Put the Social into Selling: A Sales Mastery Interview with Ago Cluytens

As I’ve been writing and speaking for the last 7 years about Social Selling and why salespeople need to adapt to changed buyer behavior, it still comes back to one key point:

If you keep trying to sell the way that you’ve always sold, you lose most of the time!

I have a number of kindred spirits who think as I do regarding this changed world of selling, so it was with great delight that I sat down with Ago Cluytens to talk about his views on what salespeople need to do to succeed in today’s complex B2B sales environment.

Ago shared some practical tips that salespeople can put into practical application now. One of my favorites is Ago’s three golden rules for sales success using social channels to sell. It all breaks down to:

  • 40% sharing
  • 40% listening
  • 20% talking

Given that I’m observing a lot of sales (and marketing) people spend 80%-90% of their time talking about themselves and what they want to sell – and I am being kind with my percentages – I want people to take Ago’s advice to heart. Using social channels to crank out generic sales pitches just do more harm than good and people WILL turn you off. Another time, I’ll tell you about the person I had to shut off on Facebook, because I had finally had enough of the constant self-promotion.

Anyway, as I always say, it is great interview with a sales thought leader who has amassed years of experience on both the marketing and sales side of the house. I know that you are going to enjoy my conversation with Ago, as much as I did!

Let me tell you about Ago…

As Practice Director EMEA at RAIN Group, Ago Cluytens specializes in helping clients sell complex, high-end professional, financial, and technology services to senior decision makers and C-level executives in the Fortune 500.

His early track record as a management consultant with “Big 4″ professional services firms Ernst & Young and Arthur Andersen (now Deloitte) made him intimately familiar with “selling to the C-suite.” Spending over a decade as an executive with Fortune 50 financial services firm ING helped Ago develop a unique insider’s perspective of how corporations really buy and make decisions.

As former Global Head of Marketing (CMO) for the Private Banking division, Ago is a former CxO – with a deep understanding of what other CxOs look for when evaluating providers.

He has worked with corporations such as Ernst & Young, Toyota, Telenet, Arthur Andersen, Deloitte, ING, Keytrade, JP Morgan, Accenture, Procter & Gamble and Firmenich, as well as dozens of smaller firms.

Ago is a regular contributor to industry research and a panelist and speaker at conferences hosted by organizations like Brits in Business, Executives International, Wealthbriefing, Dukascopy, Marcus Evans, Terrapinn, and the Financial Times (FT).

And to ensure his insights stay current, he hosts an online TV series called the Coaching Master Series – learn more at www.coachingmasters.tv.

When you listen to my conversation with Ago, you’ll learn:

  • What buyers are really thinking about during the buying process and how they determine who gets the meeting and who doesn’t.
  • How social fits when selling in complex B2B sales situations.
  • Why Ago made the leap to social selling.
  • About several great social selling tools.
  • What a former marketer who has now crossed over into sales has to say about the difference between social selling and social media marketing.
  • Ago’s tips for getting started.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

Making Marketing Work: A Sales Mastery Interview with Keith Finger

I recently wrapped another great interview with Marketing Master, Keith Finger. You might be asking yourself why I’m interviewing a marketing guy on my Sales Mastery Series, and it is because of my firm belief that Sales and Marketing must stop taking about how critical it is that they align their business strategies and actually do it.

As Keith told me, it’s not your father’s marketing anymore.  Salespeople often complain about marketing, but the fact is that effective marketing plays an important role in a company’s success.  But companies must understand today’s marketing and the balance of power in the prospect/vendor relationship. During our interview, Keith and I talked how marketing has changed, what that means for salespeople, and things companies should do to improve their marketing function.

Let me tell you about Keith…

He is the founder of TransformCMO, which helps B2B companies that are in a revenue rut unstick what’s stuck and get on the road to revenue generation success.  The firm takes a holistic approach to marketing, looking at all factors within a company and in the marketplace that can affect revenue generation and retention. His work has brought him to around the world, to more than 20 countries in Europe and Asia.

When you listen to the interview, you’ll learn:

  • How Keith defines today’s marketing, because it means lots of different things depending on who you ask.
  • How marketing has changed and why marketers need to adapt like never before.
  • Sales and marketing alignment and bridging the gap that has long existed in many companies.
  • About agile marketing and what that means for your business.
  • What companies can do to improve their marketing to better meet the needs of a changed customer and buying process.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

New Year, New Questions

sales, social media, social selling, planning, goalsI’ve spent a substantial amount of time over the last few weeks reflecting. Personally and professionally, 2012 was another pivotal year that included, among other things, the loss of my beloved shepherd/retriever Shorty, and the closing out of a business partnership that didn’t quite turn out as I had hoped.

Though tough for me to admit, I was feeling a little defeated at the end of the year. After all, I worked hard. I gave my all. But there I stood at the end of the year, feeling as if I’d taken two steps backward, and I wasn’t happy about it.

What to do?

For me, the choices were pretty simple. I could choose to focus on what went wrong and spend time entertaining myself at my own private little pity party. Or, I could choose to ask for the help that I needed to get myself back on track. I chose the latter.

Help came in the form of a book called Awaken the Giant Within. A long-time fan of Tony Robbins, I’d read the book twice before. At least I thought that I did. This time around I must have been more open and receptive to doing the work, because I found myself saying many times…How did I miss that before? The insights I’ve gained have been invaluable.

And I want to share one with you today:
Ask better questions. Questions that empower you and inspire you to take action.

For some of you, your sales year begins anew. For others, you are at the mid-way point in your fiscal year and may have just gone through some grueling reviews of your sales performance. In either case, what you choose to do next, where you decide to focus your attention will chart your course.

When things don’t work out, it can be easy to default to Why me? If you focus on that question, you are sure to come up with a list of all the reasons why life just isn’t fair. All that does for you is to create more negative energy, which can never lead to a positive outcome.

Regarding any challenges you may be facing, I want to you to use these 6 questions as you think about them.

How can I turn things around?
What is positive about the problem?
What am I willing to do to create the outcome that I want?
What can I learn so that I never have to repeat the situation again?
How can I improve my product or service?
How can I enjoy the process of turning things around to get what I want?

Working through questions such as these leads to a more empowering and positive state of mind. And that’s when miracles occur!

Want better results, a better outcome? Ask better questions.

Using Technology to Sell: A Sales Mastery Interview with Jonathan London

As I interview sales professionals like Jonathan, it is all with the goal of helping you and your sales team radically increase your sales, improve the profitability of those sales and close those sales far more quickly than you are today, I want you to learn from the best in sales and social media, because selling today requires an entirely different approach and new skills are required!

And no set of skills may be more important than salespeople and organizations being able to leverage technology in ways that drive sales results. I’m a big fan of using technology as part of your sales process BUT technology is not a quick fix nor does it close the deal for you! In my conversation with Jonathan, we talk about how to use technology in the right way at various points in the sales cycle. It’s a good listen!

Let me tell you about Jonathan…improved performance group

Jonathan London founded Improved Performance Group in 1994 after nearly two decades as a sales superstar. His sales success at companies such as Olivetti, NBI, IBM/Rolm, EXEL Systems, WYSE Technologies and Picture Tel earned him numerous honors and accolades, including being the #1 performer in every sales and management position he has ever held.

Today, Jonathan is an internationally acclaimed expert on emerging trends and training and development strategies in sales, leadership, customer service and organizational transformation. He is a respected speaker, trainer, coach and consultant, and is the author of The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Selling and Using Technology to Sell – his newest book.

When you listen to the interview, you’ll learn:

  • Why Jonathan wrote his book – Using Technology to Sell.
  • What the biggest challenges people and organizations face in addressing the use of technology to sell.
  • How technology can enable or disable the productivity of salespeople.
  • How social media fits.
  • Why organizations need to change their approach in response to the amount of information and technology that is available.
  • The biggest mistakes sales organizations make when it comes to technology.

And more…

Enjoy the interview!

No More Cold Calling – A Sales Mastery Interview with Joanne Black

Recently, I sat down with Joanne Black author of No More Cold Calling to talk about No More Cold Callingreferral selling that drive revenue results. Referral selling is probably one of fastest ways to speed up those sales cycles, yet, as you’ll hear in my interview with Joanne, it is an area in which most salespeople desperately need help.

During my conversation with Joanne, we talked about…

  • Why referral selling is so much more effective than other methods.
  • How referral selling helps salespeople be more competitive in a tough marketplace.
  • How referral selling compares with other prospecting techniques such as cold calls, direct mail, advertising, etc.
  • Why more salespeople are not using referral selling in their day-to-day sales practice.
  • How social media can be used to generate referrals.

As I always do when interviewing top sales leaders in their fields, I learn something that I can put into practical application myself. My take-a-way from Joanne’s interview is that “referral selling” must be top of mind and something that you do consistently. If you follow Joanne’s proven process, you will find yourself dealing with more business than you can handle. And that…is a very good thing!




Me Too.

I admit the “me too’s” make me crazy. It’s not like I haven’t seen it before, and I suppose it is inevitable. People pick up on a catchphrase that is garnering attention and before you know it, they are jumping on the bandwagon to proclaim that they are the expert.

That’s what is happening with social selling.

There are various opinions on what social selling actually means. Those opinions come from folks out in the world of sales and from marketers, which I admit confuses me, because marketers don’t sell.

Here’s my view…

I see social selling as the ability to integrate social technology into the front-end of your sales process. Salespeople are always looking for ways to get in front of opportunities before their competitor can and using tools like LinkedIn, Twitter and InsideView gives them the leverage that they need to make that happen.


It requires learning new skills. Not only do salespeople need training on how to use the platforms, but they need to understand how the various platforms fit, and they also need to know how to adapt their communication approach and behavior when engaging a prospect.

This is about selling. Not marketing.

I’m all for marketing and sales alignment. In fact, I happen to believe that with social media in the mix, we need that alignment more than ever. But come on…marketers taking the stage to discuss social selling? I worry that this is a example of using new terminology, but simply using it to mask old processes. As I have written before…social media marketing is NOT the same as social selling.

As you think about social selling, you need to ask…

Are marketers doing the referral building in a sales territory or with an individual’s reps social networks?

Are marketers out there prospecting for new, individual business opportunities?

Are marketers doing the sales research before calling on prospects?

Finally, are marketers maintaining the individual and personal relationship with the customer after the sales has been made in order to secure more business down the road?

If your goal is to shrink sales cycles, improve win rates, increase the percentage of profitable deals and thus, increase revenue, then you need to have a social selling conversation with someone who has both the in-depth SALES experience coupled with the technology and social media experience needed to achieve your goals.


If you are ready to ROCK YOUR SALES and want to learn HOW TO use social media to help you do it, we are launching a new program that will teach exactly what you need to do and why. Check out the details here. We’ve made it super easy for you enroll by letting you split the fee over 3 payments!


How to Attend a Conference Without Actually Going

One of the hottest conferences going on right now is Dreamforce 2012. More than 30,000 people converge on Moscone Center in San Francisco, which just thinking about scares the heck out of me, and I’m an extrovert! There are networking parties and all kinds of other cool things going on. But, I’m not there to partake in the experience.

Enter Twitter.

The vast majority of business folks and salespeople that I meet don’t have a firm grasp on how to use Twitter to their advantage. It is certainly easy to understand. After all, there are over 200 million tweets transpiring every day. How do you make sense of it all? How do you organize yourself? What real benefit does Twitter have for me anyway?

Intelligence is priceless.

Ok, so I’m not at Dreamforce (the plan is to attend next year), but I certainly have been paying attention to the comments on Twitter. How am I keeping up? By following the hashtag #DF12. In my Hootsuite dashboard, I save the stream and now I can easily stay updated on what is being said and shared during the conference.

Though you could argue that I’m missing a lot from not being at the keynotes and presentations…think Tony Robbins and Richard Branson…the truth is I’m learning a lot from reading the content that people are sharing.

Before conference organizers freak out thinking I’m suggesting you don’t have to attend conferences because you get the same deal from your office. Not saying that at all! All of us should consider attending a couple of conferences each year that help us to grow, develop and expand our business network.

But when you can’t attend…

It is nice to know that you can still benefit from learning and content being shared by those who are attending.

To help you see what’s going on at Dreamforce, I curated this paper to keep you up to date on the buzz happening right now! I also wanted you to have an example of how you can curate content and share cool papers like these with your clients and prospects. This is exactly what I do to stay visible but more importantly, bring something unique to the table that other salespeople are not.

Ask yourself…

How can I leverage the power of Twitter to bring industry conference information back to my clients and prospects?

The answer…do these 5 things.


  1. Pick a conference
  2. Locate their hashtag and any other terms being used like the name of the conference.
  3. Follow the tag in Twitter or in a dashboard tool like Hootsuite.
  4. Use www.paper.li to easily curate content based on the hashtag or conference name or people at the event. Customize your settings to send morning and evening, which keeps the most current information available to them.
  5. As part of your follow up with prospects and clients, send them the link to your paper with a brief snippet of 1 or 2 things they will want to read about. No selling by the way. Purely service.

In sales, differentiation matters! Are you different?

Using Social Media to Sell

Recently, I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Ago Cluytens for his Coaching Masters Series. We talked about social selling and the importance of salespeople learning how to adapt their approach. More importantly, we talked about specific things that you and/or your salespeople can do to create sales opportunities using technology.

During the segment, learn about:

  • The FIVE steps you’ll need to follow to develop a social media sales strategy that helps you sell, sell, sell
  • Why 80% of all buying decisions are made before you ever set foot in a prospect’s office
  • Why my interviewer was dead wrong when he said“but maybe senior executives don’t use social media that much”
  • Why all that Tweeting and Liking may not have paid off for you (yet) and what you can do to make sure it does
  • Three time-tested, “fast track” insider tactics you can use right now to build your sales funnel

It was my very first Skype video interview and fortunately it looks like I didn’t embarrass myself! Enjoy the interview.

Are You Planning to Fail?

As the saying goes, failing to plan is simply planning to fail. It is easy to make excuses for not putting in the planning time…too busy with projects, clients, family commitments, etc. You are already stretched thin. How you can possible add one more thing to your plate?

Listen, I understand. I really do.  And, in my most empathetic voice, let me just say…you must get past the excuses!

Let me ask you something.

  • Do you need more revenue flowing in the door?
  • Do you need more prospects in your pipeline to ensure that revenue keeps flowing in the door?
  • Would it be helpful if more of your deals closed faster?
  • Would your revenue benefit if you could get in front of opportunities before your competitors?

Ok then. You need a Sales Meets Social Media plan and playbook.

There are 5 master keys to successfully using social media to increase pipeline and revenue. They are:

  • Have a plan. What are you trying to accomplish specifically?
  • Target your audience. What are the characteristics of your ideal buyer?
  • Choose the right tools. Not everyone needs Twitter. Use the right platform based on your needs.
  • Implement consistently. If you aren’t participating on a daily basis, you are missing the point.
  • Measure and track. Determine what forum or set of activities work for you, discard things that don’t.

About that plan.

If you are like a lot of people, you get hung up on the word “plan”. This isn’t a 30 page document that you need to write. You can easily keep it to 1-2 pages and you should. Your goal is keep it simple and narrow your focus.

The process begins with defining the characteristics of your ideal buyer. Hint: it is NOT everyone.  Nail down the specifics like title, age, income, type of industry, etc. Clearly defining your target makes it easier to determine where your prospect may spend time online.

Next, you need to think about your purpose. What it is specifically that you want to accomplish using social media? More sales? How much more? Net new meetings? Ok, how many per week? Acquire 10 new clients? By when? Increase the size of your LinkedIn network? By how much and by when? You get the idea. Put your thinking cap on and decide on what you are really trying to do.

Now that you know who your target prospect is and you’ve determined your purpose, the fun begins.

For your plan to succeed, it is important that you set detailed goals, strategies, tasks and social activities you will commit to and take action on.

Start by setting 3-5 goals to support your purpose for using social media in the first place. If you want to increase your sales, one of your goals might be “build a referral network”. Next you commit to the date for getting your process established to achieve your goal.

Once you’ve determined your goals, you need to ask what results you expect to achieve, which is closely followed by deciding on the best strategy to undertake to achieve the desired results.

Next, break down that strategy into tasks and tactical activities that lead you to achieving your desired objective. And don’t forget to commit dates to these tasks to ensure that you get them done.

You see…pretty straightforward and easy process, but the plan won’t write itself!

Your Sales Meets Social Media plan is your roadmap to success. Without one, well the outcome is going to be questionable.


If you are ready to ROCK YOUR SALES and want to learn HOW TO use social media to help you do it, we are launching a new program that will teach exactly what you need to do and why. Check out the details here. We’ve made it super easy for you enroll by letting you split the fee over 3 payments!

Is Attracting Prospects Online a Myth?

Kent came across this blog post whose author suggests that finding and engaging with prospects online doesn’t work. As you might imagine, that got my back up a little, so I decided to look deeper. The blog post referenced a Gallop poll of 17,000 people.  With a few clicks (gotta love the Internet), I found the original post from Gallup about social media and the 3 big myths they say that they uncovered.

Here is what needs to be clarified straight out of the gate.

The Gallup poll is consumer oriented and focused on the impact of social media “marketing” in driving the acquisition of new customers and the retention of their current ones.

I don’t disagree with the conclusions of the study, but the blanket statement by Charles Blakeman in his blog post that you can’t engage prospects online is very misleading. Marketers may be faced with a difficult challenge when it comes to trying to engage customers in ways that lead to the conclusion of a sale, but their research doesn’t apply to B2B or how social media fits and benefits the sales process.

Using social media in the selling process is NOT the same as social media “marketing”. You can read an earlier post that I wrote on this topic. Marketing and Sales need to work in tandem and they will both leverage social media in different ways. The distinction is an important one!

How Social Media Fits Your Sales Process

  1. Networking – are you calling three people every day in your network in order to stay connected? Do this daily and make sure that the purpose of your call isn’t to sell something. It is a chance for you to learn more about them so that you can offer to be a resource for them.
  2. Referral Building – are you spending the time needed to cultivate a referral network? You should. Referrals from an outside, credible source secures that meeting 44% of the time. Have someone (credible and trusted) inside your target company sponsor you andexpect to secure that meeting 84% of the time. Think of three people each day who can help you and you them.
  3. Prospecting – using techniques like creating a saved lead list in LinkedIn, you find your targeted buyer quickly, so that you can then plan your engagement strategy and approach.
  4. Lead qualification – when receiving those inbound leads, you can use social media to learn more about the company and individual before having that first phone call. Information that you’ve gathered will aid in your qualification process.
  5. Pre-sales call research – because so many salespeople fail to do this work, they come off sounding amateurish. Questions like what keeps you up at night or what are your top initiatives in 2012 just have no value and only waste time. With tools like InsideView, you can gather public information about companies and their leaders, as well as be able to leverage the real-time buzz and conversation via social media.

By now, most people conceptually understand that the power of sales meets social media happens in these five areas on the front end of the sales cycle. It is in the HOW to do these things well, which is followed by then doing them consistently is where things start to break down.

We have seen so many great examples of how our clients are using social media to build pipeline and revenue. It does work. But if you or your salespeople are not seeing great results, we’d love to talk to you. We are launching a new social sales coaching program September 14 that will help you do these things and more. Training people on WHAT to do and HOW to do it is the fastest way to start seeing sales results.

Success stories from our customers who know that social selling works!

Prospect – “After a meeting with the prospect, we learned their parent company had an initiative to consolidate all their wireless lines (thousands). I was given the title of the person making the decision but that was it. I then found a C-Level contact at the parent company on LinkedIn who was connected to him. I was one degree separated from her and we shared three similar connections. I reached out to a common connection of ours to make a referral and then asked her who was responsible for the wireless consolidation task. I had a meeting with him one day later.”

Prospect – “A cold call to the President/IT director resulted in the prospect telling us to call back in a year. One of my reps went on LinkedIn and found a Director of Safety. We called her with a fleet tracking safety solution and secured a meeting. Now we are working on a solution for 50-75 devices.”

Former Customer – “Ported out over 10 lines five years ago. They would not take our call for years on several win-back attempts. By using InMail on LinkedIn, we got a response and a meeting with the owner. We now have three opportunities in the funnel and have already had follow up meetings.”

This is HOW its done folks! This particular client’s salespeople were seeing results in just a few days or so. By leveraging the information and changing their engagement approach, you can see from their comments that the results speak for themselves!

Check out our Sales Meets Social Media Program