Episode 29: Fred Diamond – You’re the President of Your Career: How to Establish Yourself as the Go-To Person
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Fred Diamond, president and co-founder of The Institute for Excellence in Sales. Listen as they discuss using LinkedIn to establish yourself as the expert in your industry.
Fred Diamond 0:00
You are the president of your career. So using social media, specifically LinkedIn, because of the B2B, and enterprise, and complex sales that I deal in. It’s the place to establish yourself, I believe, as that leader.
Brynne Tillman 0:12
I love that! That’s pretty powerful.
Intro (Bob Woods) 0:19
Welcome to the Making Sales Social podcast, featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick. As they discuss 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 0:45
Hey, welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 0:48
And I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 0:49
And so Brynne, who’s our guest today?
Brynne Tillman 0:51
One of my favorite people, Fred Diamond, is someone that I have known now, probably for four or five years, and I was fortunate enough to be a keynote, a couple of times for his company IES, and we’ve really become friends over the years. So welcome, Fred! Tell everyone a little bit about you.
Fred Diamond 1:10
Brynne, It’s so great to see you, Bill, it’s great to see you, and I’ll start off by letting people know that Brynne is correct. She has been a speaker at the Institute for Excellence in Sales that I run, and she is a finalist for the 2021 IES Speaker of the Year, Sales Speaker of the Year. So we’re going to be officially letting the world know, so this announcement might go out before we let everybody officially know. But Congratulations, Brynne, you’re a star, and we’re thrilled to have you in our world.
Oh, I’m so honored. But today it’s all about learning from you my friend, and that I’m thrilled about, tell everyone a little bit about IES.
Fred Diamond 1:50
Sure, The Institute for Excellence in Sales. We’re an organization for sales leaders, our mission is to help sales leaders acquire, retain, motivate, and elevate top tier sales talent, through the programs that we run. We have a big awards event every year, we have a thriving women in sales program, that is one of our big 10 pool programs. We also have webinars every day, and you’ve been a guest a couple of times, every Tuesday; Women in Sales, Wednesday; Sales Leaders, Thursday, we do a show just on mindset, and Friday, creativity and sales, sales tactics, strategies and ideas to help you take your sales career to the next level.
Brynne Tillman 2:31
I love it, I love everything you’re doing, and the impact that you’re making on the sales world is unbelievable.
Fred Diamond 2:37
Thank you so much, it’s very kind.
Bill McCormick 2:38
So Fred, we asked every guest the same question to start off, what does making sales social mean to you?
Fred Diamond 2:46
You know, this is interesting, because we had the topic of–I was talking to one of our members recently, and obviously, all three of us were very active on LinkedIn, and we give tips, and we–I mean you guys are 50 years away or ahead of where I am. But you know, we promote it as a place to present yourself as an expert in either your industry or your customer base, or your technology, right? So more and more sales professionals, I believe, are finally getting comfortable with that idea, right? You know about using LinkedIn specifically, right? using LinkedIn specifically to promote yourself, again, as a leader in your industry, a leader in your technology base, or a leader in your geography, if that’s where you fit in, and as I tell salespeople all the time, you are the president of your career, right? You might be working for whatever the company is right now, and hopefully it’s a great one, and you’re growing, and you’re having job satisfaction and bringing value to your customers. But you are the president of your career. So using social media, specifically LinkedIn, because of the B2B, and enterprise, and complex sales that I deal in. It’s the place to establish yourself, I believe, as that leader.
Brynne Tillman 3:59
I love that, that’s pretty powerful, BIll.
Bill McCormick 4:01
Yeah, so I’m interested, so you help sales leaders, and you help them get new sales talent. So let’s unpack this a little bit about being the Vice President of my own brand. What does that look like, and how do we separate, how do we keep separate my Chief Sales Marketing hat, that I might have in my company, and my VP of my own brand on LinkedIn, or wherever else I am on Social?
Fred Diamond 4:30
You know what’s interesting, so this isn’t you know, LinkedIn isn’t Twitter or Facebook, you know, where you could position yourself in a political side, or a cause, or something, maybe you’re into music or something like that. You know, here’s the theory. If you are working for a company, you are the representative of that company. If you’re the regional rep in Akron, selling whatever it is you might be selling right now, my go to was always data analytics software, right? You need to be representing that company in LinkedIn, because you are charged with that, and you’ve made a commitment to be with them. At the same time, though, like I just said before, you know, you gotta be using, you can use this platform to be the guy or lady who’s the expert on data analytics, right, and I think you want to be positioning yourself, if that’s your career trajectory, as that expert bringing ideas, you know, bringing thought leadership, connecting other thought leaders to your customer, so that your customer will continue to trust, right. So that’s one of the ways that, I don’t think everybody really looks at LinkedIn, if they’re in sales, I think a lot of times they look at it as connections, I’m looking for a prospect, you know, and we’re not going to go there, but we’re all familiar with, you know, connect and pitch, which all three of us hate, that’s a crime, you know, it’s a shonda, etc., all those things, but at the same time–(Brynne) connect and pitch, is a bait and switch. (Fred) it’s the bait–there you go, but you know, here’s the thing, you can, if you’re in sales, and you’re committed to your career, right, you can be using LinkedIn to establish yourself as the expert to help your customers, achieve their goals, and I’m seeing that more and more. Brynne and Bill, I’m curious on your thoughts on that?
Bill McCormick 6:10
Well, so one of the things I’ve been thinking of recently is, and I love that, the whole idea that I’m connected to a company, but you know, as our friend, Larry Levine always says: “All business is personal”, and so when I’m out there, and I’m presenting myself to Fred Diamond on LinkedIn, he’s not seeing me as Social Sales Link. He sees me as Bill McCormick, and I think that’s the big deal of why connect and pitch, which is a bait and switch. Connect and pitch hurts us so much, because, you know, when you’re telemarketing someone, you know, you call me on my phone, I see a number, I may see a company name. But when we’re off the phone, I don’t remember who you were, right? I don’t remember who you are, but on LinkedIn, it lives there. You are that brand, and so I think it’s so important that we’re separating ourselves, being authentic, being genuine, adding real value, so that people see us as individuals, Brynne, what do you think?
Brynne Tillman 7:07
So I love that and I’m going to nab quote you, probably I’ll misquote it, but get the point. So Bill, you talk a lot about–so let’s say you send out 100 connection requests, and you get two conversations from that. There are 98 people that you probably turned off, so even though you may say: “Well, I got some success from that”. You don’t know the damage that you’re doing behind the scenes, and so I think what you’re saying is so important that, you know, we need to treat the people on the other side of this message, the same way we would if they were on the other side of the table. These are human beings and in today’s remote virtual selling environment, it is the only way we’re getting to know people. Right? I mean, we take it off of LinkedIn onto webinars, onto one-on-one Zoom conversations, we certainly are moving it to real conversations. But this is our conference, our trade show, our keynote, our program, our Chamber of Commerce meeting, that’s all living here, starting here. So when we walk into these rooms of networking, we have to recognize that our job is to start conversations, and move them toward purposeful relationships, not a throw-it-on-the-wall and see what sticks.
Bill McCormick 8:31
Yeah, Amen, Amen. Fred, I want to change it up a little bit here, because as someone who really–you help sales leaders find top talent. Things have changed a lot in the last year, so what are some of the top skills that you’re telling sales leaders, that they need to look for, and they’re looking for sales talent, and what are those skills that sales people are listening to, can start to hone, if they want to continue in this world of sales?
Fred Diamond 9:01
We do webinars every single day, we’ve done probably close to 140 of them right now, since the pandemic kicked in, and we have a schedule set through the rest of the year, and there’s a couple of words that really have risen to the top preparation. But the keyword that always rises is value, right, and sales has always been about value creation. Customers or prospects don’t need to engage with you, if you’re not bringing them even a scintilla of value. The challenge right now though, is we need to bring them so much more value. Because for the first time in our career history, everybody’s dealing with the same challenges, everybody around the world is dealing with three things, they’re dealing with getting past, you know, everything related to COVID, from the social side of COVID of lockdown and quarantine, and homeschool, and working from home, and all those things. Everybody on the planet is working from number two, which is the financial challenges that have sprung from COVID, and everyone’s dealing with a third thing, whatever it might be, your industry went away for a short period of time, the company’s challenged social, mental challenges that may be affecting you or your family, or whatever it might be. So since we’re in sales, and we know that about our customer, for the first time, we all know that about our customer. The sales professionals that are distinguishing themselves, are the ones who are putting in the time and energy and effort to really, really contemplate what their companies or customers are challenged with, and how can they bring them value, and back to the connect and pitch that we talked about before, if you get me connected, and then you shoot me a note right away: “Hey, I can help you be more productive with our blank”. No, you’re not, because you haven’t given us until–a thought to the challenge that I, as the VP of sales, for my company, in this industry are facing. So to answer your question, Bill, I think there’s three things: they need to prepare, they need to think hard about the challenges that their customers are facing. Two, they need to be able to communicate that to them, right? You know, we talk a lot about questioning skills, and they’re still recording. But right now, and for the foreseeable future, good sales professionals know what their customers are challenged with, because it’s those three things that we just talked about, and the third thing is building the relationships, right? People that have the relationships, and LinkedIn is a great way to grow them, to get access to the customers, to communicate to them, that you can help them with their specific challenges that they’re facing right now.
Bill McCormick 11:38
That’s so good.
Brynne Tillman 11:40
Ultimately, what I’m hearing is we have to listen harder, we really have to show up with true empathy, and a core of detaching from what that client is worth to you, and attaching to what you are worth to that client, to help them succeed, and I think with that mindset, real relationships form and that, you know, we know from Bob Berg, people do business with people they know, like, and trust, and I think what you’re talking about is getting to that trust.
Fred Diamond 12:15
Now empathy is a big word as well, you know the E word, it’s come up all the time, on a lot of the webinars and podcasts that we do ourselves, game changers podcast, and I agree with you, and I just want to make one further clarification, that distinction is, it’s okay to be–you have to be empathetic to even start. You know, prior to the pandemic, we would do webinars and podcasts, and our guests would say, you know, you need to be an empathetic seller to even begin to be successful, right. But the distinction that started really kicking in since the pandemic is, you don’t have like a year to figure out what is the challenge my customer is facing, right, you need to put in the time, energy and work to really understand what they’re going through. So that you can bring the value that they’re going to need to get to their challenge. So we all have our challenges as salespeople, okay, I have my quota, I have to help my company get past the stuff we talked about, that’s great, but you’re only gonna be successful, if you really immerse yourself in what your customer is facing, and come to them with ideas, because you know what, they’re also dealing with those three things. So if you could be that value added sales professional, that’s where you’re going to distinguish yourself, and if all you’re doing is figuring out how to use LinkedIn to do a pitch, you’re toast man, I mean like you said 98% of people are going to be turned off, it’s going to be close to 100 in most cases.
Bill McCormick 13:39
And that’s you know, that whole thing of manipulation, you can’t manipulate the situation and one of the means I saw going around is, you know, what people say: “Well, we’re all in the storm together”, but we’re in different boats, and so your boat’s maybe totally different than what my boat looks like, you know what, when the pandemic hit a year ago, my wife owns a company that deals mainly with events and with that is very experiential, and her sales took a nosedive. Where for us and LinkedIn training, we really saw an uptick. We had a great year and for other businesses I know it was hit-or-miss, and so if we attack everyone, as if you know, like the messages you get: “This has been such a hard year”. No, It hasn’t, you know, you can’t do it. So I love the whole idea of looking at your clients, really doing research, really diving in. But here’s the thing, Fred, I’m a salesman, I don’t have time for that. How do you respond to that? There’s just no time.
Fred Diamond 14:39
You know, here’s the thing, the high performing sales professionals, the one thing that we’re seeing right now, is we’re seeing like a deeper divide, you know, between the elite sales professionals, and when we were doing our webinars, we started asking more questions about: “What does it take to be elite?”. We started that about three or four months ago, and if your excuses are: “I don’t have time to do that research”, then the customer is really going to have no time for you, and here’s one of the cool things about what you guys teach about LinkedIn. Let’s say you post something, right, and you start getting comments and engagement. There’s so much richness in comments, that your customers make it, and you know, to see that, what your customers are posting, and why are they posting, why did someone from my customer’s marketing team post something? Maybe it’s an industry report, maybe it’s a webinar that someone’s doing. and if I were to go to my customer and say: “You know, it seems to me that, I don’t know, data analytics on Mars is an important topic for you right now”. “Oh, well, how did you, I’m impressed that you knew that”, because they just announced that this morning, and you know what you’re putting in that time, the energy to know that you’re really not valuable to your customer, and sales people need to really, really think hard, how can I be of more value than ever before to my customer, because here’s the thing, my customer really, really could use my help right now. But it has to be of specific value to where I’m going in the foreseeable future.
Brynne Tillman 16:11
I love it. One thing we talk about a lot is stop telling them how you can help them and start helping them, right? So start bringing value very early on, that’s how you earn the right, they get to test drive you, right, like they get to experience you and you’re coming from a place of abundance, and when you can do that, they want to work with you. Corporate Visions has a study: 74% of buyers choose the sales rep that was first to provide insights and value. It’s not the price, it’s not, you know, it’s really who’s providing that value, and when you can make that shift on social or otherwise, you become the vendor of choice, there is no question when the time is right, that you’ll at least be considered as a vendor, when you know, to make that pitch. When they say: “Okay, we’re ready”. But just stay in front of them and be of value; they’ll raise their hand when the time is right.
Fred Diamond 17:10
And just last thing. Think, you know, I mean, sit down, we go ahead–a guy named Joe, airs on my webinar podcast recently, he was, at the time, he was the head guy for HP ease public sector, and he’s subsequently moved into a leadership role on the commercial side, and I asked him for his final bit of advice. He said: “Sit down, spend time every day thinking, remember, IBM used to have that think science”. Yeah, just literally sit, I mean, I actually bought a table, I’m not going to turn on my computer, to cause any problem. But I have a table right there and a half an hour everyday, there’s no computer there. There’s just like a whiteboard, I just go there and just sit, and like think. Sales professionals out there, think about how you can help your customer, think, and then bring them the ideas, like you said.
Brynne Tillman 18:02
I love that, and to Bill’s point, when you–I don’t have the time, we are much more about slowing down the outreach, to speed up the outcome. They think it’s much faster if I connect with 100 people, right, and maybe it’ll feel faster, but it’s so much longer before you build a relationship. I’d rather you focus on five people today, or three people today. You know, do your research, think it through, maybe get a warm introduction, engage on their content, learn about what matters to them, learn about their client, one of the things that we’ve been playing with is learning about our client’s client, and sharing insights about that industry with them, back with them, right? So I know, you know, you’re in the sales training and recruitment world. So I could send you content about sales training and recruitment all day long. But if I could find a benchmark report on VP of Sales turnover, right, and the top industries that are having high turnover, that’s about your client, right, and that’s about what’s happening to your client, that’s going to be even more valuable to you, and that we’ve taken it to that next level of not only am I aware of your industry, but I’m aware of the industry that you serve.
Fred Diamond 19:23
And you know what, Brynne? Here’s what I would say, I love that idea, and I would say, when you send them that link or something to the article, I would say: “Can we talk about this later today? Because I think it’s something that is valuable for your company”, and you and I talked about this all the time. LinkedIn is a mechanism to get this, right? You know, LinkedIn is a mechanism to get them on the phone, to engage in a conversation, because until you get them on the phone, or of course we can really be in person right now or in Zoom, right? You know, the relationship is only going to go so far. So I love that idea and follow it up quickly, right? Follow it up quickly with: “Can we talk about this today, or do you have time tomorrow at three? Just for a 10 minute conversation? I’m curious, is this something that really is a value for what your company is looking to achieve”, right?
Brynne Tillman 20:11
Yeah, if you see potential or if you’re concerned, based on what I just sent you, I’ve got additional insights I’d love to share with you.
Fred Diamond 20:18
Yeah, or let them talk, ask them the question. We always say this: “A great sales call is; when the one, where the customer does 90% of the talk”, you know.
Brynne Tillman 20:29
And the 10% that you offer, needs to get them thinking differently about their current situation, you’ve got to get them going: “Hmm, I haven’t thought of it that way”, right? So that’s your 10%, is to shift them from status quo to: “Oh my gosh, there’s other options?”.
Fred Diamond 20:46
And you know, you got to–and also that goes into the long game. I mean, a lot of people with the connect and pitch, it’s looking at, you know, using LinkedIn in a transactional mode, and in most cases, with complex type solutions, it just doesn’t work. So you know, people were thinking that I make this connection, I pitch I get something, boom, in like a week, you know, I use LinkedIn to solve a problem. It doesn’t work that way, it doesn’t work that way, it takes time, It takes energy, it takes consistency, it takes proof.
I heard her say recently that people are looking for a plug-and-play option, and I think a lot of that comes from the fact that there’s pressure coming from on high, because they can’t go out and meet people, and so I think for just our last point here, Fred, what advice would you give to sales leaders, the sales managers, the VP of sales, how can they support the sales professionals, that are underneath them in this new virtual world that we’re in now?
Fred Diamond 21:40
So here’s what I would say, and here’s one of the key things that keeps coming up right now. What we found is that sales leaders may not have an appreciation for what everybody has gone through. I’ll give you an example. We have a lot of young sales people, who are in the world of the Institute for Excellence in Sales, who subscribed to my sales Game Changers podcast. About a month and a half ago, a couple of them reached out to me and said: “Mr. Diamond, could we have a Zoom call? I want to ask you some questions”, and I did a Zoom call with a couple of these young people, and they were in northern cities, and we did a call at like 4:30AM, and it was dark already, right, now it’s getting a little bit later, because Spring is coming in. But I can see them in their small apartments, right, and I realized that there’s three things going on with the younger sales professional, they’re in an apartment by themselves, and they can’t go to bars, and they can’t really see their friends. Or they’re in an apartment with three buddies, right, and a dog, and you know, they haven’t left in like four months, and they can’t go to bars, and they can’t go to clubs, they can’t socialize, or they’re in their parents basement, right? They’re back at home, and you know what, it was fun. April 2020, you know; “Gee, I miss mom’s lasagna”. Okay now, here it is, March, 27 years old, we went to a great college, you’re still living at home. You know, so people are going through what they’re going through, and Bill, you mentioned that before, we’re all on the same storm, but we’re in different boats, right? So what does it mean? If you’re that 24 year old, who’s in his first or second job, or her first or second job. What if you’re a young married person, you know, who’s learning. What if you’re a new manager, you know, and you became a new manager in March of 2020, and all of a sudden, boom! You’re home now and you’re managing your people like this, right, over Zoom. Yeah, what if people on your team are mid 45 years old women, with three kids and a husband, who’s the house husband, if you will, you know, all of a sudden, you’re a home, you’re the homeschool teacher, you’re the home counselor. You know, you don’t have your weekends to go do things like you used to. So everybody’s dealing with unique, and in some cases, very difficult challenges. So the message to sales leaders is, you need to, I think they really need to understand how each person needs a different type of care, right, and a different type of support and a different type of availability to you. Because, you know, if you’re struggling man, not everybody’s going to be talking to your manager, people are beginning to realize, maybe they can, you know, but in the youth example before, the company says: “Hey, you’re home, you’re in your apartment, keep your computer on all day. You might as well work, if you’re stuck in your apartment”. Sure, you know, you want to do it with your proposal at three o’clock in the morning”. You know, those are nefarious, and they’re not being successful. So I would say just be extremely conscious of those people who are in, and how you need to work with each individual uniquelly.
Brynne Tillman 24:27
I love that.
Bill McCormick 24:28
Fantastic. Well, listen, Fred, thank you so much. We’re out of time for today, this has been so good. How can folks stay in touch with you, keep in touch with you and get in touch with you?
Fred Diamond 24:37
Well, I mean, LinkedIn, I mean, I’m on LinkedIn, you’re two of my favorite people on LinkedIn, Brynne and I are very close on LinkedIn. But go to my LinkedIn, Fred Diamond, I think I’m one of the only ones and very active, and if you’re not going to connect and pitch with me, I’ll probably accept your engagement. If you connect and pitch with me, I’m probably gonna block you. Sorry, but you’re not providing any value to me, but reach out on LinkedIn and I’d love to get to know you.
Bill McCormick 25:01
And one last thing you mentioned, like webinars every single day, where can folks go to consume some of that content?
Fred Diamond 25:08
Yeah, so on the IE–The Institute for Excellence in Sales website. It’s the letter I, the number four, E, S, B, D, dot com, i4esbd.com, and on our homepage, you’ll see next week’s webinars and love to have you attend.
Bill McCormick 25:25
Fantastic! Well, Fred Diamond, thanks so much for being here with us, and to all of you listening to us. Thanks so much for joining us at Making Sales Social, have a great day, bye, everyone.
Outro (Bob Woods) 25:37
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 Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.