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Usain Bolt, Your Expertise, Clients and Social Selling

Usain Bolt, Your Expertise, Clients and Social Selling

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

I was in a customer meeting with my co-founder Adam Gray the other day and Adam tells a story.

There is a 100 meters sprint, lined up are Usain Bolt, Linford Christie, Florence Griffith-Joyner, Tyson Gay, Donovan Bailey, Christine Arron and you. The gun is fired and 10 seconds later Usain, Linford, Florence, Tyson, Donovan and Christine will have passed the finishing line … you will probably have not.

I’ve started running 5K, which I thought at 30 minutes was pretty good, until a mate of mine put on facebook he could do 5K in sub 20 minutes. For me to cut 10 minutes off my 5K will probably take me a year of intensive training.

What is an Expert?

The thing is, Usain, Linford, Florence, Tyson, Donovan and Christine are experts, you and I are not.

The metaphor is similar for you and your competitors and your customer.

Your Prospects Know Nothing – You Know Everything!

You and your competitors are all experts and thinking your prospect is an expert is a major mistake.

Dave Trott in his book “Predatory Thinking: A Masterclass in Out-Thinking the Competition” makes a great point. Dave ran an advertising agency and he says that whenever you start a relationship with the client, this is the best and only time when you are the most like one of your prospects clients. As you get to know your prospect more and more, know their systems and processes, know what their products do, you become less and less able to talk in the language of your prospects client.

Case Study – Companies That Missed the Opportunity to Talk to Their Clients in a Language They Understood

For example, we had a conversation with a client, that needed to write some content, but we kept getting push back that they didn’t have time. The content needed to be on Blockchain.

  • Client: We need to get some content on Blockchain.
  • Adam Gray: We can do that for you.
  • Client: Laughs, what do you know about Blockchain?
  • Adam Gray: Nothing.
  • Adam Gray: What do you clients know about Blockchain?
  • Client: Nothing.

We ended up writing the content.

We met with a company recently and they said “what did you think of our website?”, we said, “to be honest, we don’t understand what you do from it”. It was then that the Sales VP opened up and said “yes, this is one of our problems, our founders are AI PHDs, they wrote the website and nobody understands it, can you help us?”

At my previous company they sold “ERP” and actually tuned their SEO for it on Google. Nobody knows, apart from suppliers what ERP is. Everybody else call it accounting software and that’s what “normal” people are searching for on Google. I know this as my previous company found that the only people that search for ERP are suppliers.

And that is the mistake that so many companies make.

You are experts, your client is not. Now your clients will go on-line and research for insight and knowledge, but they can never be as much as an expert as you. They change their systems, maybe once every few years, you are helping people all the time.

What can you do?

First and foremost people in Marketing and Sales need to recognise the problem. I’m not saying that you probably need to have a corporate content bonfire, but going forward you need to stop writing as experts and writing in a simple language that your customers will understand. Stop creating three letter acronyms (TLAs) that nobody will understand.

I realise your marketing / PR agency wants to get paid to write a white paper. The thing is nobody will read it. They may download it, but they will place it in the folder called “to read when I have time” that you never get around to. If it’s 300 to 500 words then somebody will read it there and then. Of course, nobody knows the article is good until they have read it. But if you put out short snappy content that is written in simple language and is good, people will read it, read it, read it. You may be a long term reader of ours, you won’t have read all the blogs, but you will know what we write is good.

You will also know, we don’t tell you how clever we are and we don’t fill it with lots of facts or ideas. One point or one idea, that’s it. That is how we are empowering sales people to write their own content. In fact all of our competitors and social selling “influencers” say that getting sales people to write is not possible. But it is possible as we do it.

One of the things we do in our social selling programs is to empower people to use a more simple language, the “tenacious, energetic, sales person” words are dispensed with and we teach people how to write with words and in a style that is relevant to your clients and prospects. 

If you are looking for a real sales transformation, contact us on social.

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Why it’s Time to Strip out Cost from Your Organisation with Social Media

Why it’s Time to Strip out Cost from Your Organisation with Social Media

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Once upon a time social media was something that was kept in the corner in marketing, somebody tweeted on it, every now and again. People dabbled a bit on Linkedin and Facebook, but it wasn’t really central to what marketing did. People pretty much forgot about it. People didn’t put any resources into it so they didn’t get much from it.

10 years later Things have Changed Big Time.

Sales Now Uses Social Media

First Sales started using social and were able to get $1 Million deals for a reduction in the cost of sales. Not only were they able to get leads and meetings quicker than the legacy methods, they were also able to accelerate the pipeline by the clever use of content.

Marketing Uses Social Media 

Marketing caught on and realised that their prospects were on social media, so rather than investing large sums on PPC (pay per click), ad words, events etc, they could find prospects earlier in the sales cycle. Better still, the new empowered buyers could find them and companies started getting inbound.

This new buyer was interested in companies that stop using interruption and broadcast methods such as advertising, cold calling, unsolicited emails, in fact they actively avoided the companies that used these techniques. Why? Because it pissed them off! Legislation and technology conspired against marketing, where as you could set packs of cold callers or emailers on unwitting people. The people fought back, with ad-blockers, junk mail filters, and blocked these people. Marketers realised that could do more for less by using social media. 

Customer Services Uses Social Media

Customer Service has known for a long time that they can strip out cost from the call centre by using social rather than a call centre agent. In studies the cost of handling a customer service call in customer service halved. If you aggregate that cost across all of the business, this will provide massive savings.

Human Resources Uses Social Media

Human Resources have been big users of social, in most cases just tactically posting jobs on Twitter. One of our clients was able to strip £125K ($163K) of cost from the business by posting just a blog to recruit people. Imagine the cost that could be stripped out of this was rolled out across the business? There is also the spin off of benefits that a company can become the employer of choice in that market sector.

Email is Replaced by Social Media

Social is also being used internally to remove the inefficiencies of email. Often used in segments of the organisation or in projects as it helps people collaborate across departments, countries etc.

Is Social Media Your DLS (Dirty Little Secret)?

Social Media has become a companies DLS (Dirty Little Secret) everybody uses it, but they use it on a tactical basis. There is also case study after case study of how people have used it across the organisation and stripped out cost, increased efficiency and effectiveness. So why are organisations not bringing this all together and using social as part of their digital transformation?

Social is after all natural, ever since humans realised on the Serengeti that to stop us being eaten by a sabre-tooth tiger we need to work together and that meant talking to each other. Social is friction-less, just by looking at the way we use social, it’s so easy and to a certain extent it’s free. It used to be something we gave the intern to play with, but social has grown up and companies are using it across the business to strip our cost, gain efficiencies and sell stuff.

Maybe it’s time to take a look?

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10 Reasons Why Your Post about How many Miles You Flew This Years is Scary

10 Reasons Why Your Post about How many Miles You Flew This Years is Scary

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

We’ve all seen posts like this on social, about how many miles you have flown, how many countries you have visited and how many air miles you have earned and do you know what? I’m not impressed and I would have thought your customers, Board of Directors, Stakeholders and Shareholders are as scared as me. Or if they are not then, they should be.

Now I love to travel, I did an Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) role at Oracle for 5 years, I got to travel right across Europe, Moscow, though the Middle East and spent six months commuting to South Africa where we won a large contract. In my personal life I’ve travelled to many countries, in Asia, South America and Europe. If you asked me to rank my passions in life, travel is number one and music is number two. There is a big difference between travel for work and travel for pleasure. Many people think that travel for business is boring. It’s taxi, airport, hotel, taxi, customer meeting, taxi, airport. While there is a lot of that, you get to meet amazing and varied set of people.

Some things I recall from my time in business travel, Having lunch with the Board of Directors in Saudi Arabia, talking to people that worked in pre-communist countries, explaining to the taxi driver which short cuts to take in Johannesburg, eating the local dishes. One of things you learn is in fact these people are just like you and me. I’ve went onto to build a great global network and make a lot of friends. These are all great things and I look back on my travel with affection but when you are running a small business like I do, it cannot be you that does all the travel. Here are the ten reasons why your post about how many miles you have flown scares the hell out of me, and should scare your shareholders and your Board of Directors:-

  1. It does not scale – There is only one of you and there are only so many hours you can work, there has to be a point where you have to create more “yous” and the only way to do this is delegate.
  2. Key Man – Every business has a key people, often they are the founders or certain key people within the organisation. Having these people doing lots of travel, places you business at risk.
  3. You Need to Delegate – Founders, Managers and in fact any staff with direct reports have to learn to delegate. This is a key skill of you to have for your company to grow and scale.
  4. Getting People to Do Things Who Don’t Report to You – Some people think that delegation is shouting at your subordinates. It’s not. that is Direction. Sometimes direction is needed as part of a management tool kit but guiding and coaching are also in that tool kit. The biggest thing you will learn as a leader is not just delegation but getting people who report to, people who report to you, to do things. Why is this important? Often people at the “coal face” know things better than you and have better solutions than you do.
  5. You Cannot Have all the Answers – When Adam Gray and I set up Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) we have told everybody that we don’t have all the answers. And in fact ask people to challenge us. We cannot have a company of two people, or one person flying around the world.
  6. This is bad PR – While there will be people that will think your post is amazing, probably people with the same mindset as you, telling people your company cannot scale and is totally reliant on a few individuals is not great PR.
  7. Fixed Mindset – In her bestselling book “Mindset – Changing The Way You think To Fulfil Your Potential”, Dr Carol Dweck talks about the difference between “growth mindset” and a “fixed mindset”. If you are not able to grow and delegate, it might because you have a fixed mindset.
  8. It does meet the requirements of global customers – Very early on our customers came to us and said, “we have a global business, we want to roll out your programatic social selling program so we have consistency of methodology but have it implemented locally”. For example, WeChat in China, Xing in Germany and LinkedIn in the US, if you are flying around the world you will place a US centric view of the world locally. I’m sorry but in the world of social selling I have seen that fail so many times.
  9. There is no Cookie Cutter – When we onboarded our Asian team in Singapore we realised that you stand on the left of the escalator, where as in London you stand on the right. It is local differences like this that means a US, or Canadian or a London centric view of the world does not work. You have to have local people to implement social selling locally.
  10. There is no place like home – I’ve travelled all over the world and met lot’s of amazing people, but I also like to be at home. My partner is my soul mate and she and I like being together and if we travel, we travel together. That does not mean I won’t travel but have our business model of resellers is the only way a business can scale, delegate and drive global methodology with a local touch. It also means I can be at home.

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How to Jump Ahead of the Competition

How to Jump Ahead of the Competition

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Want to sell more than your competition and have more market share? Here’s how you do that.

Do a competitive analysis between you and your competition. Chalk up the amount you are spending on marketing and the number of salespeople you have. Now you will probably have to guess at the marketing spend and number of salespeople, but you should be able to guess and compare.

So you now have a table, comparing your you marketing spend and sales people with your competition.

The objective is to sell more than your competition? So How are you going to do this?

You could increase your marketing budget to be more than your competitor. You could recruit more sales people, to have more sales people than the competitor with the most salespeople. It’s that simple.

Now 9 people out of 10 who are reading this will say, there is no way I can have more marketing budget than my competition and there is no way I can have more sales people.  So what you going to do?

Simple.  You have to disrupt.

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Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

Four things you could be doing on Linkedin which stop you from being attractive to the C-Suite

by Adam Gray | @AGSocialMedia | LinkedIn

If you sell low priced things to junior people within an organisation then actually you don’t need to bother about your personal brand. What you do is probably pretty transactional and the buyer might not really care about doing too much due diligence. The further up within an organisation you need to be, the more difficult a task it is to look interesting to the people you need to engage.

Plenty or marketing automation type companies will give you a formulaic route to “drive registrations” or “optimise clickthrough” and whilst that may work for managers it certainly WILL NOT work for the CEO.

Selling at the top level within an organisation requires skill, patience and an ability to put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself “is what I am doing going to turn them on…or off.” Every “icon” you put in your headline or “click here to book a time” or “register now” button will turn away the very people that you want to engage.

You know it and I know it.

So what will work then? How can you get in front of the CEO on LinkedIn and have them take you seriously?

  1. You need a strong personal brand. Not a “landing page” or a “call to action” or an “advert” but a clear story about why the reader should like and trust and believe in them and in what you say. You can mention what you do and why this maters but remember – people buy from people so the thing that is really on sale here is you! 
  2. You need to have good behaviours. You need to be joining, taking part and leading (some of the) conversations and you need to be doing this regularly. It is highly unlikely that people will disconnect from you for sharing too much good content, more likely is that they don’t really know who you are at the moment (which is why they don’t comment or share or like the things that you post)
  3. Sharing your expertise. You need to be producing your own content – writing articles, shooting videos, sharing pictures. You don’t need to write 2000 word white papers or shoot studio quality films, but you do need to be creating original pieces of bitesized content to reinforce that you know what you are talking about rather than just re-sharing content written by others (although you should be doing this too of course). 
  4. You should have a clear process. Processes are vital because everyone needs to understand how to find, nurture and convert likely targets from prospects to clients and part of that process is ensuring that everything is up to date and you are “always online” being visible and having conversations.

So why would not doing these things make you less attractive to the C-Suite? Well, because they tend to be busy people. They do not have time to read and sift through a spammy profile full of pitches and platitudes, but they possibly do have time for a good story. They certainly don’t have time to scroll-back through hundreds of posts and perhaps but in to you.

If you do these things it’s highly likely you will notice a massive increase in the amount of visibility, conversations and therefore opportunities, that you have. It’s not magic, it’s just about being in the right place at the right time and the more you are “out there” virtually meeting and greeting people the more likely that is to happen. Rather like if you go to loads of events or business groups the chances are that opportunities will “just appear” because you will be front of mind and therefore people will mention you more often.

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Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

Why Social Isn’t Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Often we talk to people about social media, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and internal social such as Slack, Chatter, Yammer etc. People talk about them tactically, it’s all about arranging for your mates to meet at the pub, cat photos or taking photos of your lunch. Has anything changed? I had a comment on a LinkedIn post post today that mentioned that social was “Another Chocolate With a Different Wrapper”.

More than 4.1 billion people are now online, meaning that 54 percent of the world’s total population is using the internet in July 2018. The number of internet users around the world grew by eight percent over the past year, with growth boosted by accelerating adoption across Africa and South Asia.

The number of people using social media continues to grow at an impressive rate too, with the latest data showing that global users increased by 11 percent in the year to July 2018.

Roughly 300 million people came online in the twelve months to July 2018, equating to an average of almost 10 new users every second. With 328 million new users adopting social media in the past 12 months, we’re still seeing additions of almost one million new social media users every day, Well over 3.3 billion people now use social media each month, with at least 92 percent of them accessing social media via mobile devices. With 562 Million on the professional business network LinkedIn. This for a business is a massive network in which to target with your message.

We work with companies creating a social media strategy. This is often assumed to be something to do with marketing and about how much, what and what time they post. And there is the first mistake people often make, that Social is purely a tactic that marketing use, they post stuff and hope something happens.

If you start probing then companies will admit that social is in marketing, sales, customer service, human resources, procurement, Finance, I could go on. But the only department that people really “see” is marketing.

It’s watching the “penny drop” when you explain to people that social isn’t about, “sales” or about “marketing” in facts it’s about the whole of the business. Then when you explain how bringing all of these departments together under one strategy, that people start to see the power.

Humans are after all a naturally social bunch, ever since we started to make ourselves known on the Serengeti in Africa, we realised two things. 1. We need to keep moving and 2. We formed a team. And we have been forming tribes, unions, committees ever since. To be social to be human. Social media is just a natural extension of our natural need to communicate.

In my recent conversation I had on Digital Transformations when I asked why digital transformations failed the response was “siloed thinking”. So often I was told that IT did IT stuff, Marketing did Marketing stuff, Sales did Sales stuff, etc and it was the Board (C-Suite in the US) that needed to bring it all together.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

C-Level and Boards need to understand the power of social media. This is not about getting CFOs to Tweet, it is getting them to understand the business case and power of using social across the business. Increasing revenue and sales to increasing competitive advantage.

All Revolutions Start Through Small Changes

Getting your board (C-Suite) together for a day to take then through a number of exercises so they understand how the world has changed and how social media now powers businesses across the globe.

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