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Episode 90: Social Selling – Carson V. Heady

Predictable Prospecting
Episode 90: Social Selling - Carson V. Heady
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Carson V. Heady is an author and sales leader that I am really excited about talking to. He is in the trenches when it comes to sales. He is there digging in the dirt making sure that those sales are happening. I asked him to come on the show is because he is diving into an becoming an expert at social selling.

When it comes to prospecting, we are habit machines that block out times to do single tasks, and we get stuck when it comes to integrating all of the social tasks into our process. Carson is going to talk about best practices around integrating social into the sales process and specifically the prospecting side of things.

Episode Highlights:

  • How social selling is bubbling up as something that we should pay attention to.
  • Sales is still a relationship game, but social will enable us to build relationships and stay top of mind.
  • How platforms have caught on and integrated into people’s day.
  • These platform enable us to target specific areas and when people make changes.
  • We can keep at the pulse of what is going on.
  • It also enables to continue the post sales relationship.
  • Display etiquette and be succinct and state your desired value that you are bringing.
  • It comes down to adding value.
  • How social selling allows us to do a lot of experimentation.
  • These social tools can help us take the cold out of cold calling and introducing ourselves in a relatively passive way.
  • Consistently reaching out to 5 to 10 people a day and stacking it into your daily routine.
  • How it takes a long time to craft and cultivate social relationships, but the returns are unbelievable.
  • Gearing messages for your audience and understanding what is working and what is not.
  • The stuff that works can be transferred over to your email sequences.
  • Assimilate social selling into your evolving sales process.
  • Finding the right tools that will work specifically for you and using them to be more effective.
  • Begin with the end in mind. What your goal is? Social selling is a wonderful way to share and connect with people.

Resources:

Transcript:

Marylou: Hi everyone, it’s Marylou Tyler. This week, I have a special guest, a local mid-western special guest, Carson V. Heady. We are really excited about talking to Carson because first of all, he’s an author, he’s a sales leader, he’s into trenches, doing the dues. It’s not like somebody sitting behind the desk pontificating theory. He’s actually in there actually digging in the dirt and making sure that sales are happening.

The reason why we asked him to come on our show is because he’s also really diving into it, and becoming quite expert at social selling, and its evolution. For us, prospecting, we are these habit machines, we’re really trying to block out times to do single tasks. I keep telling you guys, we want to be on the phone, and do that in a block of time, and then do email.

But a lot of times, we can hear our LinkedIn, and our social things going off, so how do we integrate that? Carson is gonna talk to us today about best practices around social selling but specifically the prospecting side of things. He may take it further into the pipeline because he can go all the way and close but let’s start at the top of funnel, if you don’t mind, Carson.

Give us some background as to what’s happened since you’ve been in this space which is, you said, 20 years now. How is social starting to bubble up to something that we wanna really pay attention to for prospecting?

Carson: First off, Marylou, thank you so much for your time. I know the illustrious guests that you’ve had in the past, I can only hope to hold the candle to some of them with the content that we share today. I love the topic. This is something that we chatted briefly about this as well, is that sales has evolved so substantially over the last few decades.

There are some very traditional methods that I think still hold a lot of merit. It’s still very much a relationships game. Social selling is something that not only will enable us to begin new relationships and broker those new conversations, but it’s also a great way to stay top of mind with clients both from a pre-sale and post-sale standpoint. I’ll compare and contrast my early days in sales to nowadays.

I remember when some of these platforms first emerged. When you first got that request on some of these platforms like LinkedIn and you are like, “What is this exactly?” I was following some people and seeing different posts. Platforms of this ilk really caught on specifically in recent years which is the different ways that they integrate in with different platforms.

A lot of us will login in the beginning of the day and share out or schedule out messaging to go out throughout the day. There are several different platforms that we can do that on. What I’ve definitely seen over the last few years is that with these platforms, it enables to geo target, and find by geography, find by title, look for specific companies, look for specific titles within the organization, different departments, different divisions.

It will also keep you updated when these people are movers and shakers, they’re making changes in their career. It’s giving you every bit of information that you need at your fingertips in order to really keep at the pulse of what’s going on not only with your contacts but also with new potential contacts with different industries, etcetera.

You can take it so far as to follow individual companies and really find the types of prospects that you wanna be able to talk to. We could wax poetic forever about the different types of messaging that you can use to get the best responses, but at the end of the day, social selling really enables you to enhance your probability of success. It’s really what sales is all about.

We, ultimately, are on a quest to have our potential end-user or client make a decision based on the information that we’re able to provide that meets any gaps that they may have in their current process. We, in counter to that, will build our own process and present information, and facts, and statistics, and solutions ultimately, in order to help them make that decision.

Social selling can really help grease the wheel when it comes getting in front of new people and in also staying top of mind because once you’re connected to them or they’re seeing your posts, or you’re able to send them articles that may be hark back to conversations that you’ve had, it enables you to very passively, occasionally, stay in front of them so that you don’t have to be super aggressive and keep revisiting that follow-up as you move toward the close.

But then furthermore, from a post sales standpoint, it enables you to continue that relationship, keep tabs with what they’re doing, and also reach out very easily. Again, sometimes very passively so that you can continue the conversation. I’ve seen social selling evolve substantially over the last several years, as I’m sure you have, but I believe that it is a great medium when it comes to continuing to perfect your craft from a sales perspective.

Marylou: Some of the things that I want to ask you are around the ability to, the fact that we do have these first level connections say on LinkedIn. What is the, I guess, ethical is not the right word, but what is the best practice around touching these people? I’ve been told a number of different things.

What feels right for me, Marylou Tyler, is to do more permission-based touches, help-based touches, and really only very soft asks in the form of, “Hey, get back to me if you wanna know more. I’ll send you a link.” As opposed to sending them a link. Are there some guidelines around that that you wanna share with the audience, especially top of funnel? This is kind of starting conversations with people that we don’t know side of things.

Carson: I would agree with you, Marylou. I think it’s very important that you’re cognisant that while this is a platform where you can make these connections, that you also want to display some etiquette. There’s a lot of articles that are out there as far as etiquette to utilize on social media platforms including LinkedIn.

I agree. I think it’s important to be succinct and to state the desired value that you want to bring. I’m sure you and I have both seen a tremendous amount of these initial requests where maybe somebody is very opportunistic and sends you a laundry list of different types of things that they could do for you or want to do for you. I think that a lot of times we may be dismissive of that. I think it’s a reaction or reflex that we may have.

I think it’s important, especially as sellers, that we’re cognisant of the golden rule, treating others as we would like to be treated on these platforms. What kind of messaging would work effectively for you or what has worked well? I think it comes down to the same fundamentals that govern our sales processes.

Our sales process is adding value, if I believe that I can add value for a potential connection wherever that may fit, whether it’s my day job, whether it’s kind of my side hustle as I call it where I write these books, obviously I have’t sold enough to retire but it’s a fun endeavor for me. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people. I think we’re looking to add value.

Intrinsically, how can I add value for this potential contact? I would never wanna reach out to anyone unless I felt I could add value for them. I agree with you. I think it’s imperative that when we’re reaching out, we’re giving perhaps a brief explanation as to why we’re connecting even if it’s basic as, “Hey, based on our mutual interests or mutual groups, I felt that you’d be a great person with whom to share ideas or that I could learn from. I’d be honored to be connected with you. I would love to have a conversation if it’s of interest.”

Something even that basic can garner quite a response. I think that it can lead to some wonderful conversations. I think, again, I liken this actually to dating as well even though it’s been quite a long time since I’ve done that. You don’t wanna seem too opportunistic.

Let’s say you make a new friend on one of these platforms, the last thing you wanna do is jump right in the second that they accept and send them this multi-paragraph litany on what your product or service can do for them. In fact, exactly what you want to do, and I don’t care if you’re trying to sell a product or service or if you’re looking for a job or whatever it is, the best approach is really to propose a meeting around where you may be able to add value for them.

Perhaps you have some suggestions, some brief ones. I also find it important to make that personal connection. You and I were talking about this briefly before as well, there’s a lot of times where, especially if we’re sending this copy paste form, you can come off like you’re not a real person in this day and age. I think it’s very important that you have a personal touch and that you don’t just send some copy paste.

Make reference to something that you saw on their profile. Maybe you went to the same school. Maybe you are in a similar group or you have similar interests. Perhaps you ask them about their current role or there’s something you’d like to know more about what they’re doing. I think those are the types of end roads that you’re looking to make.

In fact, even if I’m looking to sell into a different vertical or to a new client or maybe I have some experience in that vertical before, I may send them a note and say, “Hey, I spend a little bit of time selling in the manufacturing, or in the retail, or in the healthcare…” whatever it is. “I’d love to just have a conversation and get some advice or your feedback on where this vertical is heading from a technology standpoint,” whatever your vertical is. Just having those types of conversations – same thing with asking for a job.

If you’re looking for a job and you’re trying to meet a hiring manager, it’s great to even just send them a note, “Hey, I’m looking to parlay my experience into your industry or into what your division does, would love just to have a conversation as far as where do you think my skill set may land best.”

You’re really looking to sell a conversation upfront. Don’t put the cart before the horse, don’t try to sell your product because you haven’t developed any type of rapport, whatsoever. Sell a conversation around the value that you believe that you can add to that initial conversation. That’s the first step in the sales chain.

Marylou: Exactly. I remember, I sent out, we talked about this, an email. It was a little note to my first level. I found I think it was 100 different ways to say the word opinion because I want people’s opinion for something. I just change that word up. It was interesting to see some people laughed like, “Why did she use that word?”

But it was really fun to get creative in that sense too and try to reword things in a way that is meaningful for them. As you said before, the tools now that are available even on platforms such as LinkedIn allow you to geo target, you can get really specific.

I’m doing a seminar here in Des Moines. I am searching on the people in Des Moines who are in my first level and I’m gonna send them a little note, first level note saying, “Hey, I’m your neighbor in Des Moines. I’m doing this workshop. If you’re interested, hit me back and let’s see if we can get you signed-up for that, if it’s something of interest. I’m gonna be talking about these topics.”

I’m constantly polling my audience to get their opinion on things. It’s engaging. So many people wanna help, that’s what’s amazing to me. Of the 100 I send, I have great response, and maybe yes there’s a couple of sour apples here and there, so I gently remove them from my connection because even though they’re connected to me, they obviously don’t really wanna hear from me.

Then I have the option of saying, “You know, if it’s not a good time, great, let’s not converse then any further than we just did now.” I like that part of it. It allows us to do what you and I talked about, just imparting the knowledge, and really finding out what is the population of people who connected with you or you connected with.

What’s the nuisance, what’s the challenge, that’s the hot topic right now. As a writer, and you are, obviously about 268 articles on the LinkedIn, some huge number, you’re constantly looking for a good content that will resonate and that will be impactful for them. Social is a great way to do that. They get to see a little bit of your personality as well which I think is great.

Carson: I think it gives you the chance to mix it up too, Marylou. I think it’s brilliant as far you’re changing the working a little bit on the word opinion. I’d love to see the statistics as far as the response rates. There’s so much stuff you can do to really analyze, because at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is enhance the probability of success of each leg of the selling process.

Prospecting, inherently, has a success rate. I’ve worked in divisions where, back in the day, I managed a call center group where we called on different types of leads and I spend a lot of time analyzing which leads had the highest propensity for the customer to even pick up. I think there’s a lot of different analysis that we could do specifically around that type of experimentation.

Social selling allows you to do a lot of different types of experimentation, from the way that you target, all the way to the messaging that you send. I’ve evolved my messaging many times over the last several years. I found myself in a predicament years ago where I was laid off and I was looking at how to land a job.

I never thought that I’d have to look for one in my life, going traditionally, and applying to these search engine type jobs online was not getting me interviews, I had to teach myself how to use social selling eight years ago whenever I was looking for a new role. Those practices have evolved but the fundamentals stay the same.

Again, to your point, we’re always looking for what’s the most effective messaging to land, who are the types of people that we want to talk to, what are the best ways to be approaching them. When you’re looking at a different project, I’ve used this in different roles, different jobs that I’ve had, ways to stay top of mind with not only my customers, but also my employees.

Just different ways that you can share content whether it’s add on LinkedIn, whether it’s in groups, or whether it’s on Twitter, or just different platforms. There’s so many different ways that you can engage people. The beauty of it is there’s no silver bullet, there’s no one way that’s necessarily right or wrong, there’s a lot of different ways that we can utilize these methods and mechanisms to enhance our chance at success.

One thing that I’ve taken from your message is the fact that we wanna take the cold out of prospecting, wanna take the cold out of cold calling. These tools can make the prospecting and that ‘cold call’ a lot warmer because we can find ways to introduce ourselves in a relatively passive way where we’re not calling them and forcing them into a conversation necessarily that they don’t wanna be in right at that moment.

But this will allow us to reach out to them, state very quickly how we think we can add value, try to sell that initial conversation. As I’m scrolling through my feed on a daily basis, I think here’s one last point that I wanna make on that part of it, is that a lot of people think that this is a process where, “Oh, man. If I wanna add social selling to my repertoire, I’m already so busy, I’m working 8, 10, 14 hour days, I don’t have time to do anything else.”

I think people will be shocked if they knew that I literally probably spend 5, maybe 10, maybe 15 minutes at most per day on social selling. I found tools that have enabled me to load my deck where there are messages going out throughout the day and then it’s just literally maintenance from that point.

But as I’m scrolling through my feed, I can see articles that may hark back to a conversation that I had with a client or a partner or a business associate whoever that I had last week. As I see that article, I can send it direct the person and say, “Hey, this made me think about of our conversation, what are your thoughts on this article, or what do you think about these trends that have been pointed out about what’s transpiring in your industry?”

It’s a really great passive way to not only show the customer that you are thinking of them and that they were top of mind so you could stay top of mind because marketing statistics will tell you you’ve gotta have several touches before you ultimately get to the sale. Things like that will jog their memory that they may owe you a response and it will keep you moving in the right direction with some momentum toward the close. I think these tools are tremendous and they do a great job of helping you enhance your chances of success but also making that relationship a little bit warmer.

Marylou: As you mentioned, it’s a matter of stacking these tiny habits. Just start with five minutes of social a day. I used to teach in our classes prior to the tools that they have. By the way, everyone listening, I know they’re like, “Okay, what are the tools that Carson uses?” It will be shared. I’ll put that in the show notes because that was my kind of, “I gotta find out what he’s using,” because I have tool stack, people.

I just love looking at different applications that are available. We’ll put that on the show notes for Carson’s page, so don’t worry about that. But what I was gonna say was I first started teaching what’s called first in 10 which I borrowed from real estate which is when you come in the office in the morning, maybe you get your coffee, you sit down, and you just reach out to 10 people, and it should take no longer than 5 to 10 minutes.

 

If you do that everyday and you’ve consistently 22 business days a month, you are now reaching out to 20, 10×22 is 220 more people in a month. It adds up. All we’re asking you is to stack this little tiny habit called social selling in with your daily routine and put it with a habit that’s a good habit. You’ll reward yourself in your brain, “Oh, I got coffee. Great. I can do my first in 10 now.”

It starts to become habitual which is really what we need to do to embrace adding new habits like this to our schedules. I was with you guys on social. I was resisting because I’m doing cold calling, I’m doing my email, I even did direct mail in my world, and then I write. There’s a lot of stuff going on. How could I possibly add yet another lever but I found a way to do it and I started very small.

Now, I’m loving it because I’m getting all these great conversations going with people who need and want what I have to offer. It’s just a really wonderful experience. I’m sure, Carson, you’ve been keeping up that rhythm on a daily basis or maybe it’s a couple times a week if you’re doing all sales roles and not just prospecting. But there’s a rhythm in there that you’ve gotta keep up in order to be able to seeing results with social. Would you agree to that, Carson?

Carson: I really do. It’s amazing the world that it can open up to you. I think it’s important to point out that social selling by no means will replace any of the components of your process because here’s the thing, yes, I will use social selling to meet folks, I will use email, but really, at the end of the day, nothing compares to getting out there face-to-face or on the phone if you need to pick up the phone and call.

But I think that the social selling will open doors that you could’ve never found otherwise. Within roles that I’ve had in the past, I’ve had reports where maybe a prospect showed up and I was able to go straight out to a social platform, find the business, find people that worked there, send them requests of some sort, I’m trying to sell that initial meeting.

I tried to exercise strength in number, maybe reached out to 10, 20 people that I thought will be valuable to have a relationship with there, 5, 10 maybe accepted. I started having conversations and they would point me toward the ultimate decision-maker and I got in there and was able to ultimately work toward crafting deals that would’ve never existed without social selling. But today, those relationships take place mostly in person or over the phone.

Social selling can get you in the door. It’s also a great way to continue to share content. But yes, Marylou, to your point, this is something where you spend a few minutes a day or maybe something sparks attention where, “Hey, I’d like to find this prospect,” and you go out and you spend a few minutes looking. Plant those seeds and they will pay dividends.

I opened my LinkedIn and Twitter accounts probably 10+ years ago and I’ve got over 330,000 followers between the two platforms. It’s something that has taken a long time to really craft and cultivate but the relationships that I’ve been able to make with people all across the world have been unbelievable.

Marylou: That’s a great story. A friend of mine had a company called Pebble Storm, put a pebble in the water, and then the waves just keep getting larger, and larger, and larger. It’s the consistency of habit that will get you there. The other thing too, going back to my experience, I crafted a message, I changed the one word, everytime I send something I try to shorten it, make it more succinct, make it more specific, until I got it to a point where no one asked me, “Hey, are you a bot sending this thing out?” They really think it’s geared towards them.

This is another way, for those of you who are thinkers like me, to really fine tune your message and get an understanding of what’s working and what’s not as you’re crafting your message for social. The stuff that works is great to then transfer over to your email engines and put into your sequences.

There’s just an abundance of upside in order to be able to take 5 to 10 minutes, and maybe you do it at the end of the day or when you’re not in your productive prospecting times to put this little task in there. But be consistent and try to do it actually at the same time for a while, until you start realizing just like we did with the phone the best time to call, just like they did with the email the best time to email, we wanna know the best time to social because we wanna make sure people are there so when they respond to us we can respond right back.

Carson: Couldn’t agree more. Consistency is key with anything. You’re not gonna have consistent results without consistent application of process. Again, you’re looking to assimilate this platform which obviously has many merits. You’re really just looking to assimilate it into your evolving sales process. If you do it, and you do it effectively, and you continue to evolve as you perfect your craft, you will find success because of social selling.

Marylou: Carson, we’re nearing the end of our interview time which is very sad. What is the best place for people who are right now got the social vibe and that they, “Alright, alright. I’m gonna start this.”

What do you recommend, where should they go, is there a place that you write regularly that they could learn more, or how would you, if you were instructing, since you’re a sales manager, if you’re instructing your folks, “Okay, we’re gonna start learning social,” what would you say to them to get started?

Carson: I’m in a unique situation because I work for Microsoft. Obviously, we purchased LinkedIn, so I cannot endorse one platform over another, but I will tell you that, obviously, we’ve talked about a few different tools. You can always go out to the web and research different tools that are available to, number one, schedule tweets or schedule posts.

I use, personally, one called Crowdfire. I like it because it integrates into several different platforms that will enable you to share content. It also cultivates content. It will find some of the things that people that I’m following or sharing, things that are of interest. There’s a lot of really good articles in there. It will show you people that are following people that you follow. It’s probably very similar connections in nature. I like tools of that stature, but we’ve hit on a few of the good tools.

I think the key is to find a small group of tools that you find that are successful in bringing you what you’re looking to achieve from a social selling platform. Because there’s other tools that I’ve used in other roles where it maybe a mechanism that would show me the size of companies, mechanisms that would show me who the stakeholders for a companies, and they weren’t necessary tools that were mentioned on this call.

I would do some active web searches to yield what specifically you’re looking for. Just know that the tools are definitely out there. But when it comes to scheduling your posts throughout the day, there are several platforms that you can choose from, like I said, I use Crowdfire, not an endorsement, but it’s a great tool that I’ve used, and I’ve used a few others over the years. I would love to hear other people’s thoughts as well.

I can be found on LinkedIn, and always up for a dialogue over on social selling, very passionate about it and about selling. I would love to hear what other tools folks are using. But I think, at the end of the day, we’re always looking for what’s the optimum way to integrate these type of tools into our acumen and continue to evolve that craft. How can we use them to be more effective?

I think, with that in mind, those are the types of things we wanna think about as we look to find the platforms that we’re going to use and to integrate into our process.

Marylou: In response to the people, the roles, where to start, for the prospectors who are listening, we’re gonna think about that bullseye that we talk about, the decision maker in the center, the direct influencers of that decision maker, the next ring out, and then the indirect people, a ring out from that.

It really depends on the goal that you’re setting for that call to action. Is it to get your foot in the door? Is it to get your toe in the door? Is it to get that first meeting? Is it to start qualifying, because you’ve met some people and you need to get the rest of the team to figure it out before you can actually do the qualification. Begin at the end of mind of what your goal is, and then from there, you’ll be able to do your searches on the type of person with whom you wanna have that conversation.

I have multiple spheres of influence in my world. I talk to different people, marketing people, sales people, sales officer people, CEOs, and leaders. I have them all in different areas because the dialogue is different. The stuff they like to consume is different, how they like to consume it is different. I keep track of all of that in these tools. It’s just a wonderful way to share what you know, to learn from others, to impart knowledge to people, and just goodwill all around social selling.

Carson: Great. You’ve cast a wide net. You may have your hopes set on meeting the VP of sales, or the CEO, or the CFO, or the CIO, but they may not be responsive. Connect with other folks that may be connected with them that could be part of the decision, or that maybe you can have a great conversation with that could say, “Hey, you need to talk to this person,” and they’re the ones who’d make a warm introduction into that person that you ultimately want to connect with.

Think about that as you’re prospecting, because really you’re trying to sell the meaning and you’re trying to sell getting to the right place before you can sell any type of product or service. I think these types of platforms give you a tremendous ability to start that pursuit and you can make some great relationships along the way.

Marylou: We know how to find you, Carson V. Heady on LinkedIn, and in Amazon, you have a book which we really didn’t get to talk about, but there’s a book out there, a novel. Are there any more books that you’ve written since that one?

Carson: Yes. Birth of the Salesman was my first little foray into writing, and that was in 2010, and then I’ve written two sequels, but I actually re-released the entire anthology last year on an ebook platform. It was The Salesman Against the World is the second one, A Salesman Forever was the third. Basically what it is, it’s a sales book inside of a novel about a fictional character who is the ‘fictional author’ of that sales book. It goes back and forth between being chapters of the sales book but it then flips back to the protagonist and how he learned the lessons that he writes about.

Marylou: That sounds great. I love books like that. Because it’s a real life lesson but it’s embedded into a novel in a good juicy story that’s been the key to reading through it. The books that I write, you have to really be concentrating when you’re reading about sales process. If I would’ve been embedded in the story, I think it probably would have been an easier read.

Yes, go on Amazon and look for Carson’s books there, LinkedIn, and then I’ll put all these different links in the show notes so that you guys can, to your heart’s content, study tools. Carson, thank you so much for visiting us today, we enjoyed the conversation.

Carson: Marylou, the pleasure is all mine. Thank you for having me. It’s absolutely a thrill to talk to you about these fantastic topics.

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