Episode 123: Gerry Moran – Don’t Cold Connect, Engage With Them First
Social media consultant and LinkedIn strategist Gerry Moran joins the Social Sales Link team to share his social selling strategies and tips.
Listen as he explains why for him, social selling is about trying to get on your prospect’s radar in the right way so you turn it into a warm call. He also stresses the importance of having a plan and documenting the process, to start with a simple framework.
Tune in as Gerry tells Brynne about a common mistake that many salespeople make, which is not knowing when to use the right sales tool at the right time. There’s also what he calls the “drive time social,” which is something salespeople can refer to when they are trying to determine the best time to post, and “triggers,” which are somewhere between 33 and 40 or so, that sales professionals can use to start conversations with their prospects. Find out whether Gerry is part of those LinkedIn sales professionals who believe you should send a connection request with a message or without.
Listen through to the very end to hear Gerry’s one tip to new social sellers and (spoiler alert!) it’s all about doing the work.
I think social selling is an overused term, I think, but it’s sort of like that common denominator, it gets people’s attention. And I think the real way to position that is “How do I use social media to sell a little better?” And it’s really, “How do I use social media to position myself as an expert as much as I can be?” So there’s the spectrum and continuum of thought leadership, and it starts at the phase, many times, of the sales professional, going all the way up to the subject matter expert and you can sort of bump it up to the C level. But as a seller, as a professional seller, it means “How do I get on the same channel that the customer, the client is viewing, is trying to find out how to solve the problem, how to spot the opportunity, how to scale, how to spend?” It’s trying to make yourself relevant, in a way that’s not intrusive.
Bob Woods 0:50
Welcome to the Making Sales Social podcast, featuring the top voices in sales, marketing, and business. Join Brynne Tillman and me, Bob Woods, as we each bring you the best tips and strategies our guests are teaching their clients, so you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. Enjoy the show.
Brynne Tillman 1:15
I am so excited today. I’ve got Gerry Moran on our call. I have been following him for years and years and years. He launched a company called Marketingthink Consulting, but his background goes like some of the top companies in the world. Welcome Gerry to The Making Sales Social.
Gerry Moran 1:36
Thank you, Brynne. Awesome to be here.
Brynne Tillman 1:38
Tell everyone a little bit about you and your background.
Gerry Moran 1:40
Well, you know, it’s funny, I introduced myself recently someplace else. And I said I’ve always wanted to be a marketing consultant since I was 13. And pretty weird, pretty odd, and pretty geeky, actually. And here I am. But if you look backwards, I have worked for some of the most, biggest brands of the world, Brigus Global Brands. One of them is kind of not around anymore, Kodak and then I was selling copiers at Kodak and I was a serial marketing assistant at Ralston Purina when they had the business, and I worked at HBO for about 18, 19 years or so. When, if you think about it, back in the day, when cable was brand new and we were doing direct response television and direct mail, and television that would announce the mails coming. So, and it was such a new, entrepreneurial time in cable TV before it was around, HBO was still getting rolled out, cable TV was still getting rolled out. I learned a lot early in my career because I was probably in my mid-20s or so there. The things changed, the business changed and while I was at HBO, I started another business, opened up a virtual ad agency where we worked with home inspectors across US and Canada, my partner and I. So it’s always had sort of a side gig. Then I started to teach at St. Joe’s. And then I got let go at HBO, (unintelligible) the world change. Got a job at Temple University running their Executive MBA Program. Networked my way into talking to the CFO at IKEA. Worked at IKEA for a couple of years or so and launched Ikea Family. So if you walk into an IKEA store anywhere and you see Ikea Family, that’s something I had to do with, as well as, the catalog, I was in charge of all the catalog.
So I learned a lot of stuff. And then I decided to go on the agency side, you know, in my 40s, which was not necessarily the smartest thing to do, but I learned a lot. And really what I learned, I learned how to work with agencies as a brand. So when I got to SAP and I got to Cognizant, I figured out how all that stuff worked. I learned social media along the way but as I progressed through the career, I’ve found the most fun when I worked at SAP and built the operating model there. And then I went to Cognizant and I built the operating model there for the whole company. And now here I am. Now the world sort of changes, the players change, the coaches change, you get traded, you leave, get put on the DL, whatever it is. And I find myself running Marketingthink Consulting. And it’s been a lot of fun. And it’s been pretty niche but hey, here I am.
Brynne Tillman 4:17
Well, I have lots of questions for you around what you’re doing and the value that you’re bringing to your customers but before I jump into those, we asked every single one of our guests, what does making sales social mean to you?
Gerry Moran 4:32
Well, you know, I have, I love the concept of, I think social selling is an overused term. I think, but it’s sort of like that common denominator, it gets people’s attention. And I think, the real way to position that is, “How do I use social media to sell a little better?” and it’s really “How do I use social media to position myself as an expert as much as I can be?” So there’s the spectrum and continuum of thought leadership and it starts with the face, many times, of the sales professional, you know, going all the way up to the subject matter experts and sort of bump it up to the C level. But as a seller, as a professional seller, it means, how do I get on the same channel that the customer, the client is viewing, is trying to find out how to solve a problem and how to spot the opportunity, how to scale, how to spend, and there’s probably a fifth one in there, as far as you know what I do but it’s trying to make yourself relevant in a way that’s not intrusive.
You know, you have seen it, I have seen it, I think everybody on the podcast has seen all these people that just bombard you with, with DMs and LinkedIn mails, and, frankly, I’m tired of it. And what I do anymore to a salesperson reaches out to me, I say, “Hey, wait a minute, timeout. What I’m in the business of is helping people use social to sell. I see there’s a real need here and would you like to set time up with me? You, the sort of obnoxious salesperson, (laughter) to learn how to use your craft a little bit differently.” Because I’m sure, and I sort of stop there, but I’m thinking, I’m sure there’s something in there. But it’s not a cold call. And that’s really what we’re trying to do is make social to set up, get limit, eliminate cold calls, and set up warm calls. And you know, if I can observe you from the outside and say, “You know, this Brynne person or this Gerry person, or this Joe person really asked some interesting questions or poses some interesting observations.” And that’s what using social means to me, you know, in sales and selling, is trying to get on the person’s radar in the right way so you turn it into a warm call.
Brynne Tillman 6:39
I love that you earn the right to get the conversation. (Gerry: Absolutely, absolutely.) Brilliant. I love that. So, you know, in all the things that you’re talking about when it comes to kind of attracting, getting on the radar of all of these folks, what are the things that you’ve seen that work and what’s not working?
Gerry Moran 7:01
Yeah. Whatever you do, you have to document it, you have to have a plan. And you know, it’s not about sort of “Oh I’m going to try this thing, I’m going to try out that thing.” And that’s all well and good, but it’s starting with simple framework, and at the end of the day, here’s my objective (unintelligible) like a contract framework. Here’s my objective, these are the three things that I really want to focus on. So it might be software, it might be (unintelligible), it might be, whatever it is, drill it down. And then I figure out what are the smart things, I, you know, what are my observations. Because people, your clients, our clients want to know facts, and you know, how to scale and how to buy it, and all of that. But they want to learn something, but also at the same time, what’s your perspective on it, tell me what you think. You know, it’s like baking a cake, you can give anybody a recipe to bake a cake to 10 chefs, and they’re all going to bake it a little bit differently, because they have a different read on it. And at the end of the day, that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re just trying to sell cakes. And you know, the cake is that sort of the content. And the icing that you put on the cake is sort of your point of view. And here’s my read on the situation, you’re trying to make sure that people understand what you’re icing that cake with. So they can take some value away and get your point of view. So you have that sort of warmness, you sort of have that connection. Pardon my cake metaphor.
Brynne Tillman 8:27
No, I love, I love cakes. Hey, yeah… What do people do wrong? What’s broken? What do you see over and over again, and just go, “Oh, my gosh, I can’t believe this”.
Gerry Moran 8:39
So it’s not understanding how to use the right tool at the right time. You know, just saying out there ”A fool with a tool is still a fool.” And it’s just using the wrong tool at the wrong time. It’s being too forward. It’s not sort of engaging with someone before you ask them for an appointment, dancing with someone before you ask for a date, all those types of analogies. It’s like, again, earn the right, it’s going right in, because it looks like, you want to sell versus help. And I think, if you just sort of, take that step back and say, “Hey, I want to help you. This is my read on the industry. This is my read on the problem. This is the read on my problem, how to fix people in your shoes.” That there’s some, for some of you, you’re sort of like, a free consultant to a degree and you, as a seller, have to use social media and content to figure out, “How do I scale what I know in this industry?” and that’s really what it does. It’s a great platform to scale and you know, the big mistakes I’ve seen and you know, like, you probably have worked with many salespeople, and you find out that they don’t even know how to change their profile, that many times, they don’t know how to make a custom URL, they don’t know the best time to post, they don’t know, you know, this type of content is better than that kind of content but you got to be (unintelligible) five different types of content to make it diverse. So it’s a lack of understanding of how to use a tool, you know. And again, it goes back to, if I’m going to say, “I’m going to build a house.” You can build a house but if you don’t know how to use that hammer the right way, the house is going to fall down. And I’ve seen that often.
Brynne Tillman 10:16
Okay, that’s great. I love that. One of things we often say is when you put your prospects’ needs over your commission, you become a trusted adviser. So – (Gerry: I concur.) Yes. (Gerry: I concur.) So I love that you just said that, you know, you hinted in there a little bit of times to post and talk to me a little bit about, now, I guess it, whether we’re talking all of social or LinkedIn, and you can break it up if you have insights on different platforms, but when is the best time to post? Or how do you determine that for your client? And you know, ultimately, for algorithm purposes, if you have any additional insights around that.
Gerry Moran 10:57
Great question. In a global economy and a coast-to-coast world, eight o’clock in Philly is, it’s a different time than eight o’clock in LA. And I always have enjoyed that sort of, what I call drive time social. So what are those drive times? There’s really, what I found, sort of the three lanes. Now I’ll give you a, for instance, and you engaged by LinkedIn post yesterday. I thought just for fun, we’re going to post on Sunday morning. And this LinkedIn algorithm lately is wonky, you know, which is one of the reasons you have to figure out, you know, as a brand and as a company, you need a professional who has their ear to the ground to figure out what’s changing, what’s not because it changes on the daily. I have found Sundays and Saturdays actually work for me because I’m just trying to call you up, I’m just trying to get the conversation going. And I’m not trying to tell, sell something. Yeah, I’m trying to sell something but it’s very low key and I just want to establish myself as an expert who can help. So that is a good time to post. I find nighttime is a good time to post. You know, nine o’clock, ten o’clock. And I’ve always worked with sales professionals. You want to be on top of mind when your clients are sitting around in your jammies, so, and on the couch. They’re not going to call you, they’re not going to take the call, they’re not going to answer email, but they’re looking at stuff. But it’s that, it’s that Monday, it’s that morning drive time. Whether it’s Monday, Tuesday, or whatever, you know what, if we’re all worried about and concerned with building our presence, building our awareness, building our brand, you got to be out there all the time. You just can’t “Hey, it’s Tuesday at eight o’clock, I’m gonna post.” It’s any time, some, you are, you have that schedule, figure out your editorial buckets, sort of figured out like a day part television scheduling, you’re going to schedule this type of content here, this type of content there, and just see what works. And, you know, if you’re not getting any kind of love at a certain time, click it over an hour, and just, it’s test and learn, it’s growth marketing at its finest.
Brynne Tillman 13:05
Yeah, I love that, you know, a question that we get a lot. That question I love to get a lot is “Now I’ve got, you know, three likes and four comments, what do I do with it?”
Gerry Moran 13:15
Well, They’re triggers. So you know, that’s it, there’s somewhere between 33 and 38 or so, 40 or so triggers on LinkedIn, from Happy Birthday to change a new job, to getting new certification, to getting a like or comment on it, and you should address it because the name of the game is having a conversation. You’re not going to close the sale using social media, you’re just not. The close, I’ve always thought and I’ve always taught, it’s having that conversation, the conversation is the close. So if you can get to something, whether it’s a Zoom call or a phone call, there you go. Then your one-onone sort of social media or sales combat skills come in to hand, you know. come into play but that’s what we’re trying to do, we’re trying to start the conversation.
So, look at each trigger as a way to respond, you know, less of “Hey, great point.” And moreover, “It’s a good point because I’ve seen this blah, blah, blah, or here’s a great factor.” “Here’s a link to a blog post I’ve written.” “Here’s a great link to an article.” So you respond to everything. But, you know, so you’re not caught like a deer in headlights, it’s always good to write a deck. Here is my sort of response plan. If I get a like, this is what I’m going to say. And if I get a comment, you know, here are ways into this thing, until it becomes muscle memory. We can look at a comment, just go back and forth. Like we all, I want, what I do and I think, is a great tactic for salespeople, are run polls. So you run the polls, and you may not anymore because of the algorithm change but (Brynne: I love polls.) you may get 50 votes and a lot of people will comment, and every time there’s a comment, there’s not a comment that I ever get that I don’t respond to and try to add a little value. Unless I scratch my head and say, “What’s your point?” I just like it and give them a little love back.
Brynne Tillman 15:07
Yeah, I love that. One of the things we talk a lot about is taking inventory of your existing connections and identifying who do you want to vote on that poll and sending it to them. So proactively taking that poll, getting it into their DM, and saying, I love your one-click vote. It’s a great way to start, you know, conversations with targeted folks. Leave it up to the algorithm.
Gerry Moran 15:31
Right? Yeah. Well and two, when someone does vote but they don’t comment, I’ll reach out. I see they’ve voted, which is a great sort of, you know, information machine these, these polls are, and I’ll say, “Hey, Brynne, if you didn’t comment, what do you think? We’d love your take on that.” And more and more comments, actually helps the algorithm, and you know, drives those impressions. I would be wary though of, of trying to link into someone right away, after you go back and forth on a conversation. I just, I still have PTSD from someone who just tried to teach me a lesson. (laughter) It changed me.
Brynne Tillman 16:14
Yeah, yeah, to me. So it’s interesting, what a couple of things, if they engage on your stuff, I want to go engage on their stuff. So it’s the, it’s like, I appreciate you engage on my — they share for the exact purpose of getting engagement. So if we show up engaging on their stuff, we’re even more meaningful in their world, right. (Gerry: Absolutely) So, when I send a connection request to these folks, I’ll actually say “I appreciate you engaging on my poll. I’m not sure what your criteria is for accepting connection requests, but if you’re, you know, if you want to check out my profile, and if you think it makes sense to add me to your network, I’d be honored.” Now I’ve put it back on them. They don’t have that like, complete, she knows it’s a process, she’s spamming me. I give them a moment to breathe and give them an out, which gets them to want to say, yes.
Gerry Moran 17:08
This is true. But you know what, you’re not going to hit a home run every time, and your people will ignore you, they’ll accept you, they’ll say something nasty back if you feel that, they feel you’re being intrusive but that light touch way in, that consultative touch way in that’s absolutely the way to go.
Brynne Tillman 17:29
What do you think about either sending connection requests with or without a message? What are your thoughts around that? Because there’s a big debate in the social selling world on “Send it without a message, more people will accept. Send it with a message, it’s much more polite.” What do you think?
Gerry Moran 17:45
Well, I think, you think you have to lead up to it. So you know, a good, a good formula is like a handful to 10 times, you know, content that they had. Get on their radar. Then you comment a little bit more to get even more of their radar. If they give you a little love back, that’s currency to, that you can cash into, ask for the invite. You have to have a message with it. Problem is if you’re on a, if you’re on a handheld device, or mobile device, it’s a little tricky sometimes. So, you just sit down, make time to go reach out to someone and have a little message, value add, show your personality. You only have so many characters to do it but give a little context. I really believe that in the con — first of all the context that you go from that cold call to that warm call, doing this acknowledgment or this liking of their content on the service makes a lot of sense because that, that cold ask now turns into a warm ask. They know who you are and they’ll eventually (unintelligible). And if they don’t get you eventually, they may not be as active as you are. You think that because they get an invite, it’s going to be hooked up to your email address, and that’ll happen but bottom line is Brynne, add a message and add a little value. Add a little personality.
Brynne Tillman 19:05
I agree with that. And you know, you can do that in mobile. If you click on the “More” button, you can personalize a message on mobile. So, a lot of people don’t know that, so, that they just hit just connect on mobile, not knowing.
Gerry Moran 19:20
How many, how many times have I done that, but look to connect and not hit the “More” button. It’s like, “Oh, I broke my own rule.”
Brynne Tillman 19:27
Yeah, and that’s when I use InMail. Like, by the way, yeah, so interesting. So I will just share on the other side of things, when you send a personal message, it goes as an unread message in the inbox once they accept, ao that gives you that other opportunity on both sides to start that conversation. I think that’s more important than anything else in the whole, around that.
Gerry Moran 19:49
Yeah and when someone connects with me or you know, I send a message and they accept, I try to keep the conversation going. You know, if that was the point you’re trying to make. It’s like, If they accepted, that’s a trigger. Let me try to continue but be careful because you don’t want to be salesy right away or perceived to be salesy. “Here’s a link to my website.” I’ve done that too many times, and I’ve gotten my hand slapped, but it’s just like, okay. Now I’m acting like one of them. I should stop that.
Brynne Tillman 20:18
Yeah, you know, one of the things — and I actually treat by the way, I treat people that I asked to connect and they say yes differently than the people that asked me to connect. So the people that asked me to connect, they made eye contact first, they reached out. I will ask them, “You know, you connected with me, are you interested in social selling? I’ve got lots of free resources.” Because why else would they have connected with me? The people I connect with, though, they didn’t raise their hand, right? Like, I’m the one tapping them on the shoulder, so it’s a much slower process with them. So, yeah, so I think that’s great. And one of the things I love that you said that I just want to reiterate, because I think it’s critical that social sellers hear this, is, don’t cold connect, engage with them first. So, when they see your name, they already recognize that you’re someone that’s meaningful in their network. So that’s great.
Well, we are coming close to the end here. If you were talking with a new social seller, or an executive who wants to truly use LinkedIn to attract a particular audience, what’s one tip that you’d give them?
Gerry Moran 21:29
One tip. It would be to learn how the platform works. And that really goes to the continuum of the profile, to who sees your interactions, to just, the better way to do it, sort of, the above-the-line way of doing things versus the below-the-line of doing things. As long as you can, if you can get close to, not necessarily a mastery of the platform, but if you can get through a working knowledge of, you understand how it works and the instructions, it’s going to be more effective.
Brynne Tillman 22:07
Love it. That’s great. I have had so much fun chatting with you, Gerry. Tell people how they can get a hold of you.
Gerry Moran 22:13
You can reach out to me at [email protected]. I am on Twitter at @GerryMoran and we have a fun Instagram account: anotherhoppyending, which is just focused on beer and brewery. So that’s part of our part time, you get to see the other side of me.
Brynne Tillman 22:40
That’s great. I love it. Well, thank you for your insights. I’m very excited to be able to share you with the audience and I’m sure that you brought lots and lots of value. So –
Awesome. Thank you.
So, guys when you are out and about make sure that you are making your sales social.
Bob Woods 23:03
Thanks for watching and join us again for more special guest instructors bringing you marketing, sales training, and social selling strategies that will set you apart. Hit the Subscribe button below to get the latest episodes from the Making Sales Social podcast. Give this video a thumbs up and comment down below on 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.