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[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Optimal Sales Mindset Webinar sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on August 3, 2021. It featured the ProResource Team led by Judy Schramm and featuring Mona Neff and Ann Marie Beebout.]
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JUDY’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Present a very polished and professional image. Go on your LinkedIn profile and upload a header graphic. This is the image that is behind your headshot at the top of your profile. You can take a photo off of your company’s website, you can use a city scape, you can use a photo of you speaking at an event, but use that space to tell people something about you.”
MONA’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “Remember that LinkedIn is a relationship, not a one-night stand, and that you have to be in it for the long haul.”
ANN MARIE’S TIP FOR EMERGING SALES LEADERS: “You need to have your featured section filled out. Make sure that you have some evergreen content in the featured section and maybe one recent post or article that you’ve put out, but give people the resources that they need to take the next step that you want them to take.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: Today we’re talking about LinkedIn, and we’re going to be talking about how you as a sales professional can utilize LinkedIn to take your sales career to the next level to be of more value for your prospects and your customers. Also, how you can be of more value to your company as well. I’m very excited, we have Judy Schramm, we have Mona Neff and we have Ann Marie Beebout. Judy, I want to thank you because ProResource has been a sponsor of the Institute for Excellence in Sales probably going on close to six years now. How are you doing.
Judy Schramm: Great, we love the Institute. It’s an amazing organization.
Fred Diamond: We’ve learned so much from you and your team, and a shout out as well to Meryl Evans who does a lot of the work with us to repurpose a lot of our content on LinkedIn and on Twitter. Let’s identify ten things that salespeople should be doing specifically to have LinkedIn help them take their sales results, their sales career to the next level. We’ll also talk about some of the biggest mistakes that they see people making.
Judy, you and your team work with hundreds, if not thousands of business owners, sales professionals, entrepreneurs to help them utilize LinkedIn more effectively. Why don’t you get us started? And again, we’ll get to Mona and Ann Marie as well. What is the number one thing that salespeople should be doing with LinkedIn to take their sales career to the next level?
Judy Schramm: Well, the first thing is to write your LinkedIn profile to your customers. One of the issues that I see lots of times is when you’re looking for a job, you write your profile to get hired. So you have things on there, like how often you’re in the chairman’s circle, and how you exceed quota all the time, and that is not the kind of thing that is going to endear you to your customers. What you want to talk about is who you help, how you help them, what kind of results that your customers typically achieve.
Fred Diamond: Mona and Ann Marie, welcome to the show. Do you agree with that as well? Is that the approach that people should be taking? Mona, why don’t you go first?
Mona Neff: Thanks, Fred. Yes, I totally agree with that. And in fact, I would add to it and say, even as you post, to be a resource to people, become a resource to people, post things that are helpful, that are insightful. You can do that and still have a little sales thing on it. Posts or blogs, either one, three signs that you need to update, or three steps to getting better at this. I can go on all day on that list, but yeah, be helpful.
Fred Diamond: That makes so much sense. Customers are looking for salespeople, and again, we do webinars every day, which we convert to a Sales Game Changers Podcast, and a lot of times we talk about how you, as the sales professional are a teacher. You’re trying to educate your customer on something in the industry, something they may not be aware of. It could be something relatively simple that they should know about. Anne Marie, how about you? Do you agree with this as well as the number one thing people should be thinking about?
Ann Marie Beebout: Absolutely. I think you’re right. Salespeople are teachers, and you want to put yourself in front of your potential customers. So, don’t just follow the sales thought leaders, or follow articles about sales and how to be a better salesperson. What are your clients looking at? Who are they looking to for information? What organizations do they follow? If you put yourself in that area, you can show up in the comments, make insightful comments about an article, because you are an expert in the subject, in the service or the product that you’re selling. Show people that you’re an expert, and then you will have clients coming to you asking questions and interested in the knowledge that you have to share.
Fred Diamond: That is such a great point. I’ll tell you why. When people ask me, “How can I become really, really successful in sales?” And besides having a long career, because it’s not going to happen right away, but the thing I always say is you need to be one of two things. You need to either be a true value-added expert in your industry. You sell CRM systems to the government and you understand the government, or CRM systems to financial services, or hospitality, but you really are deep into the industry.
The second way is, of course, that you are a true expert on what it is you’re selling. You are one of the industry gurus on how companies can optimize their sales performance or their customer relations with certain technologies. By able to show some of the things that are going on in your industry, true things, you really add value right there. So that’s a great answer to get us started. All right, what’s number two? What’s the second thing that they should be doing to take their sales career to the next level?
Judy Schramm: Well, let me piggyback on what Mona and Ann Marie said, which is, what should you be talking about? And one of the questions I get from salespeople when I say, “Well, you really should be blogging,” is they say, “Well, what am I going to talk about?” And the answer is to pick a couple of questions that you get asked all the time. Anytime you’re selling something, there are questions that get repeated frequently. And when you blog on that topic, then not only does that give you a quick link so that when somebody asks you the question, you can say, “Interesting question. I just blogged about that topic,” and send them the link, but it also can attract more people to your profile and to your LinkedIn presence, because lots of people have that question.
Fred Diamond: When you say blog, do you mean blog on LinkedIn, like as a post, or do you mean blog somewhere and then put a link to the post? What is the best way to do that?
Judy Schramm: The best way is to actually publish on LinkedIn. LinkedIn calls blog posts articles, and it’s right there on the top of your homepage that you can just click on ‘write an article’. It is the simplest blogging interface you will ever find. The nice thing about the blog posts is that they stay on your profile forever. I have blog posts that I wrote in 2014 that have well over 100,000 views. They just sit there and attract traffic forever. Whereas when you share a blog post that you wrote on your website, it’s kind of like a river that just at some point goes off a cliff and people can’t find it anymore.
Fred Diamond: What’s number three?
Mona Neff: I’m actually going to jump in real quick on what Judy just said about blogging and say that blogging is great, for all the reasons that she just noted. You should add that to your featured section on your profile every time you blog so it’s easy to find, but you can take a blog post and split it into three smaller posts, and that also will get attention. Especially because, what I’ve seen for both our clients and for us, is that it’s an extra click, it’s just one more click from the post to the blog, but more people will see your posts than will ever see your blog. We’d never match those numbers, except maybe on Judy’s posts. So, just do some short posts. Don’t be intimidated that you have to do a blog even, just post.
Fred Diamond: I agree, that’s a great point. A lot of times people will say, especially people in sales who aren’t naturally content creators, it’s like, “It’s so hard to draft something,” but I liked Judy’s answer. What’s the question that your customers ask you, or your partners? What do you hear all the time? And then I like what you just said, because when people go to LinkedIn, there’s so much content, there’s so many people that they want to follow, there’s the industry people that they follow, then there’s people in their network that are posting things. They may not give you five minutes to read a long article, but they will look at something, maybe it’s three paragraphs, and then they’re not going to care.
They’re not going to say, “Boy, this article isn’t a full-fledged article that should be in Time Magazine,” or something. They’ll say, “Oh, I got something from this.” As a matter of fact, people listening to the webinar or the podcast today, we’re giving them so much information here, but people will say, “I’m going to walk away with a thing that I can do.” And at the very end of the show, we always say, “Tell us something specific, an action step, that people should do.” All right. That’s number two. So what’s number three? Who wants to take that one?
Ann Marie Beebout: I’ll say, building on the network talk, that it’s important to have a plan when you get on LinkedIn to be strategic about who you’re building your network with, because you want LinkedIn to connect you to the people that you’re trying to reach out to. You can do a lot of things to train LinkedIn to introduce you to potential clients and your target audience. One of them is connecting with people of the same kind that they know.
I like to go to a company page, look at the list of people, and you can build a pretty rough, good work chart out of the list of people. See if you have anything in common with anyone at the company, even if it’s 20,000-person company, and you have something in common with someone three states away, it’s still useful, because we’re humans and we see that line that says, “You have one connection in common,” or, “You know someone who works at this company.” You automatically create a connection there and are more willing to give someone the benefit of the doubt or an extra five minutes to chat. If you can kind of socially surround your target audience and connect with the people that they’re connected to in a strategic and natural way, then that really lends itself to building those relationships more organically and easier when it comes time to connect with your prospects.
Fred Diamond: We had Carson Heady on, and he works for Microsoft, and he is the number one social seller for Microsoft, and he’s a sales rep. I think he might be a manager now, but he’s a bag-carrying sales professional, but he’s also Microsoft’s number one social seller. He said one of the first things he did is he went on LinkedIn to his target companies and started linking in to as many people at his targets as possible. A lot of people didn’t respond, but he said enough did that allowed him to get the conversations going. Judy or Mona, do you want to chime in on the building of the network as well?
Judy Schramm: Well, this is a strategy that we use for ourselves as well, is when we’re looking at a target company, because we use account-based marketing, and we choose the companies we want to work with, and then we try to talk them into working with us. I found that the more executives I’m connected to, the easier it is. And the thing I like to play with is sometimes you can get the CEO to connect with you first, but you’re going to sell to the marketing person. It is much easier to get the marketing person’s attention when you’re already connected to the CEO.
Fred Diamond: Those are three great ones, we’ve got seven more to go. What is number four?
Judy Schramm: I’ll do number four, you do number five. One of the things that I think salespeople naturally do is they try to build an environment of know, like, and trust. Because we all know you’re not going to close a deal until people know who you are, like you, and trust you. There is a lot that you can do on LinkedIn to build that environment of know, like, and trust. The biggest thing for me is trust. Stephen M. R. Covey says that trust is the intersection of competence and character. You can use your LinkedIn profile to signal to people very clearly that you are both competent and have the kind of character that they will want to do business with you.
For example, on the competence side, you can include the school you went to, well-known companies that you’ve worked for, your accomplishments in those roles. You can include awards you’ve received. You can include all kinds of things that show your track record, and LinkedIn is designed for that. The character side is interesting, because you can show volunteer work that allows people to see that you care about giving back to the community, that you’re not just about closing the next deal.
The way you treat people and handle yourself online. When you are consistently kind and supportive and encouraging to all the people that you interact with, they can see that on your LinkedIn profile, and they can see that you’re the kind of person who they would be comfortable trusting.
Fred Diamond: I’m so happy you brought up trust, because, again, we’re doing webinars every single day, and there’s words that come up all the time. Judy, you know, because you guys have supported many of our shows here. Trust, become a trusted advisor. I like what you also said, show that you’re kind and supportive, not just with helping them with their company, but there’s some examples that I’ve seen of people who will mention something about a charity that they’re involved with, or maybe they have a child that has some type of illness or some type of situation. It gives you an opportunity to show that you care by making a donation, or letting them know something.
I think you know, Judy, that I have someone in my life with chronic Lyme, with a chronic illness, and I’ve started posting some things about the intersection between Lyme disease and sales. It’s opened up a whole new world of people who wanted to just talk about it, or give me some examples of people that they know who are going through that as well, and it helps build those connections. It may not lead to a sale at this moment, but it’ll build the connections, which hopefully will lead over time.
Judy Schramm: Right. I’ve seen you do that actually, and I think it’s beautiful to see the kind of support that you get from the community, because Lyme is an awful disease.
Fred Diamond: Most people in sales think that the relationship is about sales, it’s about my job here is to have you become a customer of X hundred, thousands, or millions, whatever, over a certain period of time. You know what the reality is? We tell this to people all the time, sales is a long-term game. It’s a marathon. It’s not a sprint in a lot of cases. What is going to further your connection with the customer to build that trust? I really liked that answer. All right. Mona, you’re going to tell us number five.
Mona Neff: I would say, be consistent. Be out there. You don’t have to be there every day, but you do have to be out there a couple of times a week. And if you need to think through why that works, just think of it as an investment in time, and a sales call, and be focused on it. Don’t do it while you’re standing in line at the grocery store. Sit down and focus, have your goals with you, and then work it, twice a week, 15 minutes per day.
Fred Diamond: You don’t want to just slap something together, you want to be thoughtful. I like the idea of the consistency, not just from a post something every day, or every other day, whatever it might be, but be consistent in what you’re posting and how you post. As far as how you generate your posts, or your articles, or how you communicate, if you will. Your point of view, which then leads to being shown as either trusted, or as competent, or someone who’s truly an expert. Ann Marie, how about number six?
Ann Marie Beebout: Number six is about using hashtags. And I work with a lot of clients who ask me questions in our coaching sessions, and invariably, there’s one about hashtags. “What hashtags do I use? How do I know if it’s good? When do I use them?” The key is that LinkedIn uses hashtags like a theme that you follow. You follow one particular theme. You can choose #SoftwareDevelopment, and that’s a pretty big one. I would imagine that would have tens of thousands of followers, but it is a great hashtag to use when you’re posting about software, because you go out to a lot of people. The downside of a big hashtag is that’s like a really fast-moving river. Your post is only at the top of it for a tiny moment of time and someone has to catch it.
But if you also find really small hashtags that are very niche, that are exactly the kind of software that you are developing, and there might be a couple of hundred people on that hashtag. But when you use it, then those couple of hundred people who are looking for exactly the information you have, they’re going to see your posts. The smaller niche-specific hashtags are also very helpful for finding new people to follow and to interact with, because that’s where the subject matter experts are going to be. That’s where the people who are inventing, creating, putting out there for the first time, that’s where they’re going to be, on those smaller hashtags. Investigate hashtags, click on the hashtag when someone uses it, and see, “Is this useful? Are there a lot of interesting posts in here that I want to read, that my clients might find interesting?” And start following some hashtags.
Fred Diamond: I like what you just said that, and it goes back to answer number three about building the network. There’s a couple of ways to think about sales. There’s building relationships with your customers. Then there’s building relationships with your partners. Yesterday on our Sales Game Changers live with Sandy Carter from Amazon Web Services, we talked about how critical the partner networks are. But there’s also, one of the great things about LinkedIn is you can find people with common interests. I’ve built this really nice network of people who post every day, and some of them really have nothing to do with me.
I have a person in my daily LinkedIn network who talks about legal technology every day. That’s something that really isn’t in my space, but I read her posts and I comment as appropriate, she also reads mine and comments as appropriate, and I now know that I have a legal tech expert. So if a customer ever says to me, “Hey, by the way, we’re looking to move into legal tech,” or something. “Oh, okay. Well, I have this particular person who’s in that network.” So it truly is, not everybody thinks of LinkedIn as a social network, but it’s such a powerful social network, the same way people might think of Facebook or Instagram if they’re into other spaces. All right. Judy, how about number seven?
Judy Schramm: Going back to the know, like, and trust part, let’s talk about like. One of the things I hear from people, especially people who are very senior in sales, is that they say, “Well, I don’t want anything personal on my profile. It’s really all about the company and it’s all about my team.” But here’s the thing, that makes you effectively a cardboard cutout, and people do not get passionate about cardboard cutouts. So if you want raving fans, if you want to build real authentic relationships, then what you want to do is allow some of your personality to come through, some of the things that are unique about you.
For example, we have some clients who are in a rock band outside of work. We have another one who restores antique cars and races antique cars. We have one who was a ballerina and plenty who’ve done crew, or soccer, or football. Actually, we had a pro baseball player also. When you can see these things on their profile, that is a great way to spark a conversation and build some rapport at the beginning of a conversation.
Fred Diamond: Again, you want to build relationships, and one of the first things I do is I look, “Where did they go to college?” Or, “Did they go to grad school?” Or something like that. I also look at what charities are they involved with, to see if that’s something that I might be interested in. And again, B2B sales, it’s about continuing to build a process to find ways to connect. Then of course, we want to use LinkedIn to take the connections off LinkedIn. We want to get to a conversation, we want to get to a meeting, hopefully.
I was kind of thinking just the other day, I’ve actually purchased the services of people that are in my LinkedIn network, and it’s a great resource. I might not get them to IBM or something, but if you connect them to someone who’s looking for those services, it’s so critical. Personality, things that are unique about you. Yeah, I love baseball. We did a webinar about a month ago with a couple of former baseball players, and we talked about how you could use that to get in the door. So that’s a great answer. All right. We’re coming down here to the last three, number eight.
Mona Neff: It’s going to sound boring, especially compared to the last one, but it’s still important and it falls in the category of trust. Proofread before you post. Because here’s the thing, one mistake is okay, but several mistakes make you look slipshod. And why would I give you my money if you can’t even post correctly? It’s a matter of high quality in everything you put out. So just proofread it, read it out loud to yourself, or buy a program that’ll check it for you before you post.
Fred Diamond: Mona, I’ve actually loved some of your posts where you talk about some of those things. I wish you would do more, because I always would comment, I always look forward to those, but you are so right. Even people joke about this their, there, they’re, your, you’re, Y-O-U-R versus Y-O-U-‘-R, it’s, I-T-‘-S, or its. Those things will stop certain people, and you need to understand how your present. One thing I do is I do my posts in Word before I do it in LinkedIn, I never go direct to LinkedIn. I always have someone proofread it as well, just to make sure that I just don’t make that one mistake and then someone gets stuck on that one mistake. Mona, will you promise me that you’re going to start doing more of those posts? Because I really enjoyed them.
Mona Neff: I will try to do more of those. There’s tremendous pressure in those posts, Fred. When you write about writing, it has to be right.
Fred Diamond: R-I-G-H-T.
Judy Schramm: Great comments. Great traction.
Mona Neff: They’re very fun. I learned a lot from them.
Fred Diamond: That’s also an interesting point too, is some of my LinkedIn posts that have just gotten unbelievable engagement haven’t been the ones about sales strategy, or partner relation development, which is what the Institute for Excellence in Sales and the Sales Game Changers Podcast is all about. One that I did on Lyme disease wound up getting like 15,000 views. And one that I did about, do you give money to people on the street? That was up to like 80,000 views. That’s cool. I mean, I would love to have the sales strategy ones to get that, but anything you could do to get engagement and then follow up with the people who connect. All right, we got two more. Number nine.
Ann Marie Beebout: This is a little bit general, but follow up with connections that you make. Follow up with comments on posts, always tag the person who commented on your posts. When you comment on someone’s post, tag that person so that they get a notification and start those conversations. You don’t have to start right away with a call to action or a hard sale, get to know the person a little bit and grow that relationship.
I think that LinkedIn is really great for farming. You have to build that relationship, like Judy has been talking about, that get to know someone and like them. It’s a fantastic network for being top of mind so that people are quick to refer you. It’s a fabulous resource when someone mentions you, they go to your profile, and there is all of your information, a history of posts that you’ve made, lots of blogs and articles, and next steps, have your call to action in the about section. Always have follow through so that people know what you want them to do and make it easy for them to do it.
Fred Diamond: Having the LinkedIn connection is great, but taking it offline and just having the relationship started on LinkedIn. We, especially the people here on today’s webinar, the team from ProResource, we’ve got Mona Neff, we’ve got Judy Schramm, and Ann Marie Beebout, it’s great to meet these people and great to know them and have their support of your posts and introductions. But the whole goal is to get them off of LinkedIn into the real world, and it might be virtual.
I have relationships with people that I’ll never meet in Australia, that we’ve met on LinkedIn. And I have people that I’ve met on LinkedIn in Chicago that I have traveled to see. That’s where the value of it comes in, is really building that. All right, we’ve got nine great ones, we’ve got time for one more and then I’m going to ask you, by the way, for the biggest mistake that you see people making on your profile. Before we get to that question, number 10.
Judy Schramm: If you want to be successful on LinkedIn, focus on quality, not quantity. There’s a lot of automation out there, and there are ways that you can really ramp up and max your outreach, and just spam a ton of people. But is that really going to serve you? And the answer is no, it isn’t. You want to identify the right people, you want to personalize your invitation, and when you follow up with them, you want to engage with them and show that you’re paying attention, because everybody pays attention to who’s paying attention to them. If you give them that gift of your attention, it comes back to you.
Fred Diamond: That is very powerful, personalized invites. Again, if you’re making a LinkedIn connection on your phone, you have to go an extra step to get there. It’s not as easy as it might be in a computer. Before we ask you for your final action steps, what is the biggest mistake that you see people making on their profile?
Judy Schramm: Mona, why don’t you start?
Mona Neff: Hard selling. Just making their whole thing about the hard sell. No one wants to be sold whoever, but everybody wants to know stuff and learn. And people don’t come to your profile with the idea of, “I want to buy something.” Use that space to introduce yourself, who you are and what you are, and not to hard sell.
Fred Diamond: Before I ask you for your final action steps, I want to thank the team at ProResource: Judy Schramm, Mona Neff, Ann Marie Beebout, and everyone else on your team, Judy, who is just so much great work. You guys have done so much amazing work, helping salespeople, business owners, entrepreneurs, on helping them utilize LinkedIn to be of more value to their customers. You’ve also done a lot of posts recently about internal use of LinkedIn. If you’re a business owner, or a CEO, or you run a division, LinkedIn is also a tremendous resource to get messages to your people, people on your team about where the direction is going. I want people to follow ProResource.
Ladies, I’m going to ask you for your final action step today. You’ve given us all at least 10 great things, give us one thing specific, a final nice, concise action step that people should do to take their sales career on LinkedIn to the next level.
Ann Marie Beebout: I think that you need to have your featured section filled out. Make sure that you have some evergreen content in the featured section and maybe one recent post or article that you’ve put out, but give people the resources that they need to take the next step that you want them to take.
Fred Diamond: Mona, how about you? Give us a final action step.
Mona Neff: Remember that LinkedIn is a relationship, not a one-night stand, and that you have to be in it for the long haul.
Fred Diamond: Very good. Judy, before I ask you for your final step, we did get one question just came in here. And again, today’s show was specifically focused on LinkedIn, but do you have any recommendations on other social networks that sales professionals, particularly B2B, should be utilizing to be of more value in the top 10 things that we just talked about?
Judy Schramm: Sure. Very simply, think about where your audience is, and then that’s where you want to hangout. If the people that you sell to are on LinkedIn, then LinkedIn is worth most of your time. If they are on Twitter or Instagram, then you want to spend time there. But if your audience is not there, focus where they are.
Fred Diamond: Absolutely. All right, Judy, give us your final action step. Bring us home here.
Judy Schramm: All right. The thing that I think makes the most sense for everybody to keep in mind is that you want to present a very polished and professional image. The single simplest thing that everybody can do before the podcast is even over, is to go on your LinkedIn profile and upload a header graphic. This is the image that is behind your headshot at the top of your profile. You can take a photo off of your company’s website, you can use a city scape, you can use a photo of you speaking at an event, but use that space to tell people something about you.
Fred Diamond: Once again, I want to thank Judy Schramm, Mona Neff, Ann Marie Beebout, the team at ProResource, Meryl Evans as well. Once again, thank you so much for all you’ve done for the Institute for Excellence in Sales. Thanks for the great insights today and thanks for all your support of the sales profession. Everybody watching today’s show, thank you all so much for spending your time with us, and we will see you tomorrow.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo