Mary Grothe is the CEO of Sales BQ, a a relatively “young” organization that works with companies to rebuild, scale, and empower their underperforming sales departments. A typical client might have 5 to 7 salespeople reporting directly to the CEO. Last year, Sales BQ rebuilt the sales departments for 42 companies. Mary, an experienced sales dynamo, known for exponentially exceeding quotas, says BQ, behavioral intelligence, or behavioral quotient, is about making the decision every single day to show up and give it everything that it takes to perform at one’s highest ability.
Under a 6-month contract, Sales BQ functions as a company’s “VP of Sales” and rebuilds the sales department in 3 phases.
- Evaluate and transform the infrastructure. Analyze the established set up, systems, processes, the types of roles, compensation modeling, territories, and CRM. Build a playbook.
- Assess the talent. Provide field sales coaching and training to enable the team to execute to their highest ability. Recruit new talent to grow the team or replace “pruned” personnel.
- Appraise and correct environmental problems. Mary does not believe that sales professionals need to be told what they need to do to do better so much as management should treat its salespeople the way they need to be treated in order to excel.
Does the process work?
Eighty-five percent of their clients renew the 6-month contract and continue working with Sales BQ for a full year. The ones that don’t.? Mary says they are “crushing it” and don’t need Sales BQ anymore.
Mary classifies sales reps into three personas, based on their motivational drivers:
- 87% of top performing sales reps are intrinsically motivated, people who are “fed” by recognition, feelings of self-worth, and self-competition.
- Extrinsically motivated sales reps are focused on money and love to strive for targeted goals.
- Altruistic sales reps care more about their clients than they do about recognition or making money. These individuals would be better placed in an account management or customer service role.
In this interview, Mary offers tips on effective sales techniques and the effective uses of LinkedIn. She can be found on LinkedIn and on her company’s website salesbq.com, where her company’s blog and Quota Crusher Podcast reside. The Quota Crusher Podcast is also on YouTube.
ROB: Welcome to the Marketing Agency Leadership Podcast. I am your host, Rob Kischuk, and I am joined in person by Mary Grothe. She is the CEO of Sales BQ based in Denver, Colorado. Welcome to the podcast, Mary.
MARY: Good morning. Thank you.
ROB: How was your trip in to Boston?
MARY: So easy and uneventful. A little long, but uneventful.
ROB: Yeah, little ways from Denver.
MARY: I got the middle seat, and I had really great seatmates.
ROB: Good neighbors.
MARY: For 4 hours. They were lovely.
MARY: They didn’t talk. They kept to themselves. They only needed to get up one time. I mean, what more could you ask for?
ROB: Good seatmates make the long flights a little bit better. Why don’t you kick us off by telling us a little bit about Sales BQ and what Sales BQ does amazingly well?
MARY: We rebuild sales departments. We want to find CEOs or VPs that have underperforming teams, or they’re just not quite sure how to grow and scale them. It looks different in every company that we work with. Our typical size company has about five to seven salespeople. In a lot of cases, that team is reporting directly to the CEO, who’s also trying to run a company, and they can’t figure out how to get to that next level.
Hiring a sales leader is very difficult. Most sales leaders haven’t been formally trained. Also, the CEO is looking for that special VP, like a unicorn that has both left brain and right brain, meaning they can build strategy, but they can also execute with the team in the field.
We come in as fractional VPs of Sales. We work on 6-month contracts directly underneath the CEO, and we’re able to rebuild the sales departments. Three phases. Build. It’s all infrastructure. We look at how the team is currently set up, systems, processes, the types of roles, compensation modeling, territories, CRM. We build a playbook.
Then we look at the talent. We help the team that’s currently there to execute at their highest ability. We do in-the-field sales coaching and training. It’s not like classroom training where they just forget everything and never implement it. We hold them accountable.
If we want to grow the team or replace anybody, we do recruiting as well. We do it across the country, coast to coast, and last year we rebuilt 42 sales departments.
ROB: Wow. What does it take for a company to actually get to the point where they’re willing to wave the white flag and say that they need help?
MARY: Usually – it’s a couple different scenarios. One, the common factor is that they’ve lost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. A lot of salespeople will turn in the role if they’re not being fed, if their motivation is not being fed. BQ stands for behavioral quotient. That’s behavioral intelligence. There’s a lot of things that can negatively impact a rep’s BQ.
The environment. You may have great salespeople that are leaving, not sticking around, or not performing at their highest ability. You may also have bad sales hires. That’s a thing that costs the CEO and company a lot of money.
But it looks different in every company to the point where they have to wave the white flag. Sometimes companies get funding, and they need a pop-up sales department overnight, and they don’t have that hiring strategy. They can’t figure out how to grow to scale for quick scale, rapidly, and have the right talent and the right infrastructure. So, it can be a myriad of different things. But ultimately our best clients have lost a lot of money, and they look at us and say, “Oh my gosh, get in here and help, please!”
ROB: In the case of that instant sales team, that seems like a particular challenge because there will be less common knowledge of what’s working, what doesn’t, what are our core messages, what types of collateral we need. Is that a particularly tricky situation? Or are there other human factors and other situations that make them complicated as well?
MARY: It can be. A lot of our work in the first 30 days, in the build phase, we build all the infrastructure, scripting, messaging. We work heavily with marketing, and we just make sure that we’re aligned for how we’re building top of funnel and going to market.
Ultimately, if a company is doing, like I said, a pop-up sales team meeting – maybe they just got money and got funded or whatever, or they’re entering this stage of growth – if they don’t have anything too proven and tested, there will be a period of build something and then put it out there and get some really great data on it, and iterate, and be agile with it.
It’s not always perfect out of the gate, but you need something to start with. I think with our versatility in the markets that we’ve worked with, different industries, we can come to the table with something that’s most likely going to work. We just need to iterate as we put it to the test.
ROB: You’ve got this interesting model, this 6-month model. Did you start with that model when you started the company, or did you through some learning, arrive at a process that worked well for a variety of customers?
MARY: When I started the company late 2017, this took some beta testing. I had three brave CEOs out of the gate. I didn’t know what our offering was going to be. But I did a focus group and I worked with three of them, three brave CEOs that were willing to spend money on me. [laughs] With no real program in place. After about 3 months, we were able to determine what the best setup was going to be.
Preferably, I’d love to ask for a 12-month commitment, but this is an unknown. People haven’t heard of companies like ours. We’re also younger in our careers. We don’t have these crazy resumes, my team, of bought-and-sold companies and taking them public and multiple exits. We’re not that typical 60-year-old, gray-haired consultant. We’re fresh in our careers. We’re coming straight out of managing complex teams and managing multiple millions in revenue per quarter and growing and scaling. So we’re really from the frontlines of those teams, and we want to bring that into our client’s organization.
It’s an unknown; 6 months, 85% of our clients renew and they’ll take us for a full year. The ones that don’t, typically we will get them set forward and straight within those 6 months, and they’re crushing it and they don’t need us anymore.
ROB: That’s pretty fantastic. One thing I think we see in this conference ecosystem we’re in is there are vendors, software vendors, that whole sales process. Then there’s also a lot of services organizations, marketing agencies. I think even to some extent law firms and accounting firms may have this problem where quite often, the person who’s selling the most is the face of the company.
ROB: How do you look at taking something like a marketing agency and making it so that somebody else can also do the selling and you can actually scale that up? I see a lot of failed experiments and VP Biz Dev that comes in, comes out – they don’t hire another one. They just trot the founders out to more pitches.
MARY: Yes, it’s exactly right. The first thing that we have to do is have a very serious conversation that no one is ever going to sell the company as great as the founder or CEO if that’s one of their natural ways. Sometimes a founder and a CEO might be more of a technical person that is not a great salesperson. But in most cases, we have an evangelist, and they tell the company story so well, and they know it inside and out, and their passion, conviction, and enthusiasm are incredible.
So how do you transfer that? The first answer is – I heard this from Gary Vee, and I loved it – you’re a 100. I’m a 100. We’re 100s. Anyone else that we’re going to hire to represent our company or brand, on their best day, is going to be a 75. So, go in and expect that. And by the way, on most days they’ll probably be a 50.
But it’s people who are 100 and they expect that someone else can be hired and come in as 100, as good as them – newsflash. 100s are running companies, not working for other people. So, if you can expect a 75 on their best day and manage them most days out of 50, here’s what I would say: study your sales pitch.
You, as the CEO or founder, the one that’s telling the best message, study you. Film it. Look at it. Look at your mannerisms. Listen to how you convey the message. The third party stories are typically what we do the best as CEOs and founders. We’re very situational. We can have proof and examples that we can share within our “sales pitch.”
So, we look at how it’s conveyed, we look at the word tracks that we’re using, and then we also want to record that and look at the mannerisms and the confidence. That’s typically what’s lacking. When you hire somebody to sell on your behalf, they’ll never be able to tell the story the way that you do. However, if you train them to study that and watch it and have the same third party stories and to be able to articulate and have the same level of passion, connection, and enthusiasm, then you’re on your way to success.
Some companies that want to start off this way and do it, they might be best suited to just hire somebody that can set appointments for them and take out the grunt work of the actual prospecting or trying to build the funnel, and that might be a great first step into having a full sales department. Start with someone that might tee you up and set you up to do some more of the sales and do it in tandem, and then eventually groom them into being that full salesperson.
ROB: That’s a good tip right there. You mentioned now that you started the company in 2017. What led you to strike out and start this business?
MARY: It’s actually an iteration of a consulting firm that I had prior to this. But the background story is I had 5 years and a Fortune 1000 payroll and HR company. I started at age 22, $13 bucks an hour as an admin. Did 2 years studying under an amazing sales mentor.
Went into mid-market B2B sales and became the No. 1 rep in 30 days. My first year, my quota was 150,000; I sold 758,000. It was more than No. 2 and 3 combined. They flew me to corporate. “How do we replicate this?” My second year, they cut my territory in half, doubled my quota, and gave me a training responsibility, and I sold 850,000 that year. I was very proud.
But I fell in love with B2B sales, and I fell in love with the whole thing called sales. It became easier to me than my peers, and I really just grew this love for training and coaching and helping other people sell at higher levels.
I left that company after 5 years and I started my own. I started as a consultant under Butterfly Creative at a very young age. It was a hot mess, but it was amazing. I worked with very small companies, more so on the startup/entrepreneur side.
I had 3 years, 36 business owners that I worked with, and was able to help rebuild their companies – not just their sales department because they were so small – take them back out to market. But every single one of them grew revenue. It was an amazing experience, but I became a starving entrepreneur because a lot of startups just want to give you equity and not pay you.
I went back to that payroll and HR company in 2014. Butterfly Creative, my consulting firm – I still did projects on the side, but I kept it minimal while I was out selling B2B again. 3 years, crushed it, sold millions. My last year, I had a baby. I sold 9 months out of the year. I finished No. 7 in the country. Pretty awesome stats. It was an amazing year.
Then at that point, I got a six-figure commission check and I said, “Okay, if I’m ever going to step away and fund my company and start this again, now is the time,” and that’s what happened.
ROB: That is a lot, a lot of selling. That’s a lot of selling. I think it’s interesting you mention that when you were working with some of these startups, it not only changed sales, but it changed the company. In that environment, sales solves a lot of problems. Revenue solves a lot of problems, and you can patch up a lot of places, like your HR and payroll, when you have more money coming in. So, I think it’s really astute that that does transform the entire company.
ROB: One thing that’s interesting is you mentioned you had this growing commission check – and that is the allure. I think that’s even the question some people ask when they look at someone in the sales training business. If you could be selling all of that, then why aren’t you? What is the allure in scaling and growing sales BQ over going and crushing quota for some startup or something?
MARY: It’s tempting sometimes. I have some clients still to this day that make me ridiculous offers to just stop running my company and go work for them. But we have 10 people now. We’ve got a pretty decent sized firm. I’m completely invested in this, and I’m having the time of my life.
I’ve had really high income earning years with amazing flexibility. Trust me, some days my husband thinks I’m crazy. He’s like, “Do you remember those days when you were working 25 hours a week?” My network and pipeline was so full. Some weeks it’s literally 20-25 hours a week, and I’m making a few hundred thousand dollars per year. He’s like, “Do you remember those days?” I’m like, “But I hated it.”
The money wasn’t worth it for me. I was born to do something so much greater than collect a paycheck. Yeah, I happen to be really great at sales, but this is not why I was created. This is not why I was put on the planet. I’m not money-motivated. I am here to grow other people’s revenue, and that’s where I get the thrill. And we are compensated very fairly to do that work.
But ultimately, this is my future. This is where I want to be. I feel like it’s my superhuman talent, and I want to be here. So, I’m motivated to run this company, and we do so much more than just sales training. This is such a cool organization. My team is absolutely incredible, and they’re committed. Our mission is to grow our clients’ revenue at whatever it takes.
ROB: Right. That’s passionate. It’s fantastic. When you were working those 20-25 hours a week, those were probably still pretty intentional hours.
MARY: Super intentional. I don’t waste time. I’m very high energy.
ROB: I think we can hear that. [laughs]
MARY: [laughs] I’m extremely organized. So, my 25-hour work week might be equivalent to a typical rep’s 45-50 hour work week, because I’m extremely purposeful and well put together with my plan of action for every day.
ROB: I think that’s one thing that people overlook: really what it looks like to put the work in in sales, and how if you are working with some reasonable processes and learning from it and putting the work in, then good things happen.
MARY: Yes, they do, and it’s being very mindful. I had one of the highest close rates in the company, and there were 3,000 salespeople there. But my close rate was unreal. It’s because I don’t skip steps and I’m very thorough, and I’m very purposeful in all of my sales conversations. I weed out people that are never going to buy from me. I don’t have a pipeline filled with hope. “Hey, I’m just going to keep calling the people in my pipeline.”
Jeb Blount, who’s amazing and I love him, said in a keynote earlier this year that you can prospect your pipeline or you can prospect new business. I just thought that was so powerful when he said it, because I swear, reps get these deals in their pipeline and they look so pretty in there; unfortunately, how many of those are actually going to close?
So, for me, just having that discernment upfront of what to even go into my pipeline, I think it really helped me have a good perspective. I only want to work with people that are most likely going to commit to allow me to solve their problems and buy from me.
ROB: How do you clear the blinders off in that situation to get away from the hope deal to a real deal?
MARY: For me, my first 5 years, I had the problem of high optimism and thinking everything was going to close and getting really excited about every deal in my pipeline. It was a learned lesson. My first 5 years, I was single, I didn’t have kids, I wasn’t married. I worked crazy hours. I mean, 14-15 hour days. Yeah, I was the No. 1 rep, but I poured into it.
When I went around the second time in 2014, that’s when I realized, I’m married now. I want to have a baby, start a family. I love my husband. He does not need to put up with those crazy hours. I have to go about this differently. So, it actually didn’t shift for me until 2014, and then I realized that if I only have so many hours in the day, I needed to make a decision on who I wanted to spend them with.
It was just a change in me. I had different priorities and I wasn’t willing to work those hours, so I made the commitment at that point to be a better investigator early in the sales process and truly qualify who was going to buy from me and who wasn’t.
ROB: And then you’re more immune to the “happy ears” phenomenon.
ROB: Bridging a little bit into the talk that you’re here giving about leveraging behavioral intelligence to scale a team, what should we know about that? What are you sharing?
MARY: Let’s look at how we’ve trained salespeople in the past. We trained them on product knowledge, we trained them on the competition, the marketplace. That’s all IQ stuff, right?
Then we can also train them to be really effective salespeople, have great emotional self-awareness and some of those great EQ skills that are taught so that you can have killer salespeople, know how to adjust and pivot based on the person they’re selling to and how they’re communicating and reacting, watching their body language, all that. Super great sales skills there.
But you can be really smart and you can be really self-aware, but the BQ, the behavioral intelligence, the behavioral quotient, is all about your decision every single day to show up and give it everything that it takes to perform at your highest ability.
This is interesting because a lot of reps are super smart, really talented, but why one year do they do only 70% of what they produced the year before? There are so many factors that negatively impact a rep’s BQ. Sometimes it’s just how they commit to show up and execute every day when there’s adversity in their lives.
We look at clunky internal systems and processes. We look at a change in management, and now all of a sudden we don’t like our boss, so it’s going to be “woe is me” and we don’t perform because we’re not inspired to perform. There are so many different pieces that can negatively affect a rep’s BQ. So that’s what we’re talking about today in the session: just truly diagramming and understanding, how do you fuel your sales team to perform at their highest level?
Unfortunately, it’s taken a different stance. I feel like so much of the content that is put out to salespeople is telling them all the things that they need to do better. This is more of a message for leadership and management to hear “treat your salespeople the way they need to be treated in order to excel.”
Contrary to popular belief, 87% of top performers are not extrinsically motivated, meaning motivated by money. They’re intrinsically motivated, which is about recognition, self-worth, self-competition. It’s not about how much money they make. Do they want to make money? Of course they do, but that’s not their top motivator. What are you doing in your sales organization to create an environment where people can be fed through their intrinsic motivation?
It’s very interesting. A lot of our clients just look at, “Don’t they just want to make money?” I hear that from so many CEOs.
ROB: That’s I guess the myth. People say salespeople are coin-operated and money-motivated. Like you’re going to make a formula and they’re going to figure it all out and do it.
MARY: Well, they’re not. Especially this generation of sellers, we’re here for our purpose and to deliver on that. We care more about being a human being than we do running over people to make a buck – which is, unfortunately, what may have been the reputation of salespeople in the past.
ROB: Sure. It’s interesting, because what you’re talking about is actually leading people. You’re getting people to sell more by actually leading them and not assuming they’re just going to chase the biggest dollar. If someone’s going to drop 30%, plus or minus, year to year, that suggests they know how to make the money, and there’s some other choice other than money that is making them choose to not perform as well.
MARY: You nailed it.
ROB: What are some of the different forms of motivation? How are people motivated to sell more? Are there different personas behind that?
MARY: Yes, there are three: intrinsic, extrinsic, and altruistic.
Intrinsic we just talked about. That’s all about self-competition and recognition. What gets them up in the morning? What is their self-worth? If you make them feel like a remarkable human being and appreciated and valued – an intrinsic loves when you call them out publicly.
Let’s look at the Monday morning sales team meeting. The intrinsic in the room, when the sales manager goes around and says, “Oh hey, Sam did something incredible last week. I just want to highlight something he did on this call. I want to play back 30 seconds of how he handled an objection or pivot.” Sam, at that moment in time, his BQ just got fed. He’s sitting there and he’s so motivated now because he got a callout and recognition, and now he’s excited. He’s going to leave that sales meeting and go back to his desk and be like, “You thought that 30 second call was good? Listen to me on this next call.”
So, this guy’s fed. He’s ready to go perform. That’s how an intrinsic can be motivated. A really great example. By the way, I’m an intrinsic.
ROB: There you go.
MARY: On the extrinsic, this is somebody – we have a rep that we just placed for one of our clients in New York City, and he is an extrinsic through and through. This guy is like, “You just tell me how to make X amount of money. This is what I want; how do you do it?” We sat there, and we crunched the numbers. We took the end goal of what he wants to make, backed it into how much revenue he needs to sell, and then we backed into the number with activity and what he needs to do on a day-to-day basis.
An extrinsic, do you know what he’s doing? He knows every action, the amount of money that it equates to. So, he knows every dial, based on statistics in this role, how much that is making him towards the end goal. That’s a pure, true extrinsic person. He is very motivated to execute day-to-day behaviors because he knows how much each of those activities is making him.
The altruistic rep, that means hands of service. It means serving others. They get out of bed in the morning to do something for someone else. I’m actually intrinsic/altruistic. It’s hard to have an altruistic person in sales. In fact, very few – it’s not my top motivator, but it definitely shows on the scale, and it can hinder a top-performing salesperson because they care more about serving their clients.
I don’t know about you – have you ever sold for a company that didn’t have the best client delivery? Maybe implementation gets screwed up, maybe ongoing service doesn’t do right by the client.
ROB: If you’re in that organization, it brings a lot of people down when you see that you’re not serving well, for sure.
ROB: But more so for the altruistic.
MARY: The altruistic will be devastated. They’ll stop selling and they will go take care of their client and the issue that’s happening. They will step in for service and they will take over, because they care more about the client being happy than they do performing in their sales role. Someone who has high altruism, it will hurt them being a top performer if they’re selling for an organization that has spotty implementation and delivery.
But those are the three types. An altruistic person, my number one recommendation is move them into a customer success role or an account management role.
ROB: You’re rolling one step ahead of me. I was just wondering that, so you’re nailing that.
MARY: Oh, you were going there. Yes, they need to be in a role where they can thrive. They’ll love their clients so much. They need to be in an account management or customer success position and get a quota or some sort of performance measurement based on how happy their clients are, and they will excel.
ROB: That makes sense. I was wondering how the altruist fits in. Leadership would lead you in a direction where all these things align. It seems like, to an extent, Presidents Club, that premise accidentally hits the intrinsic and the extrinsic. You are recognized, and you are recognized when that number’s really high. The extrinsic folks want to make that number really high anyhow, and the intrinsic wants the motivation. So, you get a little bit of both, even if it’s not maybe how you arrived at that.
MARY: Yes. Presidents Club typically achieves both. It gives them something to work towards. I think that the recognition part – again, 87% of top performers are intrinsically motivated, not extrinsic. So really, just harping on that recognition of Presidents Club.
One thing that my former company did – there was a step above Presidents Club, and if you qualified at that level, you got a little gold seal, like a badge that went on your business cards. For the intrinsic, it’s like, “Oh my gosh, I have to achieve that because I can’t not have this gold badge seal on my business cards.” [laughs]
ROB: Right. You’ve been running this business for 2 years. What are some things, if you were starting over today, that you might tackle a little bit differently?
MARY: Woo, what a question. I’m actually super thrilled with how everything has transpired. The one area that was difficult is I didn’t have my hiring methodology down. I didn’t have my ideal VP of Sales profile nailed in the beginning.
I’m a young female; I have a lot stacked against me. Also, if you look at my resume, if you just looked at me on paper, you’d say, “Yeah, right. I’m not entrusting my sales team to her.” You have to meet me. You have to get to know me. You have to get past the look and what’s on paper.
The team I was hiring, I thought, I need to balance myself out. I found some really accomplished VPs of Sales with that crazy resume that I told you about – I mean, 30-40 years in the business. They have amazing accolades. But my challenge was I brought a few of those on early into the company, and it had been so long since they were actually in the field doing the work, rolling up their sleeves. Some of them had come from managing a 70-person sales org. Do you know the last time they listened to a call and gave coaching?
ROB: They’re like driving by Dashboard.
MARY: So,, it’s cool, the accolades are amazing, and I’m not saying that they aren’t incredible human beings and super accomplished. They weren’t he right fit for what we were doing. What was happening early in the business was a lot of the work was falling back on me because the clients were like, “You’ve got this great person here, but they’re not really doing what you say your company’s value prop is.” So there was some cleanup in that.
I love those people; they’re still friends of the business. They just weren’t the right fit for what we were looking to accomplish. They make amazing consultants for larger corporations, where they have a whole team to execute. We’re different, because we actually execute with the teams that we work with.
ROB: Right. They could be training the person leading the 70-person team on some concerns that go on in that environment. But it’s not the same as having seven sales reps under you who are clamoring for more inbound leads. They’re doing all the things, but they may not be motivated the same way by the bigger experience.
Very good. If we’re looking ahead over the next year, what are the things – some people will say they’re starting to text people, LinkedIn people, they’re starting to not call because they’re scared of it or they think it’s not effective or something. What are the things you think are going to stay the same over the next year, and what’s going to change?
MARY: Hmm, looking into the crystal ball. We’re heavy users of LinkedIn. We teach a LinkedIn class. I love the methodology that we bring, because I’m such a heavy user of it, and we get a lot of inbound leads from LinkedIn. I’m on it every single day, my team is on it. I feel like we have really good data. We’re always changing our strategy with it.
Over the last year, the class that we teach on how to use LinkedIn, the content is wildly different. Every single month that we teach it, it’s different than the month prior, because algorithms change, because of the way that the audience is responding to the types of message that they receive.
For example ,we used to teach – we had a really cool outbound message that we were using when we were connecting with people. This was about 5 months ago that we were still using this message. But I started to notice a huge drop-off on connection acceptance. We were sending out all of these connect requests, and all of a sudden the connect rate dropped below 50%. I’m like, oh gosh. It started plummeting.
So we stripped out the message, and now it’s blind connecting. This is just one of those strategies. No message. So now we blind connect – boom. Back up to about 70-75% on people accepting – and that’s even at the C Suite and VP level. I just monitor that all the time.
A year from now, where do I think this is going to be? The smart people will monitor the metrics. Just because something is working today, I guarantee you it’s not working in the future exactly how you’re doing it today. The best salespeople are very aware, and they will monitor, and they look at the A/B testing. I think that texting in some industries works extremely well; you asked about that.
I really feel like people buy from people that are credible and that are knowledgeable and are passionate. I believe that LinkedIn is the best platform because you’re able to build your brand and influence and to come up with who you truly are as a human being. I think use of video, use of thought leadership and thought-provoking posts and blog articles – not re-sharing other people’s content.
I really feel that that’s the way of the future. I think buyers are going to connect with their individual sellers on a very intimate level, because they want to work with somebody amazing, and they want to have that trust and credibility out of the gate. So I think LinkedIn is going to continue to explode. People just need to be mindful.
You hear it from me now: please stop connecting and pitching. It is the nastiest, spammiest thing to do. I’m an executive, so I get connected and pitched to every single day, probably 20-30 times a day, and it is so distasteful and it is so canned, and it’s straight up noise. Those messages just get deleted. So the smart salespeople will continue to leverage and use the platform, but get away from the spamming techniques.
ROB: Right. Give me a little bit of an idea of the journey of someone who becomes an inbound lead from you and LinkedIn. You’re probably blank connecting with them right now. How are you tracking the accept rate on that? Is that something that’s in one of the LinkedIn offerings, or is that something you’re tracking because you want to know?
MARY: I track it because I want to know. I’m teaching other people how to do this, and it’s really important to me that anything that I teach is actually true and purposeful and gets results. I track it manually on my end.
You can look on the backend in LinkedIn at how many invites you send. On the Network page, where it has the icon of the people on the Network page, you look at Invitations at the top, and then there’s a button that says “Manage.” You click on Manage and you can see your historical of what you’ve sent. I know my current connections count, and then I monitor it and I do the math myself. I don’t know, maybe LinkedIn has a tool that you can automate this. Somebody shoot me an email and tell me if there is. [laughs] But I do it manually.
The life of the inbound lead, that cycle of how it works – I don’t want to give away all the goods, but you write your profile in your buyer’s language. That’s it. You write your profile in your buyer’s language, and then you drive a whole bunch of traffic to your profile through a bunch of different ways.
But here’s the deal: if it’s written in their language, they’re going to look at it. You did the hard work for them, and that buyer, because you know their day in the life, you know the pains and problems you solve for them, they’re going to land there and go “Holy cow, I don’t know who this person is, but boy, am I glad I landed on their page. I need to talk to them. They solve one of the biggest problems that I have.”
ROB: The blank connecting also provides some other opportunities. I know recently I’ve brought in sales assistant/sales helper who’s doing the connecting for me on LinkedIn. If you’re not trying to craft the super custom intro message every time, then you can share your password with somebody you trust and get some of that stuff done without doing all the work yourself.
MARY: Yeah, you could. I would just be super careful because LinkedIn actually knows when you’re opening in a different browser, especially if you’re using it on your side as well, and it’ll track that. You can actually get dinged for it, because they can stifle you in your reach and with your algorithm on your post and whatnot. So just be really careful sharing that. It’s frowned upon.
ROB: It’s frowned upon, but it is so pleasant.
MARY: Something I’ve found to be really exciting with somebody that’s helping propel is really having them set up their own unique profile, but being an assistant to you or setting appointments on your behalf.
Just the transparency to say, “Hey, our CEO Rob is very interested in meeting you. Here’s a calendar link. This is why we would like to talk if it’s easier for you to send dates or use this link, but he has a reason for wanting to connect.” something as vague as that, if I got that as an executive, I’d be like, “What does Rob want to talk about? This is very interesting. His assistant is trying to set up a meeting.” Curiosity.
Now, if you write your profile – because then I’m going to look you up. Who are you and what do you do? So, if you write the profile, if I’m your ideal prospect and you wrote it in my language and you’re talking about a problem I most likely have, I’m like, “This is super interesting. I’m not sure what Rob wants to talk about, but I’m really intrigued by what he does. This seems like a valuable connection and potentially worth my time.”
ROB: These are solid tips. I imagine that if people connect with you on LinkedIn, you probably share some more solid tips from time to time.
MARY: You guessed it. I do.
ROB: Is that where people should find you?
MARY: Yes. You can find us at salesbq.com. Our blog is there, our podcast is there. We have the Quota Crusher Podcast. It’s also on YouTube. You can connect with me on LinkedIn. That would be the best compliment. That’s where all my content goes. That’s where I am every single day. I’d love to get to know you and also take part in liking and commenting on your content to help boost you.
ROB: Fantastic. That’s one thing I think people also don’t think about. Likes are cheap. To give a like out on a social feed is cheap. And to give a like out on LinkedIn is cheap and probably effective.
MARY: Super impactful, because any time you like or comment, it pulls it back into the newsfeed and expands it to more people in both our networks. Don’t ever use the share button, though. Share button, whenever you share, it’s not optimized. I don’t even know why they have that button.
ROB: Don’t ever use the share button.
MARY: I think it’s super lame. LinkedIn does not favor the people who share other people’s content. Like and comment if you want to help your friend out.
ROB: That’s been true on Facebook and elsewhere for a while, too. So that’s interesting. Mary, thank you for coming on and sharing. You know a lot, you gave us some of it, and we’ll get some more on LinkedIn.
MARY: Thank you so much for having me, Rob.