Episode 42 - Brynne TillmanSell me this pen. But not by cold DM. We're making conversations about social selling on Linkedin the CORRECT way count!
Brynne Tillman, Social Sales Link
Making Conversations about Selling on LinkedIn Count!
Are you on Linkedin?
We’re guessing you’ve probably had at least one person send you a DM out of the blue, trying to sell you something.
It’s really common, even though it’s well known that sending a cold pitch DM doesn’t work with the majority of people.
“converting connections to conversations”….
These two ladies of have a deep conversation all about LinkedIn, sharing strategy and approaches that will help you use the platform in a human way.
When it comes to conversation starting, this episode will give you lots of ideas to go away to try yourself.
A mini masterclass in a podcast.
Listen to other episodes on your favourite platform…
Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Forty-Two
August 5th 2021
Wendy Harris & Brynne Tillman
00:02:10: Brynne’s background
00:04:11: Like/know/trust relationship
00:05:02: Earning the right for a conversation
00:06:00: Getting the timing right
00:07:10: Your LinkedIn profile is your first impression
00:09:36: Teaching about the benefits and the risks
00:10:36: Leverage your shared connections
00:14:02: Ask permission before sending a link to engage
00:15:42: Following up
00:17:24: “The magic is in the inbox, not in the news feed”
00:18:16: LinkedIn algorithms
00:19:19: LinkedIn was built by humans
00:21:30: Sales Navigator tool
00:23:03: Brynne’s pivotal conversation
00:26:57: Cover Story tool and Creator mode
00:27:45: Final conversation
Wendy Harris: On this week’s episode, we’re making conversations about social selling count.
What’s new Wendy Woo? Thanks to you lovely listeners, you’ve helped us get into the top 10% of global podcasts. That makes us as a team incredibly proud, so I’m going to just shout out to who those people are: Neal Veglio, we love you; Meg, for doing all of the content and the website behind the scenes; and to the lovely Jo, who puts the transcripts together beautifully for us. So listeners, please continue to share and leave the reviews of what your favourite takeaways are.
Other news this week. In terms of my book, again when it comes to tips with the book, this one is the simplest. It was from the lovely Sandra in Leicester who picked up the book and said that she was overwhelmed with where to start and right at the very beginning of the book it says, “Start with ten”. It was as simple as that Sandra, and let me know how you get on with those ten.
Now there are not many occasions where I feel like I have actually met my mirror. When I saw this lady’s strapline, it was so close to my own, I had to reach out and start a conversation, because she says she helps people turn that online connection into a real-world conversation. So let’s get straight into talking to the wonderful Brynne Tillman all about social selling.
Now then, Brynne, you are what I would epitomise as the lady on LinkedIn that really advocates social selling. How on earth did you get into doing that?
Brynne Tillman: My whole career, I’ve been in sales or in sales training and when I came across LinkedIn, I recognised it solved a big problem, which for me was I hated cold calling. Even though I was in sales, and I trained people how to be really good cold callers, it just did not bring me joy. And when I saw LinkedIn and it’s one major superpower, which is the ability to search and filter our connections’ connections so I could see pathways to my buyer, I said, “This is it. I’m obsessed; I’m in love”, and I really now, almost eight years ago, have been solely focussed on training LinkedIn for social selling.
But my social selling is very different, or at least the definition is very different than a lot of other people’s. I just want to start with social selling from my perspective is about building relationships, bringing value, sharing insights and understanding that the sale will come when the time is right.
Wendy Harris: Yeah. I think that’s a big one to remember, isn’t it, that only 1%, is it, of people are going to be ready to buy your stuff today? So, we really have 99% to nurture and who knows how long that will take, so it’s a really good point to make it valuable. It’s so in alignment with how I do things; it’s about building relationships. I’m a cold call trainer, I’ve been picking up the phone since 1989. I’m not ashamed of how old I am now!
Brynne Tillman: I think I’ve got some years on you!
Wendy Harris: Oh, I don’t believe it! It’s one of those things, isn’t it, that most people really hate that cold calling part, because they expect the sale, and they wonder why they’re not going to get it on that first call. We don’t get married on the first date, so it’s much the same thing. It’s a long journey of getting to know one another and that like/know/trust relationship.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah. Well, I’ll rephrase. I love the call. I don’t love the cold call; I love the warm call, I love the call when they already know who I am, when if they hear my name, they’re excited to talk to me or they’ve actually scheduled it. I think the phone or Zoom, wherever your calls are today, is absolutely foundational. In fact, everything we teach is to get you on the call. The difference is warming it up with LinkedIn first so that they’re excited to be on that call with you.
Wendy Harris: It’s about managing expectations, isn’t it, and creating a little familiarity?
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, absolutely, and credibility.
Wendy Harris: Sure.
Brynne Tillman: In a lot of ways, it’s earning the right to get that conversation. I have had clients say to me, “I don’t understand why they won’t take my call. I can bring so much value to them even if they don’t work with me”, and the reason they don’t take the call is because they don’t know that yet. All they heard was that you want to take the call to sell to them; that’s their perception. You didn’t earn the right. They don’t recognise yet, if they’re not taking your call, that there’s real value in that call for them; and when we can do that, when we can get them to lean in and say, “Boy, I want more of that”, they schedule the call.
Wendy Harris: And it takes time, doesn’t it? We have to put the effort into what it is that we’re doing in our social networks, to make sure that we are connecting and that we are actually offering the right kind of messages that would make them go, “Oh, well that’s the person that I’m going to need”, when the time is right.
Brynne Tillman: Exactly, when the time is right. That’s exactly right. The conversation shouldn’t start with what you do. So one of the mistakes people make in social selling is they connect and pitch, which I think —
Wendy Harris: Yeah, oh, notorious! Just stop doing it!
Brynne Tillman: Exactly! So I look at it like, if you were in a trade show lobby or conference or a networking meeting, I wouldn’t walk up to you and say, “Hey, Wendy, I’m Brynne Tillman. I help companies just like yours”. That is not the first thing that you’d say. You’d look at me cross-eyed going, “You’re out of left field; this is a little inappropriate”, but we do it on LinkedIn all the time and it’s a problem, right.
It’s the same human being on the other side of the message as they are on the other side of the table, so we should have conversations that are normal, real-life conversations. It will lead to a conversation about your solution at one point or another, it always does, but it shouldn’t start there.
Wendy Harris: No. It’s that human-to-human interaction, isn’t it, that gets lost online? I say to people, “Your profile on LinkedIn is like the suit or the dress that you wear when you walk into a room”. So if your profile isn’t fantastic, if you haven’t polished your shoes, got matching shoes and handbag, if you’re the ladies, then that impression is what you’re going to leave.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, and it’s interesting if you are in a business development role, your job is to get more conversations for sales, which I think probably most people listening have some connection to that. Your profile should not be a resumé, it should be a resource, so that when they show up, again not telling them constantly how you can help them, but actually helping them. Let them test drive you a little bit.
Your profile has a job. That job is to earn the right for them to want to have the call. So when they get there, I want them to resonate; go, “Oh, she works with people like me”. Create curiosity so they lean in and go, “This is interesting”. Teach them something new. If you don’t say anything new to them, why would they take your call, right? Teach them something new that gets them thinking differently about their current situation so they go, ” I never thought about that in my business”.
The last one is a call to action. Make it compelling; let them know what to do.
Wendy Harris: Sometimes, it’s really hard to think of something new, because we do feel oversaturated with information, don’t we? How do you make this ball bearing seem sexy, because it’s a ball bearing; or, how do I make this pen more attractive? But sometimes, it doesn’t have to be something new, we sometimes just need to remind people of something fundamental that they’ve forgotten because they’ve fallen into bad habits.
Brynne Tillman: Absolutely. So that’s a really good point and it could be the risks of — so, you have this pen that you’re selling, and you have to look at why is you buyer buying? Is it longevity; is it colour; is it price; is it a commodity; or do you have this special pen that gets more contracts signed; whatever that is about your pen?
There are two types of teaching. So, there’s teaching about the benefits, like without saying, “Hey, my pen does this, but with a really good pen, you should expect this, this and this”; or, the risks of having a bad pen. So, your ball bearing; if you have not put oil on your ball bearing in the last 30 days, these are the risks you might face.
So it sounds so silly, but ultimately, it’s either build the dream of what it might look like, or identify the pain that happens if you don’t make a change. That’s what gets them compelled to take action.
Wendy Harris: I agree 100%. Now, conversation is what the show is all about and clearly, you are all about conversation, Brynne, so that’s fantastic. What was the impact when you can’t have that conversation yourself? How do you handle not being able to impart the information that you want to, because you want to have a conversation with somebody; how do you overcome that?
Brynne Tillman: I’ll give you a real-life story. Rob Curley is a commercial lender at TD bank, which is a big bank here in the States in the North and in Canada, and I wanted a conversation with him for years and I just could not get in. On LinkedIn, I recognised that we had a shared connection, Rob Petcove, who was my client, and I asked my client, “How do you know Rob Curley?”. He said, “Our boys are both juvenile diabetics and we’ve been in the same group since they were young”, and I’m like, “I want to get in front of him so badly, can you help me?”
He made an introduction and within 20 minutes, I had an appointment. And when I asked Rob Curley, “Why did you take my call this time?” he said, “Because if Petcove asked me to do it, I’m doing it. I love that guy”. Leveraging your shared connections brings you in a very high level of credibility, so that’s number one. If you don’t have that, if you don’t have a shared connection that you can leverage, start engaging with them on their content, the content they’re sharing.
Wendy Harris: We’re advocating value not stalking here, aren’t we, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman: Maybe a little of both! So, it’s purposeful engagement, right. I’ll go to their profile, I’ll click on “see all activity” and their posts, and I’ll engage appropriately. I read the post. Don’t just like everything and move on, because that would be a little stalkerish, but if you actually thoughtfully read it and engage…
Now people go, “Now what? How do I get the conversation?” Well, in this particular case, I look at the topic that my prospect has now shared and cared enough about to put a post out about it, and I’m going to go find an article or blogpost or podcast about the same topic. So now, I’m going to start the conversation around, “Wendy, loved the post that you shared on emotional intelligence. Not sure if you heard the podcast from Larry Levine on emotional [whatever it is] if you’re interested, let me know, I’m happy to send you a link”.
So now I’m going to start a conversation around the topic you care about.
Wendy Harris: So, you’ve moved the conversation from a public forum. You’re encouraging them into the Direct Messaging function to be able to start that conversation in private; love it.
Brynne Tillman: And it’s about the topic they care about, not what you want to talk about; what they want to consume. That’s how we start real conversations.
Wendy Harris: And the psychology behind that really, Brynne, is that you’ve cared enough to actually show that you care not just about them, but about their topic, you also have an interest in that topic; because there is usually something that you can add to that, isn’t there, by saying, “I get really passionate about this sort of thing and I know lots…” and you know that passion comes through, because you just can’t string the sentence together!
Brynne Tillman: Right! Well, you get to edit it before you hit send, but that’s correct.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, unless like me, you send lots of voice messages, because I love to send voice messages.
Brynne Tillman: I like to do voice messages too.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, because I think that also goes, “Actually, this person doesn’t sound dangerous, they sound passionate –“
Brynne Tillman: Well, they also sound human.
Wendy Harris: “– genuinely wanting to help and send me this thing in a link”.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah. But I actually often will ask permission to send the link. So instead of saying, “Wendy, here’s the link to the podcast on the same topic. I really loved it because of this, this and this. If you’re interested, let me know and I’ll send the link”, because it’s a conversation when it’s two ways. If I send the link, we’re done.
Wendy Harris: Yeah.
Brynne Tillman: But you now have to say, “Sure. Thanks, okay”. If you want it and clearly, it’s a topic you’re interested in, so there’s a high probability you’ll say, “Sure”, now we have a conversation going; it’s a back and forth, right. So, I think it’s really important to ask that permission. It also feels a lot less spammy when you’re asking permission to send the link.
Wendy Harris: Would you schedule a follow-up? Because somebody like me, if I was to be sent a link, I would always say, “Yeah, I’ll have a look. I’m always interested in new things”, but I may not get to just open the link and have time to watch it or read it whatever it is. So, it could be that late at night or early in the morning around the working hours, I will bookmark it and go back to it later. Would you recommend that you make a note and follow it up a few days later and go, “Hey did you get a chance to read that? What did you think?”
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, and I would even go, “What did you think about…” and get granular insight of that blog post.
Wendy Harris: Wow, okay.
Brynne Tillman: So it doesn’t feel like, “Hey, I’m following up”. It’s a little more conversational, so take something from it.
There’s a lot of different ways to engage in a lot of different places, but if I found this one great article that I think this person is interested in, I’ll find lots more people that would be interested in that article. My follow-up would be on 20 or 30 people potentially, and I might do a poll.
So I may do a poll on, “What is the number one priority; the most important element of emotional intelligence”, whatever that is, “in the workplace: A, B, C, D?” Now, I’m going to go out to these people who like this topic, and I may have found them, these 20 or 30 people, all in comments around that topic.
There’s so many ways to do this, but now I reach out and I get them to answer a poll; and when you ask their point of view in a poll after you’ve already engaged, now we not only know what they’re interested in, but we’re hyper-focussed now on what their priority is, so we can have additional — “I noticed you voted on communication as the number one”, whatever it is, “I don’t know much about that topic, right, but I notice communication is the most important. I’d love to jump on a call and share some insights around that, that might be helpful to you. If you’re open, let me know and I’ll send a link to my calendar”. We’ve already had four or five back and forths that at this point, we’ve earned the right.
Wendy Harris: Even I’ve learned something, Brynne. I think there’s lots to be said for content strategy. I’m a bit of a fly-off-the-hip kind of girl. I try to have a general running theme. I know roughly on this day, I’ll do this and that and then, but that’s about as joined up as it ever gets!
Brynne Tillman: The magic is in the inbox, it’s not in the newsfeed.
Wendy Harris: No, that’s right. That newsfeed can turn into a really busy inbox, can’t it, If you strategise it well?
Brynne Tillman: Well, interesting; so, the newsfeed is the long game, the inbox is the short game.
Wendy Harris: That’s a good way of looking at it actually, isn’t it, and is it true? Because, there’s lots of different people that use LinkedIn lots and say they’re an expert and they teach it, but I think everybody teaches it from their own perspective, or from their own background of using it.
So for me, LinkedIn is about creating a great impression so that people want to have a conversation with you. Whereas, some others will be all about the content and making sure that people reach out and buy from you, than you going out to market. There’s so many different strategies out there.
What would your opinion be on that the inbox is stacked with the algorithm; that if you have a busy inbox, that actually LinkedIn recognises that you are an active user, so the more that you can use your inbox, the more reward you’ll get from the algorithm? Is that just a fallacy or…?
Brynne Tillman: I’ve never heard that, so I don’t know. I mean, I know a lot about the algorithm around newsfeed; I’ve never heard about the algorithm around inbox, so I will research. There’s a ton around the newsfeed, the content, the engagement, the timing, the hashtags, and the types of media that you’re uploading, and how many people you’ve engaged with that will see your content. So, there’s a lot that goes into the newsfeed algorithm that’s interesting.
I’m not sure, if there is an inbox algorithm, how does that favour? Does that favour your newsfeed? I don’t know. I don’t know what the algorithm is that you’ve heard.
Wendy Harris: The way that I always think about LinkedIn is that it might be algorithm driven, but it was built by humans; so, everything that LinkedIn is designed around is a human psychological thought process to get you to engage better. A bit like when you send an invitation to somebody, it prompts you, “Send a note. Put a send now.”
Brynne Tillman: Right.
Wendy Harris: Really, LinkedIn are kind of saying, “You should really send a note, right?”
Brynne Tillman: I wish they’d just open up Note, because I think you should always send a note.
Wendy Harris: Yes. They used to though, didn’t they? Then you could click a box to go to bypass that. They changed that.
Brynne Tillman: Easier to send now, which makes me sad. But algorithm to me is how your content is found or seen. I don’t know how inbox would relate, but I don’t know everything, for sure.
Wendy Harris: No, I just wondered if, because there’s traffic, you know, messages going backwards and forwards?
Brynne Tillman: Where would it reward you?
Wendy Harris: I’m not sure if that rewards you with finding the right people, you know, when LinkedIn has suggested leads for you?
Brynne Tillman: That I hate too.
Wendy Harris: I don’t take much notice of that section, to be honest!
Brynne Tillman: So, here’s the problem. They’ll tell you, “Don’t connect with people you don’t know”, then they send you hundreds of people that you can click to connect without a note.
Wendy Harris: And then they say, “Oh no, you’ve sent too many invitations now!”
Brynne Tillman: Right. So, the system I think is a little bit broken on that.
Wendy Harris: I think I’m going to lean into the fact that it is still designed by humans!
Brynne Tillman: And it’s very clear that it is! And by a collection of humans that probably weren’t in the same room at the same time.
Wendy Harris: They clearly don’t use any other project management tool like…! Oh Brynne, if we can’t laugh about it!
In your domain, helping people with LinkedIn and showing them training, do you see value, because everything that I’ve always done and how I’ve learnt LinkedIn has been free? Do you see value in paying for the platform with all of the changes that are going on at the moment?
Brynne Tillman: I absolutely love Sales Navigator, but it’s like a gym membership. Most people join, they go to the first few weeks, then they stop, and they pay every month and never show up. You got to show up, right. There’s no magic button, there’s no pixie dust; you have to know when it’s leg day and when it’s arm day. You have to have a cadence, a routine and a system, like anything in sales; but Sales Navigator is incredibly powerful on many levels.
To piggyback on one of the things we talked about today, one of the things I love is when you save leads and save accounts inside of Sales Navigator, so you tell Sales Navigator, “I’m interested in this lead”. There is a custom home page that when that lead shares contents, your whole home page, your whole newsfeed in Sales Navigator is custom to only the people you’ve saved.
Wendy Harris: That’s helpful.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah! A 100% of that newsfeed is content that you should be engaging on. It’s very cool.
Wendy Harris: And of course, we all moan about dead scrolling because our feed is full of stuff.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, and this has great filters too, so if you want to see lead shares, so only the things that your leads shared, you can see that in one place, so it’s very valuable for engaging. It’s probably one of the most powerful and fast features to convert a connection to a conversation.
Wendy Harris: Conversation has got to be important for everything that you’ve ever done. We’ve got to the part of the show, I think, where I need to ask you about that one conversation that created a turning point for you, Brynne, and what happened next?
Brynne Tillman: A turning point; I’m going to actually take it away from sales for a second and turn it to bringing in Bill McCormick as our CSO and Head Trainer. He was training a little bit of LinkedIn, but really owned a business with his wife, and one of his clients wanted some Sales Navigator training and he didn’t have Sales Navigator, didn’t know how to do it; and he went into a couple of groups on LinkedIn and said, “I’m looking for some assistance in this”. And so, through people mentioning my name, I reached out, we had a conversation.
I recognised he was doing some good things that could be great and he was looking to scale, and because of our network, it was through people we were able to find each other. You know, he’s a totally different State, totally different area and we were able to come together. Now he’s been with me for almost three years, and we’ve really taken the company to a whole other level, and I couldn’t have done that without people recommending me on LinkedIn to have a conversation with him.
I mean, there’s so many. I could talk about the TD conversation; I could talk about I got ArrowMark. They were looking on LinkedIn for a social selling trainer. I reached out and they said, “You’re too small, we need a bigger company”. Then I saw we had a shared connection, who was a marketing professor at Rutgers, which is a university in New Jersey. I reached out to her, and she said, “I was her marketing professor; I’ll talk to her”. She actually took her to lunch and said, “You have to meet Brynne, even if you don’t hire her”. So they brought me in, they loved my perspective and hired me. I was already told no, but I leveraged my network.
I could go on and on. There are so many stories like that.
Wendy Harris: I would say though, Brynne, that in those examples that you’ve given, it’s not necessarily about your network. These are about the relationships that you’ve made with people. So, right at the bottom of my profile it says, “Do you have the same philosophy as me? It’s not what you know, it’s not who you know, it’s what you know about them”. Bear that philosophy, then you will always be able to help. I say regularly to people, “If there’s somebody in my network that we mutually know and if I can help you, the chances are I do know them”, because I do make that concerted effort to get to know everybody, because then I know who to recommend to who.
Brynne Tillman: That’s great and so valuable.
Wendy Harris: Well, it is and where are you today? So, he’s taken the company from three years ago, how many were you in the company?
Brynne Tillman: So, three years ago there were two of us and now we’re at nine.
Wendy Harris: That’s fantastic.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah.
Wendy Harris: Onwards and upwards for Brynne and her social selling!
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, and we’re able to really scale and serve clients, both entrepreneurs through our monthly membership and e-learning, to huge enterprise clients. So, it’s been great.
Wendy Harris: And I love how a conversation can really take a turning point for you and it delivers just when you need it, doesn’t it?
Brynne Tillman: Yeah, absolutely.
Wendy Harris: So, Brynne, I know that you’ve got your Creator Mode on on LinkedIn.
Brynne Tillman: I go back and forth.
Wendy Harris: I was watching it earlier and I thought, “That’s really cool; how has she done that?”
Brynne Tillman: Oh, you mean the Cover Story?
Wendy Harris: Yeah.
Brynne Tillman: So, Cover Story is the little video. Creator Mode is a different feature, but yeah.
Wendy Harris: What’s all that about then, Brynne, because I thought that was the same thing; is that something different?
Brynne Tillman: I know, it’s so confusing. So, Cover Story is a 30-second video that goes behind your head shot. Creator Mode changes the order of your profile so that all of your content comes before your activity, and your featured sections before any text; and it will also show how many followers you have, and it changes you from Connect button to Follow button.
I don’t love Creator Mode; I love Cover Story.
Wendy Harris: There’s so much muddy waters around this. It’s good that we can share it here.
Brynne Tillman: I love that.
Wendy Harris: Oh, Brynne, thank you so much. I could just continue asking you lots and lots of questions, but I think we are about out of time. So, when everybody listens to this and they want to reach out and carry on the conversation, is LinkedIn the only place that they can find you?
Brynne Tillman: Well, LinkedIn is the primary place that they can find me certainly, and that’s where I’m most responsive. You can also join our community at linkedinlibrary.com and there’s a community there where we answer questions. So if you have questions, that’s a great place to go. It’s totally free.
Wendy Harris: Brilliant, I will go and search that out myself.
Brynne Tillman: Yeah!
Wendy Harris: So, now you all know why I was tongue-tied talking to Brynne, because she really is a font of all knowledge. She’s put together a letter for you, the listeners, which is over on the makingconversationscount.com website. There’s also access to her downloads and resources membership, which is absolutely fantastic. I can vouch for it; I headed over there to have a look and my goodness, there is tons and tons of stuff. Please do take up Brynne’s offer to join her through her social selling link.
Until next time.
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