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You cannot trademark the taste of cheese

You cannot trademark the taste of cheese

by Alex Low | @Alexander_Low | LinkedIn

Sitting on the Northern line of an evening having just presented to 200 or so fee earners at a Big 4 accountants firm, we had a robust debate on the “framework” of our approach to a good digital profile.

“If everyone follows that framework, then you all look the same”

Here is why I disagree with this.

Frameworks are open for interpretation. However, you are dictated to by a certain degree by the social platform choice as to how can present yourself. That is the framework within which you have to work, be it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snacpchat, Wechat, Twitter, Weibo. What you can be in control of is how you present yourself.

Your language, style, content.

Your “voice” or Personality which makes you the unique person you are. The reason people like you (or don’t) and why people buy into you. This is also all hugely subjective. How you perceive me, based on my LinkedIn profile alone will be unique. I could ask 10 people what my profile says to them, I guarantee there will be 10 different answers. Again, this is ok.  Ultimately, your Digital Profile is merely a book mark for someone to remember where to find you on which ever social platform you are on.

The story you tell is where your true voice can be heard. That is what will get your audience to understand who the real you is.

I welcome robust debate when working through LinkedIn profiles. It means the audience, i.e. you, are thinking about it and challenging your own perceptions of what is being debated. This is what I, we at Digital Leadership Associates do – challenge the status quo. This isn’t LinkedIn training or 101 Social Media – this is winning hearts and minds of the organisation, bringing you on a journey of digital sales transformation.

So what on earth has got to do with the trademark of the taste of cheese? Firstly, who knew that someone would even try & trademark a “taste” – surprise, surprise, you cannot

Thanks to Maninder Gillat SMB, I was made aware of this. I love cheese. Which is a hugely subjective debate, as is the taste of food more generally. We all have unique palates.

The cheese, wine, steak or whatever food it is you like, I may not. And vice versa. This good. No great. If we all conformed to the same view a la the opening scene to Lego – The Movie “Everything is Awesome” for those that have seen it. I am sorry, and for those that haven’t. Here you go. (apologies if this is now stuck in your head on repeat…)

However, there will be a general consensus (framework) on which we base our tastes – the same applies to your Digital Profiles, there needs to be a general framework within which to work – much like the recipe of cheese – it is how you choose to use the ingredients of your content and story to create a palatable taste for your audience.

Whether you agree with our framework or not, the point is this:

I want you to do is think differently about how you present your digital self. In order to that, I will challenge you on how you think about this.

On whatever digital platform you choose to be on. 

You are unique. 

Bring this to life.

Don’t just be another, Sales, Marketing, Recruitment, Lawyer, Accountant, Consultant etc on social. 

You may not be able trademark the taste of cheese, you can trademark you.

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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 3 Failures We Made in our Social Selling Project

The 3 Failures We Made in our Social Selling Project

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

At my previous company, we took the salesforce through a sales transformation, at the time we were under massive competitive pressure as well as making the move from on premise to cloud.  To do this we “ripped up” the existing processes and completely rebuilt sales from the ground up.

In terms of competitive pressure, while we thought a sales cycle was 18 months, we took on a salesman from a competitor that closed at the first meeting. Sales cycles dropped from 18 months, to 6 months to 8 weeks over a period of about 6 months. So how did we decide to respond to this?

This involved 2,000 sales people, 2,000 pre-sales (sales consulting) and 20,000 partners, across Europe.

Over the time we made a number of failures, we thought through the use of social selling and the fact that sales people can sell more for less effort they would be all over it like a rash.  Wrong.

Failure 1.

We got profile writers in, don’t all social gurus say you need a great profile…. and guess what? We got the guest profile writers in and nothing happened!

In fact people who were not chosen to have a profile writer, just cut and paste the “pucker”* profiles and used them for their Linkedin profiles. The whole point of social selling is differentiation and we paid a load of money, just for everybody to look the same. Did it change behaviour, of course not. There are still people with those profile, see if you can spot them!

Failure 2.

We organised a webinar, invited everybody and … nothing happened.

While the webinar was on, while I was sitting in an open plan office, I looked up and watched people who were supposed to be listening to the webinar. Doing email, eating lunch, doing approvals, you name it. Webinars are a great way to catch up on admin after all. While this wasn’t a waste of money as we didn’t use outside suppliers, it was a waste of time. 

Failure 3.

Next we ran Linkedin training to train people on the tool and guess what? …. nothing happened. Training people on a tool is in effect, knowledge sharing and we have all been on a course where we learn some new knowledge and then go back to our desks and the phone rings and we forget everything were taught. The demos just showed screens flicking in front of our eyes, no context to how we worked. While this wasn’t a waste of money as Linkedin did it as part of our contract, it was a waste of time. 

Why The Failure?

After each of these failed attempts at getting the salesforce interested in social selling people would come up to me in the corridor and say, “you know I was sitting in the session and saying “i got it” I didn’t.”

It wasn’t lack of motivation, people were up for learning something new, especially something that could enable you to sell more for less effort.  Some even wanted to sell even more, for the same effort. Everybody, got it was a tool and can press the right buttons, but people were scared. They would never admit that in a class, but here was a new and different way of working.  So often we place our own view of life and expect people to have the same frame of reference.

Social Selling is about Mindset Change

The secret sauce we missed was that this is about change, change in the way we work and change in mindset. What do we mean?

Sales has changed in the last 20 years, from sending letters, email, cold calling, in the past

 it was all about interrupting people and then broadcasting your message. How many cold calls have your received and the product or service they were selling was totally irrelevant to you.

Nobody gets up in the morning and says “first thing I need to do is talk to an aggressive and manipulative sales person.”

Learning from Failure

Here at Digital Leadership Associates (DLA) we have a program that works. And we know this from the failures of the past. It’s not about ticking a box, or knowledge transfer, this is a social selling program that promotes the habit change companies need to meet the challenges and disfunction of the modern buyer.

*London slang for amazing. 

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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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Pick a number, any number – as long as it’s 70

Pick a number, any number – as long as it’s 70

by Phil Stubbs | @PhilStubbs14 | LinkedIn

Let’s pick a number from the picture – 70

What do we know about the number 70?

  • In Olympic archery, the targets are 70 meters from the archers
  • 70 miles per hour is the national speed limit in the United Kingdom for cars and motorcycles on the best grades of road
  • In certain cases, copyrights expire after 70 years
  • 70 is the atomic numberof ytterbium, a lanthanide
  • The seventh pentagonal number
  • The number 70 is introspective and wise
  • The numerology number 70 is a number of introspection and inner wisdom. It has seemingly infinite potential
  • The energy the number 70 represents is perceptive and astute
  • In sales? Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index should be at least 70

Don’t know what the Social Selling Index is?

Your LinkedIn Social Selling Index (SSI) measures how effective you are at establishing your professional brand, finding the right people, engaging with insights, and building relationships. You can find yours by clicking on the link in this article Your score is updated daily giving you opportunities to improve!

So, if yours in under 70 then you aren’t being active enough on social and LinkedIn. Why be active on LinkedIn? Because:

590,000,000+ users globally

25,000,000+ users in the UK

154,000,000+ users in the United States of America

According to LinkedIn’s B2B blog, 61 million LinkedIn users are senior-level influencers, and 40 million are in decision-making positions.

If your SSI is 50-60 you can hit 70 by doing what you should be doing – using LinkedIn and Sales Navigator as a prospecting and relationship building tool – helping you start conversations. If you are scoring under 50 – leave sales and do something else or keep your head down, before your boss notices and work on your personal brand and network.

If you have LinkedIn Sales Navigator and your score is under 70, maybe you are in the wrong job as you are wasting your companies money.

Are you a Sales VP or CEO? Ever checked the SSI of your team? Do it and make sure they all hit 70+.

Or you could sit around make excuse after excuse and then be the first to complain when a competitor that’s active on social starts winning business from you.

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