Social Learning - Sales People Using Social Media

by Jim Keenan, A Sales Guy

Social Learning - Sales People Using Social Media

Keenan talks about how sales reps can use social media to grow within their industry and grow as a leader. Jim suggests that the more that you know about your competitive environment the better you will be at your job. Industry knowledge, product comprehension and becomming more intimate with your target market can all be done through social and Keenan will tell you how.

Webinar Transcript

Keenan: Hey, hey, peeps, what is going on? It is Keenan. Thank you, thank you for jumping in on the Social Selling Summit put on by my boys Sales For Life and HireVue. Props to HireVue. We actually use them, so if you're not using HireVue, give it a shot. We use it on the recruiting side of our business but also my boy, Jamie Shanks, and his Sales For Life team. A good crew of folks, they know social like nobody's business, so I am honored. Thanks, gentlemen and ladies and peeps for having me on. 

I'm excited about this one. I'm going to do something a little different so, those of you who know me, I'm Keenan. I'm not your typical cat, so we're going to have a little bit of fun here. For those of you who don't, you'll know me after this, so it's all good in the 'hood. 

I'm going to break this down a little different. I'm going to throw you all curve ball, a slider. I'm going to keep you on your toes. I'm not going to talk about social selling, not directly, anyways. I'm not going to break down social selling. You're going to get lots of that all of this place. You're going to get it from a lot of really smart people, people a shitload smarter than me who know this better than I do so I figure, why add to it? Why not create my own spin and give you something that you're probably not going to get anywhere else in here. And what we're going to break down is Social Learning. How the best salespeople are using social media to up their game but not in the sales process, not in the sales cycle. 

So, you can follow me @Keenan, I probably should have created a hashtag for this, my bad, I didn't. But I will be paying attention to my Twitter stream all day Monday, so if you're watching this and you have a question, hit me up, I'll hit you back. It'll be my pleasure so this is going to be a good time. I'm looking forward to it. 

So, look. Everybody uses social. You're here, you want to learn to use social for prospecting and lead generation, right? But guys, you can use social for so much than that. Look, they're using social to start revolutions, right? So I know we can get more out of social than just prospecting and lead generation or top of the funnel or bottom of the funnel or closing. There's a lot more to it and I want us to get more from that, right? 

Look, I'm a big fan. If you see studies, you'll see that those who use social out preform those who don't. I think the most recent one we did shows that those who consider themselves "very good or better" at social outperform those who don't by 6X. So there's a lot to be said there. 

But everything is not a direct line. Selling is more than just getting people into the pipeline. It's more than just prospecting. It's more than just lead generation. Selling is about being a thought leader or no, I take that back, I hate that frickin' word. It's not about being a thought leader. It's about establishing relationships and being a trusted adviser to your customers and your clients and to your prospects. It's being about to teach your prospects, right? 

Think about this. Our job is to teach our prospects. I mean, if you're a fan of the challenge of the sale, throw that shit right out, right? The challenge of sale. Teach, tailor, and take control. Well, in order to teach, you have to have a powerful knowledge base and, without a powerful knowledge base, you can't teach. Well, guess what? Besides lead generation, the internet is so wide open. It has knowledge and information that you can get to help you be that teacher, to help you be that trusted adviser, to help you get to that next level of consultative selling or solution selling, by knowing more than your competitors, by knowing more than your prospects or buyers. 

So, the internet lets you do that. Think about this, man. There is so much information out there that wasn't there before that we can access. It comes in the form of blogs, it comes in the form of online magazines, it comes in the form of tweets, it comes in the form of e-books, it comes in the form of white pages, it comes in the form of info-graphics. I mean it is endless. Endless. You know, it's wide open. There's so much information out there and it's good but there's also a downside to it. 

The downside is, or the way most people use it, why social is so good is most people only go for what they know. "I want to learn X, so I ask a question about X." So, I'm only filling my knowledge gap based on what I know I'm missing. Think about that next layer. The next layer is "I don't know what I don't know." What is happening out in the world? What information is available to me as a salesperson, as a sales leader that would help me do my job better that I don't know exists? I don't even know to ask the question, right? If you didn't know airplanes or air flight was possible and had never seen that, you wouldn't know to say "How can I get there through the air?" You wouldn't even know to ask it, so until it comes across your plate, until it moves in front of you, until you see something flying above or you hear someone say something, you can't react to it. You can't do anything with it. 

So imagine if you were able to go 10, 20, 30 years without ever being introduced to this idea, you're behind the eight ball. You don't know about flight, you don't know about all of the benefits of it, so you were never able to do anything with it. So the internet can kind of be the same way. There's all kinds of information out there and if you don't figure out a way to tap into it without knowing what you're looking for, you're missing half the battle. 

Social learning is the ability to make that happen. It's to leverage social to get you access to the information that you don't know exists, plus you may have an idea that it exists, but to learn more about it, in the areas and on the topics that are most pertinent to your job as a salesperson, to the industry you sell in, to the people you sell to, et cetera. That's what social learning is about and we're going to make social learning work, right? 

If we do this right, by increasing your knowledge base through social learning, you're going to increase your industry of knowledge. We're going to increase your product comprehension, which is key. Imagine being able to identify additional use cases because you have a stronger knowledge base or an improved knowledge base. You can forget about your competition. You can find out what they're doing all of the time, know where they're strong, know where they're weak. You can find additional players in the space you didn't know exist, you can tap into industry experts. 

Here's the crazy piece, there's always that group of people that everybody knows and everyone is aware of in our spaces but, man, there's some guy or some girl sitting in a dark corner in Wyoming or in Encino, California, whatever the place no one knows about, but just putting this stuff out on the web or they get a little blog that's not getting a lot of peoples' attention and boom, it's a wealth of information. You can find that shit, right? You can be articulate in your space, so increasing your knowledge raises so much value. 

All of these things I have right here can help you. How about improving your business acumen? How much do you know about sales velocity? How much do you know about supply chain? I mean, how much do you know about gap? How could these things affect your ability to sell product or service, right? The more you know, the further you'll go. So, let's talk about how you do that. Let's talk about how you leverage social to make these type of things happen. 

Just like social selling, it comes down to what the key words that you're looking for, right? So, for this exercise, you know, find five key words, the bare minimum. Find five key words in your space that would help you if you had more knowledge. Obviously, I'm assuming most everybody is a salesperson or sales leader. So, if you're a salesperson or sales leader, think about what you sell and create some key words around maybe your competition, maybe around the product, maybe around the product space, the whole ecosystem, the product ecosystem. So, think of other things besides just your product, the ecosystem you're in, maybe around the economics ecosystem of what you're in, the government ecosystem of the system you're in. 

So, say you're in telecom, then you might want to have "telecom mandates" as a hashtag. You might want to have, what do they sell, they sell bandwidth. You know, so "bandwidth options" might want to be something you want to have. I mean, I don't know, but just think in those terms, right? Think of potentially having hashtags around certain business acumen. If you're in a heavy, heavy capital expenditure space and Cap-Ex plays a big role in the decision making process, maybe you might want to have Cap-Ex as a hashtag. Or "financing Cap-Ex" as a hashtag. I don't know. Anything that's going to pull information to you and it's going to get you information that you don't normally have. 

And one of the ways I like to think about this is, I wrote a post a while ago called "Deliberate Learning" and the idea that says "those who are really, really, really, really good at what we do, we got this way because we're good at understanding our knowledge gap." It's "I know this, I don't know this, and to be really good, I'm missing this." And so we understand that what we don't know, where it holds us back, we deliberately go try to learn it. We say, "gosh, if I knew that, I could be better at this". So, we deliberately try to learn it. 

So, this is where these keywords come in. Ask yourself what do you need to know to get better at what you do? What do you need to know to be a better salesperson in your space or to be better sales leader in your space? What do you need to know and build the hashtags around that. Be very deliberate, so that you can come out of this social learning experience knowing not just anything but knowing specific things that will make you better at your job. So, ask that question of yourself, "what do I need to know?" Once you do that and you get a least five hashtags, if you can go for 10, 15 that's even better. I mean, that's the goods. 

So, once you do that, go download Hootsuite if you don't already have it. That's a Twitter management tool, it's fantastic. It also allows you to manage a whole bunch of other things. Go download it or go to Hootsuite and create a new tab and create a stream, an individual stream for every hashtag or every keyword you have and just sit back and let magic happen. Some of the hashtags, nothing may come up right away or maybe only a few things every once and a while or some will just start filling up. Because look, you're not going to get inundated, every one, with a new tweet every 15 seconds but, if the hashtags are good, you're going to get some good stuff. So do that and watch them start filling up and check them out. 

Once you do that, take those same hashtags and flip them into keywords and go into Feedly. Feedly.com, it's Google's old Google Reader, I guess is what it is, and start searching for blogs under those same hashtags. So put in every hashtag you have, one at a time, it's going to bring up a list of blogs. Take a look at them, read them, pick and choose, click through them, read a couple of them. But then, from that, try to find at least 5 blogs for each keyword, bare minimum. You can go more but 5 blogs for each keyword and save it to your Feedly account or save it to your Feedly application. 

And then it allows you to do it by categories, so you can do it for each category. If you have a Cap-Ex one, do the Cap-Ex one. If you have a telecom one, do the telecom one. If you have, frickin', "how to brush a dog" put "how to brush a dog". Whatever it is your hashtag was, create a separate category and put all of the blogs you want to start following under that hashtag, okay? 

Now that you've done this, take a look at the authors for all of these blogs. Take a look at the people you're finding in the hashtags on Twitter and start to collect their names and go start following them in Twitter. So, all of these people that start to slowly start to provide information of value for you in that Twitter stream and in those hashtags or under those key searches, the blog owners, go into LinkedIn. Click, click, click, click, click and start following them. And keep them in your regular stream or you can have them in what we call your knowledge stream or whatever you want to call it. 

You can keep them all together because you can't have a bazillion streams. But have them in a single stream, or in your general stream but start following. Do the same thing with LinkedIn, connect them on LinkedIn. So start knowing who these people are and have a way to connect with them and see what else they're putting up beside their blog, right? 

So, once you've done all of that you should have this good repository, if you will, of all kinds of good information, stuff that's coming in under individual hashtags for tweets, stuff that's coming in through your Feedly blog, you should see the authors and the Tweets that they have outside of the hashtags, you should have all of this stuff coming in. 

So, now you've just got to build a cadence, right? It's going to be a lot of reading, it's going to be a lot of stuff, so I get it. You can't get to it all, but here's my suggestion: for those of you who commute on a train or something, you have it easy. But for those of us, well, for some of us who have a lot to do in the middle of the day and you don't feel good getting to it, make a commitment to do at least an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. One to two hours a day. When you get up, read for 30 minutes to an hour. Go to your Feedly, open that sucker up, it's going to be right there and you're going to see tons of articles, tons of blog posts under all of the different categories that you've created, all the different keywords. Start reading. Just start reading. That's all you've got to do. 

Sometimes it's going to be "oh, that was a waste of time. I knew that. It didn't help me." Other times, it's going to be spot on but here's the key: it's going to build your knowledge base, one article at a time. Sometimes, it's going to be immediately relevant, other times it's not going to be, but that's not the point. It's all going to filter in. it's all going to get inside you. So do it 30 minutes to an hour in the morning and then do it 30 minutes to an hour right before you go to bed and just read that stuff. 

And then, when you're done reading it, share it. Share it out to folks. On your hashtags, if you want to look in the middle of the day or you don't want to lose stuff in the stream, go ahead, check it, and hit favorite and then send it to Instapaper. I see, Instagram down here, that's my mistake, that's my bad. Instapaper. Send it to Instapaper, send it to Evernote. Save it. Go back to it later but let that wealth of information you're collecting, or the wealth of all that cool stuff you're collecting, go somewhere that you can always go back and read it. You're on a plane? Spend two hours of that plane ride reading the stuff. It's the perfect time to do it. But you have it all and that's key. 

Just by doing this one page, you have a whole mountain of information there, constantly being fed to you through social that you don't have to go research. You don't have to go find it. It's just being dropped into your lap. Boom. And it allows you to keep pace with what's going on. It allows you to keep up with what's happening and that information's going to help you be a trusted adviser. That information's going to help you get to the next level, because that's what it's all about. That's what it's all about, being that trusted adviser, being that consultant for your customers. They're looking for that. 

You know, I also wrote a post not too long ago about how Renaissance people are the best salespeople. Renaissance people are the people who know so much about so many things and that, when they're selling, they have the ability to pull from this like cornucopia of knowledge sitting in the back of their frickin' head, like, oh, boom. And they drop some information out onto the prospect. Did you know? Are you aware? They can also use it for engaging with their customers and prospects, because they'll have that prospect or buyer who has this Civil War gun collections or this Civil War model hobby that he's all excited about and that Renaissance person have just enough knowledge to be like "Oh, you have been working with the X-Y-Z model?" or "Man, do you have this X-Y musket that was so popular?' And they're like, "Whoa, how did you know that?" You know just enough to connect with them because you read all of the time or you read and article on the Civil War and you remembered it. 

So, Renaissance people are the bomb. I'm telling you, I love, love Renaissance people, because they just know how to connect, they have this wealth of information and they get it from stuff like this. So, you need to become a Renaissance. At the very least, a sales Renaissance person. You need to have so much information in your head. Your objective is to increase your knowledge and social can do that for you.

So, this is the third time I've had to do this, in case you're wondering. It keeps screwing up, so let's hope this is the last time. If you're seeing this, this is the last time I had to do it, thank God. Technology kept failing. The audio didn't work. So, with that said, peeps, I think I'm done. I'm going to let you go. 

The bottom line is this: if you're using social only for prospecting, you're only getting half the value. Social learning is real. Social learning is critical. You should be committed to it and social allows you to get information that you don't know you don't know and that's where the win is. So, with that said, peeps, thank you very much for taking the time and I hope you enjoy the rest of the summit. Peace, I'm out.