How can you effectively use LinkedIn as a tool to widen your connections, increase your sales and grow your business? Get ready to take notes as the Pitch Whisperer, John Livesay, joins forces with the LinkedIn Whisperer, Brynne Tillman, to talk about the most important things that you have to remember when selling on the platform. Brynne is the CEO of Social Selling Link and author of the LinkedIn Sales Playbook. Having been in this niche since people barely knew what LinkedIn was, Brynne redefines social selling as something that is beyond pitch-spamming. She teaches her clients how they can earn the likes and the right to connect with people on LinkedIn using strategies that put more emphasis on relationship building rather than sales pitching. Listen in as they discuss the importance of building connections and engaging in conversations and building a profile that reflects your brand message, as well as a number of real-life examples that illustrate these powerful principles.
Listen To The Episode Here:
LinkedIn Sales Playbook With Brynne Tillman
Tactical Guide To Social Selling
Our guest on the show is Brynne Tillman, the Founder of Social Sales. She talks about how we have to earn the likes and earn the right to connect with people on LinkedIn and the big mistakes that she sees people making on a connect and then they try to pitch, or they don’t have a picture on their profile or worse they connect and then forget. She’s going to show you how to avoid all these mistakes and some great tips to make your LinkedIn experience and connections grow your business. Enjoy the episode.
Our guest is Brynne Tillman and she is the LinkedIn Whisperer. The LinkedIn Whisperer and Pitch Whisperer have joined forces. She’s also the CEO of Social Sales Link. For over a decade, she’s been teaching entrepreneurs, sales teams, and business leaders how to leverage LinkedIn for social selling. As a former sales trainer and personal producer, Brynne adopted all of the traditional sales techniques and adapted them to the new digital world. She guides professionals to establish a thought leader and a subject matter expert brand, find an exchange, the right target market, leverage clients and networking partners for warm introductions into qualified buyers. She’s also the author of The LinkedIn Sales Playbook: A Tactical Guide to Social Selling. Brynne, welcome to the show.
Thank you. I’m happy to be here, John.
The premise of getting to have you on the show is the timing we were talking about before the show started. I got to see you and your amazing team in action with your clients, helping them go from pushing out content and wondering why they’re not getting engagements on their posts to creating value and building relationships, which is completely in sync with what I’m all about and what this show is all about. You are the perfect guest. One of the things I like to ask my guests is to tell us your own story of origin. You can take us back to childhood, school or wherever you were that you feel like you’ve got this burning desire to want to learn how to connect or sell or whatever you think has led you to become the success you are.
I’ve been in sales since I was a waitress at Friendly’s. I loved being in a server, upselling, tips, the competition. I was a cocktail waitress in college and the fattest of all the girls that made the most money. It didn’t matter. I was competitive and I was going to do it. That’s the way it was. I love sales. Even though my degree is in Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, I went into a sales career. I ended up in the sales training path versus the sales management path because everyone rode with me.
Every new person sat with me when I was in inside sales and when I was in the field. That was great and I love to train. I started a sales training company and we were teaching LinkedIn as a loss leader, initially. It was like nobody even knew what the heck this thing was when we started teaching it and then I’d have to go back and train traditional sales training. It wasn’t feeling right. I’m like, “I want this LinkedIn thing.” Many years ago, I went off on my own and launched Social Sales Link to train LinkedIn, to help salespeople start more conversations.
That’s such a fascinating journey that when you know that something doesn’t feel right anymore and having been in the media ad sales world for so long and I realized that when an ad agency would call us in, they called it media day. We looked at 100 magazines and we’ve narrowed it down to 10. We’re going to run in three and you get to come in one after another, like an actor almost auditioning and you each have half-an-hour. For God’s sake, do not tell us how many readers you have. We know that already. Tell us an idea or have a conversation with us about who your reader is that most people weren’t on that script. They completely flipped out. That was my a-ha moment of, “I’ve got to start learning how to tell stories.”
Whoever my premise is, whoever tells the best story is the one that gets the sale or the new client and all of that because when we tell great stories of which you were the expert at doing, especially on LinkedIn, whether it’s a post or starting a conversation, it allows other people to remember our stories and then you’ve got brand ambassadors without having to pay for them influencers or whatever. It’s more organic. That’s what I saw you doing with your team. I saw you in action, creating authentic connections and not selling. What are the things that made me laugh? Thank goodness I was on mute is one of your clients was reading what his response was to someone and he went, “You spammed him.” I thought to myself being on that Nickelodeon show when you would get all gooey with that green spray, you got slimed. The digital version of, “You got slimed,” is, “You got spammed.” That could be a funny tweet for the show. Tell us what mistakes you see people making on their LinkedIn. Where do you begin?
The LinkedIn Sales Playbook: A Tactical Guide to Social Selling
Number one, absolute most terrible is connect and pitch. It’s awful. All get it. In a new environment, we’re getting them 3 and 5 times a day, “We help companies like you.” It’s connected and disconnect is what it is. It’s terrible. Stop doing that because most of the people reading are doing that because that’s what salespeople do. We want to tell everybody about, “We can help companies like you.” We think it’s going to work and it doesn’t. People say, “If I send a few more, it’ll be a few more, that doesn’t work.” We need to stop.
Number two, you are going out and engaging with a very bad profile. No picture, no banner, a headline that says you’re a sales rep, which makes them go, “I’m not having a conversation with that person or sales rep.” You’ve got to move your profile from your resume to a resource in order to be effective. Another mistake is to connect and forget and we’ve all done this. We connect to that engaging. To me, that’s like going to a networking meeting with a whole bunch of business cards and I walk up and I go, “John, take my card.” I walk away and we have no conversation. That’s what we’re doing on LinkedIn. We’re handing people our business cards and walking away. Let’s start a conversation. Let’s bring value.
If you go back to when you were able to go in person and do your pitch. I can feel the days like people invite you to come to their office and that still happens when the pandemic ends. Now, it’s a virtual invitation, but you fill out a proposal, you get a final 2 or 3, and you’re able to go in and then people think, “I’m going to tell you everything about me.” It’s vomiting of information and then you leave and their competitors come and basically do the same thing. The client turns to each other and says, “That all sounds the same. We should go with whoever has the lowest price.” You’re following up and you’re getting ghosted and like, “What’d I do wrong.”
I love connecting with you because our belief systems and the teachings are in sync because my whole premise is, “If you want to be memorable, tell a story.” Your whole premise is, “If you want not to connect and be forgotten, have a conversation.” Most people are like, “If I’m socially awkward or an introvert in real life, I’m equally awkward and introverted in that situation.” That’s where you come in as the LinkedIn Whisperer says to them, “Take a breath, people. I’ve seen you do it. Be human. Tell me something real about yourself for me.” To me, “What’s your story of origin?” I work with a lot of healthcare professionals and they’re like, “You’re pastoring these doctors. Don’t you want to be seen as a welcome guest?” That’s my favorite soundbite with what we’re doing.
We’re taking people from being seen as an annoying pest to a welcome guest. How do you do that? What you’re teaching people to do is give them some content. One of the things that you said to your clients that were gold. I don’t know if they realized it, because sometimes when people are working with an expert like you, they don’t have any comparison, but I do. I was like, “They are getting incredible value one after another.” You said to them, “Instead of spamming somebody with your pitch, how about if you respond to their issue and say, ‘I might know someone else who could help you, would you like an introduction?’” That giving mindset and that extra effort to give instead of picked to, “What can I get?” is how you start a conversation and a relationship. I want you to speak a little bit about how did you learn to do that well?
Trial and error, AB testing, being hyper-aware of human beings in what they need and want, being a conscious person, not just awake, but try to be conscious of what’s happening, empathetic a little. I want to get in the shoes of the other person and a lot of self-reflection about how do I want to show up? What do I want to be? What’s my legacy? I do this to make a living, but what motivates me is when a client comes back to me and said, “I implemented what you taught me and closed a $1.5 million deal.” I go, “That’s my legacy.” We touched about this quote that I’m playing out with which I’m jumping ahead, “It isn’t about you hitting your goals. It’s about you helping your clients hit theirs.”
It’s like a new one. It’s the second time I’m saying it out loud. You’ve got to get a core philosophy. What do you want to achieve? Quarantine had everyone pivoting and making a shift and we recognized we had to redefine social selling because it was a different time. We redefined it as social selling is about showing empathy, building real relationships and being a resource. The sale will come when the time is right. If you can continue to help them achieve their goals when it’s time for them to need what you have you are it.
You’re memorable again because you better resource, you’ve developed a relationship and you’ve shown empathy. I talk about that based on a book I read years ago by Tim Sanders called The Likeability Factor. He did all this research around empathy and doctors spend more time with patients they like, teachers spend more time with students they like. It’s all about how do we up our likability factor? It’s about empathy. When we can show that we understand someone’s problem better than someone else can, the assumption becomes, “You must have then my solution if you’re able to phrase my inner feelings and thoughts in such a way that I haven’t been able to express it, you must have my solution because you’re ‘in my head.’” Part of what makes good headlines or content for LinkedIn is listening to the pain points your clients describe to you, what more of this client and your avatar, but then listen to how they say things. That becomes your headline or the title of a post where I have found works well. Do you have an example of that someone you’ve worked with or where you’ve heard someone say something and then you use that and you get more of your ideal clients from it?
All my content comes from conversations I have with clients. That line came from a conversation I had with a client that it’s not exactly like that, but there’s some gravitas here and I played with it until it came out and flowed. Everything that I am now is because a client had a question that needed an answer.
I’ve got a couple of examples myself because I think the more examples you and I toss out on this episode, the more this episode will be read to over again and they’re like, “Did you read that one? I hadn’t even thought of that one.” Working with the tech healthcare company, they were not numbered one in their market and one of the sales reps said, “We’ve got to stop playing defense.” I went, “That’s a headline.” A lot of people feel they’re constantly playing defense against the market leader and never getting to talk about their strengths and only being compared to the other. That was one. Another one, we are tired of coming in second place when we go pitch and then I have a whole thing around, “Unlike the Olympics in business, there’s no medal for 2nd or 3rd place.” Those things help our clients.
LinkedIn Sales: Don’t just connect and be forgotten. Start a conversation.
My biggest one is when people ask me about, “Is sales navigator worth it? Should I invest the money?” I had a client once, a prospect at the time we turned into a client who came to me and said, “I send it for sales navigator six months ago. I haven’t gotten one sale from it, but it’s because I haven’t logged in.” I said, “It’s like your gym membership.” He laughed. When people say to me and I’ve said this now 100 times publicly, sales navigator was like a gym membership. If you sign up for it and you’ve got a plan, you know when it’s leg day and when it’s arm day and when you’re doing your aerobics, you’re going to get in great shape. If you don’t show up, you’re going to pay your membership every single month and you’re going to look the same and feel exactly the same six months from now. You have to go to the gym three times a week in order to make use of it.
The other thing I heard you stated with your clients is, “Don’t connect and then ask someone to buy from you. It’s like going on a coffee date and asking somebody to marry you.”
This is dating. Take it slow.
“I’m not ready to go home with you yet.” I have done the same thing about how to go from invisible to irresistible. I constantly toggled back and forth between a dating scenario and a business scenario because it’s all relationship. In the middle of invisible to irresistible is the interesting rung. I said, “This is where most people get stuck.” On a dating scenario, maybe you say something at a cocktail party that like, “Maybe I wrote you off to pass, but I’m still not going out with you or going home with you, but I’m at least interested to keep talking.”
I see many salespeople and I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on this, get excited and even do a projection to their boss, “I’m going to get a sale. They said they were interested. They wanted some information.” I said, “It’s like being stuck at the friend zone at work.” That concept of going, “Interesting, is not a sale.” I’m stuck at the interesting rung of the ladder. I’ve gotten them into interested enough, but they’re certainly not buying yet and you must have seen that many times and still see it where someone may be interested enough to connect and you can’t get past that framework because you aren’t showing enough empathy or whatever it is.
There is a short game and long game on LinkedIn. I’m going to balance the two. The long game on LinkedIn is we’re connecting with people when they start to engage like, “They’re showing some interest.” We have a responsibility to earn the right for every next step. We put out a piece of content. They like it. We earned that like. We connect with them and thank them for liking our content and because our content was good enough, we’ve earned the right to have the connection. What’s our next step? How do we start a conversation without pitching? “John, thanks for liking the article that I posted out there. Not sure if this is a subject that’s top of mind for you, but I do have another post I’d love to share with you. Let me know. I’ll send you a link.”
A lot more people are going to say yes, then would click on it If you sent the link.
They’re engaged. They feel like, “I’m in control.”
It could be a white paper or download. You let them know. When they say yes, if you give them a gated piece of content, you ask permission. They’re not going to feel spam and now we see, did they download it? It’s a conversation and it could be a lot of things, but what level are you exploring? Where are you in exploring this? I’ve got lots of other insights that I’d be happy to share with you. Where are you in this journey? I’d be happy to share insights with you, even if we never worked together. “I’m in this industry. I’ve got lots of ideas. I’m happy to share them with you. Let me know. I’ll send you a link to my calendar. We can set up a time to talk.”
I see you have that on your About Page. It’s inviting. Let’s go back to one of the mistakes you said at the beginning, which is no picture. That’s obviously a square one. Square two is the wrong picture that still is not appropriate. Someone goes to my LinkedIn profile you see a picture of me in front of hundreds of people at a ballroom giving a talk. You know I’m a speaker from that picture, before you even read it in my profile. Make sure the picture you tell the story you want to be telling. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of someone working with someone like you ran because LinkedIn caused me to get my highest speaking engagement. Most people think, speakers spend a lot of money on SEO to get people to come to our website and look at our speaker video demo reels and all that good stuff and all that happened.
It was between me and another speaker, which is often the case. Sometimes it’s between me and multiple speakers. After I got hired, I heard the story because you and I are the same. We were like, “Can you tell me how you found me?” “It just pops in.” The marketing department picked the theme of storytelling, found me and another speaker and presented this to eight different regional vice presidents. One of those regional vice presidents was looking at the two profiles in addition to the video demo reels and the books. On my profile is very clear that I had a career at Conde Nast and I won Sales Person of the Year. It’s a big part of the profile. The other speaker, from what I can see, if I read the fine print was also in sales, but it doesn’t say what company, it’s obscure. That regional vice president said, “I think I prefer a speaker who’s been in sales and has been in my team’s shoes, has quotas, deadlines and pressures.” Here’s the secret sauce, which is when I saw you teaching.
LinkedIn Sales: Using Sales Navigator is like a gym membership. You need to show up for what you paid for.
As they were still debating after they had their meeting, it’s almost every sale. Even with hiring the speaker for the meeting, lots of decision-makers. That’s the norm. He reached out to me and I’m like, “I know that client name.” That’s not the person that I’ve been interacting with, but, “He’s in one region.” He asked to connect. I went on his profile, liked and commented on a couple of the articles that he had posted. I responded to the connection and I said, “Your company’s considering me. Would you like me to mail you a copy of my book?” He said, “That’d be great.” He sends me his address. Now, I have an inside brand ambassador salesperson cheering for me. I found out later, he said, “This is what I’m trying to teach my team to do is interact with the doctor’s posts and the fact that you did it, it will be organic for you to teach them how to do it.” There are many things with my LinkedIn that I think a lot of people think, “I’m not looking for a job. I don’t need to have a LinkedIn profile.” You can emphasize how many people you’ve helped like that.
The first story, I got into Aramark when I was a teeny tiny one person, starting locally still selling sales training, but doing this little LinkedIn thing. Aramark was looking for sale for a LinkedIn trainer. They had gone through the challenger sale training. This was the next thing. I raised my hand, I reached out to the person and she said, “I’m sorry, we’re Aramark. We need a bigger company than you.” I looked at our shared connections and I saw my friend Professor Richardson who taught at Rutgers at that time was connected to her. I taught for free a LinkedIn class one semester for her at Rutgers. I reached out to him and I’m like, “How do you know Nicole Bradley at Aramark?” who is not there anymore. She said, “She was my student.” I said, “Can you throw in my name? Here’s the situation.” She took her to lunch and said, “I’m not going to tell you Aramark who to hire, but you need to talk to Brynne.” Needless to say, I got the gig, they handed me the book and they said, “The way you got in here is the way we want our reps to get into.”
Walk your talk. That’s what you do. That’s what I pride myself on doing too. That’s why the LinkedIn whisperer and then the bitch whisperer is we’re giving people lots of context and content on how to go from invisible to irresistible. SocialSalesLink.com that’s the best place to connect with you. Go to your LinkedIn profile and connect, reach on your company team site if anybody’s looking forward. Here’s the big problem I keep hearing you with companies hire me, especially now during a pandemic, we’re having trouble starting conversations with clients that we normally could either cold call or catch in the hospital where we’re not allowed anymore and all the normal ways of connecting and meeting people is gone. We’re struggling with that first reconnection whether it’s a subject line in an email or what to say when you’re asking someone to connect. We’ve skipped put as might be obvious, but I would be remiss if I didn’t ask you, how important is it when you’re inviting someone to connect, to do it from your laptop and not your phone so you can put a note with it?
You can put a note on your phone. If you’re on your mobile device and you click on the More Button, you can go personal invite. I prefer connecting on the phone because on the desktop, it sends an invite without a message. It says, “If you’d like to add a message, you still can.” You want to hit the More Button and then hit Personalized Message from the phone.
That’s when people can tell that it’s not spam, especially, if you customize it and say how you know them or something you read. The more specific, the feedback or why you like someone’s work or what you like about it whether it’s a poster or an invitation, the better.
Look at their profile, engage on their content before you connect so there’s more con.
I can’t thank you enough for sharing these valuable tips. It’s interesting how certain situations create a need for something that existed before, but now is needed. You’re at the right place at the right time. All that preparation and long game playing have paid off for you and I’m cheering you on every step of the way.