By Matt Heinz, President of Heinz Marketing
It’s another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, (live every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. Pacific). It’s just 30 minutes long, fast-paced and full of actionable advice, best practices and more for B2B sales & marketing professionals.
We cover a wide range of topics, with a focus on sales development and inside sales priorities. Catch up on past shows at SalesPipelineRadio.com and subscribe on Spotify, iTunes, Blubrry, Google Play, or Stitcher
I talk this week with one of the masters of B2B sales, digital selling, a good friend, Jamie Shanks in an episode I call Selling with Spears: Account-Based Sales Development Best Practices with Jamie Shanks
I asked Jamie: “I’ve noticed in a lot of your marketing, and a lot of your messaging, that you’ve made the shift from social selling to digital selling. Help me understand, what’s the difference, and why is it important to think about this, broader than just social channels, today?”
To whet your appetite, here is part of Jamie’s reply. Read the full transcript and/or listen below.
You can follow Jamie on Twitter @jamieshanks.
And check out his book, SPEAR Selling: The ultimate Account-Based Sales guide for the modern digital sales professional
“…the reality is that social media is only one mechanism to help a seller connect with a buyer. Other digital platforms, like video is one, and is soon emerging, and I believe is the next wave, artificial intelligence and machine learning, are all digital data points. Remember, you’re using these tools for research, for account planning, for account engagement, for account qualification and disqualification. All of these digital tools and fingerprints that customers are leaving around, can be harnessed to help a seller. And so we’re evolving it towards digital. And in fact, even companies like LinkedIn are evolving it beyond digital. They don’t even call it digital anymore, it’s being called modern. That’s all that it is. Because at the end of the day, social selling, digital selling, it’s all just selling. It’s just infusing the 21st century into your sales place.”
Matt: Well, thanks everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio. This is Matt Heinz. I appreciate everyone who is joining us on the podcast. Really excited to see our numbers continue to inch up. Thanks everyone for downloading the program and listening to these episodes. You can always find every episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, past, present, and future, at SalesPipelineRadio.com.
We are featuring some of the best and brightest minds in B2B sales and marketing each week. Today is absolutely no different. I’m really, really excited to have on the show, one of the masters of B2B sales, digital selling, a good friend, Jamie Shanks, on the program. Jamie, thanks so much for joining us.
Jamie: Matt, thank you so much for having me. You’re one of the good guys.
Matt: Really appreciated getting to know you over the years, and I think we’ve gotten such interesting parallel lives and careers. We met at an inside sales conference years ago when we were both trying to get our businesses rolling.
We’ve both seen the trials and travails of growing a business, as well as managing and balancing family with that as well. From afar, it’s also been really, really exciting to watch the growth of Sales for Life, how you have emerged as the leading voice in the digital sales world. Congratulations on that.
Talk a little bit about what that growth has been like, because you’ve been growing a business while also really leading a movement on the digital sales front.
Jamie: Well, the growth, it absolutely feels like a war of inches. But it’s one of those things that, every once in a while, I do need to reflect, maybe I do it at the end of every year as part of my New Year’s resolutions. I look back and I think of one of the coolest sayings I ever heard. It was actually from Robert Herjavec on Shark Tank. And he said, “You will overestimate what you can do in one year. But you will completely underestimate in what you can do in 10 years.”
So now I’ve been on this Sales for Life journey, this is our seventh year. I say it’s a war of inches because it’s kind of like what we teach sales leaders to teach their sellers, in that the only thing you can really control is your own activities. It’s just about every day getting up and trying to serve my customers, teach them things they don’t already know. And in a digital community, I’m making videos, writing blogs, writing books, sharing insights, doing business development like everybody else. And there are days that I wake up and think, “Man, I feel like I’m taking two steps backwards,” but over a period of time, it’s clear I’m making headway.
Matt: Yeah. Absolutely. Your comment about this being a war of inches I think is right. I think a lot of people that have not built a business that have not really try to build a movement, don’t realize how much work it takes. The path to success, there is no elevator. The elevator is perennially broken; you have to take the stairs. There’s no shortcuts to getting that done.
You were very much in the right place at the right time when you were growing the social selling business. I think as you started to grow your business, social selling really became a prominent factor in the market, and I think still today, we see a lot of companies really continue to invest in leveraging social channels. Talk a little bit more about where that has come from. I think there was a lot of frothiness about social selling to begin with, a lot of hashtag social this, social that. I feel like we have settled into a more mature phase, where social selling is now a solid part of selling. How do you see that evolution and maturation? Where is social selling today as we sit here in the beginning of 2019?
Jamie: The reality if you looked at it from a total macro, all sales organizations at a global scale, we are very much still an early adopter, early innovator space. I’ve learned this lesson, actually, through Jill Rowley, so Jill Rowley, the tenth employee at Eloqua in the year 2000. She’s a partner in our firm and a mentor, and she talked about the first five years that she was a sales professional at Eloqua, it was like beating her head against a desk. Explaining, “What is marketing automation?” By about 2005, 2006, the world started to ask less about the why and more about the how.
But we’re now talking about the year 2019 right now, and I heard some crazy statistic, like the number of global companies that are actually using marketing automation, or marketing automation effectively, is a small percentage of total sales and marketing forces, and you would know this more than anybody, Matt, and so, with social selling, I got into this because I was a failed consultant who needed to develop my own self-propelling business development strategy, and it was at the emergence of, LinkedIn was just coming into its own. Twitter was evolving, Facebook, people were using it more, and I saw it as two things. One, it was the world’s best research tool, number two, it was a communication medium that wasn’t oversaturated.
So I took advantage of using these tools to develop my own business development strategy, and then started teaching people what I was doing. And still, to this day, it’s an effective, complemented business development mechanism, amongst other things. Phone, email, face to face meetings, mailers. It is yet just another tool in the tool belt to help a seller align with a buyer and be their first. And that’s, ultimately, what we try to teach to the companies.
Matt: Talking today on Sales Pipeline Radio with Jamie Shanks. He is the CEO of Sales For Life. And Jamie, I think, if you go to your website, SalesForLife.com, people can find a whole bunch of great content, lots of videos, you’ve got The Definitive Guide to Social Selling for Leaders.
I’ve noticed in a lot of your marketing, and a lot of your messaging, that you’ve made the shift from social selling to digital selling. Help me understand, what’s the difference, and why is it important to think about this, broader than just social channels, today?
Jamie: And this is an important inflection. As you and I were just talking about, the growth trajectory of that term, social selling. Social selling just means the usage of social media platforms within a sales go to market strategy or a sales process. So think of it as a series of sales plays that are intertwined into a go to market.
Well the reality is that social media is only one mechanism to help a seller connect with a buyer. Other digital platforms, like video is one, and is soon emerging, and I believe is the next wave, artificial intelligence and machine learning, are all digital data points. Remember, you’re using these tools for research, for account planning, for account engagement, for account qualification and disqualification. All of these digital tools and fingerprints that customers are leaving around, can be harnessed to help a seller. And so we’re evolving it towards digital.
And in fact, even companies like LinkedIn are evolving it beyond digital. They don’t even call it digital anymore, it’s being called modern. That’s all that it is. Because at the end of the day, social selling, digital selling, it’s all just selling. It’s just infusing the 21st century into your sales place.
Matt: So there’s been an interesting, I don’t know if I’d call it debate, but I guess just a back and forth between folks that have been evangelizing more modern sales techniques and tactics, and group of folks in the market that I guess I would call more traditionalists, that have, called it a fad, called it something that has been overblown. I think that there’s probably somewhere in the middle that is actually accurate, right? I don’t think that social selling, digital selling means that traditional approaches to sales aren’t working, but I think that there is clearly an evolution of taking some of those challenger related, some of those, sort of bringing insights to the best practices and simply using some of the digital channels to improve your connect rates, to improve the connection, improve the frequency and value of your interactions.
How do you see the sort of traditional, the quote unquote evergreen best practices of selling, sort of merging and integrating with more modern, digital selling techniques?
Jamie: I’ll be the first to admit, whether it was something that we did intentionally, or it happened to devolve into where it became this debate of cold calling versus social selling. I’m the first to admit that that’s just click bait. The reality is that social selling is an accelerant or a complement to an existing go to market strategy that’s working.
Let’s assume first that it’s working. Phone, email. And the reality is, you can’t have one without the other. I am not winning deals for my business on LinkedIn, but I am starting conversations on LinkedIn, to ultimately win my right into the boardroom, and vice versa.
So the most important thing to take away from this is this is yet just another accelerant or tool in your tool belt. I’m a firm believer, you cannot run an effective business development strategy without using all and available resources to your disposal to be able to help the customer. And if traditional meant licking envelopes and mailing things to people, or making calls, or sending emails, and or direct message people on Twitter, these are all available tools that can only help as long as, the big if, and what we do with companies, is really refine that time management of what you’re doing, but ultimately they are all important elements to the process.
Matt: All right. So you literally wrote the book on this topic. Your first book was Social Selling Mastery, and for anyone listening who has not really sort of fully delved into, not just tactically, what do I do on channels, but thinking strategically about how you leverage social to improve your sales efforts, highly recommend Social Selling Mastery.
Your new book, however, is called SPEAR Selling. And I love this topic, it immediately makes me think about, I think Jon Miller, who was the co-founder of Marketo, he is the founder, CEO of Engagio now, and I’ve heard him, and he probably pulled this from someone else, talk about traditional marketing and selling often looks like fishing with nets, target account selling is fishing with spears. So I was really excited to see the title of your book really sort of lead into that. Talk about why this topic was what you chose next to write about, and why target account sales development is such an important topic for sales and marketing leaders to understand today.
Jamie: And you just mentioned that analogy of fishing with a net and fishing with a SPEAR. And if you went back a few years ago, as inbound marketing became more pervasive in organizations, and is becoming more accountable to sales quota attainment, what Social Selling Mastery was about was being a magnet and creating a system for yourself, as an individual seller, or a finite business unit to be able to create a structure where you are, like forester statistics, 74% of deals are awarded to sales professionals that are the very first to provide value insight, so it was about this concept of, I’m stealing from challenger sale, it’s teach, tailor, take control. Get there early and shape the deal.
The challenge with Social Selling Mastery is it didn’t focus enough on the realities of today’s global sales forces in which the seller only has a very small portion of their sales quota attainment being delivered from two external sources. Inbound from marketing or from their channel. The vast majority of sellers, I would say anywhere between 60 to 80% of their revenue mix or sales bookings mix, is to be self-generated. And we, as a business, evolved and started training global organizations, we saw this time and time again, that the challenge was, the seller sits in Texas or is a vertical like the airline industry, and they had absolutely no idea how to start their own business development structure. They didn’t understand how to select accounts, and we can get into this in detail, but this is the single most important piece to the long tail success of sales quota attainment. The accounts you select dramatically change the volume, velocity, and probability of deals.
Then, what is my account plan? Then, what is my story boards and sales plays to activate this account? Then, once I activate this account, am I being objective about running with this account, or being objective about replacing this account in a natural cadence. So long and the short was, there wasn’t a structure for the individual seller who had 30, 50, or 100 accounts, what do I do next? Because I have to control my own destiny and fish outbound, not just be a magnet, for things that could come inbound in my territory.
Matt: Now I know we just got a couple more minutes here with Jamie Shanks, he’s the CEO of Sales for Life, author of the new book SPEAR Selling, highly encourage you to check this book out, you can find it on Amazon, you can learn more about it at SalesForLife.com, and you can also download a free chapter of the new book, SPEAR Selling, at SalesForLife.com and I think that chapter, maybe last question for you before we’re gonna let you go, is around this social proximity mindset, and I think for you, SPEAR is not just sort of an analogy, but it’s also an acronym and S stands for selecting the right accounts. Talk about how the social proximity mindset can help you find the right accounts that are most likely to engage and buy.
Jamie: Okay, I want you to picture the average account executive. I want you to sit them in a room right now and ask them, “What are the top five accounts you’re targeting right now?” And dollars to donuts, when you get them to actually peel back the onion and explain why they’re targeting those five or 10 accounts, it’s usually a wallet share mindset. And what that means is they’ve selected an account because it has brand cache, it’s the largest in a vertical or market, and it has the right number of employees. And I’ve seen this before, in the boardroom. “Somebody in my company thought it would be great if we went after them.”
There is no more asymmetrical competitive advantage, a disproportionate competitive advantage that your company has, going after that account, than your competition, or like-minded companies that sell to that same buyer who are shaping kind of the wallet of the buyer.
What I want you to re-think about, is imagine if we thought about our own customer successes outward. And what we have as an exercise for sellers to do is, take existing customers of yours and draw a circle around them, and as a spiderweb, start thinking about the relationships and companies who actually care and would be highly influenced by the success you’ve already had in a territory or vertical.
As an example, when people leave your existing customers, your advocates, and they move on to new companies you’re not doing business with, it’s six times cheaper and easier to sell to someone you’ve already sold to in the past than it is to find a net new business that doesn’t know you. What about the existing customers you have today, can they broker referrals for you? There are competitors to your customers. There are vendors, there are partners. And so what social proximity means is using the strengths of relationships that your company has already forged, as the catalyst to prioritizing the accounts you go after, and remember, your competitors have their own asymmetrical competitive advantages, your disadvantages, in which you could be monitoring every account you’re targeting, and basically raising yellow flags and red flags on these accounts and saying, “Hold on. You’re going to spend the next nine months going after that account, when three of their C level executives used to work at our competitor or did projects with our competitor?” That’s just a giant waste of time.
And so those are just the basis of using this free and available information to help you target accounts where you have strengths, not weaknesses.
Matt: I know we’ve got to wrap up here, Jamie, I know you go to head out quickly, but I want to thank you for your time today. Where can people learn more about you, learn more about Sales for Life, and then learn more about the new book, SPEAR Selling?
Jamie: I am a free and available resource on LinkedIn, just look up Jamie Shanks. Our website is SalesForLife.com, and the book, you can get on Amazon, or you can go to GetSPEARSelling.com, and you can get in in all the formats you can imagine. Audibles, Kindle, and then hard and soft covers.
Matt: Love it. Love it. Well thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you everyone for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio, if you liked this, want to share it with some of your colleagues, you can find it on demand at SalesPipelineRadio.com. We’ll be back with more B2B sales and marketing conversations. Until then, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.
Sales Pipeline Radio is sponsored and produced by Heinz Marketing on the Funnel Radio Channel. I interview the best and brightest minds in sales and Marketing. If you would like to be a guest on Sales Pipeline Radio send an email to: sheena@Heinzmarketing.com.