think we’re both on the same wavelength with all of this. We’re just going to be in agreement, and agreement, and agreement. Hopefully we can come to loggerheads at some point so there’s a discussion for the audience here. But to get us started, do you have a definition of what thought leadership or personal branding is? Essentially, I guess, how you build your training upon that? What was the starting point of all of this?

 

James Buckley:

All right. So I’m super prepared for this, and I think it’s such a huge conversation. I want to start by giving three common definitions. I’ll give you the sources of where they came from, but I want to be super upfront and transparent with where I want your listeners minds to be when I read these. Look at the different definitions and how they position a thought leader or an influencer, if you will, which I think they’re both the same buzzword.

 

James Buckley:

So Denise Rousseau in a book called, Are You Ready To Be A Thought Leader? Defines thought leadership as informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted resources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas. They turn ideas into reality, and they know how to show and replicate their success. Over time, they create a dedicated group of friends, fans, and followers, that help them replicate and scale their ideas into sustainable change, not just in one company, but in an industry or a niche across an entire ecosystem. That is a big, broad definition. What are your thoughts on that, Will?

 

Will Barron:

I think we could spend a whole podcast breaking that down into chunks. As you were throwing it at me then, James, I had someone who to … Maybe a thought leader could be individually parts of this as well. Maybe the mega thought leaders out there, this as a whole unit, but somebody who can turn ideas into reality. Clearly there’s massive value in that in B2B sales and business in general. The other thing that stuck out was someone who can show and then replicate success.

 

Will Barron:

That is not completely different, but that is also different to a leader who we might say … I’m making this definition off the top of my head, but could be someone who can coach success. Or someone who can see and nurture success. That seems like a split down the middle there, of someone who can do it and then teach it as well. We know how valuable teaching is in sales. So a lot of that already translates to B2B sales, right?

 

“One way to think about your career is to decide whether you want to build your value, which is what you bring to an enterprise or society, on what you know, or what you do. To put it another way, are you interested in being respected and valued for your knowledge or your actions?” – James Buckley · [03:57] 

 

James Buckley:

Yeah, Okay. So now that we have this great foundation, let’s look at a completely different definition of thought leadership, right? Russ Cline in April of 2020, right after the pandemic really started to get crazy here in the States. He at ama.org and he poses this, one way to think about your career is to decide whether you want to build your value, which is that that you bring to an enterprise, or society, on what you know, or what you do. To put it another way, are you interested in being respected and valued for your knowledge or your actions? That’s a little bit different, right? One of them is a little more actionable and then teachable. Then the other one is respect and notoriety, and a little bit of fame mixed in there, I think. What are your thoughts on the second definition?

 

Will Differentiates a Thought Leader From an Influencer · [04:30]

 

Will Barron:

So I think if we use this term influencer, which I hate the term, and I hate it when people say it about me, even though perhaps some of it’s true. That would be someone who has value in a marketplace because they’re known, perhaps, versus, I would say, a thought leader is someone or someone with a strong … Say a thought leader rather than personal brand, if I’m redefining all this as I go along, would be someone who can do stuff. A thought leader is someone who can come into an organisation and teach, and change. And again, an influencer is someone who just has an audience that can be, not just, because it’s going to be valuable, an audience who can be marketed to perhaps.

 

James Buckley:

I love it. You said so many keywords in there and this next definition is going to change everything though. So stand back, man. All right, here we go. Michael Brenner, May of 2019, pre-Covid. He says, “I define thought leadership as a type of content marketing, where you tap into the talent experience and passion inside your business, or from your community, to consistently answer the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience on a particular topic. Look how specific that is. That is probably my favourite definition for salespeople. I think there’s a big, broader, picture out there with the purpose of your personal brand, and or your thought leadership and influence, but for the purpose of this conversation, I believe that fits the sales professionals so well.

 

The Importance of Thought Leadership In Sales · [06:03]

 

Will Barron:

I agree. If you have the … What’s the word? Respect is a bit wishy-washy, but almost the kudos in the marketplace where someone wants to ask you questions. You have the ability to answer them is incredibly valuable in itself. Essentially you’re becoming your own inbound sales and marketing machine at that point. That’s where, I hope you agree, but that’s where I want to steer this conversation. To how we can build that. How we can build the reputation in the market and how we can build our knowledge to be able to answer questions, because answering questions is a skill in its own right.

 

“Our job as salespeople is to sell what we have to people that need it, and that is totally different than convincing other people to buy what we have.” – James Buckley · [07:18]

 

James Buckley:

So I think that salespeople have to walk a very interesting row because we have to both answer questions, and ask questions at the same time. So one of the skillsets that I try to give people when we speak and I coach them, is get into the habit of making a statement or answering a question, and then asking a question. Every time you get the chance to speak, maybe not every time, but most times when you get the chance to speak, and honestly it should be sparingly. That can be really challenging. Sales people have a tendency to talk. We talk a lot. We think our job is to convince other people to buy what we have. John will tell … John Barrows, my boss, will tell you, it’s not. Our job is to sell what we have to people that need it, and that is totally different than convincing other people to buy what we have.

 

James Buckley:

But I think that when you’re looking at the bigger picture of value, I’d rather be associated with that bigger picture than the small gain of closing a deal.

 

Will Barron:

So let me drag things back down to earth for a second here, James, because there’s going to be some people listening to this right now, and I would have been in this group of going, that makes total sense. We can see that a lot of sales can now be automated. A lot of sales that would have been artfully and skillfully done on the phone with cold calling, and all this kind of stuff. I don’t care what anyone says, a lot of it doesn’t exist. You can’t call me because nobody has my number. You can email me and perhaps we’ll jump on a meeting together and that’s a skill in its own right. But a lot of what was done in the 80’s, 90’s, early 2000’s is either no longer effective or no longer possible.

 

Will Barron:

Clearly, if you’re incredible on the phone, you can translate that skill to other places. And if you can book a meeting via an email or whatever it is, and then get on the phone, all those skills are still clearly very valuable. But if you take all of that away, what it leads salespeople with is this, either you’re in two groups, you’re a pesky annoying salesperson, pestering individuals, or you’re an expert that people want to speak to. This has never been more open because of the internet and LinkedIn. If I have a question about what cameras I want to buy for the studio, I’m not necessarily going to call up and try and speak to a salesperson. I’m going to find whoever’s an expert in home studio cameras, and I’m going to hammer them, and LinkedIn them, and email them, and pester them until they give me a recommendation. And then that’s 70, 80% of the buying cycle right there.

 

How Long Does It Take Before Someone Can Be Considered a Thought Leader? · [09:20]

 

Will Barron:

So I feel like just to pull things back down to earth for a second, because we’re painting this ideal picture where at some point the audience are going to do this, this, and this and they’re going to have this magical time. What is the gap between … Someone who’s never considered thought leadership, James, what is the gap between someone who is like selling on the phone now who sees the value in all this, and understands that it’s going to become more, and more valuable in the future. Where’s the gap between where they are now to where they’ve got to be? Is this a 10 year process to build this thought leadership? Can this be done overnight via a viral video? Where does all this start?

 

“In order to gain a status that is influencer status, or thought-leadership status, the first step is building that personal brand. You can’t have one without the other.” – James Buckley · [09:52] 

 

James Buckley:

So first of all it’s worth noting that in order to gain a status that is influencer status, or thought-leadership status, the first step is building that personal brand. You can’t have one without the other. You have to go from being unknown to being known, in order to have that status.

 

“We all know that there are no shortcuts in sales. We have to do the work, we have to put in the time. And building your brand that’s meaningful for your target audience is no different.” – James Buckley · [10:19]

 

James Buckley:

So the step is to start building the personal brand. Shortcuts, there are none. There’s a formula that has to exist. So there’s no shortcuts in sales. We all know that there are no shortcuts. We have to do the work, we have to put in the time. And building your brand that’s meaningful for your target audience is no different.

 

James Buckley:

What this does over time is create inbound leads. People that see your content and they want to connect as a result of that content being relevant, to either their job, or their personal life, or maybe even a hobby, “Yeah, I saw that post you did about rock climbing. I climb in this place, you climb in that place.” We just became rock climbing buddies. The difference is that I sell software and you’re the VP of sales that makes a decision at this other company. We just happened to both be rock climbers, right?

 

James Buckley:

So that’s a macro concept that your content can touch. In addition to that, once they engage with that post, it’s almost like a subconscious green light to be able to reach out and say, “Hey man, thanks for the love on that. What was it that prompted you to hit that like button?” And then they tell you. Amazing. They’re beginning a conversation. Who would have thought that your content about rock climbing would have generated that conversation between you and a potential buyer? And now you have an opportunity to build a relationship there.

 

Why Consistency Is Crucial When Building a Personal Brand · [11:35]

 

Will Barron:

So how long does this take? I know-

 

“You can’t know what’s going to go viral. You have to just create great content that you think is valuable for your target audience and the community around you.” – James Buckley · [12:20] 

 

James Buckley:

It [inaudible [00:11:37]. Absolutely. There’s no … I hate to cut you off, but this is a common question with these one-on-ones that I do. There is this concept of, I need something to go viral. Now I’m going to tell you, there’s nothing better than seeing a post go viral. The dopamine hit that we get in our brain from that is unbelievably satisfying, but you never know what’s going to go viral. It’s not something that you can track, you can collect data that says this type of content performs well on this channel or that channel. That type of stuff is really useful for managing your media, but you can’t know what’s going to go viral. You have to just create great content that you think is valuable for your target audience and the community around you.

 

James Buckley:

Once you get there, you can see this exponential increase in people that keep coming your way. “James, I see your content all the time. James, I love your videos. James, thank you for talking to me a year ago.” Right? “What you said to me changed everything, and I’ve been doing so much better since.” I love these types of messages because they resonate this positive magnet that pulls people towards me. It’s not necessarily tied directly to the fact that I do sales training, or coaching, or that I used to sell this product or that product. It’s just because it’s valuable overall. Big blanket statement, this changed my perspective.

 

James Explains How Long it Can Take Before Your Thought Leadership Status Starts Earning You Money · [13:06]

 

Will Barron:

Okay, let me repose the question. I’m doing this purposely. If the answer is consistency, and the answer’s years if you want to be a big success in the space, is there levels to having thought leadership and personal branding? And if we turn it into a computer game, at what level does this start to pay us back? When do we start to get some returns other than just nice messages? Because nice messages don’t pay the mortgage.

 

James Buckley:

Actually, you’d be surprised how often they do. That account executive that saw your posts a year ago is probably on a growth track of some kind. If your content, and your sales tips, and the things that you’re saying online are helping him to get where he wants to go. And you’re a resource for him or her now, you’re going to be that same resource when they finally get that promotion to being the decision maker. Then you’ve got this long standing history.

 

James Buckley:

Yes, it’s a long game. I got news for you guys out there. It’s supposed to be a long game. It’s your career, man. It’s not a job, it’s a career. That choice that you make to treat people that way, and see their growth happen, and then be like, “Yo, this is a perfect time for you guys to talk to us about how we can help. You just took on the role, I know you’re probably learning a lot. It’s like drinking from a fire hose. When can we connect?” And because you’ve had this relationship for six months, a year, two years, and they’re consistently engaging with your content, it’s very difficult for them not to be like, “Yes, I want to have that conversation with you. Thanks for everything you’ve provided for me over the years.” What a better way … there is no better way to start that conversation, that pipeline deal, if you will.

 

Will and James Reveal How Long It Took Them To Achieve Thought Leadership Status · [14:57]

 

Will Barron:

Sure, okay then. Well, James, let’s get somewhat practical about this then. In fact, one thing before we do get practical is I think we’re making it out to be a big audacious goal to become a thought leader in an industry. And it is, and I would somewhat humbly say that you and I are somewhat of a thought leaders within the B2B sales space. There’s plenty of metrics, and data, that we could prove our argument with, but if we’re being humble on the show, we don’t want to look like our heads are too massive. We’ve done it. When did you start this process? Because last time I spoke to you on the podcast, it was years ago now. It’s took me five, six years to get to the point with the audience that I have. How long has it taken you, James?

 

“Consistency plus time equals audience. The key word to recognise there is audience instead of followers. If you’re after some level of fame, you want followers. But if you’re after business, new business, or engagement, you want an audience.” – James Buckley · [15:50] 

 

James Buckley:

Yes. It’s taken me five, six years to get to the point where I am. So let’s just label it as this, where Will and I are is a five year or more investment, depending on your consistency and the time you spend. Consistency plus time equals audience. The key word to recognise there is audience instead of followers. I think if you’re after some level of fame, you want followers because the more the merrier, right? But if you’re after business, new business, you want engagement. That’s what you want. That’s a totally different goal for your brand.

 

James Buckley:

Now, five years ago, when you and I first connected and did the salesman podcast, I was an SDR at a company called Cirrus Insight. Say What sales didn’t even have a name at the time. I was just crushing it on the phones and doing lots of success, email, the different emails using video. It was all very different in that time period. So Brandon, my boss, was like this is a great podcast, you should go on this podcast. We did the podcast, it was awesome. But Say What Sales wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t long after that, that Say What Sales actually became my personal brand and I attached my slogan to the content. If you’re a sales person we’re the same person. It started to become this cult thing, if you will.

 

James Buckley:

Now, people say it back to me when I go to shows. In 2019, I did some shows, people yelling at me, “We;re the same person.” That’s a branding win. But look at where it took me. In 2015, I started at Cirrus Insight, never done SAS sales before. I didn’t know what Salesforce was. I had no idea, this was all brand new. Prior to that, I was door to door B2B, door to door residential. And I was a cook for years. So there’s that.

 

James Buckley:

Now, fast forward, 2019, late 2018, I leave Cirrus Insight and I joined ringlead.com. I’ve learned about data governance, but I become a brand ambassador. I had been doing so much sales content that the owner at RingLead was like, “I love your energy and what you do, do it for me.” So that was an easy transition to make. Okay, I’m going to sit in front of your camera. We’re going to talk about the importance of data, how it impacts your pipeline, how it impacts your business, the way it flows through your systems, the technologies that need to be in place so that it can be managed properly. Data orchestration was born at ringlead.com there. So we ended up doing that for all of 2019.

 

James Buckley:

Well, my content took a step forward. I had a producer, I had cameras in front of me. There was lighting now. My dress improved. My manner of speaking changed. My body language was stronger. I had more confidence. As a result of that, John Barrows called me in late 2019 and said, “What do you think about coming on board? I love the way you make people feel.”

 

James Buckley:

For me, there’s no better example of how powerful personal branding can be for your success overall in your career then that story right there. From SDR to AE, back to business development manager on to brand ambassador. Now I work for one of the most popular and well-respected sales trainers in the world. How much stronger of a story do you need for personal branding to be impactful for your career growth?

 

James Describes How He Launched and Scaled His Sales Career By Being a Thought Leader · [19:06]

 

Will Barron:

Let me ask you this, this is a bit of a weird question. So how much of all of that was look? How much of all of that was consistency? And be open and honest about this, how much of it was the fact that you’re just frigging good at what you do?

 

James Buckley:

It’s probably a good combination of both, of all of those things. I don’t think that there is … it’s this kind of great transition into the future of B2B sales here, Will. But let’s really look at what’s happened just this year. What we’ve seen is less people that are just metric hitters, less people that are coming in smiling and dialling, hitting 150 calls a day, scheduling two meetings that have a 10% chance of closing with no discovery. We’re seeing a lot less of that. We’re seeing more individuals joining this marketplace going, “How do I make it mine? How do I own it for myself? How do I invest in me in this space, so that I can have a career path that I dictate, instead of a career path that’s dictated by my successes and failures?”

 

James’ Thoughts on Whether Relationship Selling has Been Replaced by Thought Leadership · [20:18]

 

Will Barron:

Do you think … or tell me if this is fair to say, because this is what I believe. So you can give me your thoughts on it. Do you feel like relationships, and relationship selling and all that stuff that we’ve talked about countless times on this show, and I’m sure you’ve discussed as well, James. Do you feel like that is now being somewhat … I think its has been completely replaced, but I’ll soften the question. Do you think it’s been somewhat replaced by thought leadership instead?

 

James Buckley:

No, I don’t think so. I think thought leadership has its place for the top of the phone. There’s a lot of engagement that you see with thought leadership and influencers that essentially end up with people falling into the top of the funnel, and then being marketed to, and potentially falling through the funnel. But relationship selling, and relationship based approaches, I think are needed, but they have a different purpose now.

 

James Buckley:

There used to be a relationship approach that was really quick, build a relationship, present the value, learn about them, develop that relationship, and then look for that opportunity to be pitching to them with something you can provide. Now I think relationship based approaches are more like, “What can we do together?” If it’s, “I can sell you this and it will help you win.” That’s wonderful, let’s do that. But if it’s more like, “Hey, I don’t know anything about your product, your company, your culture. We need to get to know each other better. Let’s collaborate on some content. Let’s do a webinar. Let’s do a quick Q and A with my team.” This type of stuff is how you build that integrity, and that trust, that foundation that tells people, this person is valuable. This person changed the way we do business in a single stroke. We should look deeper into what they can do for us. That’s real organic interest from somebody you’re building a relationship with.

 

Will Barron:

I’ll challenge you slightly on this. And maybe if I rephrase what I’m saying it might sway your opinion. If it doesn’t, great, because we can go back and forth on it. But I feel like in the internet age that we live in, if we’ve known Barry … I don’t know, we both do sales training. Barry, the sales trainer. We’ve known him. He’s been in the organisation. He’s been back and forth for 10 years. He’s done pretty good job. He’s not blown the socks off anyone, but he’s reliable. It’s him in a closing situation with choosing one company and another, and then there’s, John Barrows, for example, massive audience, loads of great content, but we’ve never built a relationship with John. I feel like moving forward, from this point forward, John is way more likely to win that deal on the back of his, quote unquote, thought leadership and everything else that he produces versus the relationships that we’ve had in the past.

 

Thought Leadership Versus Relationship Selling: Which One is More Effective? · [22:53] 

 

Will Barron:

I’ve said this analogy a million times on this show, everyone’s probably rolling their eyes as I share this. But if I ring you up and say, “Hey, James, I’ve got some great investment advice.” We’re not best friends or anything, but we spoke a couple of times. We’ve got a little bit of a relationship there. I’m sure on the phone … I’m sure if we just got off air and chatted we’d get on like house on fire. Then you might go, “Well, Will’s not a complete idiot. Maybe there’s something to this.” So that’s relationship versus thought leadership. If Warren Buffett rung you up, you’d be like, “Is this really Warren Buffett?” And then if he must’ve convinced you it was, and he gives you some investing advice, you’re going to tell me to piss off and you’re going to go and do whatever he says. Remortgage the house to put it all on whatever Warren Buffet says.

 

Will Barron:

Again, the difference between a relationship and thought leadership. I just feel like we’re being wired more and more, via social media, via the internet, via celebrity culture. There’s all kinds of levels to this, to really value thought leadership over relationships that we currently have.

 

Will Barron:

So I know I’ve just thrown all that at you there, and I’m kind of a spit balling with you here, James. But what are your thoughts on that?

 

“Is it necessary to be out there? Do you have to be an extrovert? The answer is always no. But do you need to be great at what you do if you were to be impactful? Yes.” – James Buckley · [24:40] 

 

James Buckley:

[crosstalk [00:23:59]. I know exactly where your mind is, and I actually deal with this on a very personal level, because I am out there, I have a lot of content that’s out there for people to consume and see. My wife is 10 X as successful as me and does not exist on social media. There are no profiles for her. She is not public. Does not have her phone number out there like I do for everyone to dial and smile at me. That stuff doesn’t exist for her, and she is ridiculously successful. My mentor. So when you look at it from that perspective, I’ve learned a lot about the necessity of it. And really that is subjective. Is it necessary to be out there? Do you have to be an extrovert? The answer is always no. But do you need to be great at what you do if you were to be impactful? Yes.

 

James Buckley: 

I don’t think that your example of Barry versus John … I think that’s a decision you’d have to make based on your reluctance to change more than my relationship. You know that John’s content is out there and you can see it’s very different than Barry’s. If you’ve been with Barry for a long time, then you might feel like, “Okay, we’ve done Barry before. He’s great. We love Barry, but we need new perspective. Something that’s going to give us a boost, a different tool in our tool belt, so to speak. John’s great. He’s got a good following. He’s strong. He knows what he’s doing. Maybe we should give John a shot this year instead of Barry.”

 

“The more skillsets, the more awareness, the more perspective, the more tools, the more tactics and techniques your sales reps have in their tool belts, the more effective they’re going to be with a wider array of potential personality types that they sell to.” – James Buckley · [25:33] 

 

James Buckley: 

Nothing against Barry, new tools are needed. Your ability to recognise that the more skillsets, the more awareness, the more perspective, the more tools, the more tactics and techniques your sales reps have in their tool belts, the more effective they’re going to be with a wider array of potential personality types that they sell to. That is how you arm salespeople with lots of ways to choose how to sell. It’s on them to choose the right ones based on the research they do on their personas. I could go on and on about this.

 

Will Barron:

Let’s get super practical here. Let’s leave the audience. We have a couple of to do’s before the end of the week, depending on when they tune into this episode.

 

Practical Steps to Building a Personal Sales Brand · [26:13] 

 

Will Barron:

So step one, I’m going to implement step one here. You’ve got to think about your sales career as opposed to your sales job right now. So if you think you’re going to switch from medical devices to software sales, to something else, then maybe your personal brand, the thought leadership you need to build ,has got to be wider and perhaps not as effective as really niche-ing down.

 

Will Barron:

So if that’s step one, to have that conversation with ourselves and make sure that we actually want to do this before we commit, what is step two? Is it slogans? How do we go about this once we’ve made the commitment to this process, what’s the next step to making it real?

 

“I always tell people not to jump in too soon and tie their personal brand to a product. You’d rather tie it to the industry because that’s going to give you a much broader audience.” – James Buckley · [27:27] 

 

James Buckley:

I think that the next step is to start your list. I tell people all the time to create a list of content ideas. This is important because we can have 150 ideas in a day, but if we never write any of them down, we can forget half of them or more by the time the day is out. And then we have this great idea that we never got to execute on. So write that down, start the list on your cell phone. Start the list on your laptop, wherever you house those. Make sure that you’ve got a running list of content ideas that are relevant to your space. Maybe not necessarily your product, I always tell people not to jump in too soon and tie your personal brand to that product. You’d rather tie it to the industry because that’s going to give you a much broader audience.

 

“We don’t need it to be high production value. We need it to be meaningful and valuable for our target audience. You’re not after fame, you’re after business. Know the difference.” – James Buckley · [28:01] 

 

James Buckley:

Once you’ve got that list going, it’s as simple as how many times a week do you feel like you’re comfortable posting? I’ve said this before, it’s not supposed to take up and consume your whole day. It takes 6 to 10 minutes to hold your phone out in front of your face. Hit record, talk for one minute, create a little caption and click share. It doesn’t have to be Scorsese. We don’t need it to be high production value. We need it to be meaningful and valuable for our target audience. You’re not after fame, you’re after business. Know the difference.

 

James Buckley:

That’s step two. Create that calendar of where you’re going to share and how often, and that list. Probably two and three I’d say, maybe they’re one in the same. Read the list and then create the calendar to match the list. That’s a good step.

 

James Explains Why Content Creation Does Not Need to Be Complicated · [28:38] 

 

Will Barron:

Something I’ll just add to this, what I like to do, and what we do at salesman.org with basically all our content, as I did with this interview, I like to write out questions that I think your audience, if we’re going to call them your audience, your buyers, might be interested in.

 

Will Barron:

So the prompt for this episode was, is thought leadership the future of B2B sales? So we’ve somewhat … well, somewhat, I think we’ve pretty thoroughly covered that and now we’re going to go through some practical steps to implement it. That’s how we do all the content. There’s literally no rocket science to any of it at all. It’s a list of questions or list of ideas that are tied to a question, then it’s answering, given some definition, explaining the question, and then some practical steps beyond it. Does content need to be much more complicated than that, James?

 

“It’s great to have a routine, it’s not great to only stick to the routine. New stuff, new ideas, new experiences, new content, new channels, new looks. They all go really far on social for engagement.” – James Buckley · [29:52]

 

James Buckley:

You know, I feel like there’s a place for complicated content, but it’s not in your quick one minute, two minute videos. If you’re going to do something complicated, collaborate with somebody, get other perspective, make it a half hour, make it an hour, really dive into it. Advertise it, put some time in between you and that content so that you can push stuff out there that says, “Join me for this conversation if it’s valuable for you.” That’s real organic engagement that you can follow up on and that’s meaningful for that audience. So, there’s a place for complicated content, cookie cutter stuff, trying to find that magic routine. It’s great to have a routine, it’s not great to only stick to the routine. New stuff, new ideas, new experiences, new content, new channels, new looks. They all go really far on social for engagement.

 

Key Content Engagement Metrics You Should Keep Track Off · [29:59]

 

Will Barron:

Sure, okay. You mentioned engagement then, should we focus on number of likes and comments? Or are there any other metrics … I can add a little bit to this as well, but are there any other metrics that are as important, or even maybe more important, than just number of smiley faces on your posts?

 

James Buckley:

Right. I think if you’re looking at vanity metrics like likes and reactions, and things like that, little hearts and clappy hands, all that stuff is a good indicator that what you’re doing is being seen. It’s great for an indicator for exposure, but the real metric to look at that is thoughtful commentary or shares even. And then the actions, the reactions, and stuff that come from those shares too. Those are often people that aren’t in your network.

 

James Buckley:

Again, the purpose is not fame with what we do as sales professionals. The purpose is new conversations with potential prospects. That’s not the same as how many followers can I get? I like followers too. It makes me feel good. I get excited when someone new connects with me. The dopamine hit hits my brain and I’m like, yes, someone new, that’s amazing, success.

 

“Of course, everybody’s valuable in your network, but can I sell to them? That is the metric to look at. How many people are you impacting with your content that you can sell to.” – James Buckley · [31:21]

 

James Buckley:

But if that person is a one man show working at a vacuum repair shop local in town, that’s probably not someone I can sell sales training to, right? So is that a valuable connection? Of course, everybody’s valuable in your network, but can I sell to them? That is the metric to look at. How many people are you impacting with your content that you can sell to. You have to go through the people that engage in order to see what they do, who they’re with. It takes time. It’s supposed to take time. Everybody jumps on me about this concept of like, but that doesn’t scale. Dude, sorry, not everything is meant to scale. Some stuff is just supposed to mean something. I hate that for you, but that’s the truth.

 

Will and James Explain Why Everything Should Not Be Scalable and Why Just Need to Be Different · [31:51]

 

Will Barron:

So I’m totally on board. I’m so glad you said that. One of our goals this year, and this seems like a bit of a backwards goal to have, was to do things that are not scalable. I stopped doing long LinkedIn text posts that get loads of engagement because they get dwell time as people are scrolling, they start reading them. We started doing just more … you’ll see the illustrators behind us, hopefully you can see it, James, and the audience who are watching this on YouTube cam as well. We use these illustrations as comics. We use them within our training. We use them essentially as B roll to describe, and to show the situations that we’re talking about. We’re building a nice little narrative and family around them. It costs a shit tonne of money to produce all of these images. It’s a pain in the arse. We’ve got a great team now who can put it all together, but there’s so many steps to doing it all. And I get way less likes, maybe not less attention, I’ll touch on that in a second. But for sure, less likes, less comments, less engagement, but it’s massively differentiating.

 

Will Barron:

And it’s a topic for another time, but in sales training, it’s very difficult to differentiate yourself other than as an individual, as a personality. So I’m trying to build salesman.org as bigger than just myself. As John is doing by hiring legends like yourself, James. That is the difficult … that’s the crux of, I think, of a lot of sales training and marketing sales training.

 

Will Barron:

So I’m willing to forego likes, shares, engagement, about some posts that everyone’s just ripping these posts off each other anyway. It’s all the same crap that goes round in circles. Same stories that get retold. We’re doing things differently and it’s paid off with new sales. This is the best year we’ve ever had by massive margin. It’s all on the back of just differentiation.

 

Will Barron:

So I wanted to ask you that, I’m glad you said the same. We’re on the same, again, wavelength with this, James. It sounds like we prepared this before the show, but we really didn’t.

 

James Buckley:

Hey, the thing about it is that, and this is a great example of authentic and organic conversation that we should be having publicly with people, because it helps others grow. I was on Victor Antonio’s podcast recently and I talked to him about the fence. I ride this fence and I’ve been riding it for five years. That fence has two different types of people on either side. People that are where I want to be, and I’m always reaching up to them so that they can help me up to the higher fence. Then on the other side of the fence are the people that want to be where I’m at, and I’m always reaching down to them to help them up onto my fence. If I can keep riding these fences, I will always be profitable, valuable, respected, helpful, for all intents and purposes, popular, right?

 

James Buckley:

The reason for that fence is very clear to me. But so many people forget about the fence and they just keep climbing and then the people behind them get left behind. If people like us are out here creating this content with the intention of helping other people grow, get better, start new journeys, carve their own paths, that will be repaid to us tenfold throughout the course of our lives. 10 years from now, I want to have somebody that reaches out to me and go, “Oh man, I just heard your podcast with Will Barron on personal branding and influence and it was amazing. It changed everything about what I did and here’s the network I’ve grown, and it’s because of that episode that sparked this whole thing for me.” If I get one of those it makes my day, it makes everything I do worth it. Forget the money, forget the money.

 

James Explains The Different Stages of Growth and Success Using The Fence Metaphor · [35:22]

 

Will Barron:

I don’t don’t know if I could say forget the money. One question here, why in that metaphor is there a fence? It seems like it should be like a pyramid with steps. Maybe I’m missing the point here, but I struggled to visualise stood on a fence post and people in between you all.

 

James Buckley:

Yeah. Well, but think about it. There are a lot of stages in our growth that we go through and we have to accomplish so much. There’s a climb that we have to make each time we grow to that next stage. You can’t just hop on the fence. You got to take one step at a time, and push, and pull at the same time, and reach higher and higher as you climb that fence.

 

“We’ve got to have the mindset that we need to learn things to be able to grow. You can’t teach someone that knows everything, and no one can be taught if they already know it.” – James Buckley · [36:20] 

 

James Buckley:

So you can look at it with any metaphor you’d like, if you feel like steps are better, that’s great. But I assure you, you’re pushing a rock up those steps. It’s not just you walking up steps. There’s a whole force in front of you that’s resistant. And all of that is mindset, right? We’ve got to have the mindset that we need to learn things, to be able to grow. You can’t teach someone that knows everything, and no one can be taught if they already know it. The cup that’s already full can’t be full. There’s so many different platitudes, I guess if you will, that we can throw out there that resemble this.

 

“Sales is that career path that is long-term, it’s ever evolving. It’s always changing. The moment we find something that works and we tell 10 people about it, the entire industry starts doing it, and then it becomes less effective. So we have to pivot and move to something else.” – James Buckley · [36:36] 

 

James Buckley:

But sales definitely is that career path that is long-term, it’s ever evolving. It’s always changing. The moment we find something that works and we tell 10 people about it, the entire industry starts doing it, and then it becomes less effective. So we have to pivot and move to something else. This is how voice messages became effective on LinkedIn. This is how video became super valuable.

 

James Buckley:

Just this year, everybody was like, “Man, I don’t even know how to create a video.” Thank God for people like Morgan J Ingram, who’s out there telling people, “Here’s how I do video. This is what works for me.” And because of that, people were able to work their way into 2020 without losing their jobs and still hitting goals, because they were able to make that pivot. They just reached up to Morgan and got up to that fence. That’s how that went. They didn’t have to just take a step forward. It wasn’t as simple as I’m just going to take the step forward up to the next level and start video. It was, “Man, first I’m going to work on my delivery. Okay, good. I’m going to write a script. Okay, I wrote a script now I’m going to try not to sound scripted. Okay, awesome. I still sound scripted. Okay, take a step back.”

 

James Buckley:

It takes time to climb those fences and that’s why their fences. They could also be ropes. They can be lots of things.

 

Parting Thoughts: James’ Training with John Barrows and How to Reach out to Him · [38:04]

 

Will Barron:

I’ve got to say. I still think a big step, whatever reason fits in my puny brain easier, James. And with that mate, we’ll wrap up here. We’ll wrap up with that.

 

Will Barron:

Tell us where we can find out more about you and then tell us where we can find out about more of the training that you do with John Barrows, and all that good stuff as well.

 

James Buckley:

Yeah, absolutely. So check us out at JB Sales On Demand. It’s ondemand.jbarrows.com. Anybody can reach out to me via email at [email protected] I used to give my cell phone number out on all the podcasts I did, but it got bananas. It’s really hard to stop people from dialling my number. So I don’t do that anymore. But also check out jbarrows.com for the latest events and Make It Happen Mondays for the podcast that we do. And anybody that wants to connect with me can find me on LinkedIn. That is probably my most valuable network that I have.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes this episode over at salesman.org. And with that, James, thank you again for coming on the show. It won’t be five years next time you come on. And genuinely, I’ll just wrap it over this mate, I am intrigued to see where you go from here. I want to see whether it’s next year or the year after, the next fence that you’re on and the step forward that you’ve made there mate, and we appreciate everything that you’re doing. Thanks again for joining us on the salesman podcast.

 

James Buckley:

Absolutely. Thanks for having me.

SALESMAN WEEKLY EMAIL