Episode 46 - Sudhir KumarAdding the human to a digital sales world. Social selling is more than just selling via social media! We're making conversations about digital social selling count!
Sudhir Kumar, Social Selling Expert
Making Conversations about Social Selling Count!
When you think about the term social selling, you’d be forgiven for thinking, “oh, that thing people do on Linkedin.”
This episode’s guest puts forward a valid argument for thinking beyond the obligatory posts on social media.
Sudhir reflects on how the landscape for communication has changed with the addition of technology.
And he explains how it’s more important than ever before to be human…
“You need to know who you’re speaking to…so much has changed in terms of the customer journey…” –
Making Conversations Count, September 2021.
As you’ll know by now, Wendy is all about the importance of conversations in business.
Therefore, you’ll be unsurprised to learn it’s music to her ears when Sudhir talks about how vital it is to understand who you want to start conversations if you want your marketing and subsequent sales to succeed!
Listen to learn how spending the time up front to be able to identify your buyers, will define your outcomes.
Twitter – @sud_origin
Email – email@example.com
Book page – www.sudkumar.co.uk
Website – www.origingrowth.com
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Full Episode Transcript
Making Conversations Count – Episode Forty-Six
September 2nd 2021
Wendy Harris & Sudhir Kumar
00:02:13: Current noise
00:05:24: Evolving buying process
00:09:38: Smarter with technology
00:11:14: Still and always will be conversations
00:14:19: Sud’s best piece of advice
00:17:44: Sud’s pivotal conversation
00:21:47: A wealth and books and advice out there
00:22:43: Ignore the noise
00:25:54: Predictions for culture conversations
00:27:48: Final conversation
Wendy Harris: How can you be more human in a digital world. Talking to people online is a confusing landscape, standing out above the noise means we have to create what I call a pocket of quiet, to be heard. Stay tuned for this special episode where we talk more about account-based marketing and business growth; a conversation with Sudhir Kumar that will benefit anyone who is starting the journey of new contact or needs to get back on track, as we’re making conversations about social selling count.
What’s new Wendy Woo? I always love it when you ask me that. A top-secret opportunity for a very special conversation is being planned. This plays perfectly into my skillset of planning what to cover in the conversation to make it count; more to come soon. Be sure to follow the #diary of the conversation queen.
Also we’ve had a lovely review from Kate in Oxford. She was listening to an episode and here’s what she had to say, “Wow! I so learned something new. Wendy this episode gets a gold star for value. So many tips and tricks for grabbing people’s attention, Brynne seems to explain everything in very few words, it’s like each world is gold. Your podcast is just getting better and better”. Kate, thank you so much, Brynne Tillman was talking to us about LinkedIn and she’s got a great online resource with lots of learning modules. Check out the website, listen to the episode and let me know what you think.
Now then I am so excited to be talking to you today, Sud, because your profile has a statement on it and I love it and it’s, “How do you stand out from the crowd?”
Sudhir Kumar: To stand out from the crowd and cut through the noise you need to think outside the box, and you also need to understand your audience on a human-to-human level; that’s what it really comes down to. In today’s world, especially everything that’s going on around us now, we’re surrounded by so much noise, and so many distractions. It really is about resonating with the audience; we cannot do any disruptive methods anymore.
You can pay on YouTube to stop ads, that’s the world that we are in where people don’t want disruptive marketing, we are very valuable with our time and where we spend our time on our favourite social channels, consuming specific content. It’s really down to us as professionals and businesses to understand our audience and resonate and communicate with them on a one-to-one level where they actually feel that we understand them. That is going to make you stand out.
Then thinking outside the box is, “How do you communicate with these people to excite them, to educate them, to entertain them, to get that engagement?” the things that I would definitely recommend to people who are trying to stand out and cut through the noise, because we’ve got so much noise.
Wendy Harris: There are too many distractions and I’ve heard this phrase recently and it’s, “Stop the scroll”.
Sudhir Kumar: That would be nice.
Wendy Harris: Yeah, and it’s how do you do that, isn’t it? Sometimes it is like the snowball, you’ve got to start and compact the snow and just get it into that shape so that it’s recognisable as something, like a snowball. Then it can gain momentum, can’t it, as more and more people identify with that content?
Sudhir Kumar: That’s what it’s about. If we just look at our own LinkedIn feeds, we can scroll but what it is that actually stands out? It’s going to be something that’s resonating with you and then that really goes back to the type of network that you have on LinkedIn. Who are you connecting with? Is it anyone? Is it specific individuals? Because, the more you connect with people that are relevant to you, that are of real interest to you, that you think you could do work with or potentially they can give you services, that’s where you’re going to get the opportunity. Trying to stand out is, “What’s it going to be?” Is it going to be a bold statement, it is going to be a funky video? Is it going to be a TikTok thing which people are going nuts for?
It’s always that, “What’s that next thing that’s going to really capture people’s attention?” Especially as it’s all online now, I mean what I’m missing at the moment is print. I love direct mail, I think it’s such a great marketing touchpoint, it’s tangible, it’s personalised, you can get it. The fact now that a majority of people are working from home and we don’t know if they are in the office, it’s sort of taking that emphasis away from direct mail so it’s like, “Okay, is this the way to go? How do we replicate those human-to-human interactions online now?”, so that’s when we need to start thinking outside the box and trying to be a bit more creative.
Wendy Harris: What’s your prediction then, Sud? I understand completely, I’ve been working with a couple of campaigns. One’s my own, one’s a client’s, and we’ve done some direct mail. People are fluid these days, which I think is a great word, I love that word. They’re in the office, then they’re not, then they’re back in the office, then they’re not. I think these tactics of a moving target that clients are, is here to stay. They have evolved to a more dynamic target, haven’t they?
Sudhir Kumar: No, it’s true. We’ve all evolved as human beings and the buying process has completely evolved as well. Yes, there is more opportunity to get in touch with the individual because we all carry phones now, which are all connected with one another, but like you said it’s finding that sweet spot and that really comes down to how many touchpoints are you seriously going to do?
It’s about investing a lot of time up front, so not just going at mass and not trying to text everyone and not trying to automate to everyone, it’s being very selective and then trying to understand the individuals in terms of pain points and problems that they have. When you start to look at your audience, can you really add value to these people? That is going to be key. You don’t want to connect with anyone, you don’t want to try and sell to anyone, it’s really, “Can I generally add value? How can I add value?” then trying to communicate that to them on their terms.
When it does come to direct mail, it could be a great touchpoint, but it may be the third or fourth, when the first one literally is just trying to get comfortable with the individual, making them aware of you, making sure that you’re in and around their ecosystem, make sure that you stay front of mind. Then you do start to connect and have a conversation with people; that’s what social selling and social media — that is what selling is about. It’s built upon relationships, so let’s try and have a conversation first, understand them better, try and be personalised. There’s so many people on LinkedIn that give great tips in terms of voice notes and video outreaches.
For me, video outreach is great and that’s one I always do. Video outreach is trying to have a conversation and then, mention it in there, “I’m going to send you something in the post that may be of use”. Whereas before you may have emailed a guy, sent him a link to a webinar, why not print off the specific piece of content that you’ve created for that individual. Maybe an article on your LinkedIn piece that you think that is really useful for that individual, have it, personalised Post-it Note, pop in a Freddo and a Haribo packet.
Wendy Harris: Always works.
Sudhir Kumar: Always works! Post that to the individual and just drop them a note saying, “I’ve sent you a package, it’d be great to get your feedback”. That person is going to receive something from you, nine times out of ten they will appreciate it because you’ve gone to the effort. How much post do we get nowadays that isn’t bills and stuff? Not a lot, so in terms of the noise you’ve got a pretty clear direct way through. Then you have sent them something so I’m more than confident you will get a response.
Then again, just those little touchpoints that help in terms of having a conversation and all the way through, you’ve just been trying to understand them and add value to the world. You haven’t at any point tried to sell to them, because you can’t sell to an individual until you understand them.
Wendy Harris: It’s a conversation that I have a lot where people say, “How are you going to improve my sales, Wendy?” Actually, that’s not my job, my job is to help you start the conversations so that you have better clients, because you understand them, you know where they are, what they need to achieve, and you will be there and helping them along the way. That’s all we can do isn’t it, so it’s the same process.
I love that tip of printing an article off and putting a Post-it Note on. I’ve actually got my book and I’ve been sending it with a personalised Post-it Note on a particular page. So, I’ve looked at their profiles, their content, what it is that they’re saying, and I’ve just literally gone, “Just this one tip, do this one tip and see the improvements”, and that’s it. It’s great and you get messages back going, “I did it, I did that, and this happened”. It’s fabulous.
Sudhir Kumar: It’s that human interaction that’s shown you’ve gone out of your way to do something, and they appreciate it. It’s all of the things that we used to have in terms of networking, before having those conversations, getting to certain individuals, but we’ve just become so spoilt in terms of the technology that we have at our fingertips, and the fact that we can do so much quickly and on mass.
I have this conversation with many businesses, CMOs and sales directors when we’re thinking about a lot more leads, we need to have more warm conversations. You start to have a conversation with them about in terms of profiling individuals and investing the time upfront and it’s always, “How long’s that going to take? That’s going to take me some time”. Yes, because you have to some —
Wendy Harris: “If we’d have started 12 months ago”.
Sudhir Kumar: Yes, and it’s, “I can do a cold call campaign with diallers, and I can hit this many people and I can get this percentage of return”, or, “I can send an email campaign with a click of a button, and I can get this reach instantly”. It’s the cultural difference, it is changing an individual’s mindset and approach to say, “Okay, email and cold calling or calls do have a part to play, 100% they’re not dead”, but further on down in terms of the first instance, you need to understand who you’re speaking to.
If you don’t invest that time upfront, especially now where there’s been acceleration of digital adoption, so much has changed in terms of the customer journey, you’re just not going to cut through the noise.
Wendy Harris: I get what you’re saying there, Sud, as well because a conversation I was only having just before we came on air, was how I’ve been helping people since 1989. I was asked the question, “How do you think it’s going to be that we can use the power of the phone, post-COVID, and work smarter?” My answer was, “Let’s rewind to 1989 to how it was done then and then just think a bit smarter about the technology that we’ve got now”.
Use the technology in a smart sense so it sharpens us, but go back to the way that relationships were done then. We’ve gone out of fashion to come back into fashion as we settle into this new way of speaking to our audiences and customers, do you know what I’m saying?
Sudhir Kumar: I get it, I actually get it, and you’re right. I was only six in 1989, by the way!
Wendy Harris: I felt that!
Sudhir Kumar: I’m only joking.
Wendy Harris: I know.
Sudhir Kumar: You are absolutely right in terms of it was about having conversations, it was about relationships and taking the time out to go for coffees. When you are speaking to people, you’re not always going to sell to everyone, not everyone’s going to be the right fit for you. But the best thing that I always find and what I was enjoying in terms of engaging and interacting with people is, you can manage their expectations, you can help them in other areas. Maybe you’re not the best fit but you can then recommend or refer them to someone. It is genuinely about helping.
A lot of people will just be like, “He’s talking fluff”, because you’re a marketeer, but if you can help that individual, they will remember you because you’ve done them a favour. They will remember the interaction they had with you, that is what I call social capital; you have built a reputation on that interaction and based upon how you portray yourself online. If they match, that individual’s had a good experience with you, that adds to your social package. Whenever they are online and they see someone else who wants your service; they, nine times out of ten, will refer or recommend you.
I’ve had it happen to me, I’ve had people that I haven’t even had a conversation with, and they’ve referred other people to me, they went, “This guy’s always got really good content, here’s someone that you should speak to”, and it’s just like, “Wow, thank you, so then off the back of that I had a conversation with the individual.
Wendy Harris: That’s the difference isn’t it that we are having conversations in different places now and not necessarily verbally, so our conversations have to be the same no matter where we show up.
Sudhir Kumar: 100% you have to be authentic; you can’t fake it; you can’t hide behind your screen. We’re all humans, we pick up one when it’s not authentic, when it’s a templated thing or if it’s fake or if it’s a bot, or if it’s spam, we just know; we instantly know. If you’re not being authentic, you’re just harming your brand.
Wendy Harris: When it comes to who you help yourself then, Sud, I know that you’ve got a book and I’ve got a copy, keeping it upright for you, it’s standing next to mine! You talk about being human because that’s the title of the book and it’s about social selling and marketing and all of those sorts of things. What would you say is the best piece of advice you would give anybody in today’s climate?
Sudhir Kumar: I would seriously say to individuals, “Use this time to really understand your audience”, and by that, I mean the channels that these individuals are on, because regardless of whatever sort of marketing you are doing, whether it’s traditional, inbound, ABMs, social selling, all of it comes back to the consumer, to your audience, to your world. If you don’t understand them all of your marketing and sales is flawed, so invest the time, understand them.
You’ve got the inbound marketing, which obviously came into play in the mid-2000s; it was great because it was based upon bio personas. Okay, they were fictional bio personas, but at least there was some actual profiling done there at that point, and the next level was obviously account-based marketing, which is real-life bio personas actually trying to understand Steve who works for X, Y and Z. What resonates with him?
So, go in to that level of detail to try to understand your audience, the channels that these people are on, what is a day in their lives, what type of content are they consuming? What sort of groups are they part of? What are they interacting with? What are their pain points? What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night? How can you truly add value to the world? What’s currently going on in the climate for them? How can you look at the hashtags, look what’s trending in terms of content? See what’s performing the best and then instead of trying to replicate it, try to create your own version which is a little bit disruptive. Give your insight into what’s going on.
The best thing that always resonates through is when you give real-life examples, so if you have helped an individual and you have come across real-life hurdles, real-life problems, talk about them, show them and that’s what I have always tried to do, and we always try to do. I’ve been criticised a lot in terms of, “You give too much away”, even with the book.
Wendy Harris: It’s one thing giving it away, it’s another thing somebody actually doing something with it.
Sudhir Kumar: Exactly.
Wendy Harris: We all need help.
Sudhir Kumar: Exactly, so I always try to show my thinking, whether that’s sketches and diagrams or just really to show the scenarios and things, because it’s real life. Things happen, there isn’t always a straight path that it has to be agile, you have to adopt, and things happen differently. So, that’s what I would say to individuals, you truly need to understand your audience in today’s world, because if you don’t, you’re not going to survive.
Wendy Harris: In lots of instances, and this may sound easier than done, but we do need to be original. Our individual experiences are original, and it is about sharing those and it having value for others, isn’t it, because they’ll be people in similar situations. You’re never going to absolutely mirror anything, because that’s the uniqueness of the human race.
Sudhir Kumar: Absolutely.
Wendy Harris: Sud, we get to the bit of the show that I always get excited about, because I have no idea what’s coming. I ask guests to think about a conversation that created a turning point and what happened next. So, over to you to share with us, if you don’t mind.
Sudhir Kumar: Okay, so my story is really about self-confidence, self-awareness and really self-development, which has sort of been a journey for me. I’ve always been passionate about marketing, it’s just always been with me, always been a hard worker in terms of going the extra mile and trying my best. I was always the “A” for effort kind of individual and I just came to a point in my career and my personal life where I felt really let down in terms of where I was working currently where I enjoyed it. I really thrived there, I enjoyed people around me, but I just felt like I wasn’t being given the opportunities to excel and to grow.
Really looking back at it now, it was almost an excuse because at the end of the day the ball’s in my court in terms of how I progress and develop. In my personal life a relationship had broken down, I was really low in terms of motivation, zero confidence at that point. A friend of mine recommended The Secret to me, so I read it, and then I also listened to the audio book as well and I just went off on an absolute journey in terms of my mindset and how I should be thinking, having that self-confidence, starting my day correctly, with affirmations and gratitude and planning my day; planning my day and using my time more efficiently in terms of my self-development.
So, I’ve always been one to get up early and go to the gym 6.00am. I started to get up at 5.00am, which is bonkers, but 5.00am and I would do my morning affirmations. I’ve got a vision board which I use to focus on my personal goals and my career goals as well. When I’m in the car I don’t listen to the radio or anything like that, I’ve got either affirmations or positive podcasts or talks, or I’m listening to audiobooks. I exercise and then I come into work bouncing, absolutely bouncing, I’m full of energy, my sleep’s fantastic, and literally I just went from not really reading that much to reading or listening to one or two books a week.
I just went off on a journey from listening to the Law of Attraction, and then some stuff from Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar, Robin Sharma who’s fantastic and I just started to grow as an individual. My confidence started to grow, I invested more time in myself and I wasn’t worried about any sort of politics or growth in terms of the workspace, because for me it was my mindset was then and still is, “Just give it your best, do your best and that’s all that you can ask for”. If it’s acceptable and someone appreciates that and they see the value in you, they will support you and help you grow and if they don’t, that’s fine, you can look elsewhere.
I just went off on that journey and then that’s when, almost five years ago, I came here. That period of growth, I went from again lacking in confidence in terms of my presentations and not really doing much, to doing blogs, doing presentations, doing public speaking, coming here and then spending more time with James, who is the CEO, who even encouraged me more, “Just do it. Just get it done, you can do this, you can do that”.
I haven’t looked back since and I think I’m a totally different person. Things that used to daunt me before, like presentations, now are just very simple and very easy and even writing the book, it was on the vision board and then 2019 it was, “Yes, okay, that’s one I’m going to go for and that’s one I’m going to tick off”.
Wendy Harris: That conversation with a friend just triggered a chain reaction with you, “Here’s a book that I think might really help you right now”, and from that standing start, it’s just opened the floodgates. The wealth of books and advice that is out there is fascinating.
Sudhir Kumar: It’s mind boggling, because like I said I wasn’t really reading that much, but again it’s just taking little insights, little snippets. I had a great conversation with my parents as well, because there’s cross-over in terms of when you read stuff about gratitude and affirmation and stuff like Jay Shetty, and I can speak to my parents who are from India about certain different elements.
Wendy Harris: It’s cross-cultural, isn’t it?
Sudhir Kumar: Yes, absolutely.
Wendy Harris: A lot of this personal development is cross-cultural. How else do we get to be having a conversation with Tony Robbins than reading his book.
Sudhir Kumar: Exactly.
Wendy Harris: That’s as close as you’re going to get, isn’t it?
Sudhir Kumar: What I’ve seen is there is more of this content coming out. If you look at Jay Shetty, how big he is, and I read his stuff now and a lot of it I’ve possibly already read from other people, but it’s always good to re-engage with things. But I just feel that stuff that everyone is talking about now is so relevant, because they say so many good things in terms of when you get up in the morning, don’t go to your phone, don’t start scrolling. The reason why you get up early between 4.00am and 6.00am, that is a perfect time in terms of your brain, in terms of the type of energy, your emotions. That is brilliant for learning, for doing exercise, for setting your day off right.
Whereas again, we’re in a digital world where, “I don’t really have to be up early because I don’t physically have to go into work”. Nine times out of ten a lot of people rely on their phone to wake them up. They just start scrolling, what are they looking at? What social channels are they on? Are they actually looking at anything that’s positive for their day? Have they actually then got up? How much exercise are they going to do?
Exercise could be anything, it could be a walk, it’s whatever suits you. You don’t have to go to the gym like me, but just getting something to get your blood pumping and having those positive affirmations, positive feelings make your whole day and outlook and your energy and vibe that you give off to other people totally different.
Wendy Harris: The first thing I do is take the dog. I don’t even get a chance to brush my teeth or have a cup of tea, the dog is just like, “Come on! Let’s go!” I do confess I do go out and I’m walking the dog and I’m scrolling and looking at getting ahead of the day, but then it’s horses for courses, isn’t it? I love being out with the dog at that time in the morning, and I can go and find a spot and sit, I can scroll while I’m walking and go and sit and actually be in the moment of being out with the dog and watching the dog doing whatever silliness she’s up to.
There’s one rule that I have in my house, following doing the mental health first aider training course, as soon as dinner is served, mobiles are all left on the side in the kitchen for as long as possible. It’s set for an hour for us to have dinner and to share some social. Quite often, we’ll go in the kitchen, we’ll clean away and tidy up, and the phones will stay there because we will go into another room and carry on that social. That’s made a massive difference.
Sudhir Kumar: 100%, when I was growing up, we always used to have the one key thing, because my parents were always working, my dad used to work nights. The one key thing was we had dinner together, we sit down at the table, we have dinner together. It makes a massive difference and again, it’s something that we used to do that we don’t do because of what’s changed in terms of the world.
Wendy Harris: Some face-to-face meetings are coming back and creeping back into my diary and I’m making a point of only doing it over food, because I feel that that is such a great way of bonding. When you share a meal together it goes back in tradition for many, many thousands of years, doesn’t it, and there’s a reason.
Sudhir Kumar: That’s a great idea.
Wendy Harris: What’s next for Sud? Best-selling book, speaker, avid reader, have you any predictions for conversations?
Sudhir Kumar: I’m not sure, I’ve been thinking about new goals and things to put on the vision board, possibly another book, but rather than being more focused on marketing methods and techniques, I think there’s a need to talk about culture and how we need to adopt and some elements that we’ve covered today. I think that’s always key, and I think it’s often overlooked.
We’ve had it many times when we talk to clients and prospects that come in and they’re adamant, “We want ABM, or we want social selling, or we want this”. It’s like, “Yeah, you can have it, but is your culture ready for it? Are you actually ready to adopt and change and shift your mindset and approach?” These are things you have to take into consideration; you can’t just install something and press a button and expect all magic to happen.
Wendy Harris: Everybody has to be invested, don’t they?
Sudhir Kumar: Exactly, and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from business culture, so I think that’s one thing I could possibly do.
Wendy Harris: Just write it, please.
Sudhir Kumar: I’ve started to make notes in my journal, because that’s how the first book came across is I always try to take the time whenever I have any ideas or thoughts, I used to jot them down.
Wendy Harris: I’m always encouraging listeners to carry the conversation on after the show; where’s the best place to find you?
Wendy Harris: Like the genie.
Sudhir Kumar: Yeah, just connect with me or send me a message, I’m happy to interact with individuals.
Wendy Harris: Now, social selling reaches across many spectrums of communication in the digital age, and I hope you took something away to try today. Let me know, we love it when the conversation carries on after the show and you can find more details from guests including grabbing a copy of Sudhir’s books and many other titles including mine to add to your reading list. Go check out makingconversationscount.com under the Guest Resource page.
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