Episode 11: Liz Heiman – Why Sales Should Not Be a Bad Black Box for Company Owners
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Liz Heiman, the chief sales strategist and CEO of Regarding Sales. Liz believes sales isn’t magic because when you have a solid strategy, an effective process, and a solid understanding of how it all works, results are predictable.
Visit the Regarding Sales website and connect with Liz Heiman on LinkedIn and Twitter!
Liz Heiman 0:00
I’m getting a whole bunch of automated LinkedIn messages trying to sell me crap.
Brynne Tillman 0:07
Liz Heiman 0:09
And then I actually respond and I get an automated response. But that is not social. That’s just annoying.
Brynne Tillman 0:17
Liz Heiman 0:19
And it’s rude.
Intro Voiceover 0:23
Welcome to the making sales social podcast, featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick, as they discussed the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. Here are your hosts, Brynne Tillman, and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 0:49
Hey, welcome to making sales social. I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 0:52
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 0:53
So Brynne, tell me who’s joining us today.
Brynne Tillman 0:55
So I’m so excited because this amazing woman that’s joining us today is my actual friend too, like in real life, like beyond social, beyond digital, we even hung out at the country’s largest mall together, last time we were together. Beyond like, I love her, she is brilliant at sales strategy, and we’ve got lots of marketing and sales experts that come to join us. But the strategy piece is always, what you know, our viewers or listeners, they’re really trying to get and we always ended with big picture. And so I am so excited to get a little tactical today with my very good friend Liz Heiman. Hi, Liz.
Liz Heiman 1:40
Hi, thanks for having me.
Brynne Tillman 1:42
Thanks for being here.
Liz Heiman 1:44
That’s very exciting.
Bill McCormick 1:46
So Liz, tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
Liz Heiman 1:50
So Liz Heiman, and my company is called Regarding Sales. And what I do is, first and foremost is take the mystery out of sales. So sales should not be a bad black box for company owners, it should be something manageable, and repeatable, and understandable, and predictable. And so what I do is I help companies put systems and strategies and processes in place that make that possible.
Bill McCormick 2:13
Liz Heiman 2:15
As a result, hopefully, increase sales.
Bill McCormick 2:19
Sorry, yeah. So and that because that’s what we’re here for.
Brynne Tillman 2:22
Right, predictably too.
Liz Heiman 2:24
Predictably, reliably, predictably, those are critical words.
Bill McCormick 2:29
Fantastic. Well, we always like to find out from everyone. Liz, what does making sales social mean to you?
Liz Heiman 2:37
What can I tell you what it doesn’t mean to me. What it doesn’t mean, is getting a whole bunch of automated LinkedIn messages trying to sell me crap.
Brynne Tillman 2:46
Liz Heiman 2:48
And then I actually respond, and I get an automated response. But that is not social. That’s just annoying.
Brynne Tillman 2:55
Liz Heiman 2:57
And it’s rude, oh my gosh it’s rude, so don’t do that. That is not social, don’t do that.
Bill McCormick 3:03
Liz Heiman 3:04
You know, I think that it happens on a whole bunch of levels. One of the things is that we have this incredible social media, that we can use to get to know each other, and to understand each other, and to find out about each other, and to learn what’s important to each other. And I think that is super powerful. But I also think that when we are selling, whether we’re doing it like this, or we’re face to face, we’re on the phone, the idea that the person that we’re talking to is a human being, they are not just a buyer. They’re not just a pocketbook, right? And they’re not just a decision maker. They’re a human being, and when we remember that we’re able to engage with them in a way that’s really human. That’s social, that’s kind and caring and understanding. And I think that until we get there until we really understand that we can’t be effective salespeople.
Bill McCormick 3:53
It’s all about the human-to-human right? You know, we want to say; “are you B2B or B2C?”. No, we’re all age-to-age. We’re all human-to-human. So that really resonates with us and what we’re about. So tell me when you’re training your clients and working with your clients, what, in this in the sales realm, like in the physical world. What are you teaching them that they can do, that can help them at the very top of their funnel, the very top of their pipeline?
Liz Heiman 4:23
At the very top of their pipeline, there’s a couple things that are really critical and the first and most important is leverage the relationship you already have talked about being social, right? Build those relationships, because you know, and you guys have probably all heard this a million times, but we know that the easiest, least expensive, you know, longest term money, you know, revenue we’ll ever get is from customers that we have sell, somebody who loves us something more. Provide an additional service and additional product, something that helps them to be more successful. The second is to sell to people who are in, we’re introduced to by somebody who loves us, right? So when somebody who loves us says; “Oh my gosh, I know who can help you”. And then you get on the phone with them, they already trust you and you. And again, second easiest, highest revenue, all those good things. So we always want to leverage relationships that we have that, that’s the first thing. And I think the second thing, and of course, that puts stuff in the top of our funnel, right? That’s always exciting to put stuff in the top of our funnel. But I think the other thing is to be really systematic, right? And so it’s really important to make sure you make time for prospecting, right? So it’s really easy to get caught up in follow-up with people we know. It’s fun, those are relationships, who have their people they know, we know, they call us back, those are really great and fun. But if we don’t schedule time for the prospecting part of our funnel, we’re going to have a dried up funnel. So that’s I think the key thing that I work with people on is schedule it and make time for it, figure out where it’s going to come from and systematically take care of that.
Brynne Tillman 6:10
So I love this, I just want to follow up on this. How do you prioritize, let’s say we have an hour and a half a day, that’s pure prospecting, how do you prioritize the activity that they should be doing?
Liz Heiman 6:22
This is really important, because priorities are critical, right? So if you do a whole bunch of activity, that’s not going to get any result, you were super productive, but you won’t produce anything, right? So very first thing is to make sure that we’re using the time that we have, as efficiently and effectively as possible. And that starts by prioritizing our ideal customer, right? So whatever activity I’m going to do, I want to start by saying; “Who are the people that are the best fit that are most likely to buy are going to have the shortest cell cycle are going to buy the most be the happiest, the most profitable, all of those things?” magically, our ideal customer fits all those criteria. So if I’m doing work in the top of my funnel, and I’m prospecting, take the time to really think about who is your ideal customer, and they’re the ones that you get your most focus and attention. I think the second thing if we’re, if we’re in a business to business, so is thinking about communicating with multiple people at one company. So shotgunning is inefficient, right, but this whole idea of what they now call account based marketing or account based sales, which we used to call, you know, just a complex sale, the idea is to be engaged with as many people in a complex sale as possible. So by focusing your effort on your ideal customer, and multiple people, multiple buyers, that’s a much more efficient use of your time, and effective.
Brynne Tillman 7:50
I love that we call that in the social side socially surrounding an organization, right? Yeah, how are you engaging as many people as possible inside
Bill McCormick 7:59
Yeah, and it’s so important, especially today, when people are so transient in the workforce. And what I tell people all the time is, is the one person you always want to make sure you’re connected to in an organization is someone that’s high up in the human resources department, because they know where everyone’s going. So that’s so good. You mentioned a couple of things that really rang true for me, first of all, is being connected to your clients, you know, having connections with them. That’s so very important. And then understanding who your ideal client is, so many salespeople that we’re training, we’re talking to, and we ask them; “Alright, so who’s your target audience?”. And it’s crickets like you, you’re not–
Brynne Tillman 8:47
Bill McCormick 8:48
Yeah, or everyone.
Liz Heiman 8:49
That’s my favorite answer! Everybody! Everybody. And I was using the example. Here’s my favorite example. Right? “I sell motorcycles. Great! Who do you sell them to? Everybody”. Okay, so let me put up a picture of a, like a Honda, you know, super fast. And then a Harley, somebody who would typically buy a Harley, is he really going to buy this bike? And the answer is not in a million years. No way!
Brynne Tillman 9:09
I’m not buying a motorcycle. So my husband.
Liz Heiman 9:13
Right, and I’m never going to buy a Coca-Cola right? So everybody is never our customer. But, when we can narrow that down, and we can say, you know, here’s who is going to buy, but it’s not just that demographic stuff, right? So that’s the second thing we get really focused on the demographics, “Oh people in this industry in this area, with this many employees”. Those are all great, and there’s your beginning. But now go research these companies and figure out what matters to them, figure out what their initiatives are, figure out what their goals are, figure out what’s going on in these companies before you pick up the phone. And you’ll be able to see, hey, this is a company that’s really struggling with this, this is a company that really believes in this, we share the same values. This is going to be more likely to be a good fit. So, I think that, you know, part of social, part of this world that we live in now is that we actually can do things we could never do before, which is to find out who it is we’re calling and what matters to them both as individuals, and as companies.
Brynne Tillman 10:16
I love that! And you know, it’s something that we haven’t heard anyone really talk about, nor do we, although we do talk about aligning with our clients, the idea of researching their mission, their vision, their purpose, as part of your prospecting, I think is a game changer. Because not only are you aligning with what’s seemingly, you know, kind of surface, but you’re really award aligning at the core, you’re going to connect with them far beyond, you know what your services are. And I think that’s powerful.
Bill McCormick 10:52
There’s a scene in the movie, The Patriot with Mel Gibson, revolutionary war movie, he’s talking to his kids about shooting. And he says, “Remember”, and the kid says, “Yes, aim small, miss small”. So when you have a small spot that you’re aiming for, if you miss and you’re just in that area, you’re still in the same area. And the same goes with what we’re talking about. If you know your ideal client, and you do the research and find out exactly where you need to come at them at, if you miss, you’re just off by just a little bit. And I think what we see today, unless you brought it up in the beginning about this spray and pitch method that’s happening on LinkedIn, is that people don’t know what their ideal client is. So they’re going after the everybodys in anybodys. And there’s so much noise out there today, and in the sales world. I’m curious, what sales strategy are you recommending to your clients to help them stand out from the competition?
Liz Heiman 11:51
Okay, so I’m going to, I’m going to take in a different direction than you would expect, probably, but I think it’s all about value proposition, right? So if I truly understand who my ideal customer is, then I can think about, rather than thinking about my product, and creating a place where it belongs, I can look at my customer and say what, customer what problem does my customer have my ideal prospect have? How do they talk about it? Not how do I talk about it, how my company talks about it. How do they talk about it, right? And then I can think about how do I solve that problem? And why am I the best solution for my ideal customer. Now, if I have that information, my messaging is relevant. And then I can personalize it even more if I do some research. But if I’m just again, spraying and praying and throwing out some generic messaging, then it isn’t helpful. I need to know this buyer in this kind of organization describes their problem this way, that somebody who works in a factory versus somebody who works in a hospital uses completely different language about the same problems. Right? So I need to understand how do my customers talk about, think about, worry about their problems.
Bill McCormick 13:08
Take us through, take our listeners through, how just a few tactics about how you’d go about doing that research to find that out?
Liz Heiman 13:16
Well, some of it, you already know, you just haven’t taken the time to break it all up. So the way I start, as I say, and I literally have a format for doing this with my customers, right? So you start and I call this a sales communication framework. There’s actually a name for this. So what am I different problem? What are my different products? What are my different customers? So I might sell three different kinds of technology, and I might sell them into six different industries. Okay, so in industry, one product one, who are the buyers involved in this process? Does the CEO ever get involved? Could the CEO ever get involved? If the CEO were involved? How would they define their problem? What would be a trigger for them to purchase? You know, what language specifically are they using? And what language do I need to use to get their attention, and I need to do that all the way down the line to the lowest level users, right? Because I never know who’s going to be the one to engage with me. So then I do that for each product. I do that for each industry. And I come up with a communication framework that enables me to say okay, if I’m on LinkedIn, here’s the guy I’m talking to guy, gal, person, human being that I’m talking to. This is a messaging that is most likely to resonate with them. I might miss as you said, might not be right, might not resonate, but I have a lot better chance of having messaging that resonates. If I really think about who’s that person, what’s their job, what are they measured against, what do they worry about? Then if I just have some generic messaging I throw out to everybody.
Bill McCormick 14:51
That’s so good, and it goes you know, Brynne, one of the things we say and I’m not going to get this right you, so you’re gonna help me out but when we talked about using LinkedIn using social and the effort that it takes, right?
Brynne Tillman 15:06
So the outreach may be longer, but the outcome is shorter, it gets shorter to outcome. I didn’t say it right, either. So that was the time to outreach is longer when you do all that work. But the time to outcome is shorter. That’s it!
Liz Heiman 15:25
And it’s also going to be higher. Right? So if I set up messaging that doesn’t resonate, the result is zero. If I send out messaging that resonates, at least I have a chance that that person will respond to me.
Brynne Tillman 15:39
What are you seeing people are responding to? Is it thought leadership? Is it like what? What’s getting people to say; “Hey, yeah, it’s worth having a conversation”.
Liz Heiman 15:49
You know, I think it’s all across the board. I don’t think there’s a simple answer. I mean, I do think some of this LinkedIn selling is working, or people wouldn’t be spending the money on it, is it efficient? It’s probably about as efficient and effective as cold calling. So what do you get one in my 1000, I don’t know what the numbers are. So the end, the less focused your effort, the lower your turn, return. And the less focus you’re messaging, the lower you return. So, but and I think, but I think that leadership is also powerful, but it’s with, you know, different people respond to different things. So some people read everything, some people watch everything, you know, some people Google everything. So you kind of have you know, this is, and Brynne, I’ve heard you say this too, you got to be where your customer is. So if the customer that I’m looking for in my world is CEOs of either startups or companies that are changing the way they do things, then I need to be where they are, and where they are, is reading thought leadership. And they’re googling to solve problems, right? But they’re mostly reading thought leadership, because they don’t want to be, when I’m googling for a problem I already have, I’m behind the eight ball, right? I want to be ahead of the game. And you’ve seen what’s coming down the pike. So for me, I want to be writing stuff that is thought provoking, and out in the world of thought leadership in hopes of getting those people to go; “Hey, I haven’t thought about the world quite this way”.
Brynne Tillman 17:21
So I want to share, I took a marketing class years ago with David Newman, which is Do It Marketing, and if you know who he is, but some really great stuff that came out of it. And one of the “aha” moments I had from there was about identifying what are they googling before the stage before they’re googling you. And you need to write content or produce content that is at the stage before they need you so that you’re not too late. And I always thought that that was really cool.
Liz Heiman 17:59
And really hard. Let’s be clear, that is where we need to be. And it’s really hard to be there. But it, you, what you want to be is already in the conversation when they have their “aha” moment that they have a problem. Right? So and this is why I want to be looking at my potential customers and saying, what initiatives is the company putting in place? What goals do they have? Because then I can see if they’re here and their goals and initiatives, it’s gonna be a while before they get here, I need to start my conversation. So I’m ready with them and ready when they hit that point.
Brynne Tillman 18:37
I love that.
Bill McCormick 18:38
Yes. So good. So good. So as we’re beginning to wrap up here, when you’re talking to your clients, what’s one sales activity that you tell them to do that if they do on a consistent basis, is going to really create opportunities for them?
Liz Heiman 18:56
That’s going to create opportunities? Well, again, we talked about prospecting. But I think that one of the most important things I’m going to move away from what you’re probably looking at, but I think the most important thing that salespeople can do is to actually say, this is customer one, what is my next action that’s going to move this sale forward. So while it may not help me find the new business, it will help me make sure that I’m engaging in the right conversation at the right time to keep moving this out further. So whether I’m in prospecting or whether I’m qualifying or whether I’m in the process of pursuing that business or closing that business, if I am intentional about what I’m communicating with them about, then I have the ability to help move the sale the direction, if it needs to go if I’m just following up. So what? So what you’re just following up, thank you very much. Thanks. Have a great day. I’m just following up but if I’m really intentional; “Hey, last time we talked you were worried about such and such. I’m wondering if we can have a conversation, or if you can introduce me to Joe. So I can help figure out how we can solve that problem”. Now, I’m very intentional about it. And I say you don’t do that, as you’re sitting down and thinking about what’s next, you do that when you get off the phone with them, or you get out of the meeting with them, and you’re ready to decide what’s my next action to move the sale forward. So that’s what I think is one of the most important activities a salesperson can be doing is being intentional and thinking ahead.
Brynne Tillman 20:26
Absolutely love that. And I, I’m sorry, I know I interrupt. But I just to kind of close all of that out. You know, we talk about social selling as bringing value being a resource and building relationships, the sales will come when the time is right. And I think that’s exactly what you’re talking about, right? Like that, that brings that full circle into, are you being valuable to this person based on what they need? Not what you need. Right. You know, and that builds that relationship. So when the time is right, you’re at least a vendor in consideration, if not the only one they talked to.
Bill McCormick 21:31
When you send those “just following up” emails, I can tell you that on the other side of the email, there’s an eyeroll, at least for me, there’s an eyeroll. And thought of, if I was ready, I would have contacted you already, you know, it does nothing, it does nothing to help.
Brynne Tillman 21:28
But if they brought you in, they brought you value and resource.
Then it’d be totally different.
Brynne Tillman 21:32
Right, because it’s not like, so we had had a conversation on an earlier episode with someone that said, restrained from asking for the call. Just like, just keep, just bring the value, the call will come when the time is right. Right? So bring that value, and I think that’s what you’re talking about Bill, when you talk to the point of, if you’re asking for the call too soon, I delete. But if you bring me a value, when the time is right, you’re the one I call.
Bill McCormick 22:04
Liz Heiman 22:05
And that’s one of the things about having great content, right? So if I have content that matches the problems that we were talking about earlier, and the value proposition now I can say this is the person that would appreciate this.
Brynne Tillman 22:18
Perfect, cool. Bring it all into social stuff. Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome.
Bill McCormick 22:23
Whether you’re closing on a zoom meeting, or it’s, you know, later on in 2021, after everyone’s vaccinated, and we can have meetings again, and you’re walking out of the meeting, you’re already thinking, alright, I know what my next two steps are. So, and Liz, I love that. So you’re ahead of the game. And I think a well prepared salesperson is a resource salesperson, and that’s a successful salesperson. And it all works together. This has been so good. So thank you. So tell everyone how they can get a hold of you, how you can help them further if they’re in need of your help.
Liz Heiman 22:58
Well, I’m really easy way to find me is on LinkedIn, it’s Liz Heiman, H-E-I-MAN. And I’m the only one so it shouldn’t be hard to find me. You can also go to my website, which is www.regardingsales.com. And if you go to the website, you can actually schedule a 30-minute meeting with me that’s completely free, no obligation, and I will help you get started on whichever project you’re trying to get started on.
Bill McCormick 23:26
Well, thanks so much, Liz. And hey everyone. Thanks for joining us once again. In making sales social.
Outro Voiceover 23:34
Thanks for listening and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales, training, and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Don’t forget to subscribe to get the latest episodes from the making sales social podcasts, leave a review down below. Tell us what you think, what you learned, and what you want to hear from us next. You can also listen to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.