How to start social selling

Peer Sales Agency - Ketchup Popsicles Podcast Episode featuring Tierney Clifford

The Interview

Ryan Mack: Thanks for joining us for another episode of Ketchup Popsicles! This week we’re gonna be talking about social selling, and we have our Director of Sales and Marketing, Tierney Tyan, joining us.

Tierney Tyan: Happy to be here, thanks for having me.

Ryan Mack: Sure. Okay, this whole social selling thing, it’s like on fire right now, and you have educated us so much over the last few years. Your background, not only in sales but in social media management, has obviously gotten you to a place where we rely heavily on your input, your expertise, education. Tell us about how you got started in this.

Meet Tierney Tyan

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, so about 10 years ago, at one of my previous jobs as a marketing director, we had partnered with Ty Lopez in Los Angeles. He was kind of in the Gary B generation, and in LA, there’s an influencer on every corner,  in every cafe, and people are always creating content. Ty Lopez took social networking and used it as a way to sell his products and information courses. So, what I saw was that there was a way to make direct connections and put people in the buyer’s funnel by creating really engaging, helpful content. He put out a ton of it on Instagram, on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter – he was just really, really good at putting it out there.

Ryan Mack: So early on, these individuals were kinda doing what we’ve all been now re-taught to do in the last couple of years, which is just good, thoughtful, deposits. Just helpful content, pushed down to your audience.

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, exactly. You put out this content and give them the chance to do their own research, make their own decisions, and come to their own conclusions, a lot of times before they’re ready to meet with the salesperson. In today’s age, most prospects really don’t want to meet with the salesperson until they’re ready to make a decision. They’re already in the middle of the funnel or the bottom of the funnel, and they’re there because of the content we’ve put out there.

Ryan Mack: And when you’re talking about this, you’re referring to the organic side and not the paid side. Can you kind of explain the difference between the two?

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, so the organic side is a way to engage potential customers through deposits: so, helpful checklists and blogs and best practices. On the paid side, even though you can promote that stuff, the paid side is normally gonna be a withdrawal or ask: you’re asking for somebody’s information in exchange for information. Or you’re asking for someone’s credit card in exchange for a good or service.

So organically, we’re helping them move through the funnel and do their own research. Paid, we are directing them to a landing page and asking for something.

Ryan Mack: Okay, alright, I think that’s really important for people to know. This is not PPC or paid advertising. This is just going to a social media channel, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and  promoting helpful information that you feel differentiates you from a competitor.

Meet your prospects where they are

Tierney Tyan: Right, exactly. So, they’re finding knowledge and education that they’re already seeking, and so by posting it to our professional profiles and even personal profiles, it makes it just easier for them to find. We’re showing up where they already are spending their time.

Ryan Mack: Okay. Yep. Alright, so okay, how would you talk about social selling, what is this? It’s not a new term, but I feel like it’s getting more and more play.

Tierney Tyan: I think a lot of us over-complicate it, but really your salespeople should be your B2B influencers. 

Think of Instagram influencers who are getting paid referral fees to use products… Your B2B sales reps should really clean up their LinkedIn profiles and post content that’s more consultancy-based than sales-based. [They should be] providing education, helpful content,  and articles to get people not only in your funnel, but it also helps re-engage people that maybe have fallen out of your funnel or gone dark.

It also helps put people in your funnel that have connected with you, but maybe didn’t respond to an initial outreach message. You can think of it as dating: as salespeople, we can come off a little too strong. This organic posting builds trust and authority without asking for too much.

Deposits and Withdrawals

Ryan Mack: Yeah, I think we both talked about deposits and withdrawals, and Tierney and I are both very engaged with Josh Braun over at Sales Hacker.

He talks a lot about deposits and withdrawals –  for those listening at home, deposits are when you give a piece of information with nothing, asking nothing in return. It’s just like making a deposit into your checking account.

Withdrawals would be like asking for 15 minutes, “can we get a meeting, can I get some time in your calendar to do a demo,” whatever, that’s a withdrawal.

Deposits are [worth] $1-2, and withdrawal ask is worth $15. And so you need to make about 8 to 10 deposits before you should feel confident in making an ask. The more depositing you do, the more willing they are to maybe have a discussion, get on the phone,  take time away from their busy day to engage with you.

Ryan Mack: Okay, Tierney, so how did you get started in social selling? And what would you recommend to folks that are jump-starting their social media strategies? Again, this is on the organic side… How do you go through this?

Start social selling

Tierney Tyan: So first, I wanna say that doing this really gives you more power in the sales cycle because you can meet your prospect where they already are when they’re evaluating [solutions.]

51% of salespeople that are good at social selling, or even just participated in the activities of social selling, are more likely to hit their quotas. Once I learned that data, I was like, “Okay, I need to look at my LinkedIn as if I were a prospect.”

When I send connection requests, I say, “Hey Ryan, I see you are a partner at Peer Sales Agency, and I was wondering if you’d be open to connecting and chatting.” Most people who get that message are gonna go to my LinkedIn profile because they automatically have a guard up. [They’re thinking] what does she want? What is she gonna ask me to do? And so they’re looking at my profile, picture, my cover photo, my about section, work history, and then the stuff that I’m sharing. So I started evaluating my profile from that standpoint. My cover photo didn’t have anything but a design, so that was really good real estate that I was just wasting.

I asked our team to design a cover photo that said what we do: we help sales teams close deals, or we help small businesses grow sales. Then we crafted an About section, and then I started posting engaging content as well.

Another thing you can do to get started, is LinkedIn has a Social Selling Index tool, and it’ll actually rate your profile and how well you are set up to social sell.  It’ll also tell you what you can do to improve it.

I ran my profile through that, and then I updated my profile based on those recommendations.

I’ll tell you that we ran a test internally. So, we use an automated LinkedIn tool that reaches out to prospects or sends connection requests. And one of our BDRs has a LinkedIn profile that’s not really optimized: the cover photo’s blank, he doesn’t post anything, the profile picture isn’t maybe as professional as it could be. Our sales leader kept saying to me, “Why are you getting more activity than he’s getting? Why are you getting these connection requests and meetings?”

We’re using the same copy and the same sequences, and he’s not getting any bites. We compared the profiles and it really was because his profile wasn’t set up to be socially engaging.

Just like if you were on a dating app… with a picture of a fish [instead of a picture of yourself], you’re less likely to get dates. You have to put in what makes you stand out, what you can bring to the relationship, and why you’re a thought leader in your space before somebody’s gonna be willing to connect with you and look at your content.

Ryan Mack: That’s really interesting. And I think people overlook that. In fact, I will go as far as to say some people feel like it’s a vanity to spend time on their bio, and what they don’t realize is that profile is the curb appeal to get folks to even come to the house and take a look before purchasing.

So, get that out of your head, that it’s some vain exercise. It is no different than you having a website for a company. Your LinkedIn profile is kind of your personal website.

Tierney Tyan: It really is, and I think the number one mistake I see people make is making their About sections and Summary sections about themselves.

If you’re looking for a new position and you’re in the market for the job, then that makes sense to showcase your experience and to talk about yourself, ’cause you’re selling yourself.

But if I’m selling Peer, I really wanna talk about who I help, and how I help them. People don’t really care about where I came from and what I’ve done. They might care about my certifications and experience if they think that I can offer some consultancy tips during our meeting.

I’m not just a salesperson pushing something I have to sell: I’m a problem finder and a problem solver. That prime real estate at the top of your profile should really be focused on who you help and how you help them.

Ryan Mack: That’s good, I really like that. So, we got kind of a general understanding of how to set yourself up to begin this process.

How to find your prospects on social sites

Because there are millions of people on these platforms,  how do you figure out who to go after and what to go after them with? How do you start that process?

Tierney Tyan: One way that I prospect is by using the search functions in LinkedIn and Facebook and Reddit.

All of these platforms are indexing posts and groups that you might be in or that your prospects might be in. So, for example, somebody might be looking for a website agency, somebody to redo their website. I’ll use the search function in LinkedIn and search for “website development recommendations,” because a lot of people when they’re looking for services, they go to their network first for recommendations. Then, you can directly reach out to them, “Hey, Ryan, I see you’re looking for help with your website. I have some great resources to send over, would you mind connecting and chatting…” So that’s one way you can do it.

Ryan Mack: I don’t even think I fully appreciated the fact that they were indexing posts, and so you could search for that stuff, I just think about searching for a person or searching for a company… you’re actually searching for a problem, and then you’re the Tylenol for that headache. That’s genius. That’s great.

Tierney Tyan: And then think of more ways you can stand out because they’re gonna get hit from all sorts of people when they make those posts or recommendation requests.

Find ways to stand out, get in front of them, and get them to accept that connection request.  One way you can do that is by recording a video.

I might record a quick video just saying, “Hey, Ryan, saw your post. I know you’re probably getting blown up, so I just wanted to record a video to introduce myself, so you know that I’m a real person and we’re a real company and I have a general interest in helping you. Here are the ways I can help you, and if you’re willing to jump on a call, I can offer some free advice, no sales pitch! If it doesn’t work out, no worries, thanks for connecting, Have a great day!”

That’s a way you can really stand out from the crowd.

Ryan Mack: I love the video piece. So, we’re a HubSpot shop. We’ve been using it for years, the video integration. One of our friends sent us a video like this, and I was just so engaged with it… and because I’m so used to doing Zooms, I started talking back to the video, I started responding! You’re right, it does show that there’s a real person there.

You can hear the inflection of my voice, you can hear the excitement, some of the passion, all of that. I think it’s an underutilized tool, and nd something that I feel salespeople should be taking way more advantage of. You get really good behavior metrics on them opening it, watching it, when they stopped watching it – there’s great feedback that you actually don’t get in text email.

Tierney Tyan: I think it’s just hard for some of us because it’s intimidating, but the more you do it, the more comfortable it’ll feel. You can type out a script and use the same script over and over again, it’s still gonna feel really personable because you’re using their name and company name in the video.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, that’s a good point.

So how are you using insights and reporting?

Tierney Tyan: As I mentioned before, LinkedIn has a Social Selling Index tool, and I really use that to see how I’m comparing to the rest of the market.

So right now, I’m looking at it and it says I’m on the top 2% of the Industry. But there are a lot of things that I can still improve.

Like for example, I could do a better job at establishing a professional brand. I’m doing a pretty good job at finding the right people, I’m doing a good job in engaging with insights, and I’m doing a good job with building relationships.

I can take this information and work on my profile. I can tell that I’m maybe slacking or not doing a good enough job at reaching out to the people that are interested in speaking with me, if the number of people that are viewing my profile and connecting is dropping, I’ll go in and look at my lists in Sales Navigator and adjust those a little bit to see if I can’t find better fit people to talk to.

Ryan Mack: That was a question I wanted to ask you: There are a variety of tiers in Sales Navigator: what differences did you notice between the paid Sales Navigator seat in LinkedIn and the free seat?

The reciprocation bias

Tierney Tyan: The paid seat is gonna give you a lot more data, it’s gonna show you how many of the people in your lead list have changed jobs recently to the job title that you’re looking for, which is a really powerful tool. Most people, when they come into a new position might feel overwhelmed, so you can reach out to them.

One, to congratulate them on their new promotion and, two, to just be a resource and make some deposits on how you can help them in their new role because they are super overwhelmed with the onboarding and they’re gonna appreciate any help and insights you can give them.

Also, it just feels good to be congratulated, so do that.

Ryan Mack: I agree. Just a quick aside: that is super important, to just tell people that they’re doing a good job or congratulate them on something. Don’t scroll past it, hit the like or send them a note. It’s a nice thing. They’ve worked very hard for it, if they’re in your network you chose to have them in your circle, so do the right thing and throw a little love their way.

Tierney Tyan: We all have that friend on Facebook that loves our stuff and comments and posts pictures for your birthday. It feels good, you’re never annoyed by them. And with sales on LinkedIn? We want people to want to see our stuff, we want to make people feel good, we want to be positive and share helpful content.

Ryan Mack: Yeah, and for the skeptics, there’s psychology around you pushing material to them in a depositing fashion. They will feel a subconscious obligation to engage with your stuff at some point. So whether you wanna do it because you’re a good person or you wanna do it because you’re just a sales person that wants to close deals…Whatever, it’s fine. There’s two reasons that you should do it.

Tierney Tyan: It’s called the reciprocation bias, if you wanna look it up.

Networking tips

Ryan Mack: Okay, so what are some other ways that you kind of network digitally in these environments?

Tierney Tyan: I’d say just start by making sure your profile is set up to engage with your current connections or prospects. Even ones that weren’t a good fit previously, do you wanna stay top of mind for him? ‘Cause you might be a good fit down the road. So, continue to engage with their content, continue to share it, and like it.

Also, another tip is to schedule your posts out – because we get busy and thinking that you’re gonna be able to share a company article, every Monday and Thursday, isn’t gonna happen. So set aside time every month to schedule that content to go out so that you don’t have to worry about posting, you can just engage with people that are engaging with your content.

Ryan Mack: I like the scheduling idea, I like that you can set aside time and kind of build your month or week, whatever it is, of communication to your audience.

I do recommend, and I learned this from Tierney, theming it. Just have a theme for the month. Talk about one topic and dive deep into that topic, so that they can get a lot of different view points on why that particular area is important. One of the pain points may not resonate with them, so you’re gonna have to find a couple of different pain points that might perk their interest.

What about groups… How do you manage that stuff?

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, I’m in lots of different groups. Just participate – by sharing blog content and commenting on posts and giving people referrals when you have a referral to give. And to stay active, always just ask yourself, “What can I do to help others?” Because that’s gonna come back to you.

Don’t send annoying InMails

Ryan Mack: Okay, so I want to quickly touch on some of the InMails…  dude, I get hit up so much on LinkedIn with the same trash, and it’s just frustrating to me. You had an opportunity to make an impression and you squandered it, and what’s even more annoying is when two reps from the same company hit me within five to 10 minutes of each other with the same message!

I’ll give you two examples that I find to be very annoying. The first is not looking at what I do. So, if another marketing agency comes to me with a generic message of, “Hey, you want us to take a look at your website and build your website for you?” It’s like dang, all you had to do was just spend 30 seconds on my profile and you would realize… We do that for a living.

And then the second thing is, this is a really nuanced one, but those messages that start out with, “I know this is random, but I just wanted to reach out and connect with you because of…” And then they go into a very not random thing, very specific.

The apologetic intro, why are you apologizing? Don’t apologize. You have so much time and material that you can use to make an impression, why are you wasting time on an apology? “Oh hey, I’m sorry for bothering you. But here I go, I’m gonna bother you!”

What are your tips for avoiding a bad LinkedIn InMail? You’ve gotta have a couple.

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, I would say one: the message should never be about you. It should be about them. “I checked out your LinkedIn” or “I saw that you were interviewed in an article,” or “It looks like you’re doing a really good job leading your sales team, their LinkedIn profiles look great.”

Just something that shows that you took the time to do your research before reaching out.

Second, don’t write books to people that are already busy – they don’t have time to go through it, so either be helpful and give them a deposit or tell them what you do and how you can help them.  Then make it easy to book time with you immediately.

“Are you available to talk?” That’s not an easy thing to say “yes” to because everyone is busy. Give them a meeting link: it’s easy to click on and schedule. Or giving two times that you’re available… “I’m available Tuesday at 10, and I’m available at Thursday at 10.” That’s an easy thing to say “yes” to.

The less work you can make them do, the better and the more helpful you can be, the better.

Ryan Mack: I like that. Do you use links or videos inside of LinkedIn emails?

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, so I use HubSpot to upload the videos and send links because it’ll tell me when somebody clicks on that link. So I can get data from that, and then I can also use those videos in emails as well.

Start today, iterate and improve

Ryan Mack: I think this stuff works, I know it works. We have seen so much activity, we’ve seen the results from that activity. So, what’s the end message here – how do you want to wrap this up?

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, I would say just start evaluating your LinkedIn, as if you don’t know yourself. Be honest with yourself and fix it up, give it a little facelift, and then start sharing some content in some articles.

If that makes you nervous, find someone on your team that can be your sounding board. Ask them “Hey, what do you think of this post… How does it make you feel? Do you have any feedback?”

And that’ll just give you a way to sort of test content before you put it out there, if that makes you nervous… because posting all the time, it can be a little overwhelming and you wanna make sure you’re saying the right things and you don’t sound stupid, so that’s really helpful for me. I have someone on the team that I send my content calendar to all the time to review.

Then I would say, as long as you’re being helpful and trying to provide value that you can’t really go wrong… So that would be my biggest advice.

Ryan Mack: I think that is great. Authenticity. Shout out to Michael Brody-Waite, the gentleman that tells us to be authentic every step of the way.

I think the most important thing you can do on social media is just don’t get tied up in the theater of it, just use it as a place to put helpful information. And don’t expect anything in return. Allow them to engage. And something Tierney always says, just start doing it.

You will learn. If you don’t start somewhere, at some point, you’re just gonna keep kicking that can down the road. Just start it, get an MVP out there, and we’ll iterate and make it better.

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, don’t be a perfectionist. This stuff is proven to work, so as long as you’re doing the activity… Like I said, it can’t hurt.

Ryan Mack: I think this is awesome.

Okay, so we’re gonna put your information at the bottom: no joke, true deposit, if you want to know more about social selling, how to leverage some stuff, get 15 minutes with Tierney. She will seriously help you walk through it,  we’re not gonna pitch you. That’s not how we roll.

Tierney Tyan: Yeah, that sounds great. I’ll be happy to look at anybody’s LinkedIn profiles and give some helpful pointers out…

Ryan Mack: That’s awesome. Thank you for spending some time with us. This was really great.

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Ryan Mack

Ryan Mack is the CEO and co-founder of Peer Sales Agency. Fueled by his drive to help companies reach their revenue goals, he puts his decades of experience in sales, private equity, and organization leadership to work for Peer’s clients.


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