Condensed from a Pipeliner SalesChat Interview with Tracey McCormack, conducted by John Golden
Tracey McCormack is the founder and president of McCormack media services, a modern media sales professional skills training company. She has over 25 years experience and demonstrated expertise across all facets of the industry including sales strategy, modern sales selling techniques, and omnichannel marketing. She’s worked with the Discovery Channel, NASCAR, NBC, and many other top companies. ‘
Q: In some people’s minds, social selling and personal branding have gotten all confused. What do you think is the connection between the two, or is there one?
A. Everybody knows you’re able to show your own profile on platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter, show your work and create a position of thought leadership for yourself. But while you’re doing it, you are creating lead generation. Publishing is one of the most missed opportunities by salespeople—it is quite literally an inbound marketing tool. Your clients and your prospects are out there Googling you. They are all leads that can be coming to you/
Q: Some sales leaders may say, “I’d prefer you were out there knocking on doors picking up the phone. But all I see you doing is Tweeting or posting these vaguely interesting blogs. How is that actually helping you meet your number?”
A: Well, ask yourself this question: How much time are you spending making cold calls, leaving random voice mails for people that are never getting listened to, or typing up emails that you send out to cold prospects that never even get read? A better use of your time to really help make your numbers is to use the social platforms. to create a position of thought leadership.
Example: All of LinkedIn isn’t free. The more you use it, the more you’ll find you really should pay for a premium version. With the version I have, I can literally see every person who has looked at my profile, read my blog, or has commented on something that I’ve written. Those are all leads! Warm leads, not even cold leads!
Q. If we look at how buyer behavior has changed and how discerning buyers are today, how important is that profile or brand to a customer when they’re looking at a salesperson?
A: I have a friend that says, “You are who Google says you are.” Where is the best place to bury a body? Page 2 of Google! So if you are not organically using these tools to bring yourself to the top of search, and you’re organically on page 2, you’re a nobody. If some prospect finds me on page 2, that says everything that a sophisticated modern media professional needs to know: I’m a nobody.
Years ago our reputations were built on word of mouth—but now it’s world of mouth. You are out there and your brand is out there, so it better be well maintained and grown. It’s not enough to just put your LinkedIn profile up there and make a Tweet once a day—you’ve got to be actively participating in these things on a regular basis.
Q: How do you train or advise these people who are a little more seasoned, who get a little queasy putting themselves online and building a brand?
A: I definitely find that senior sales people who have been making the cold calls are already figuring out that it isn’t working the same way that it used to. The ones that are open to trying new things, and are not afraid, are going to be successful at it.
Q: How do you advise the average salesperson who says, “I’m great at talking to people but I can’t write”?
A: In this young millennial world, people are used to writing in a conversational tone. You don’t have to write like you’re a writer for the Wall Street Journal any more. LinkedIn has added a new feature recently with which you can post a video—it can be a one that you’ve made right there with your computer’s camera. If you include a video about that same article, it probably has a better chance of getting seen.
Q: What responsibility falls on marketing departments to step up and help salespeople understand how to use these marketing tools—how to write better headlines, how to be noticed? What burden is on them?
A: Maybe Marketing could even be supplying the rest of the office with articles, with research, with information that they could be blogging about. They should be feeding that funnel full of information that the rest of the group can use. “Even if we can’t write the article for you, here’s something cool that’s happening in our industry that you should write about.”
Q: What’s the balance of time between brand building, and doing all of the other kind of sales activities that one might traditionally do?
A: I think no matter what, you’ve got to spend 20 to 30 minutes a day on LinkedIn—scouring, writing, looking at leads, looking at who’s looked at your profile. I don’t go to any meeting without having researched the person on LinkedIn first. That’s a no-brainer. And I think you have to make 3 to 5 Tweets a day. That will maybe take you a total of twenty minutes or so.
But I think you have to do a little A/B testing on yourself. How much time are you spending making cold calls, and what is the ROI on that time? Maybe you need to cut that time back a little and use that time more efficiently. Take 15 minutes out of that cold calling, and put that 15 minutes into researching people on LinkedIn, or writing an article, or sharing somebody else’s article, or using LinkedIn InMail to reach out to a prospect. See if the ROI there was any better.
Q: Would you say that today we have very traditional sales techniques, that are just transferred to a new medium?
A: Exactly right. The skill set you’ve always had still works—you’ve just got to transfer it. It feels a little less personal, because I used to call up somebody on the phone and say, “Can you introduce me to…?” Now if I go to LinkedIn, and the person I want to reach out to doesn’t even have a picture, I’m going to find who I know that knows them. I’m going to send them a text and ask them to call that person because I don’t want to waste my InMail on somebody that isn’t going to see it there. But the thought process is exactly the same—it’s just about using a platform that they’re in front of 24/7.
Q. If somebody is sitting here today and saying, “I think my personal brand is probably awful and I don’t know how to do this,” what are maybe two or three steps that you would give them?
A: I think people are missing a step that either goes before, or goes in tandem with, creating a personal brand: educating yourself on your own time. I get up at six o’clock every day with my coffee, without fail, and read for one hour. If you subscribe to trades that come to your inbox, they’re already there you don’t have to go looking for anything. I can name 15 trades that I subscribe to that I have to wake up in the morning, and there’s 23 pieces of trades that I’m going to read. You cannot open your email–do not open your email because the minute you open up other emails, you’re gone. Spend a full hour learning about new things, getting new ideas, and bettering yourself with new information.
From there, that’s how you build your personal brand. You can’t just build it on facts like, “I’ve been a salesperson at this company for 17 years.” You’ve got to show people what you know. The only way to show people what you know is to read new stuff. Investing an hour in reading every day is the best way to develop your personal brand, to show people who you are, what you know and how modern you are. Otherwise your LinkedIn profile is just some old dusty resume.
Then, a lot of this comes down to discipline. People spend money on having me train them on Twitter, then I go back and look at their profile and see that they haven’t Tweeted in four weeks. You have to discipline yourself to do it every day. It just isn’t that hard, and it doesn’t take that much time. But if you’re not playing around, touching the buttons, seeing what features are new and seeing what other people are doing, you’re going to lose the momentum for it.
Learn more about Tracey McCormack, her training and her programs at www.mccormackmedia.net.