Sandler Training: Use Social Media to Sell More
by Dave Mattson, CEO and President of Sandler Training
In this session David Mattson, CEO of Sandler Sales Training, examines different methods whereby leaders can create an edge between themselves and their competitors. Based on information gathered from Sandler's training centres and previous content created by LinkedIn, Dave walks through 5 areas where leaders can increase effectiveness.
Hey, it's great to be at the Social Selling Summit. Hi, I'm Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler. We're an international consulting and training organization. What I'm going to do today is to take some best practices and talk about what you as leaders can do to increase the effectiveness of your teams using technology. Technology is all around us, so how do we make sure that our teams are utilizing what's important to become more effective and create a slight edge between you and your competitors?
So where are we getting this from? Well, I'm going to get our best practices from two sources. One is from our training centers. We've got over 265 training centers in 31 countries. So when it comes to digital and social selling and technology, we've got an awful lot of clients. As a matter of fact, 19,000 new clients a year go through. So we're capturing a lot of best practices in addition to sharing best practices that we've come up with in the areas of leadership, sales, sales management and customer services. So I'm going to take topics from our courses to share them with you today. The second place that I'm grabbing content for our presentation with you today is from our book on Sandler, The LinkedIn, using LinkedIn as sales people. LinkedIn is an awesome tool and we've really gone in with LinkedIn to co-write a book on how you can utilize all the tools and the effectiveness of LinkedIn from a sales perspective. And it was a great pleasure of mine to work with Koka Sexton, who is also presenting to you today. I'm a big fan of Koka's and so will you after you hear him. So this book is free on LinkedIn. So I'm going to grab some nuggets from this book and if you feel free, hey, download the book as you see fit.
So let's talk about some of the best practices. Number one, I want to make sure that you as leaders encourage the use of technology and digital tools. Now it sounds so simple, but yet when we talk to sales managers, it's not part of their DNA. Maybe they use it, maybe some of their team uses it, but it's not part of their everyday language. So what can we do to make sure that we encourage it as leaders? Well, one is we could be north of 500. In our LinkedIn book, we suggest that sales people should have great connections. That doesn't mean that you should connect with 500 people that you don't know, obviously, but it should be top of mind. You want to always make sure it's part of your process. When you meet people, make sure that you reach out and connect with them. If you've met with somebody and they have a connection that's in the same organization but you didn't have a chance to meet with them, make sure that you widen your network.
So as leaders, you want to ask some questions. You want to ask your team, "Hey, how many good connections did you get today or this week?" You want to make sure that they're always thinking about it. See, I think in technology, there's three groups of people. There's one that probably don't use technology or LinkedIn in this case and they don't know what to do. Second group probably spends way too much time utilizing those tools hoping that it replaces the actual face-to-face selling. And the third group, they kind of don't know what to do. So I think with your guidance as a leader, you can help them by saying, "Connections are important."
Second thing that you want to make sure that you do is to make sure it's part of their daily activities. So what does that mean? I think that if you create a recipe for success when it comes to use of technology, it will become muscle memory for people. So in my world, as an example, I want to make sure that we do a couple things. I tell my team, "Spend about 30 minutes every single day on LinkedIn." That gives them some parameters. That doesn't allow them to spend nine hours on LinkedIn. There's no reason to do that. And it helps those who probably wouldn't have paid attention to just make sure that they're immersed in the tool.
So I set some guidelines but I want to make sure that it's part of their daily DNA. And as a leader, you can control that. We have something at Sandler called a "cookbook." If you were to ask top performing sales people, "What do you do every single day to be successful?" they should have a list, "I do these ten things every day." That list should be able to be by day, by week, by month, by quarter. If we become animals of habit, we'll be far more successful and we'll be proactive, because most sales people, unfortunately, don't have a recipe for success and therefore are reactive. That's why creating a daily list of activities, which include leveraging technology, is a key.
Here's another one that I put in their activities. Ask for a certain amount of referrals or introductions every week. I'm going to talk to you about that in a second. How about tools in the sales process when it comes to technology? If your company is like my company, we have tools. I know in my world I've got a gap analysis where organizations and individuals go on and they can take an assessment, which will identify some of the gaps that they have when it comes to selling or managing or dealing with customers. That's a really good tool. I also have an ROI calculator, where customers or buyers can go and figure out what's the return on investment if they were into invest in Sandler. We have a number of tools throughout the process.
I also have webpages behind the scenes where you have to actually sign in as a buyer. I can tell what you've looked at and what you've done. But do you have these things too? And chances are your sales force is not using them as effectively as you want them to use. So what do you do? You've got to make sure through your coaching, through your training that they're utilizing those. I know when people are using the gap assessment in my world and using the ROI calculator, they're engaged and when they're engaged, my close rate goes up. So as a leader, I make sure it's in the front of mind of my people. I'll ask things like this: "How did they end up liking the ROI calculator?" And so we introduced them to the gap analysis, "How did they do?" or "What was the response when you did this?" And by asking those questions on a repetitive basis tells your people that it's important and if you know that it's a slight edge for you and your company, figure out what that is and make sure that it's part of your talk track. Lastly, make sure it's part of your debrief. As leaders, you can change culture of your organization by have standardize debrief questions. I know when I first worked for Dave Sandler, he gave me 10 questions and he said, "David, I'm not going to be on every call that you go on but the calls that we do talk about, I'm going to ask you these 10 questions." And I looked at those questions and I ask some of them all the time and I ask some of them maybe some of the time. But if I thought Dave Sandler was going to ask me those questions every time we debriefed a call, guess what I did? I asked them every single time.
And so having those technology focused questions as part of your debrief will help send the signal to your team that it's important and it will become part of their muscle memory and their DNA. Regardless, you should create a list of debrief questions, publish it and give it your sales force. That way there's no mystery about what you're going to ask to better understand deals and to help them close those. That is a great tactic out of our sales management program, which you should implement immediately but certainly when it comes to technology and social selling.
So I've got another best practice. Ask for introductions. Remember I told you to create as part of their list of activities, the number of introductions or referrals that they get every week. You should have a goal. I know at my company, our sales people have five per week that they're responsible for getting. That's the number. Now do some get more? Yes, they do. Are there weeks where maybe you're on vacation and you don't get five? Probably. But at the end of the month, you're going to owe me 20.
So here's how this works. I know in my world, and so I'm sure it's the same with you, that referrals have a much higher close rate than somebody we don't know. So what do we do? I want to make sure that when I'm connected to somebody that I know, I want to look at the list of their connections and I'm going to proactively ask for introductions. And so I'll go in to, let's say, Mary Smith, and I know Mary Smith is an executive vice-president of sales for a technology company, I know that that our sweet spot, and I see that she's connected with Bill Matthews, who is an EVP of a technology organization. So I'll simply send Mary an email: "Mary, how well do you know Bill? If you know him well, would you feel comfortable introducing us knowing what I've done and the types of problems that I solve and companies that I work with? I'd love an introduction. I've attached a brief introduction letter. If you'd like to use it as a template, feel free."
So what have I done? I've proactively looked for people who I want to do business with that are connected to my connections. Second thing that I've done is I've been proactive. Third thing that I've done is I've set a goal. If I just say, "Hey, go for referrals, go for introductions," chances are we'll get to it when we can and that's a problem. This way I can monitor my proactive activities to make sure it's part of my prospecting plan, which is a different set of activities necessary to generate enough first time conversations to blow through my numbers. And I know that I need those types of LinkedIn referrals to hit my numbers. So I've also made it easy by giving my connection a quick letter that they can edit. Remember, make it easy for those that you're connected with. People love to edit but they hate to create, so let them edit something.
Here's what happens. If Mary knows Bill, she'll say, "Yeah, no problem." She probably takes your letter that you've attached, made some minor tweaks and forwards that letter onto Bill. They always CC you. Now at that point in time, Bill will then respond saying, "Hey, thanks, Mary. Yeah, I'm not sure whether Dave can help us or not but certainly be happy to have a conversation." Once that occurs, now it's in my ballpark. First of all, when Bill hits respond, I have his contact information, which is awesome. I've got his phone number probably on the bottom of his email signature. I've got his email address. And I start that conversation. I have found that that's the best way to have net new conversations with people that you want to do business with. My connections, my customers are happy to help me. The problem that I have is they don't think of me as much as I think of me. So therefore, I have to make it easy for them and be proactive. That's what asking for introductions and referrals will do for you. If you're not proactively setting a goal for you and your team, you really should be doing that immediately.
Here is the third best practice, pre-call planning. Look, you've read the studies as much as I have. You know that over 50% of the buyers may have already progressed through the sales process much farther than they did 15 years ago. A sales professional 15 years ago, his job was to educate. Now buyers are self-educating themselves and chances are they've done enough due diligence prior to talking to you that they're a lot further along that they ever, ever were in the past.
So here's some rules. Number one, if they're doing pre-call planning, which they are, you should too. It's just good business. At Sandler, we say that if your call of 60 minutes with a buyer, you should spend 50% of that time or 30 minutes in a pre-call planner. You should be thinking about your conversation, your sales call before it happens. Just because you have 25 years of experience doesn't give you the right to wing it. I've found lots of sales people subscribe to the school of "I know. I've been doing this a long time. I'm an expert. I'll wing it." And that's unacceptable. So spend the time ahead of time thinking about your buyer.
Now how do we leverage technology? Well, there's some things that you could be doing. You certainly could be Googling that particular person that you're meeting. You'd be surprised what pops up. You could go on the company website. You could be going into the LinkedIn account and figuring out who they're connected with and what's going on. That's really important. I know in my world, as an example, we were going to meet with a decision maker of a committee looking to buy training, only to find out that she followed our competitors. That was one of her groups and she was an active member actually. And so she was never going to pick Sandler. That wasn't going to happen. Although they said it was true, that actually helped shape our call to level the playing field. The end result for us is that we gracefully bowed out of that opportunity because we realized we were the third and the policy said they needed one of three. It saved us a ton of time but that pre-call plan really did help.
What would you cover in a pre-call plan? Lots of things, things like: What's the goal of my call? What did I do as far as research on LinkedIn and Google? You may want to say, "What are the top three questions that I'm going to ask and what questions may be asked of me?" And you're going to talk a little bit about, "Hey, here are the things that I want to make sure that we cover." So those are some of the big picture things but you should create a pre-call planner for yourself. Everybody has them. We have them. You have them. Make sure that you use them.
Our next best practice is to utilize technology throughout the process. And again, sounds really intuitive but oftentimes as leaders, we're not stressing that. Here's what I mean by that. In the beginning, I've already suggested that you should Google companies, Google what they're doing. I even start to go within Google and look at the trends. In social media, I'm looking at sites where X employees mention about what's going on in the company, gives me some insights. I certainly am all over LinkedIn. Throughout the process, when I'm in a committee or an enterprise-type selling situation, I'm actually doing due diligence on all the influencers, even if I don't have day to day contact. What you would uncover in that environment is far more than you could on a sales call. So we use it prior to engagement. We use it during engagement to better understand who's who and what's what.
We also send blogs on specific topics to different people in the buying process. You've got a ton of stuff on your website and that's being done about your company. Pick and choose the topics that are appropriate to different buyers within your accounts. We also do a drip campaign. So I've got all my buyers, I've got all my prospects, and I drip them on different topics. So my leaders, I'm dripping them on leadership. Sales manager, I'm going to drip content on sales management. But you could do the same thing. It's impossible, as a sales person, that we can follow up as much as we need to. A lot of this may be built in to your CRM product but drip them. Listen, people may not buy today but when they are ready, you'll be top of mind. For us, we always have a log-on for web content. I always have my buyers that are engaged with us go to a separate site, which they have to login to. Now it tells me what they're looking at and who did they forward that information onto. Oftentimes they're forwarding it on to decision makers that I had no idea they were even in the picture. So use it throughout the process. Leverage the tools that you currently have.
Our final best practice, which is know your numbers. Listen, everyone has a CRM, technology or social selling. Everyone's got LinkedIn too. But if you're not utilizing it, you really should. Most sales managers, most sales leaders do not leverage their CRM product the way that they should, and there's a bunch out there. And we utilize and our clients utilize a lot of them. Regardless of the one that you're using, you need to make sure it's part of your weekly coaching calls, NT meetings. Use the data that's in the CRM as the reference point for your meetings. Same with your coaching; know your numbers. You need to know your ratios. First call to second call, second call the proof of concept, proof of concept to close, whatever it is for you. The important part is you have to have those gates. And if you're coaching me and I worked for you, if my ratios aren't what they should be, then either I'm not doing enough activity or I've got a problem, which means I've got a skill problem. You could coach me with laser guided "whoosh" right accuracy on the issue that I have versus saying, "So what's going on?" That's a complete waste of time. In today's sales management, we are managing way too many people. So you've got to be right in there. That also sends the message to me that I'd better use that CRM because you're asking me questions. Most of the time, and you've heard it a million times, people look behind, in the rear view mirror, with their CRM product. It can be used as the greatest coaching tool of all time and it'll identify areas that you should be training in.
Here's how you can tell whether your team has process. If your CRM is disconnected to what goes on in the real world, we're going to have problems. I think your team has to have a consistent sales methodology regardless of what it is. The way that you can check, as a leader, is to sit down at your next sales meeting and ask everybody to take out a clean piece of paper. Ask them to write down in big picture the steps that they follow from the time that they have a unique conversation to the time they're selling additional products and services to their clients. Just have them box it out, maybe five to six boxes on a piece of paper. If the team has a consistent approach, you are really well off. But I have found 86% of the organizations, it's all over the place. So think about that for a second. That means that technology can't be leveraged because every person on your team has a unique approach to the sales process. That's like me going in to organizations and there's like 70,000 versions of the PowerPoints because every sales rep has their own version of PowerPoint and they don't share it. It's almost like a rite of passage where the veterans have this really great collage of the best of the best, which they have on their own computer and the new people are trying to figure it out.
So in order to leverage it, you got to make sure that everyone's on the same page, that you have consistency. It's creating a culture and that's really important. So think about what we've talked about here today. First make sure it's part and you're stressing that you're leveraging technology, that you're asking for introductions and referrals, that you know your numbers, that you're doing the things that we talked about in order to leverage technology.
If you have an opportunity, please go to sandler.com. We're in every major metropolitan city around the world and do a couple things. Please download the LinkedIn book that we wrote with Koka and hopefully you'll enjoy Koka's presentation and/or come to our center. Be my guest. Sit in a Sandler program as my guest. You'll see all of our training centers. Sit in. Enjoy our session on me. I appreciate being part of this opportunity and to visit with you all today. Hopefully we'll have a chance to meet in the future. Until then, good selling.