Not too long ago, we had the pleasure of sitting down with social selling expert Brynne Tillman to talk about social media and the role it plays in the modern buyer’s journey. Based in Philadelphia, Brynne has been in sales and sales training since the early 90s.
At every job, she would be the person that the new salesperson would shadow to learn best practices and top tips. As that was one of her favourite parts of the job, she decided to pursue a career in sales training, founding Social Sales Link, a pioneer company in LinkedIn training, specializing in how to monetize the platform for business development.
In June 2017, Social Sales Link merged with 5 other social selling experts to launch Vengreso, the largest social selling company serving the B2B sales and marketing communities.
Q: You and social selling – how did it all start?
It actually started by accident. I had a financial services client that launched in the middle of the financial crisis in 2008. They were looking for business, but everyone was very scared and no one was moving their money. The only people who needed to, were the ones who were laid off as a consequence of the crash, and the biggest question was: “How do you build relationships with these people?”.
I was brought in to figure that out.
We sat down and brainstormed how we could get them to our door in a way that was relevant to them, and we started what we called the career advocacy programme, where we helped people with their interview skills and résumé writing. So, I first started teaching LinkedIn as a tool to help them find their next job, and I realized pretty quickly that a lot of it was an answer to my old wish list for sales!
I always remember in the early 90s trying to land a client and thinking: “If I could figure out who he knows, I could get an introduction and I would never have to make a cold call again”. I realized pretty quickly that LinkedIn gave me that opportunity. So, I started teaching.
By 2011 I ended up signing a huge client contract with a very big company here in Philadelphia and they handed me the Challenger Sales by Matthew Dixon and Brant Adamson, asking me to apply the methodology outlined in the book to a LinkedIn strategy. So, that’s when I really fell in love with it and I realized that’s all I wanted to do!
Q: You’re an expert on the digital sales revolution. What would you say the key changes of the sales discipline have been in the last few years?
When I first started my career in sales right after college, if a client needed information about our services, they had to call us. There was no way of getting information without speaking to someone. I think there were between 200 and 250 people in our inbound call center, since the only way existing clients could make purchases was to give us a call. The relationship between the salesperson and the buyer was much more intimate, relevant and invaluable at the early stages of the sales cycle.
Today, the CEB Sales research identified that 57 to 67% of that buying process is already complete before a salesperson or vendor even knows that that buyer is in the market. That to me, is the significant shift in the buyer’s journey, and I believe that’s the foundational piece.
Buyers are now researchers, they’re self-educators, they are able to find significant content online, on any one subject or offering, whether from YouTube, or your website, or simply Googling and reading articles and so on. There is so much information that they’re able to gather before they even talk to anyone.
So, the modern seller needs to be the one who does the education, the one who is out there making an impression, helping them while they gather their data and insight, being influenced by somebody, right? They Google something they end up reading – is it yours or your competitor’s? This, in my opinion, is the significant shift in the buyer/seller journey.
The modern buyer needs the modern seller.
Q: You have extensive experience in sales training. What are the typical objections you hear from salespeople when training them in social selling? Hurdles to action you hear most often?
There are objections that come from different areas. There’s the salesperson, there’s the account-based salesperson and there’s the sales leadership. And they’re all quite different in what they’re objecting to.
The traditional sales rep (the “briefcase-carrying rep) will simply say: “I don’t have time to do this”. This is probably the objection that I hear most often.
The objection that comes from sales leadership is that it is a waste of time. You know, I need my sales team to be more productive, not sharing stuff, liking, or simply wasting time on social.
And really both of those objections come from a lack of understanding the power, not only of social media but more specifically of social selling.
There is enormous power in the ability of searching and filtering prospects, identifying who they know could help you get a warm introduction. There is enormous power in real-time insights, like when your champion within a specific account leaves that company and where they’ve gone, and who has taken their place. This is the kind of information that reduces the sales cycle and helps close more business because you get access to credibility.
The objection you will usually get from an account-based rep is: “I already know my client. I have 20, 50 or 100 accounts and I already know everyone that I need to know”. What we do know from LinkedIn is that, on average, there is 20% yearly turnover across the board for jobs. That means that 1 out of 5 of the people you’re talking to today is leaving their job this year. That shows that, even if you think you know your client, you can’t manage without real deep insights.
Say that you call them once a month, and they change job today, and then you call, but their voicemail hasn’t been shut off. They’re gone, but you don’t realise that someone else is now in that position, and there you go, you’ve lost 3 months. Not only have you lost an opportunity at that company, but you’ve also lost the opportunity to congratulate them on their new job and start a conversation at their new company.
Don’t miss the second part of our exclusive interview with Brynne Tillman, where we discuss how to successfully scale social selling!
Interested in social selling? Here are some useful resources on the topics mentioned by Brynne: