How To Start A Sales Conversation On LinkedIn

In this week’s episode of The Social Selling Show, Daniel and Will reveal tips on how to successfully start sales conversations on LinkedIn.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Daniel Disney
The King of Social Selling

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

This episode of the show is brought to you from the Salesman.org HubSpot Studio. Welcome to the Social Selling Show. Myself Will Barron founder over at Salesman.org and the king, the freaking king of selling, Daniel Disney. Daniel, how’s it going mate?

 

Daniel Disney:

It is going very well. We’re excited to be back and today I know we’ve got quite an interesting topic that I’m very excited to dig into.

 

How to Appropriately Start a Sales Conversation with a Prospect on LinkedIn · [00:35] 

 

Will Barron:

Well we’re going to dive into how to appropriately start a conversation on LinkedIn, on social media without it being weird. It can’t be as simple as just doing what I do every week for yourself Daniel and be like, “Hey, how’s it going.” So Daniel, how do we … probably multiple criteria here, but I’ll start super open ended. How do we start a conversation with a potential prospect on LinkedIn without it being weird, salesy, and just not appropriate and unbusiness like all together?

 

“You need to be confident and comfortable in what you’re doing. The moment you have or show any nervousness or uncomfortability that’s when you start to show the sales colours as such. Then the other bit is you need to have knowledge. You need to have knowledge on them and you need to have knowledge on obviously what it is you want to talk to them about.” – Daniel Disney · [01:01] 

 

Daniel Disney:

Well, there are two key components in my experience. Number one, separate to the whole, I say separate, separate to the whole social selling piece is confidence. You need to be confident. You need to be confident and comfortable in what you’re doing. The moment you have or show any nervousness or uncomfortability that’s where you start to show the sales colours as such. Then the other bit is you need to have knowledge. You need to have knowledge on them and you need to have knowledge on obviously what it is you want to talk to them about. So we’ll talk a little bit today around doing research, having a bit of homework and the balancing act of what to look for and how not to spend hours and hours and hours researching every facet of their life to only use one little bit of information. So yeah, knowledge and confidence are the key components of starting effective conversations on LinkedIn.

 

Is Confidence the Secret Weapon in Modern B2B Sales? · [01:48]

 

Will Barron:

Totally going to sidetrack here. But is confidence the secret hack, if there is one to sales in general? What I mean by that Daniel is, I know that our training project we sell at salesman.org, I can talk about it comfortably. I’m really happy with the quality of it and I’ve never really worked at any bad companies. I’ve only ever worked for, by fluke if nothing else, outstanding companies in the space. So I’ve always felt this confidence. But I know that I don’t need to lie, I don’t need to manipulate people.

 

Will Barron:

If someone is a good fit and they don’t sign up, it’s almost their loss. Of course perhaps I’m losing out some revenue and opportunity there, but I can walk away confidently from these conversations when someone doesn’t want to sign up and go, “Well, it’s your problem not mine.” It’s confidence that they hack to all of this, because I feel like a lot of traditional sales training, sales training in the 80s, 90s, 2000s, was how to fake confidence, how to manipulate people, because you’re not really sure on what you’re selling. So is confidence the answer to a lot of what we talk about in modern B2B sales?

 

Daniel Disney:

Confidence is a huge part of sales and you see it in pretty much all types of outreach and prospecting, whether it’s cold calling, email, video, face to face. If there is a lack of confidence pretty much the whole thing’s going to fall apart. But then you see it with the successful salespeople. They often have just such a deep belief in what it is they sell and you’re sort of talking about, I’ve never worked for a bad company. It’s probably because they’ve made you believe that they are the best. The reality is they may not have been the best. There probably were competing products that were better in other ways.

 

“When you start with a company, if they can make you truly believe in what that company does, the products and the service, that installs a confidence where you are so passionate about it. But as with anything in sales, it’s a balancing act. You can’t be over excited, where you just want to talk about features and benefits and it’s all focused on the products. You need to be confident in yourself and confident in your ability to help people.” – Daniel Disney · [03:21] 

 

Daniel Disney:

But when you start with a company if they can make you truly believe in what that company does, the products and the service, that instals a confidence where you are so passionate about it. You’re just passing that passion on. And as with anything in sales, it’s a balancing act. You can’t be over excited where you just want to talk features and benefits and it’s all focused on the products. But you need to be confident in yourself and confident in your ability to help people. So I guess there is a right and wrong type of confidence.

 

The Importance is Being Confident in What You’re Selling When Starting a Sales Conversation on LinkedIn · [03:37] 

 

Will Barron:

For sure. Well, if we have a scale with confident individual, successful individual on one end, the other end is probably going to be arrogant, manipulative, idiot. And most people to be fair are somewhere in between. And obviously we want to push toward that confident side the best we can. And again, we’ll side track. We’ll come back to social selling in a second. But genuinely I’ve only ever worked for the best companies in their spaces. Again, it could have been fluke. It could have been unconsciously by design, this recognised brands and I want to work with these organisations. Maybe that’s part of the big hack, the big secret to selling, of not selling crappy products. Because it’s probably 50% of the audience are going, “Well yeah, are quite good, but maybe there are bad products on the marketplace.” And there’s probably another 50% saying what I’m saying of, “Hey, I do work for the market leader. I do work for HubSpot, Salesforce.” One of these massive brands that do incredibly well in this space. So is that part of the puzzle that perhaps we don’t put enough emphasis on to be confident, to be able to start conversations being from the brand of the organisation that we represent, how important is that to starting a conversation?

 

“A lot of sales people take a job that’s given or offered to them. They don’t choose the job as much as they probably could or should. And that’s advice to any salesperson of any position listening to this, next time you’re looking for a sales role, do take the time to be more picky. Don’t jump on the first person that gives you a call or an interview. Look for the product. Choose the product, because they need you as much as you need them.” -Daniel Disney · [05:07]

 

Daniel Disney:

I think there’s two levels to that, because I do think you’re right. Where working for a leading company is a huge advantage. And a good point of a lot of sales people, a lot of sales people take a job that’s given or offered to them. They don’t chose the job as much as they probably could or should. And that’s advice to any salesperson of any position listening to this, next time you’re looking for a sales role, do take the time to be more picky. Don’t jump on the first person that gives you a call or an interview. Look for the product. Choose the product, because they need you as much as you need them. And I think there needs to be more of that in sales.

 

Daniel Disney:

The flip side to it, I’ve worked in companies in the past that weren’t the market leader, but had a very competitive product, and my role, my teams role as sales is to go out and obviously help people understand that there’s value in it. So I guess the other part of it is you might not be the market leader, but that doesn’t mean your product doesn’t have value and cannot compete with the market leader and there’s not ways you can make it the right solution to your customers. So I think a big part of that confidence can come down to belief. And if you are the market leader, then fantastic. Then in theory, there may be an extra level of ease to it. But you’ll still get your competitors probably competing quite closely to you. I see a lot of products now, the differences are minimal.

 

The Benefits of Working for Big, Reputable Brands · [07:05]

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. You set that up perfectly. And this is why I dug in a little bit there, because my background working medical devices, I worked for Olympus, I’ve worked for KARL STORZ, super well known brands in the space. KARL STORZ basically invented endoscopic surgery, which was the products I was selling, and I would literally just wave my badge. It wasn’t even an NHS badge, it was going into a hospital, I waved my KARL STORZ identity badge in the window and I would be welcomed basically into any operating room in the U.K. Now if you worked for one of these still massive mega corporations that competed with them, like Stryker or Smith+Nephew, I’ve seen it where I’d be invited in and then the surgeon would be like, “Who’s that dude from X, Y, Z Medical? I’m trying to work here, get them away from things.” And it’s important to get both sides of the tail here, and you’ve done it perfect there Daniel, of if you’ve got a brand, for a lot of times in my experience, that is the beginning of your conversation. That gets you in the door. So-

 

Daniel Disney:

Bringing that back to social selling, Will … Sorry to interrupt you there … there’s a really interesting point that again, we haven’t discussed before. When you work for a big brand, obviously that is visible on LinkedIn. It can be in your job title. It will be on your profile, and you’re absolutely right, that can be an in. Let’s use Gong as an example. There’s a high chance when people get messages from people at Gong, they recognise the company, just like you waving that badge and that can be a route in. So if you do work for a recognised company, then absolutely use that. Make sure it’s visible in your profile. Have it in your title and headline. Make sure it’s really prominent in your summary, because that is the equivalent of you waving the badge and potentially getting in front of the reader. Obviously we’re talking about starting a conversation. I guess that’s step one, use the brand and company you work for if it’s something that’s usable.

 

How to Start a Sales Conversation with a Prospect on LinkedIn · [08:24] 

 

Will Barron:

… Yep. HubSpot, all the team have the orange background in their profile pictures. Dead obvious and clear that it’s HubSpot. Gong have that jewel tone background in their background profile pictures. This is a call out to sales leadership and sales management to get everyone on a branded image if they can. That makes a big difference. But let’s put that to one side, because that’s great if you’ve got it right. Let’s assume that you work for a decent company that you’re pretty proud of and your somewhat confident to the products, how do we connect to someone on LinkedIn? Or do we? I guess, let’s start from the very beginning, to get the conversation started. Do we connect with them? Do we send them an email first? We won’t spend too long on that element of the prospecting, and we’ll get into the conversation afterwards. But if we want to start a conversation with someone on LinkedIn, do we connect with them first, do we cold email them? What is the best way to be in a position to have a conversation?

 

Daniel Disney:

So there’s two realities to this in my experience, Will. One is there’s often very little difference in how you start out. Your first touch point, whether it’s a LinkedIn connection, whether it’s a cold call, whether it’s a cold email. There’s often very little difference. The only thing some companies do, those that have additional resources put into it is obviously really target it to the buyer. So if you were doing some research you see your prospect is very active on LinkedIn, then LinkedIn is probably going to be your best first call. If they’re not very active, then email or phone might be a better call. It takes a little bit more effort, but it can help drive some better results. So often very little difference though in how you start that approach. What I’d recommend doing is again, mirror what your buyers or prospects are showing through either their digital presence or their activities. So yeah, 2I wouldn’t say there’s too much difference between them.

 

Daniel’s Three-step LinkedIn Prospecting Approach · [09:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So our buyer is active on a LinkedIn. They’re a CFO. Perhaps they’ve got a thousand followers, and they’re posting content somewhat regularly. They’re not trying to build a massive brand, but they are trying to be visible on there for thought leadership or whatever reason that they’re on there for. How do we connect with them? I know this is going back to basics for a second here, but do we send them a message? Do we just connect? Does it depend on how strong our brand is, our personal brand and the brand we represent? How do we go about connecting with them so that we can or … I think this probably isn’t the answer, or do we send them a LinkedIn message, or any message? InMail, whatever it’s called.

 

Daniel Disney:

Yeah, the easiest way Will, and I teach this through LinkedIn training and Sales Navigator training. The easiest most successful way to do it is a three step approach. Number one, engage in their content. Now a little trick to being able to do that effectively is follow their profile first. So you can follow them. There’s no connection. You can’t message them directly. You can send them an InMail if you have Sales Navigator. But by following them they’ll be in your feed. So over the period of three to five days you can see what they’re posting as they post it live, and engage on a few of their posts. Don’t become a stalker, as like and comment on every single post, because they’ll see right through that. But if they post twice comment on one. If they post three times, comment on two. Do a few of their posts, then send them a connection request and reference one of the posts.

 

Daniel Disney:

Now this is assuming they’re posting, so we’ll use that as the example. Reference the post in the message. So, “Hi Will, loved your post that you shared yesterday.” But really do talk about it, don’t just say I liked your post. What did you like about the post? What bit in particular did you really like? Show that you’ve made an effort. You’ve actually consumed it. High connection rates, and you’re also starting a conversation without tactically starting a conversation because you often get a response and there you go, the door is open. You can start to navigate that into a more sales conversation.

 

Tips on How to Start a Conversation if the Prospect Has Accepted Your LinkedIn Request But Hasn’t Replied to Your Messages · [12:02] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Dead seamless. This is how dumb I am with this stuff. I wouldn’t have even thought to follow them. I would have just put it in my diary to go back to their profile page every day and checked. Like Facebook was 15 years ago when there was no feed on there. So that’s perfect. So let’s assume they’re accepted the request, but they haven’t responded to the message. Which is if you’ve ever messaged me on LinkedIn, is probably the case. I’ll accept people. I’ve read your message. I’ve just not got the time to go through all the LinkedIn messages and we don’t do … It’s more funds of the content that reach out to me as opposed to business opportunities. So I apologise if you’ve messaged me on LinkedIn and you’ve not had a reply. Probably I’ve read it. Let’s assume they’ve read it, because they’ve accepted it, but they’ve not engaged in our comments on their post. What do we do to start an actual formal conversation I guess, where we say hi and they say hi and the conversation starts going back and forth?

 

Daniel Disney:

Here it is, Will, is one of the most effective things you can do right now in 2021, and I guarantee you probably by this time next year this isn’t going to be as affective as it is right now. Sending audio, voice notes, or a video message. Because when you send a personalised connection request, that starts in the message chat, so that is the first message. That will appear as the first message in your conversation. So if they don’t reply, and you send another written message, it does look quite salesy and it is very difficult to create a worded one that is going to prompt a conversation. If they haven’t replied, there’s a lower chance they’re going to reply to another written message. However, a voice note or a video message stands out and it captures their attention.

 

Daniel Disney:

And I’m seeing a small 5% of the sales teams I’m working with are utilising this and it’s just incredibly successful at the moment. And I think because it’s interactive, because it’s disruptive, because it’s different, it’s getting attention. So yeah, if you’ve sent that personalised connection request, they haven’t responded, ping them a quick sub one minute audio message or video message and prompt the conversation. But just make sure you’re passionate in the message, whether it’s video or audio. But they’ve proven to be really effective. I guess the biggest challenge with it for a lot of people is they’ve never done it and so it’s quite scary. So if you’ve never done an audio or a video message, practise first.

 

Dos and Don’ts for Sending LinkedIn Video Messages · [14:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Okay. And the answer to this question is, well it depends, Will. But I’ve got to ask it. What the heck are we talking about in this video message? Are we talking about, “Hey, it’s Will, Barron from Salesman.org. We’ve got a new accelerated training product. I’d love you to sign up for a free trial.” And then hang up. Is it a message like that or is it more along the lines of what we’ve been going with so far of trying to drive an organic conversation?

 

“I was analysing some message templates yesterday, Will, and so many sales people their style of pitch, whether it’s written, audio, video, is, “Hi, I’m Will. This is what I do, blah, blah, blah.” Then it’s, “This is why I think I can help you.” And the first bit of advice I give to everyone is, open it about them. Make it about them. “Hi, this is Will. I really think I can help you do this. Or I think I can help you achieve this.” Make it about, “I noticed you do this. I think I can help you achieve this.” Make it about them at the start, then tell them what it is you do.” – Daniel Disney · [14:36] 

 

Daniel Disney:

It’s a really interesting question. I was analysing some message templates yesterday, Will, and so many sales people that’s their style of pitch, whether it’s written, audio, video. It’s, “Hi, I’m Will. This is what I do, blah, blah, blah.” Then it’s, “This is why I think I can help you.” And the first bit of advice I give to everyone is, open it about them. Make it about them. “Hi, this is Will. I really think I can help you do this. Or I think I can help you achieve this.” Make it about it, “I noticed you do this. I think I can help you achieve this.” Make it about them at the start, then tell them what it is you do.

 

Daniel Disney:

Again, regardless of whether it’s written, audio or voice, open it about them then tell them, show them how you think you can do it. And then have a really simple call to action. One of the more effective ones is, “I’d love to send you just a little bit more information on what we do. If you could just pop me your email address, I’d love to ping something across and if it’s of interest, maybe it’s something we can discuss.” Play it cool. I find the, “Are you free tomorrow for 15 minutes to jump on a call,” to be much less effective than trying to organically grow that conversation.

 

Daniel Disney:

And just to take this to the side as well, whilst you’re doing this, because you’re now connected, please also make sure you’re sharing content as well, so they’re getting value and getting to know you. If you rely purely on that conversation, it’s going to take a lot longer. But, if whilst you’re having this message exchange, which might take a few days, if you’re sharing content and giving value at the same time, you’re increasing the chance that they’re starting to warm up to. You increase that reply response rate and you also increase the chance they’re going to be open to a conversation.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. So I would go one step further in what we have tested at Salesman.org and we’ll talk about this on future episodes. This should all be on the blog by the time this show goes out. So it sounds like it’s a surprise now, but it really isn’t a surprise because it’ll all be published by the. But, we are getting our audience, there’s 2,000 people, members of the Salesman.org community now. We’re giving them essentially assignments. We’re giving them experiments to run and then they’re reporting back on it. Now, of course, not everybody does it, but hundreds of people are replying in the forum at the moment and going back and forth on things. And one of the things that we’re asking people to do is lead with insights. Whether that’s an insightful email as in, “Hey, I saw this gardener article. I saw this forestry report.”

 

Sales Conversation Tips: Leading with Insights · [16:56]

 

Will Barron:

None of this is rocket science. I’ve been banging about this for years. But one of the things I’m finding from the current experience that we’re running is, it doesn’t matter where you share this incite, whether it be on a cold call or how this might be useful for you, “I’ve just been speaking with someone in a capacitor company with similar products. They found this really useful. I’d love you to check it out.” To follow up with an email and drop you the link. Whether it’s an email of the similar thing, or if it’s on LinkedIn. Even on Twitter this is working where you share article posts. Better if it’s a report, even better if you are … I use HubSpot as an example all the time because they sponsor all our stuff. They’ve got so much good content. So many good reports.

 

Will Barron:

Gong or brands who are in this space have similar internal content marketing that you can leverage. You share something from your own organisation is even better. And then the reply rate on that is insane. And again, this might die off eventually if everyone starts doing the same thing, but it’s so value up front of, “Hey, we worked with people similar to you. They found this useful. You will probably find this useful.” It sets you up as somewhat of a subject matter expert in the fact that you know the relevance of this content for this individual.

 

Will Barron:

And then this business, even it’s in the back of their mind, they’re going, “Hey, even if I don’t buy anything from these guys, this person’s probably going to be useful for my career moving forward, if he continues, or she continues sending me these little bits of information I would have missed otherwise.” That, long story short is working incredibly well as maybe you wouldn’t do it in your linked in connection request, but your second third message or a video of, “Hey, do you want to put a face to a name? This, this and this. Worked with a competitor, we’re looking at working with a competitor, here’s a piece of content they found really useful. You might find it useful as well.” That’s working really well in the Salesman.org community, and the feedback from that. Again, it might not work in two years from now if everyone starts doing something similar, which tends to be the case of all this, but that’s what I’m working on at the moment, and what we’re pushing our audience to do.

 

Daniel Disney:

I actually love that, Will. That give to get mentality in sales is so effective, because I think probably for the longest time now in sales it’s been just the taking mentality for sales people. They’re calling, they’re emailing, they’re sending messages. And as I said, most of the templates I see, it’s all about them. Here’s what I do. Here’s everything about me. Here’s a link to my calendar, so you can book a meeting or have you got 15 minutes, it’s all about you. And selfless sales people are succeeding more effectively right now where they give first. So yeah, however you do that, give to get. And that’s probably one of the biggest tips we can give when it comes to starting a conversation on LinkedIn is give first and personalising it is a method of giving. It’s showing you’ve done homework. It’s showing you’ve made an effort. Having to read through their profile. Having to read through their activity. Finding something whether it’s about them or something that’s going to be valuable to them is one of the best ways to start a conversation.

 

Daniel Disney:

And I think what is very important that we also covered today, Will, is how much time you spend researching it. Because I trained a company last week and they were trying to tell me it takes them between 45 minutes and an hour per prospect to research before they contact them. And I was genuinely quite shocked at that amount of time, unless you’re selling extremely high ticket items. That would be the only time that I could probably justify that amount of time spent on research. You shouldn’t need to spend that time.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And that would be me in medical devices. If I was going in to meet a surgeon I’d be ringing the [inaudible 00:20:36] manager to get the gossip on what’s going on. I’d be speaking with biomedical engineering to see what services they offer to the surgeons. It was always the biggest deal to get this internet cable from the camera system and plug it into the hospital network. If we could make that connection, the whole deal went so much more seamlessly, because the biomedical engineering didn’t want anything on the network. They didn’t want any surgeon passing information around.

 

The Amount of Time You Should Spend Researching a Prospect Before Reaching Out to Them · [21:13] 

 

Will Barron:

So I would genuinely spend an hour or two maybe even an afternoon going around fishing because those deals, I’d only have to close four or five of them a year, and that was my target smashed. But for most people, that’s not the cases, especially if we’re doing that initial outreach. So how long should be … the answer again, is it depends, Will. But from an initial outreach of a company that we’re trying to do discovery with. We’re trying to see if we are a good fit with them, how long should we be researching each of these people that we’re engaging with?

 

Daniel Disney:

It will differ. Best example I can give is it’s like an onion. You’re peeling certain layers. For some of your prospects you’ll get that information from their profile. They’ll have lots of information in it and you’ll be able to use enough from that to start conversation. Others you need to take a layer off and look at their activity. So look at what they’re posting or engaging with. They might not be sharing content. Or look at what they’re commenting on or what they’re liking and sharing themselves, because there will be insights in that.

 

Daniel Disney:

Now if there’s no information in that, the next layer is their website. Or their LinkedIn company page, and their LinkedIn company page’s activity. Something more corporate. Have a read through that. The next layer, which is a lot deeper, but actually can be really effective, is other people working in the business. So if I’m trying to sell to the VP of marketing, I want to look at other people in the marketing team. I might look at the sales team or the customer service team, because there definitely will be people within there that are sharing insights, sharing content and it might be something you take from there to then mention in your conversation. Peel back the layers.

 

Daniel Disney:

Some people it will not take you long at all. It might take you a minute to see something and think, “Yep, that’s what I need.” Others it might take five minutes, 10 minutes. Some might take a little bit more effort. You’ve always got to make sure you’re weighing up how much value you think that prospect is going to offer you. You don’t want to be spending half an hour, an hour, two hours on a prospect that isn’t a high value prospect. So do make sure you keep that long term view point of okay, how valuable is this prospect likely to be? How likely do I think I can convert them? And then that should reflect the time you put in.

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And some of this will happen organically. If you follow someone for five days, as a round number, a work week, and you’re following their posts, following their content, then inadvertently, you’ve probably done all the research you need to know because they’re going to be posting what’s top of mind for them. They’re going to be posting, if they are posting … we’ll go into that in a second if they’re not … but if they are posting, they’re probably posting somewhat topical things that you can relate to within that week. It’s time boxed as obviously content drops off the face of the earth after a little bit when it’s been posted on LinkedIn, and people are aware of this.

 

Will Barron:

So it’s somewhat timely. It’s going to be appropriate to them in that moment. And they’re almost putting their hand up and saying, “Hey, there’s an opportunity to collaborate here.” You’re more likely to get a response by me by commenting on one of my posts, because I understand the algorithm and I want to increase the reach of the posts so I want to engage in that conversation after the fact in the comments itself, than if you just message me in general. So anyone who’s relatively clued up might be thinking, or inadvertently thinking the same thing.

 

How to Reach Out to Prospects That Have a Semi-active LinkedIn Account · [24:11] 

 

Will Barron:

But what happens, Daniel, if … You’ve answered this question somewhat with the onion analogy … but what happens if they’re not posting on LinkedIn. But let’s say they’ve got 2,000 followers. So at some point they have been active on there. It’s not just a blank profile and maybe that one we should be using a different prospecting method. Let’s assume that they’ve been active on there in the past, but they’re not posting right now. Should we wait until the start posting, or should we still try and engage them on previous posts, or should we just send them a direct message? How do we go about that?

 

Daniel Disney:

It’s an interesting question. So I sometimes do live prospect research with the companies that I trade and I did one this week. And this person that we were looking at, one of their prospects, they were really active three years ago in their previous role. Whenever since joining the current company which we’re trying to prospect, then got totally quiet. Not created a single bit of content. But they were really active, which I found it absolutely fascinating. What we did was we looked all the activity section and actually they were still very frequently on a weekly basis, liking and commenting on other posts. So my advice to the sales person was go and engage in those posts as well so your name starts to get on their radar.

 

Daniel Disney:

And if you can, if there is an authentic, organic way to do it, you can reply to one of their comments on the post even better, because comments are becoming the new posts. You see some comments get more likes than the post itself. And if they’ve commented something that gives you a segue to add to or contribute, then again, it’s the equivalent to commenting on their post. So they might not be posting, but if they’re commenting, and you can reply to that, it’s the same impact. It’s still going to make you feel good. It’s still exposure and all those wonderful things.

 

Daniel Disney:

So that’s another way to look at, as we said with the onion analogy, the other thing to do is look at other people in the business. So let’s say VP of marketing isn’t active, maybe their commenting and you can do that. Maybe you go to marketing executive, now if you start to engage and comment on their content, there s quite a high chance Mr. VP or Mrs. VP of marketing if going to see that. And that’s still your name coming up on their radar. So there are all these little opportunities. Again, it’s just about peeling back the layers and finding the route in.

 

Sales Success and the Familiarity Effect · [26:30] 

 

Will Barron:

So I’ve not asked you to prepare this, so I’ll be pleasantly surprised if you know it off the top. But is there any data or science on this, because what we’re alluding to here is this idea of your name, your face being seen lots of times pre-post and the midst of conversation. We’re assuming it adds to a layer of familiarity. We’re assuming it adds to a level of rapport that you wouldn’t otherwise had if you just cold called someone out of the blue perhaps.

 

Will Barron:

And I’ll go as far to say as we’re assuming that if you can add smart insightful comments, it’s increasing your perceived product knowledge, industry knowledge. You’re going to be seen as less of a slimy sales person and more of a product expert of something like that. There’s obviously a line where product experts are typically sales people as well. But you’re leaning more towards that as a resource as opposed to someone who’s just going to suck and take from the buyer and put them off the entire engagement process. But is there any data or science in any of this? Because we’re making a few assumptions here that I assume to be true, probably are true, but it’d be interesting if they’ve ever been researched.

 

Daniel Disney:

There isn’t any data or science and it’s something I’m working on trying to create some more tangible numbers comparing it to other methods. I can only share it from my experience, from the companies that I work with. Having seen this in real time, having worked pre-social selling and sort of post social selling, I know what it’s like to sell to people who have no idea who I am and even to people who have no idea who my company is. And then I know what it’s like, very recently I sent a connection request to a managing director of a company. Never spoken to them, I have no relationship with them. And the first message they sent me was, “Daniel, your reputation proceeds you. Looking forward to chat.”

 

Daniel Disney:

Now, I then sent a video message and we had a strong conversation. You’d never get that had that person not known. If they had no idea who I was, there’s a lot of steps I have to take before I’m going to get to that conversation. But those steps are sort of fast tracked as such. So I know from experience, but I’m hoping to collect some data soon that we can share, that I think is going to highlight what you and I both know and experience anyway.

 

Relationship Selling and Building Rapport in a Digital Marketplace · [28:41]  

 

Will Barron:

Sure. And I’ll make a note and I’ll have a look at this, and I’ll put anything I find in the show notes, because this doesn’t have to be anything to do with social selling. It could just be familiarity with celebrity on social media. I bet you there’s some kind of study where they look at whether teenage kids feel like they have a relationship with someone that they follow on TikTok or something like that. So what we’re describing here is probably a smaller, a less broad application of that. But I bet you there’s research on that. Because it seems obvious, right? I listen to loads of Joe Rogan and his podcast. I’m pretty confident … so here we go, in my head, I’m pretty confident that I could sit down with Joe Rogan, have a great conversation. He said some stupid stuff that I think I could clear up. He’s made some assumptions, and every time he does so in the podcast, I’m like, “Ah Joe, when I meet you mate I’ll set you clear on that.”

 

Will Barron:

But then the reality is, he doesn’t know that I exist. Clearly he doesn’t consume any of our content. It’s unreasonable to even just imagine that he would. So the conversation itself would be completely one sided and weird. So I’m experiencing an again, a broad effect of what we’re trying to do subtly, of just get your name in the … And you’re mates with some Sam Downing as well. He did this to me. I was like, “Who the hell is this dude?” Next thing a month later I’m on his podcast. I don’t do podcasts ever. I never guest anyone’s podcast. And just conversation, commenting on essentially everyone of our posts, everyone of my posts, moving forward. Video messages, the occasional voice mail message, I helped him out, I think I would say I helped him out with something business wise, and he sent me a bottle of whisky.

 

Will Barron:

Next thing I’m on his podcast and that’s what we’re talking about here, isn’t it? I don’t feel like I was sold but he might have gone into the relationship at first going, “Will has this, access to these people, I want access to these people, and I’ll make it happen appropriately.” So he’s done a fantastic job and I’ll tag him in this post when it goes out, but he’s done a fantastic job doing this not to me, but with me, live as I’m learning more about social selling as well.

 

Daniel Disney:

Think of the positive impact, Will. This is probably the third or fourth time you’ve mentioned Sam throughout this.

 

Will Barron:

I know, yeah.

 

Daniel Disney:

No, as it should be. But it’s a positive impact. This isn’t selling in the way people perceive selling, this is just being an authentic person who cares about what they do, genuinely wants to help and there is as much give as there is take. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship that leaves you with a positive impression of that person. That is as you’re saying right now, sales done right. Whatever platform you use, that is sales done right. But I think you’re right, there is this level of, celebrity is a weird word when we talk about LinkedIn, but there is this association when you get to know someone and see them frequently enough. When you meet them you do feel like you’ve got, I call it a digital relationship. You feel like you have a level of a relationship, and that is so powerful.

 

Daniel Disney:

Again, having come from a time in sales when none of that existed, and you are literally the coldest worst person in the world when you have that first conversation. And you have to climb a mountain to build rapport when you can walk in. It’s kind of the Sandler methodology. When you can walk in and be on a level playing field with your prospect, which is what you’re able to do with LinkedIn and social selling, that creates a much stronger relationship where it becomes a more positive experience.

 

Why the Future of Sales Requires a Different Kind of Seller · [32:13] 

 

Will Barron:

So I’ll get your thoughts first, so I don’t colour what you’re going to say here Daniel, is this the future of selling? So it doesn’t have to be on LinkedIn as a platform, it doesn’t necessarily have to be across social media. But this idea of there being a … Right now there’s a sliding scale of one end is Sam Downing, hopefully is what I’m doing as well, and what you’re doing. You’re creating insightful content. Pointing out that, building an audience, lots of inbound leads. And when you do reach out to people outbound, not every time, but sometimes, they’ll know you. So that’s one end.

 

Will Barron:

The other end is the used car sales person. Where they know that if you come into the showroom and you leave, you’re probably never coming back. So they’re going to do everything weird manipulation tactic known to man to try and just get you to sign something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just sign something so that they can continue selling to you over the days or weeks to buy some crappy used car. So those are the two ends. Let me ask you this, I’ll phrase it like this, is it true that five years from now there’s going to be not a grey area in the middle, there’ll be one or the other? 

 

Daniel Disney:

I think it is, Will. And just to add some context to this, Mark Hunter, who I know you know. Author of High Profit Prospecting and a Mind For Sales, has posted something last night, tagged me in it, an amazing article where in the U.S. one of the biggest companies out there has banned cold calling for all of their sales team and is now pushing all the resources into things like LinkedIn and referrals. Can’t remember the name of it. I will find it offline. Maybe we can add it to the show notes.

 

Daniel Disney:

But, Mark was starting a very interesting thread about whether this was a positive or a negative thing. Regardless of the deeper thoughts around it, that’s a big statement piece for a very large public facing company to declare that that pure cold outreach on the other end of the spectrum is no longer what they feel to be effective, and actually looking for warmer approaches via referrals, via LinkedIn and obviously other means, is something they see as the future of sales. So yes, I agree. I do think pure cold has been shrinking and I think will continue to shrink. I think there’ll be more. And LinkedIn is one of many other ways you can do warmer outreach. But I found it quite interesting to see such a large company make that choice.

 

Will Barron:

So you said two things here. I’m being slightly pedantic, but I think it’s useful. You said the company feels this way and they’ve made this choice. If the cold already isn’t working, they’re just not going to do it. Clearly they’re not feeling this. This is not an emotional someone in the organisation has data that says, this doesn’t work anymore. This does work anymore and a smart marketer has gone, “Hey, this is a story that we’ll get publicity on if we publicise the fact that we’re not doing cold calls anymore.” This is not an emotional decision. Sales maybe 1% of it can be … You can tie most into it, because it can lead to lots of influence on the backend of that. But it should be as best as you can, as logical as possible, if I know that I’m going to create, I’m going to suck it up for six months, 12 months, I’m going to become known as whoever in my little space.

 

Will Barron:

So me, medical device sales, I use this analogy all the time. In hindsight now, I would start … it’s so much easier to start a podcast now that what it was six years ago, seven years ago. I’d start a podcast. I would interview all the surgeons in Yorkshire. I don’t give an S if nobody listens to it. I’m just now the hope and the spoke show of the surgeons and I’m the centre of this little network. And then once a quarter, I invite everyone who’s been on the show recently out for lunch, and that’s it. Then I would create a blog post. I’d pay someone to transcribe the interviews, and I’d pay someone probably, if I’ve not got time myself, or I’d get my marketing organisation to do it, to create a blog post, and that’s a blog.

 

Will Barron:

And then when I wanted to cold outreach to someone, I’d say, even if it was a cold call, if we’re going down that route, which I think is the most difficult way to connect with someone in a way that adds value at this moment in time. I do what I said earlier, “Hey, I’ve just been speaking to Dr. yada yada, I’ve got this blog post, we’ve transcribed it. I think this might be really useful to you because you do the same urology service as this individual. Do you want me to send it over? What’s your email address? I’ll get it over now. If there’s anything you want to chat about on the back of this, perhaps I can make an introduction between you and them or I can add to some value in another way in between.” As the mere sales person, as opposed to all you high ranking surgeons. Because immediately when you do that the surgeon goes, “Oh, crap. This person isn’t a sales person. They’re an expert in the domain. They’re an expert in the space.” And it’s three months away. It’s six months away.

 

Will Barron:

And once you’ve built it, that IP, that intellectual property, that podcast, that asset is yours. It’s not the companies. I went from Olympus, the best in the space to KARL STORZ, the other best in the space. They both have essentially 48% market share across the endoscopy market here in the U.K. And all, not all, but a bunch of my customers came over with me, because they wanted to deal with me as opposed to the products are both great, so they’re somewhat product agnostic. Now if I’d gone to a crappy company, I’m sure they wouldn’t have followed me over. But having that intellectual property, sucking it up for three to six months, 12 months to build it, and then being able to outreach with insights that are yours and unique, even on a cold call that is got to be the future of sales.

 

Will Barron:

And that turns you from this cliché where sales managers, you’ve probably said it yourself, Daniel, of think of yourself as an entrepreneur and you’ve got your territory, and you’re running a little business. It turns it from a wishy washy analogy to every sales manager of all time has said, into an actual reality where you do have some ownership and you’re sales manager is going, “Will’s had a bit of a down month, it’s okay though, because he brings in so many leads for everyone else that we can’t really get rid of him. Let’s see if we can promote him or move him sideways into a slightly different role where we can incentivize him in different ways.” That all comes on the back of this idea of these used car sales people, those product experts and if you’re somewhere in the middle you’re just dead. You’re done. Because all the traditional way of doing sales, it’s just gone forever.

 

Starting Cold Sales Conversations and Thought Leadership is About Giving Value Upfront · [38:18]

 

Daniel Disney:

It’s a really good point Will, if we break this down to core focus of this episode today around starting the conversation, it’s about giving value. How do you give value? You do something that’s relevant to your prospects. It could be a podcast, it could be a YouTube channel. It could be LinkedIn personal brand or content. It could be a blog series. There are so many ways. Micro communities. This is one of the new things I’m seeing lots of people create, micro communities relevant to their target prospects. There are so many things you can do within LinkedIn, outside of LinkedIn. There are so many options, and that’s exactly what I would do, Will. And it is easier now than it was when both of us started.

 

Daniel Disney:

But that is where I would start. I would create something that was relevant and value to may target prospects and just build and build and build. Because you’re right, you take it with you. It stays as long as you don’t brand it towards the company you work with. As long as it is your thing, you can take it everywhere. And that is leading towards the … And I know it’s a marmite word, thought leadership place, where you become credible, respected and valuable in your industry. Where people see you and there is a level of respect associated to that. That is definitely where sales is now ans will continue to go.

 

Will Barron:

It has to. It just has to. And I’ll wrap up with this, for anyone who isn’t sold, the best way to describe it is the buyer journey. 10 years ago the buyer would get so far and they would have to speak to a sales person to get pricing information, literature. You’d be hanging out a flyer, whatever it is. The seller had the key to making the sale. Now the buyer, again, this is cliché that we all talk about so much. The buyer is like, again this is cliché that we all talk about so much. The buyer is 70, 80, eventually they will be 90% of the way through the sales process, they don’t need you for any of that stuff. So if you don’t add something unique as an individual to the conversation, they might as well just ring customer services and buy online. Or not even ring services, just buy on an online order form.

 

“Unless you’re positioning yourself as someone who adds confidence, knowledge and the ability to research an individual so you can have an insightful conversation, unless you’ve got those three things, you’re going to be replaced, as sad as it sounds, by an online order form and customer service.” – Will Barron · [40:13] 

 

Will Barron:

So unless you’re positioning yourself as someone who adds, as you started the show with, Daniel, confidence, knowledge and the … because research gives us skill as well, which Daniel can teach you through his training … the ability to research an individual so you can have an insightful conversation. Unless you’ve got those three things, you’re going to be replaced as sad as it sounds by an online order form. Oh, and customer service, which they don’t pay commissions to and most businesses can just wrap up and scale much quicker than a sales team. If you don’t have any of that, because of the buyer journey, because they’re so far down the buying cycle. If you’re not adding something unique at the end of it, buyers don’t need you anymore. So that’s slightly depressing, and exciting for anyone who’s on the same wave length as you and I.

 

Daniel Disney:

It’s exciting for people that truly care about selling. These are the people that are going to invest in all these extra curricular activities. They’re going to help them long term. Will, you’re not wrong. You’re 100% right. As a sales person, you need to add as much value as the product and service that you are selling. You need to invest in you. Your company needs to invest in you, because that’s where the longevity of the business lies. So yes, the future of sales is very much going to be putting value in yourself, and you need to make sure you’re growing something that is going to give extra value to your prospects. You’ve got to ask yourself, why are they going to choose me? What am I going to offer that’s different or extra, that’s going to make them choose me? Now in five years, in 10 years time, now’s the time to think about it. If you’re just picking up the phone trying to hit this months target and you’re not thinking ahead, it’s going to get much more difficult.

 

Will Barron:

For sure. And this might be a problem with just selling as a career. That we only think quarterly. If you are in marketing, you might want to get to a marketing director role. If you are an architect you might want to do small houses, then bigger houses, then run your own firm, and then do some artistic piece. You might want to leave your mark on the planet. On the city that you live in. Sales, it’s quarter to quarter to quarter, and hopefully we’ve got some good hobbies in the background, an actual life away from sales to spend all this hundreds of thousands of dollars of commission that we’re hopefully all earning.

 

Parting Thoughts · [42:40]

 

Will Barron:

Or maybe this is just a problem rooted in selling as it is right now that will hopefully change if people don’t chose typically sales as a career. And hopefully we can mould it into more of a career for our audience and then for future sales people as well who are going to be listening to this in 10 years and be going, “Those two idiots were completely wrong about everything. In hindsight, that was complete nonsense.” So with that Daniel, we’ll wrap up there mate. Anything else you want to add to the conversation before we wrap things up properly?

 

Daniel Disney:

No, but just to summarise, if you want to start conversations effectively, make an effort. Do some homework and make the more about them. Make a little bit less about you and your amazing products that I’m sure you’re very passionate about. But make it about them. Talk about how you can help them first. That is one of the biggest keys to starting all conversations. Because that can’t be automated. A bot can’t do that. It shows you care, and it’s going to build a relationship that goes beyond just the sales. So yes, make an effort is my final thought. Give it a try. You’ll see hopefully it starts more conversations for you.

 

Will Barron:

And give it a try is my feedback on all of this. I feel like I’ve done some rants on this episode. I feel like we’ve gone off the rails a little bit. You don’t over complicate anything that we’ve just said. We’ve gone through the history of sales, the future of sales, becoming a thought leader in this space whatever that … that word will change into something else. I’m sure over time. We might not even be called sales people once we are product and industry experts or thought leaders, whatever we’re going to call it. But yeah, don’t let any of that stop you from reaching out to people with an article, a blog post, whatever it is. A friendly message now. Get it done and you can test and see what works from there.

 

Will Barron:

So that will wrap up this episode of the Social Selling Show, that was Daniel Disney, the king of social selling. My name is Will Barron, founder of Salesman.org and we’ll speak to you next week on next week’s episode of the Social Selling Show.

 

Daniel Disney:

See you next time.

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