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Why I Prospect at Night – The Death of Prime Selling Time (PST)

Why I Prospect at Night – The Death of Prime Selling Time (PST)

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

When I first started selling I was given a computer printer out, elephant toilet paper, it was called in those days. “Here you go” Renata, the Marketing person said, “call this”.

I was talking to one of our customers today, who are in the process of implementing a social selling program, he is a sales leader and he started prospecting in his career the same way. Of course in those days Linkedin didn’t exist, neither did the internet or email. Your only tool was the telephone and you used this to move around a company.

There was a whole industry built up on hints and tips on how to manipulate your way to the decision maker. Call at 08:00 AM as the gatekeepers won’t have arrived in work yet. Call the sales department and then get one of the salespeople to put you through as an internal call. Etc etc. The thing was you had to do this all within prime selling time (PST). Even Jeb Blount the author of “Fanatical Prospecting” talks about blocking out time in your day for prospecting.

While talking to another one of our clients recently, he said to me “I do all my prospecting at night”.

The world has changed since Jeb’s book, so while blocking out time for prospecting and a prosecuting culture is great counsel, in the world of social, you can do prospecting 24 hours a day. And for global companies like ours, in fact every minutes of the day clients are awake and asleep.

The World Has Changed and PST is 24 Hours a day

I’m not saying you need to work 24 hours a day, it’s just that the use for social media means we are able to manage our time and manage the time we spend prospecting. And of course there are no gate keepers on social, so you are able to get straight through to people. Here are some tips before you start being chief spammer.

  1. Buyer Centric Profile – You need to update your Linkedin profile, don’t forget while you may be the nicest person in the world if you approach me and you look like a spammer, then you will be treated like one. Think about who your buyer is, what are their needs, wants and how they think. Nobody wakes up in the morning and says “first thing I want to do today is talk to a quota crushing salesperson”. Buyers are looking for an expert, somebody can help and guide them. Somebody they can trust, somebody that has an opinion about the things that matter to that buyer. Not a corporate robot. Make sure your LinkedIn profile appeals to buyers and as well as getting a response when you approach them, you will start to get inbound.
  2. Share Relevant Content – Buyers are looking for an expert that can help them. Share relevant content, about your sector, things that will interest your buyers. Be interesting and be insightful. Don’t just post an article or a video, post some context that will guide the reader.
  3. Inmails are the equivalent of a cold call on a social network, don’t use them. Inmail are just another form of outbound, if you want to connect with somebody then send them a connection request. Always write a reason why you want to connect.
  4. Do Not Pitch – When you connect with somebody do not immediately pitch to them. That’s exactly what a cold call is. People are happy to connect, but you need to build up trust and gain rapport first. As Gary Vee says “give more than you get”. In Gary Vee’s book “Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook” he explains that everybody expects people to pitch immediately there is a connect on social media, the right hook and so everybody ducks. People buy from people they like, so you need to get people to like you first.

Having the ability to meet customers during the day without the need to block out time to prospect during the day is a massive leap forward in terms of effectiveness and productivity. In other words prime selling time (PST) is now customer facing time and prospecting can now be blocked out and planned in outside of PST.

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The 4 Technologies That Killed Transactional Recruitment Process

The 4 Technologies That Killed Transactional Recruitment Process

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

We’ve all been there, the telephone call from the recruiter, pitching a job that we are not interested in. We often forget that recruitment is a numbers game. Recruiters have to make so many calls, to get an interview and have so many interviews to get an offer. It’s all finely calculated, like a well oiled machine.

But like everything in the world recruitment is being disrupted and the winners will be those that see the change and don’t leave it to the last moment to change.

There are 4 trends that will disrupt Recruitment in 2019, they are:-

  • Diversity
  • New Interviewing techniques
  • Data
  • Artificial Intelligence 

Diversity and Inclusion, have gone from a “nice to have” to being front and central to an organisation. Companies must have employees that reflect a multi-cultural society, not because its political correct, which it is. But because diverse organisations are more innovative. It was Admiral Nelson that found out that tasks could be completed more effectively and efficiently by having a diverse team working on it. This has been a fundamental of the Navy ever since. In a recent Linkedin report 63% of companies use diversity to improve company performance.

It’s not just Millennials that want a sense of belonging, I (Generation X) always wanted this and you can soon disengage and leave if you don’t get this.

In a recent LinkedIn report that said “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance and belonging is dancing like no one is watching.”

New Interviewing Techniques

I was once called up by a company, they said they were looking for people that would be different, inject some change in a culture and could I send them a CV. I sent them a CV as an Infographic, they called back and said did I have a “normal” CV, I politely let the recruiter down. It was clear they were not really looking for a difference.

Most interviews and interview techniques have become a cliché. People are coached to answer the same old, same old questions. Often an interview is a formality and certainly it never gets to the “real” person.

With the new model the LinkedIn profile is key. The mistake that people make with the LinkedIn profile is that it’s CV. A list of objectives. Hirers are looking for the LinkedIn profile to describe the person, who they are, what they stand for.

Think of your LinkedIn profile like a book in a library, you don’t read the whole book, you are the summary, the reviews, that is how you get a sense for the book, then you read the whole thing. The same goes for the LinkedIn profile, I’m not looking for a corporate robot that is “Energetic, Tenacious, etc” we are all that. I’m looking for the real you.


Data has often been called the new oil. While companies have a social media strategy, a privacy policy they also need a talent data strategy too. One of the issues with data, is data privacy and the GDPR regulations which means that holding people data that are not your employees require you to get opt-in. One such tool that gets around GDPR (as people have input data into LinkedIn under their own free will) is the LinkedIn Talent Insights tool.

To quote a recent LinkedIn report “One of Nielsen’s businesses tapped its People Analytics team to understand why it was losing talent. Starting with five years of people data in a (big) spreadsheet and some hypotheses, they identified the factors most highly correlated with attrition. The biggest finding was that employees with a change in job responsibilities due to promotion or lateral movement within the past two years were much less likely to leave. This insight prompted Nielsen’s leadership to focus on making it easier for employees to learn about and pursue jobs internally and identifying “at-risk” high performers and proactively putting opportunities in front of them.”

Artificial Intelligence

While in a recent LinkedIn report, 76% of people said that AI would have an impact on recruitment. We ran a workshop on AI in recruitment and in my team the opinion was split, 50% of the people wanted AI to take a load of CVs and spit out a candidate and the other 50% said, no way they every wanted that to happen. Currently AI is being deployed to take the grunt work out and allow you to concentrate on the higher added value work like interviewing and picking the right candidates. AI is not replacing you, it’s empowering you. In a recent report by Linkedin, they mapped value add with human touch Vs automation potential and got this matrix.

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How Legislation, Technology and Desperation Killed Cold Calling

How Legislation, Technology and Desperation Killed Cold Calling

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

We’ve all been there, your phone rings and somebody starts pitching to you, something you don’t need and something you don’t want. We all sign when we have been hit by the cold caller. I’m not sure about about you, but the instances of this is getting less and less. We certainly think it’s because of the following 5 reasons:-

  1.  Legislation – Because of GDPR first you need to have a legitimate reason to hold my data. Let’s not forget that holding my data means you are responsible and accountable for that data and you are liable for fines of 4% of turnover. That salesman lost laptop could cost you dearly.
  2. Sales is Pull not Push – In the past you could call me and call me and call me. GDPR stops you doing this as I can ask for the right to remain forgotten and back to those 4% fines. You can no longer push somebody down the sales funnel. Exactly the same with email. This has required sales teams to have to rethink the way they sell. Selling has therefore had to flip from push to pull.
  3. Technology – Anybody who cold calls me I block using standard iPhone functionality. The same with unsolicited emails. Back to GDPR and those 4% of turnover fines.
  4. Desperation – I know why you are cold calling, you know why you are cold calling, the person you are calling knows why you are cold calling. Because you don’t have enough leads and meetings. It’s like hanging a large sign outside your company stating “we are crap at sales and marketing”. You are actually announcing to the world you are crap at sales and your marketing department has no ideas. Amazing thing to continually want to admit to the outside world.
  5. Common Sense – Receptionists and gate keepers are there to stop you getting through. I’m not saying that cold calling isn’t a prospecting method, I’m aware of people that use it to sell low value products, low down in the organisation. Which is fine, while many of this transaction selling will move to self service, there is still a new for transactional based selling. The 5. realities of cold calling above still apply.

In the world that I live which is B2B (Business to Business) Enterprise sales, cold calling died over two years ago, which is why there has been such a success with social selling across so many verticals.

People like us are social selling, maybe it’s time to investigate this further?

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Why as a Salesman I Taught Myself to Market and You Need to Learn Too (As a Matter of Urgency)

Why as a Salesman I Taught Myself to Market and You Need to Learn Too (As a Matter of Urgency)

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

In the world of Sales there seems to be a view that certain activities are good and certain activities are bad. When they are bad for some reason you are a lesser person for doing this. And as sales so often is linked to a macho, it seems I am a lesser man for doing these things.

I’ve always been a new business salesperson, the notion of creating something from nothing and enabling a customer to get business benefit appeals to me. I remember my first £1Million plus ($1.3 Million) sale was at Stagecoach. I had no help from Marketing. My background is in selling Enterprise Accounting systems or ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) as suppliers like to call it.

A couple of us were sitting in the office, we had a copy of the Financial Times (a UK newspaper focused on business) and we were looking down the stock market listings and we were going through which company had which ERP system. When we got to Stagecoach, nobody knew, so I called them up and the rest is history.

New Business meant I was “out there”, there was no existing relationships, no understanding of the procurement cycles, your role was alchemy. The ability to create gold from nothing. Some people have used the term Rainmaker, but living in the UK I have enough of the rain.

You are Only as Good As Your Last Deal

I’ve head this saying many times and in a way it’s true. As a new business guy I needed leads and meetings and maybe it’s just the companies I worked for but Marketing didn’t ever seem to deliver any, or enough.

In one sales role, on listening to me cold calling a (supposedly older and wiser) sales guy came over and told me I was wasting my time. It was marketing’s job to create leads. I was cold calling when he was called into the office and fired.

Creating Leads from Nothing

As creating leads from nothing was a constant for me, otherwise I would have nothing to close. One of the many tactics I employed was to read as many marketing books that I could. Marketing create leads don’t they, so if I read marketing books I will unlock the knowledge on how to create leads. Alas, no secrets and while I did find out a lot about marketing, I even did a course, I didn’t find out anything I didn’t know already.

So What’s The Secret of Leads and Meetings

The secret is graft or today people call it hustle, hard work pays and in sales, hard work pays well. You have to take control of the lead generation process yourself as there is nobody out there that will help you. Prospecting is key for the sales person and a prospecting culture is critical for any sales leader.

So Cold Calling is the Answer then?

The problem is, that 20 years ago, the world was so much similar. No internet, no mobile, no social media and in fact 20 years ago, there still wasn’t mass acceptance of email.

All of us, as all of us are buyers won’t stand for being interrupted and pitched at by salespeople or adverts or unsolicited email and we don’t go to events as it’s just people pitching. Add to that legislation like GDPR that has killed email marketing and certainly killed push selling. What I mean by that is continually calling somebody asking them to buy. You cannot do that anymore. We also have technology to help us, ad-blockers use grows at 30% year-on-year, if you send me an unsolicited email once, I just create a rule so any future emails go straight into junk or just block you. The same is with cold calls, standard iPhone functionality allows me to block future cold calls.

This is the challenge that marketers are facing every day. The only way they can get the same results next year is to throw more mud and budget at the problem. Marketing is broken and if you don’t see any leads today, you will get less tomorrow and vent less the year after.

Nobody is Coming to Save You!

In Sales nobody can hear you scream, we have CMO after CMO coming to us and saying “Marketing no longer works”. So as a Salesperson what are going to do?

You have to seize control of your own demand generation. This does not make you a lesser salesperson, in fact the opposite, it will propel you into the top tier. You have to get on social. Either you need to get your management to sponsor a social selling program or you need to read a book like “Social Selling – Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers” available on Amazon and is written has a handbook for sales people.

Marketing is broken and the sooner you do this, the better equipped you will be to meet the new challenges of an ever changing market. 

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Is Your Social Selling Training Company Focused on Inbound?

Is Your Social Selling Training Company Focused on Inbound?

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

What is Inbound?

Inbound is the notion that rather than getting leads and meeting through outbound means, such as advertising, cold calling, unsolicited emails, etc. You undertake a strategy or tactics to obtain leads through inbound. In otherwords, your prospects come to you. 

As an aside, Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) does no outbound marketing. We get all of our leads through inbound.

Let’s look at the way sales and marketing used to work. You called somebody up, you get them interested in your proposition. You push for a demo, you push for a user visit etc, etc. You literally push them them down the funnel.

If we take the IBM qualification metric of BANT (Budget, Authority, Need and Timescale). The first call, the person you call is not BANT qualified. They don’t know about your product, it’s your job as sales and marketing professionals to create desire. But as you push the prospect down the funnel your task as a salesperson is to get more and more BANT measurement.

If you are lucky, maybe you called in high enough so maybe the person has Authority, during discovery maybe you can confirm Need. But further pushing and maybe a business case is required for budget and timescale.

Of course, if you didn’t get in high enough then maybe you still need to get Authority.

Flip that on it’s head. The world has changed, the internet, social media and mobile has given power to buyers. No longer do people need to sit and wait for your call, they can go online and do research themselves

In the past people would have phoned up a company and asked for a brochure, now they can go online and decide whom the short list should be, without you knowing. 

So how about we get these people who are looking for your products and services to contact you? That would be pretty neat?

The good news is that these people are searching on the internet and social media so as long as you are visible you should hook a few. Just a reminder, nobody likes being pitched at, the same reason why your outbound marketing isn’t working, so a few tips.

  1. You social profile needs to buyer centric. Put yourself in the shoes of your buyers, what is it would they be looking for? Not a heavy hitting salesman, somebody that can help them perhaps? An expert?
  2. Share and write insightful content. Let’s not forget that your buyers are looking for an expert not a corporate robot. So content should be interesting, insightful and educational. People ignore corporate content, we ignore it.
  3. Have a strong network so people share and amplify your content. Then you are more likely to be found by those prospects, better still, you should get referrals.

The difference with inbound is that these people will already have looked at others, worked out their requirements, probably even has an understanding of budget. In otherwise they should be fully BANT. Free leads that are full BANT sounds like magic? Here at DLA we are doing it and so can you. People like us Social Sell.

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Why Leaving Sales Voice Mails is a Waste of Time

Why Leaving Sales Voice Mails is a Waste of Time

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

I was reading the other day an article on LinkedIn about how if you hire this guy, he will craft you an amazing voice mail, that will not only allow you to articulate your value proposition, but will get people to return your calls. (NB: I write calls in the plural as he wrote calls in the plural, versus, a call in the single.)

So let me get this straight there are people that actually return cold call voice mails? For real?

So let’s set the record straight, I don’t return voice mails. I’ll be honest, that I get very few cold calls nowadays, partly because I block everybody that calls me and partly as GDPR legislation means you cannot hold my details in the first place. Making cold calling pretty irrelevant.

But for the sakes of argument, (and this blog) I do get a cold call, would I return a voice mail? No, of course not. Nobody gets up in the morning and says “today I want to talk to an aggressive sales person, who will take me through a manipulative script so I am tricked into buying something I don’t want”. After all, isn’t the internet there to enable you to search for products and services in “sales avoidance” mode?

Why would I want to talk with a manipulative salesperson who will try and sell me something I don’t want and don’t need? But then I got thinking.

I get emails from people in Africa that have a fortune they need to smuggle out of the country and people obviously reply to them, otherwise they would stop. So there must be gullible people that thinking returning voice mails must be some sort of civic duty or something.

Or maybe it’s just people within the “bubble” of sales and marketing. I was in a meeting with a Marketing Director today and she said she clicked on banner ads. But then she only admitted, she did this for professional reasons. She followed up the statement by saying, of course, nobody clicks on banner ads anymore.

I wonder, therefore, that maybe it’s just sales people who have a professional interest that return these calls. Or vested interests who have (as this “sales guru” did) a reason to make you want to think that leaving voice mails generate you business, in fact cold calling has some amazing output in today’s internet, social media and mobile powered world.

Here are 5 reasons why leaving voice mails are a waste of time:-

  1. I’m not interested in your products and services, if I was I would look them up on social.
  2. Interrupting me, in fact interrupting anymore in today’s hyper fast world will only lead you to piss them off. We are all busy and interrupting me and then broadcasting me your message does just that, pisses me off.
  3. Leaving me a voice mail as part of your cold calling allows me to realise our desperate your company has become. We all know why you are cold calling, it’s because you have no leads and meetings. And you decide to broadcast that your company is a loser to everybody. Totally bizarre.
  4. Legislation such as GDPR means that you are no longer able to hold by data to call me unless you have good reason to do this. I can then ask (and i will) for my right to remain forgotten. If you call me again I will report you to the ICO and expect them to enforce 4% of turnover fines. This is the same wherever you are in the world. GDPR is enforceable (if you call me as I reside in Europe) globally.
  5. Technology is such that standard iPhone functionality means I can and will block you.

I get that a sales guru that teaches you how to leave great voice mails won’t make a living, but maybe, just maybe, their time in sales is up?

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