Episode 27: Carole Mahoney – Following the “Cocktail Party” Rule: Why Sales Isn’t Just a Numbers Game
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Carole Mahoney, founder and chief sales coach of Unbound Growth.
Tune in as Carole drops magic nuggets around the behavioral side of sales and discusses why sales isn’t just a numbers game but also a mental one.
Bill McCormick 0:00
To you, what does it mean to “Making Sales Social”?
Carole Mahoney 0:03
So when I think of that phrase, the very first thing that comes to mind for me is the cocktail party rule. You go into a cocktail party and the rule is, you spend two thirds of your time talking about other people versus talking about yourself like, don’t be that guy in the room that comes in, tells everybody all about themselves, hands a business card, and then walks away, mic drop moment, not happening.
Intro (Bob Woods) 0:25
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. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts, Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 1:04
Welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 1:07
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 1:08
So Brynne, who’s our guest today?
Brynne Tillman 1:10
So excited to have Carol Mahoney on. First of all, we met in Minneapolis, I believe at a women’s sales pro’s convention. Absolutely hit it off, and then months later, she was coming into my town because she’s part of Michael and Amy Port’s, “Heroic Public Speaking”, and so we met for cornbread at Redstone, and we just, like, totally fell in love, I think, at least on my end, I think she’s amazing. She hooked me up with Michael and Amy Port too, and they’re just amazing as well. But here’s the thing, I absolutely am blown away at the side of what Carol does, that I haven’t seen other sales pros do, which is really around the behavioural piece of sales, like touches at the core of who they are, and I’m really excited for her to drop some magic nuggets around that. Carol. Hi! Welcome. Please share all about yourself.
Carole Mahoney 2:12
Hi, everybody. Thank you so much, Brynne and you’re right. We did fall in love over cornbread, I will always hold that, cherish moments in my life. But yeah, I’m also equally as fascinated with the behavioral side of things like, why do we do the things we do? Why do we not do the things that we know that we should do? I think it’s the reason why one Harvard Business School Professor calls me the sales therapist. I often have clients say, where’s the couch? Where do I lay down and tell you all of my life’s problems? But it really does go down to the root of sales, I think is, a lot of times we make sales about the numbers. It’s about what you’re doing in your activities. But what most people don’t realize is sales is not just a numbers game, it’s also a mental game that happens between your two years.
Bill McCormick 2:57
If you’re listening, if there’s a couch nearby, you want to just kind of lay down now, because you have entered into the office of the sales therapist. So our first question, we ask all of our guests is, to you, what does it mean to “Making Sales Social”?
Carole Mahoney 3:14
So when I think of that phrase, the very first thing that comes to mind for me is the cocktail party role. You know, the cocktail party rule, where you go into a cocktail party, and the rule is that you spend two thirds of your time talking about other people versus talking about yourself like, don’t be that guy in the room that comes in, tells everybody all about themselves, hands a business card, and then walks away, mic drop moment, not happening, and so that’s what I think of when I think of making sales social, is following the cocktail party rule, making it not all about ourselves, but about the other person. (Brynne) I love that, asking them questions about what they think and their perspectives and getting to know them and really making it about them. Like we do in social situations. Like, we wouldn’t go into a social situation and just start dumping all about ourselves, or maybe some of us would, but we wouldn’t find very many people being social with us after that. (Brynne) That’s perfect!
Bill McCormick 4:11
It’s exactly how we feel. So, you’re going to provide a link for those shirts? Because I know, I want one.
Carole Mahoney 4:18
I do, if you go to unboundgrowth.com, you will see “Not About Me” Ts in the very top, sort of navigation pane, and we’re actually donating all of the proceeds to that, from that, actually go to the Barbara Giamanco Sales Foundation, that goes towards women in sales. So it’s a personal cause, sort of mission of mine, with also giving to more women to educate them in sales
Bill McCormick 4:44
We’ll make sure we talk about that link at the end too. (Brynne) Yep. So let’s talk tactical, talk a little bit about what you’re training your folks, you know, what’s in the sales realm, like in the traditional world. What are you teaching them that they can apply, that helps them right at the top of their funnel, right at the top of their pipeline?
Carole Mahoney 5:06
And it’s interesting too, because I think we have this, maybe perception, that traditional salespeople are generally a little bit more veteran, a little bit more experienced, a little bit more seasoned, and they’re trying to scramble and figure out. How do we use Social in our selling process? But a lot of the clients that I’m working with are also brand new salespeople, they are not new to the idea of social media, but they still are struggling with, “how do I use social media in my sales process?”, because for them, it’s still a separate world, like there’s my business world, and there’s my social world, and that’s kind of one of the first things that I teach them is there are no lines anymore, that they can search you, they can find what you’re seeing on Facebook and on Twitter, not just on LinkedIn, and the other thing that I find that they struggle with is one coming to grips with the idea that there are no lines anymore, that their idea of work-life balance is always been a myth, and it’s never more so now because there are no lines. But then the other thing that they struggle with is; “What do I say? And how’s it going to be perceived? And what are people going to think? And what if I say something, and somebody then says; Well you don’t know what you’re talking about”. So they have this real fear about how they’re going to be perceived and how they’re going to be judged. Which then I bring it back to well, if it’s not about you, then you don’t really matter what people think about you. So that’s the first thing that I teach them is that if you really believe that it’s not about you, then you’re not going to be afraid of, or worry about what other people think. Because most people who are going to criticize you, the criticism is about them, not about you. Rule number one. And the second thing that I teach them is rather than obsessing over what to say, and thinking about what to say, just say what you think, though so much time we get spent in how do I say this in just the right way, so that it appeals to just the right person, versus being transparent and authentic, and here’s how I’m thinking, here’s what I my perception is on this based on my experience, or here’s what I’m learning about this particular thing, what are other people’s thoughts, it doesn’t have to be this perfect, you know, Instagram posts with all of the right filters and hashtags, you can just share what you think, and see who else has something to add to the conversation, it can really be as simple as that. The third thing that I teach them is that if you’re not comfortable yet saying anything, then you can at least use it for social listening, I call it social stalking. I want to learn as much as I can about the people who are in my social room, before I start interacting with them so that I know where they’re coming from, and what they’re thinking, and what’s important to them. It’s not complicated, but it’s not always easy. When our ego gets in the way.
Bill McCormick 7:40
I think what happens is, there’s so much to do that we have that paralysis of analysis, where we stop and I don’t know what to do, so I kind of fall back into doing nothing.
Brynne Tillman 7:52
And I love that you touched on, just show up and be authentic, you may not attract everyone because you’re authentic, attracts a specific, authentic, right? But what you will attract are the right people to work with.
Carole Mahoney 8:07
Right! Exactly, and it doesn’t have to be hard because like, when I tell people to be transparent, they’re like, “Well, what do you mean?”, I’m like, “Well, you want to reach out to this person, because why? How did you come across their profile? What is it that interested you about them? Well, this, this and this, just tell them that, hey, I came across your profile, because I was looking for people who specialize in this, your name came up and I was wondering if you would be willing to share your thoughts on X. be transparent”. That’s what you were thinking.
Brynne Tillman 8:33
So I love that, the biggest thing that I love, that you just said is; “I would love your point of view on something”. People love to share what they care about, we talk a lot about, put out a poll and ask them to vote on it. Ask them for a quote, for a blog that you’re writing, right? When someone can share their expertise with you. That’s that cocktail party mentality, right? Get them to start talking. Ah! That was awesome. I love that.
Carole Mahoney 9:04
So can I talk some nerd science on you?
Brynne Tillman 9:06
Yes, I love nerd science.
So this is actually a Harvard Business–Harvard Business did a study, and it was an FMRI. So they basically did brain scans, and in the brain scans that they found, that when people were encouraged to talk about themselves and about what they thought and their perceptions, the light lit up the centers of their brain for where they release dopamine. It was the pleasure center, so we all enjoyed talking about ourselves. The trick is getting other people to talk about themselves, versus you talking about yourself. So when we can ask others for their opinions, and their thoughts, and their expertise. It makes them more inclined to like us, because we’re getting those pleasure centers in our brains triggered, when people are asking us about what we think, not complicated.
Brynne Tillman 9:54
And we kind of fell into nerd science, because we’re nerds, but we didn’t know the science, and it’s awesome to know that. That’s perfect. I love that.
Bill McCormick 10:02
It is. It’s so good, because what we see now especially on LinkedIn is so many people reaching out to connect because of, like me reaching out to connect with you, Carol, because what you can do for me, now my product, my service, and you’re my ideal client. So of course you want to connect with me, when really what you’re saying is we need to flip that on its head and make it about you make it about the person that we’re connecting with. So that we’re coming in, and in authenticity, that’s the word I was going to say, so good.
Carole Mahoney 10:36
I’d love to get a hold of the person who’s been teaching people to say; “I would love to connect with you, because I like connecting with like-minded individuals and expanding my network”. Please just stop!
Bill McCormick 10:46
Or: “We have some mutual connections”. That’s like the; “Hey, do you come here often” pick-up line of LinkedIn.
Brynne Tillman 10:52
“We help companies just like you!”. Oh, that’s my least favorite. (Bill) Yeah.
Carole Mahoney 10:57
No, “I have companies just like yours automate their manufacturing processes”.
Bill McCormick 11:01
So, I’ve gotten four requests in the last four weeks, about helping me get leads for my pest control company, right? I haven’t been in–I never owned a pest control company, I used to work in pest control, and it’s on like my profiles, so I have to take it off. But I was in pest control when my youngest daughter was just after she was born. She’s 28 now,(Carol) Yeah, I was 10, I was 10 when she was born. I just want to point that out, I started young working, but yeah, anyway, so we should move on, because this could get really bad.
Carole Mahoney 11:37
Here’s what I’m wondering. I’m wondering if it’s happening, because people are just, they’re finding this template being told that it works, and so they run with it, or is it happening because the leaders in their company are saying, “we need to see your activity levels at 1000 per day, and of those 1000 you need to reach out to 500 people on LinkedIn”, and so because they’re in this mad rush to get 500, or they’re going to get in trouble. They don’t have time to look at who you are, they’re just sending out the template, sending out the template. I’m getting my numbers boss, sending out the template, sending out the template.
Brynne Tillman 12:06
It’s like the calls, how many dials, right?
Carole Mahoney 12:09
Yeah, it’s like they’ve taken the same mentality of cold calling and they brought it out. If this is just another channeling medium, and there’s gonna be a new channeling medium, but they don’t understand that the medium dictates the rules of how you engage.
Bill McCormick 12:23
We automate information, we don’t automate relationships. (Carol) Yes. And that’s what they don’t understand is that, especially LinkedIn, but selling itself is social, and it’s all about relationships, right? What was Larry Levine saying? “All businesses are personal”.
Brynne Tillman 12:39
And to answer that one, this is like our mantra for 2021, which is: “Slow down the outreach, to speed up the outcome”.
Carole Mahoney 12:47
Yep, absolutely. Quality over quantity.
Bill McCormick 12:50
Yeah, and I’ll point out like, out of those four people, two of them, when I replied back and said, “You know, this obviously, you’re using automation, it’s not working. If you’d like to know, if you’d like some resources on how to leverage LinkedIn authentically, please let me know”. And they’re like; “Yeah, I would love to know that”. Because they’re just being told that this works, and at the same time, their sales managers are saying; “Look, I don’t care, you can’t go knock on doors now. So you’ve got to do something. So here, reach out on LinkedIn”.
Brynne Tillman 13:39
Yeah, and there are people teaching that, just FYI.
Carole Mahoney 13:23
Of course they are. Because I mean, people will follow the path of least resistance. If that makes sense to me, then okay, I will do that, that’s easy for me to do. But, the rest of it, like coming up with a personalized outreach, and reaching out to people, and building a relationship over time. That sounds like way too much work, I don’t have time for that.
Bill McCormick 13:43
Exactly. Well, so we’re kind of talking about noise and a lot of people doing things, and doing activity in the sales world. So what would you say is something that you would recommend that your clients do, that would help them stand out from their competition?
Carole Mahoney 14:00
So one of the things that I tell them to stand out from the competition, it goes back to being transparent, because everyone is coming up with the perfect way to say the perfect thing, versus being completely transparent, which is what makes you authentic, and so a lot of times people are struggling with; “Well, how do I differentiate? Because everybody sounds the same?”. Well, if you’re being authentic and truly transparent, nobody is going to sound like you sound, because you’re the only person who is you. So that becomes my rule number one is that if you really want to differentiate and be transparent, and be authentic, and that is going to automatically differentiate you, because you’re not saying the same things that they are. I think the other way to differentiate, and this goes back to not making it about us, but so often the language that we use is our inside industry lingo. You know, our acronyms are the way that we say things, the way we describe things, our sales process, and instead take the time to figure out what they call it. What do they describe it as and use their words, and their phrases, and how they describe it. Like, you know, I don’t know a ton of sales leaders who are obsessing over their sales enablement deficiencies right now, they’re just not. (Brynne) Right. But they are probably worried about how to coach their teams, they probably are worried about why is it that we keep facing these particular obstacles, and why is it so difficult for us to find this information, and how is that impacting us? But they’re not talking about the efficiencies of their sales enablement efforts, at all. (Brynne) Awesome.
Bill McCormick 15:34
So good. Yeah, I would just add to that in terms of the language and making sure you’re speaking their language, also be sure that you’re speaking about things that they care about.(Carol) Yes. And that you’re addressing those concerns. We talked about the things we want to talk about, but I think it really goes to what you’re saying is that we make it about them. So finding out what’s important to them, and all about the discovery process. (Brynne) That’s awesome.
Carole Mahoney 16:00
The last thing I’ll share with you is, one of the things that I tell salespeople is that selling isn’t something that we do to people, it’s something we do with them, our job is to help them to buy, and so if we take that mentality of collaboration, then differentiating sometimes is how do we get our buyers to collaborate with us? So for example, I’m writing a book, and in writing the book, I am reaching out to people who I’m writing the book for, to ask them, what are they struggling with? What books have they read? And what have they been missing? What are the books that they’re reading? And what are they trying to learn from them, so that I can collaborate with them as to what is going to be going into my book for them around this particular challenge. It’s actually called the IKEA effect, another study that was done by Harvard showed that when people are collaborating on the solution for something, they place more value on it, and they’re willing to pay more for it, versus something that comes from IKEA, that’s put together by a professional, they’d rather put it together themselves, because they place more value on that. So if we can collaborate with our buyers on the solutions, then we’re getting them to tell us their perspectives, we’re making it not about us. And we’re also going to be differentiating it because most sellers aren’t selling with their buyers, they’re doing it to them, and they’re trying to impose a sales process on them, there is another way for you to easily differentiate.
Brynne Tillman 17:22
So I love that, and I just want to do a side note, Bill just built his own desk, and I said; “Why don’t you go buy one?”. He goes; “Because I want it exactly the way I want it”.
Carole Mahoney 17:33
Bill McCormick 17:35
I wanted some certain dimensions, and I had some ideas of where I wanted things to go, and every desk I looked at, it just didn’t fit. We’re all individuals, and your client is an individual, they’re not the same, if you sell the marketing directors, they’re not the same as the marketing director that was before them, or that’s in the company that’s down the road from them. They’re an individual, their company has certain needs, and as salespeople, it’s our job, it’s our duty to find that out so that we can customize a solution for them, and that takes listening, and that takes showing up as our authentic selves, and if we can do that, we really do set ourselves apart from the competition, because we’re going that extra step.
Carole Mahoney 18:21
Yeah, Bill, you just hit on one of my pet peeves, that most people don’t know that I have, and my pet peeve is around buyer personas and customer profiles, that we create these, you know, cardboard avatars, and these little boxes to put our customers into nice and neat. Except, people don’t work that way, we don’t want to make decisions in a linear fashion, and two, we aren’t all going to fit inside that same box. So if you think of it to your point, Bill, that, you know, the marketing director, the CEO that you spoke with is not going to be the same as the next one that you speak with, because they all have different styles of decision making and modes that they use. So depending on who they are, and their experience, and their perspective, how they buy is a mode that they’re in, and they have different needs within that particular mode. So if you could think of it that way and understanding, what’s the mode they’re in right now, versus their personality or their role type, then it becomes much easier to see them as individuals trying to solve problems, versus someone who I need to convince to give me something.
Bill McCormick 19:20
Yeah, the pet peeve I thought you’re gonna say with somebody who’s not able to finish a sentence. So that’s good, wouldn’t you say, but when you say that we have to have an ideal client profile, right? We have to have a place to start when we’re at least bringing clients into a funnel, or identifying who we’re going to do more research on, do more discovery on.
Carole Mahoney 19:40
Yeah, it’s like when you said, when you’re going to go on a road trip, because that’s all we can do these days is go on road trips, right? And so you set your GPS and you say, alright, here’s where I am, and here’s where I want to be, and usually that GPS, right, that’s your profile, this is where I want to be, but the GPS will give you three different routes to get there based on traffic and time, and all of these other things. So you have to be willing to see your destination, and make the detours, and make the different ways to get there in order to to be unique, to be transparent to that particular buyer.
Bill McCormick 20:12
So good. So good. What other webinars could you attend, or show could you attend where they talk about Harvard Business, IKEA and GPSs? Come on, only on Making Sales Social, do we cover the width and breadth of all of these subjects. Thank you so much, this has been so good. I’ve got a bunch of notes, right here, that I took while I was listening. So just to close it out, is there a way that our listeners, our watchers, our viewers can stay in touch with you, find you and make sure you talk about those shirts, because I know I have to write that website down.
Carole Mahoney 20:51
Yeah, so you can definitely go to my website, which is unboundgrowth.com, you’ll see a link at the very top of the page on the right-hand side. A big red button says: “Not About Me” Ts, where you can go to learn more about the campaign, and then go buy Ts, there’s also face masks available too, because I mean, “Not About Me” facemask just makes sense, right?
Brynne Tillman 21:10
Carole Mahoney 21:11
Brilliant! Brilliant! Love that. But then you can also, I also have a monthly show where we do talk about science, and IKEA effect, and all of those things every month, and that is the second Tuesday, I think of every month. It’s noon, Eastern time.
Bill McCormick 21:25
Oh, it was so great. So thank you so much. Oh, and to you listeners. Thank you all so much for again, watching us, on Making Sales Social. Bye-Bye.
Outro (Bob) 21:33
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