The second day of Marketing Week featured Shane Gibson: he is listed under Forbes at one of the top 5 Social Salespeople in the World. When asked about how he managed to crack the list, his answer was simply that it just kind of happened; he built up his profile online, and overtime he cracked the list without him even knowing about it.
This answer is telling in a number of ways. Ultimately there is no secret formula to success on social media; what is really needed is daily dedication to creating great online content and building your personal brand.
Shane refers to the example of comedian and internet maven Gary Vaynerchuk, who created over 148 online videos until finally one of them went viral. While the concept of being an overnight internet sensation may seem appealing to some, Shane cautions against being a one-hit wonder that will eventually fade over time; rather it is much better to have a reputation for consistently, quality content.
The other facet of social media today is that the conversation is beyond the control of the creator. Even though you are able to build a brand, you cannot actually control what that brand is; instead the audience controls your brand and what is being said about you. Thus, selling yourself on social media means knowing what the audience wants and being able to “work the crowd” in order to get the desired results.
And the audience is very, very big. There is no denying the prevalence of social media: with 1.4 billion people on Facebook and 300 million people on LinkedIn, everyone you want to meet is there – you just have to reach out and connect with them. Shane recounts how many corporate boardrooms still do not believe in social media; in reality everything in business relies on relationships, and social media is the open networking platform that allows you to build relationships with the people who matter.
What does the word “selling” actually mean? Shane Gibson defines it as the creation of an environment where an act of faith can take place. Every transaction involves an element of trust. Think of the last purchase that you made. You do not actually take the time to find out everything about the product – instead you trusted the brand, the salesperson and the company. This act of faith – making a transaction even without all the information – is behind every purchase. The riskier the purchase, the more faith and credibility is required before the transaction can be made.
Shane specifically refers to the Five Steps of Consent, the process of building a connection with other people:
- Discoverable – people find you on social media and know you exist
- Consumption – people begin “consuming” or reading things about you.
- Interaction – people begin asking questions and talking to you
- Connection – people take an interest in you and start following what you do
- Consent – people consent to building a connection with you, whether that is developing a relationship or closing a sales deal
A big mistake that salespeople make is skip this process of building engagement. Instead of seeking consent first, the salesperson jumps straight into a sales pitch; since the customer did not consent to being sold to, they immediately tune out the message. Shane cautions that selling is more about self-education – as opposed to forcing education onto them – and to always consider what relationship can be built with the customer in order to create lifetime value.
As a platform of communication, social media has its own “rules of engagement”: things you can do and things to avoid doing. Shane refers to the following nine rules of engagement:
- Stop pitching and start connecting – think about how you can help people to engage with them, rather than alienating people with a sales pitch right away.
- Doers win in the game of social media – stay relevant by turning out content and staying visible. Every post that you make tells the unique story of your brand.
- It’s not about you – when blogging, too often people get caught up in talking about themselves. Write about experiences that are relevant to others – goals, pains, and the market.
- Be fearless in your contribution to community – don’t be afraid to give away value. Dominant marketing brand know how to use generosity to differentiate from competitors.
- Don’t be a social spammer, engage – relevancy is needed to keep people’s attention. Segment your communications so that it reaches the people who actually care about it.
- Be authentic – technology has become an inseparable part of people’s lives. Everything you say or do can now be found online; you cannot pretend to be someone you are not.
- Be consistent – going viral may be flashy and attract a lot of attention, but consistent communication will beat out brilliant viral campaigns
- Amplify through community – instead of talking yourself, find out what kind of experiences you can deliver that will get others talking about you.
- Get sociable! – Shane calls this “using the internet to get off the internet”. Use online communication to set up in-person meetings and build a real connection with people.
Your Online Resume
The modern resume is more than just a document with a list of all your qualifications and interest. Employers are increasingly turning to social media and Google searches to vet potential employees; they expect applicants to have a good awareness of their online presence.
Have you ever tried searching your name on Google? As Shane succinctly puts it, Google searches are the new resume; if your name shows up in the first few search results – and it is not anything embarrassing – this shows employers that you are active online and know how to manage your brand. Everything on the first page of search results for your name is your resume – your goal is to own that page and have it show everything about you.
Your other resume is your LinkedIn profile. Being strong on LinkedIn is a lot like going to the gym – you have to work on it a little bit each day. Instead of lifting weights, you are flexing your online muscles: sharing articles, updating your profile and blogging. Everything you do on LinkedIn creates an update on people’s news feed, which means more chances for people to see your face; even taking 5 minutes out of your day to share an article shows people that you are active and staying current with the world.
There are a few key components to a successful LinkedIn profile, including:
- A photo – as in a professional headshot, NOT a selfie or group photo!
- Complete work history
- Full biography – make your summary personal and say something unique about you
- References and endorsements – writing a reference for others is a good way of prompting them to write one for you
- Connect to company pages
- Add rich media – find ways of incorporating photos, video and slides to make your profile more interesting
- Start blogging – writing articles on LinkedIn Pulse is a great way of building your professional identity
On social media, more is not always better. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that more connections is better – what Shane calls scorekeeping. Instead, the key is to build meaningful connections with people. The beauty of social media is the ability to listen to so many different conversations happening all around the world; take the time to listen to people, observe what they are doing and engage with them. The more you understand people, the easier it will be to uncover new opportunities and new customers.
Social Selling CRM
There is a joke that the customer relationship management (CRM) system SalesForce is so-called because you have to force salespeople to use it. Part of the problem is the monotony of entering customer data into system; Shane recommends social CRM systems such as Nimble that takes all your interactions with a customer – meetings, social media messages, and so forth – and puts them all in one place. This makes it easy for salespeople to pull up all the relevant information on a client, what stage of the selling process they are in and schedule follow-up communications.
The selling process today is very much an exercise in social communication – instead of pitching to people, you are engaging with them on multiple channels. Here are some tips for communication success:
- Focus on A Category prospects – Pareto Principle
- Pick the right platform
- Follow rules of engagement
- Use a social CRM like Nimble
- Follow up, follow up, follow up – most people do not follow up with a client past the 2nd meeting, when most conversions actually happen around the 5th meeting. Even a simple e-mail sent periodically shows people that you still remember them
The Art of Failing Forward
The Art of Failing Forward is actually an entire course that Shane teaches over a number of days. While he did not have time within a 2-hour presentation to cover everything, here are some of the important highlights he covered.
Never Stop Learning
Social media is an organic platform that is constantly changing: Shane stated that he does not believe in social media gurus because what is relevant today will probably be outdated tomorrow. What he does do is constantly learn and push his boundaries; being uncomfortable with a situation is a good indication that he is learning something new.
Part of learning means going through the four levels of competency:
- Unconsciously unskilled – you have yet to try something and are unaware of your skill (or lack thereof)
- Consciously unskilled – after trying something, you now realize you are incompetent at it
- Consciously skilled – after education and practice, you know you are competent
- Subconsciously skilled – you are comfortable with a skill and can perform it well without realizing it
The second phase is the point when you must make a choice between going on – and likely fail many more times – or stop and pursue something else. This choice will be different for each individual: do not be afraid of failing, but also recognize that not everything you try will lead to success. Shane recommends being open to new career paths and ideas – aspirations will change over a lifetime and it is completely normal to outgrow a goal.
Ethics and Leadership
John Maxwell, an author on many books about leadership, once wrote that “there is no such thing as business ethics – you are either ethical or you are not”.
What this means is that ethics cannot apply only to business; you cannot pretend to be ethical, it must be a lifestyle and a definition of who you are. Your values will determine whether or not people want to associate with you.
One method that Shane uses to determine whether someone is ethical is to observe how they treat people who they do not think can make an impact on their life. If an individual is nice to their boss but treats the restaurant waiter poorly, chances are this person does not have a solid set of ethics. This in turn would affect how likely they are follow through on promises or screw you over on a business deal.
By definition leaders tell other people to do things; however there are many different motivations behind why a person would follow a particular leader. John Maxwell summarizes these motivations as the 5 P’s of leadership:
- Position – people follow because they have to
- Permission – people follow because they want to
- Production – people follow because of what you have done
- People Development – people follow because of what you have done for them
- Pinnacle – people follow because of what you are and what you represent
The goal for a leader is to move beyond leading by position and inspire them based on what the leader has done and what he or she represents. For more information on leadership, Shane recommends reading a book by Maxwell called “Developing the Leader within You”.
Shane took all his experience with social selling and condensed it into eight rules on how to succeed:
- Don’t forget where you came from – remember and learn from your mistakes, remember the hard lessons and humble beginnings
- Find awesome mentors – some mentors can see more in you then yourself can
- Be yourself – being someone else is exhausting, being honest with others and yourself
- Share as a discipline – share your story digitally, consistency
- Publish! – launch writings into the public eye, don’t just write
- Be social and be sociable – the times when you least feel like going out is when you should go out; use the internet to stop using the internet
- You are networking or you are not pursuing your career
- Find awesome partners – great partnerships are great ways to learn, “contracts are for friends with bad memories”
Networking with new people is both important in business and notoriously difficult to do well. Another Marketing Week speaker goes into detail about networking here, but here are Shane’s tips on how to make the world your networking function.
- Be referable – don’t gather contacts or pressure for referrals
- Be interested not interesting – ask questions, be sincerely interested
- You can’t have 200 best friends – prioritize, figure out that 20% to connect with
- Add value to your network – what can your network do for others
- Bank your equity (with the right people) – do more for people then what they do for you
- It’s a small town – with the internet, there are no secrets – be authentic
- Map and seek out the white hot center – find the people who are involved, active, know about what is going on in an organization
- The more you give the more you get
- Do your due diligence before you refer
- Keep promises, follow-through – a minority of people do so
- Be seen – who knows you, who knows you are going to be committed
- Step it up every year – build your community, being uncomfortable is normal
- Social networks take time to build, it is an asset
This has been a (very) long event summary, but it is also an effort to capture a presentation – worth about $1000 if Shane was hired for a presentation! – into one condensed article. Hopefully you have all gained valuable information on how you can use social media to develop your professional brand.
A big thank you goes to Shane Gibson for taking the time to come to BCIT and speak with us. His presentation was easily the longest and most thorough one in Marketing Week, and we are grateful for the invaluable insights he shared with everyone.
Another thank you goes to Nikki Nguyen, VP of Professional Development for organizing Marketing Week and bringing in Shane as our speaker. She stressed, fretted and ran around to put this event together in time (believe me I would know) and we are grateful for all that she has done.
As part of our recognition of what Nikki has done, be sure to stay tuned to the BCITMA website for an exclusive interview of Nikki’s experiences organizing Marketing Week. This is not the last event she will be organizing – there is a Regional Conference in January – so be sure to connect with us on our Facebook page to get all the updates!
This event would not be possible without the generous support of our sponsors. You can read more about them here.