Episode 43: Bobby Martin – Social Selling Is About Cultivating Curiosity, Relating to Your Clients and Understanding Them
In this episode, Brynne and Bill are joined by Vertical IQ Co-Founder Bobby Martin. Listen as they discuss why it’s vital to relate to your customers and to add value in your relationship with them.
Bobby Martin 0:00
Nowadays, I think social when I think about, you know, what does social selling mean? There’s just another vehicle for doing that. And, but it hasn’t changed in the sense that you have to be able to relate to whoever it is you’re, you’re selling with. It can’t be all about you, and nor has it been in the past. It was not about the salesperson, it was about whoever the salesperson is working with and adding value in that relationship. That’s what making friends and influencing people wasn’t. To my mind, social selling today is the same thing. It just has to be done in a more modern way.
Bob Woods 0:38
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. You can also listen to us on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Here are your hosts Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick.
Bill McCormick 1:16
Welcome to Making Sales Social! I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 1:19
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 1:20
So Brynne, tell us who’s joining us today.
Brynne Tillman 1:22
I’m so excited! We have Bobby Martin, who’s the co-founder of Vertical IQ. Let me just say really quickly before we have him speak. His company is a game changer in the industry. I met Bobby through Jack Hubbard, who is a bank sales trainer and it was a huge fan of Vertical IQ. And then as we started training more and more banks that are using Vertical IQ, I started actually training how do we use vertical IQ in social selling. And I thought, “My goodness, what a great opportunity to have Bobby, talk to our folks.” So Bobby, welcome to the show.
Bobby Martin 2:00
Thank you so much, Brynne and thank you, Bill. Excited to be here.
Bill McCormick 2:04
So tell everyone a little bit more about Vertical IQ, if I can say it right and what you all do for your clients?
Bobby Martin 2:12
Sure. Well, Vertical IQ has a passion for industry intelligence but more importantly, we have a passion for providing that intelligence to sales and marketing professionals so that they can use it to relate to their customers, and use it to relate to a really broad audience. You know, we kind of feel like it’s just crazy to send the same message to everyone, because everyone has their own passion.
If you’re a dentist, your passion is dentistry. If you’re an HVAC contractor, your passion is HVAC contracting. And so we try to distill the information as industry intelligence for sales and marketing professionals and when we wake up every day, we say, “What would they wanna have right at their fingertips to become more effective?” And that’s Vertical IQ in a nutshell.
Bill McCormick 3:00
Right. This is gonna be great because we love to talk about content, but now we’re going to be able to talk about what type of content we can get in whose hands. But first, before we get to that, we are gonna ask you the question that every guest in, and that attends Making Sales Social is asked. Bobby, what is making sales social mean to you?
Bobby Martin 3:21
Well, you know, it’s a really good question. I think that making sales social, to my mind, is sales has always been social, in a sense that, you know, throughout time before we had social media, before we even had the internet, it was about, especially sales, I’m not specifically talking about marketing, per se, but it was about reaching people and having real conversations, meeting friends and influencing people, if you will. These were the– I mean, what did this gentleman do? He write thousands of letters, the car salesman who wrote thousands of letters, he was considered the greatest salesman ever. But he was social.
Nowadays, I think social, when I think about, you know, what does social selling mean? There’s just another vehicle for doing that. And, but it hasn’t changed in the sense that you have to be able to relate to whoever it is you’re, you’re selling with. It can’t be all about you, and nor has it been in the past. So I mean, I mentioned the book, “Making Friends and Influencing People,” the great classic, which has never died. It was all about social selling, to my mind, but if you look at it, 90% of it was about them. It was not about the salesperson, it was about whoever the salesperson is working with and adding value in that relationship. That’s what “Making Friends and Influencing People” was to my mind. Social selling today is the same thing. It just has to be done in a more modern way. That, kind of what comes to mind.
Brynne Tillman 4:58
I love that. Our definition of social selling is about building relationships, bringing value and sharing insight. Ultimately, the sale will come when the time is right. That’s our definition, right? And so it’s building relationships, being a value, and bringing insights to the table. Right? And so one of the reasons that I love Vertical IQ so much is it makes us, it makes it easier for us to do that.
Bobby Martin 5:27
Yeah, yeah, hopefully so. And hopefully, social selling is about cultivating curiosity. Human beings are inherently curious people and we really want to be enticed to learn. And the only way to do that, obviously, is to relate to people and understand where they’re coming from and educate them and let them buy when they want to buy. And that’s exactly it. There’s nothing worse than a pushy salesperson. Indeed, I agree.
Bill McCormick 5:58
Music… music to our ears. So, let’s talk about the research and the things, ‘cause at the heart of it, I’m a salesman, right? So I’m the, the chief sales officer for Social Sales Link, I still have to get new clients, and when I hear the term research, I think…I gotta click through and look at websites and I got to look at SWOT reports and analysis, and I got to do this stuff. How can you help me? How can you make it easy? First of all, why is research important?
Bobby Martin 6:27
Sure. Well, you know, it’s interesting, the word “research” does sound like work and actually, we’re the ones who do all the work here at Vertical IQ. We do the research per se. What we’re supposed to do, and what sales professionals are supposed to do as well, is they’re supposed to have industry intelligence at their fingertips, so that they know how to leverage it. They don’t have to spend all their time doing research. Instead, they have it where they need it to be. And that’s the vertical IQ mantra, if you will.
However, let’s say you don’t have Vertical IQ. Let’s just say you’re out there and you’re like, “Yeah, how do I relate? How do I understand the customer I’m relating to?” Okay, well, there’s a number of ways to do that. And one is certainly to open the Wall Street Journal every day, see, I’m a big Wall Street Journal fan, they have phenomenal reporting. And they cover so many different industries. If you go to the Wall Street Journal, and you just thumb through it for five minutes, I’m sure if you’re a generalist, and you have clients in many, many different industries, that you immediately find a really good article that relates to them, that could lead to a really cool conversation.
And so it is all about personalizing the information and being really savvy at finding it. And not just Googling, you know, childcare centers, you’ll just drive yourself crazy. So you really want to have your publications stitcher there or your go to publications.
Brynne Tillman 7:53
Let’s say, you know, I’m gonna give you a real example. So I’m going to talk about one of the banks that uses Vertical IQ and how we used it, and then maybe you can share kind of you don’t have [unintelligible audio] options. So they were bankers that sold to manufacturers, that sold to agriculture. They originally, they were finding content just on manufacturing. And while that was fine, because they were manufacturers, what they found was when they identified who they were selling to, and then started to curate content around their customer’s customer, is when conversation started to happen. Because that manufacturer knew a lot about manufacturing, what they didn’t know was a lot about their client. And so you know, that was sort of this huge “aha” moment. Not just this, this banker in this bank, but even for us as a company, for us to step back and say, “You know, it’s the customer’s customer that no one is talking about.” So what are some of the ways that you would go about, obviously, asking them who they serve, but in the research world, what are some thoughts that you have of like, identifying what you, what your, your customer cares about? Because it’s definitely not– You know they’re not actively looking for our solutions. (Bobby: Yeah) (Brynne) So we have to create this need of awareness. Right? There’s this, we have to help them to start thinking about what they should be thinking about.
Bobby Martin 9:31
Yeah, yeah. And that’s that cultivating that curiosity that you’re talking about? I think it’s, I think you stated it really well, that we have to be talking about the things that they care about, that we need to be talking about their problems and the solutions to those problems. So I remember when I was a salesperson in the 90s — as a banker, actually, and my job was to call on businesses all across Southeastern North Carolina, and I’ll never forget it going on a particular call with a man named Jim McColl — Hugh McColl who’s the CEO, his brother who built, essentially built the Bank of America. But he was calling on a chemical manufacturer and I’ll never forget, he asked the CEO, he said, “Tell me” — in that thick southern accent and off he goes, he goes, “Hey, Frank,” the guy’s name is Frank, specialty chemical companies. “Can you give me the top 10 companies you’re not doing business with, that you want to do business with?” And he said, “Well, yes.” And he wrote down all these company names of all the companies that he wanted to do business with. And then Jim McCall went back and tried to figure out how to help this person get in the door, this Frank chemical CEO in the door with all these companies. That’s an extreme example of what I’m talking about. But what he was trying to do in a short amount of time, is solve his problems. Help him with his problems.
Now, one of the things you just pointed out, what are customers, many, many businesses biggest problem? Getting more customers, being more savvy at that. So when you, you just brought up a really good point, if you have a manufacturer that sells stuff, that sells to agricultural companies, and you’re providing them insight about their customers, to make their customers more successful, and to relate to their customers, that’s going to pique their curiosity, it’s gonna pique their interest. They’re way more likely to engage with you, especially if on there, you’re asking them questions. It’s about something they care about, perhaps you’re offering them additional information. If you like what you’re reading here, for example, on LinkedIn, then maybe you’ll like to check out our white paper on agriculture, or maybe you’ll like to check out some other company’s white paper on that. That’s how you can be incredibly engaging on social, to my mind.
So I think you hit the nail on the head there, Brynne, I think that’s a really brilliant idea. And what it is, is, again, just to reiterate, you came up with the important thought that you have to be talking about the things they care about. And then you pointed out as an example of that, what they care about is getting more customers, how can you help them do that? Very powerful.
Brynne Tillman 12:12
Easily duplicatable, and very personal to them but you said something that will probably, kind of shifted trajectory for us because Bill and I just went, right. So you now have this list of ten companies. Now what Frank, Frank, when Frank, who is your guy?
Bobby Martin 12:30
Well, the calling officer was Jim McColl and Frank [unintelligible audio] was the customer.
Brynne Tillman 12:35
Jim now would have to go back and look through his whole Rolodex and try to figure out who knows — we can hop on LinkedIn, type in that company name, and identify who do we know inside of these companies in under ten minutes. We can have three or four introductions into that client.
Bobby Martin 12:53
Yeah, and that story is totally adlib, but I can tell you that Jim McColl, the first thing he did is, this was back in the 90s, when we barely had flip phones with those little antennas. He was calling his secretary, and they literally had secretaries at this time, and asking her to find out those customers, whether they were customers of our bank or not. And it took hours of you know, of all those stuff. (Brynne) Right. (Bobby) But now, with LinkedIn, you can look that up in five seconds. How powerful is that? I mean, it’s a really good best practice as you brought up there.
Bill McCormick 13:29
I remember hearing Keenan talk not too long ago, and I’m thinking along the lines of the “Ask offer ratio,” when you’re able to do this, your offer is so much better than any time you’ve asked for them. And what he was talking about is a difference between relationship and credibility. If you have a relationship with a customer, maybe they’ll go out lunch with you, maybe they’ll go golfing with you. But if you have credibility with the customer. You’re the one they’ll call at 2 o’clock in the morning, when that problem comes up and they– because they know that you can solve it and what you’re talking about here, Bobby is developing that relationship to the point where you have that credibility. And so when we’re going in on sales calls, we’re not thinking about “Okay, how can I get them to buy” right? Not even thinking about that, but thinking about “Okay, how am I going to find out what they need and how can I help them get that?” And I love what Scott Schilling says we come in with high intention but low attachment. Just really, really good stuff. I’m kinda like speechless. This doesn’t happen often. Because my mind is like– (Brynne: He has a lot of good stuff) of things that I now want to try. So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about content and talk about how you’re seeing your clients use this research that you’re providing in terms of engaging content and content that provides that kind of credibility.
Bobby Martin 14:46
Well, sure well, when you– Speaking about content, mainly we’re talking about content about industries. And it’s called– I use the term industry very loosely because it’s really, it’s really about the “what to talk about.” Because a lot of sales tools are the “who.” Like, “Who am I supposed to call on?” “Who am I supposed to go engage with?” But then when you have that, that’s the easy part. He is 1, “what to talk about.” and so that’s really what we’re talking about, I use the term industry loosely, because really what this is, is information about particular types of businesses. Like that’s just the definition of an industry, like this is really information about what people care about, that are in a particular type of business, like, whether it’s, like I mentioned H-Back company, H-back companies, or lumber companies, whatever it is, but the way we distill and organize the content, we try to make it extremely ready. So one of our phrases is always be ready. And so an example of that would be what’s been what are the main things going on? For example, with lumber? Let’s use that as an example with one of the 500 examples. I could come up. (Brynne: We have a client in Lumber) Right there you go. What are the main things that have been happening with Lumber companies. You know, what are the– for example, the pulp prices have fallen so much and so one of the things we like to do is bring this content out in bite sized chunks to make it really useful. And then send it in the form of an email, and then take that content in a matter of seconds, and use it on something like LinkedIn, or some other medium. But then more importantly than that, take that chunk of information of say, “Poll prices falling dramatically over the last couple of months,” and then putting the salesperson taken another minute or two to put their own spin on it. Okay, so what they’re doing is they’re taking that information, taking that knowledge, and then adding value to it, so that they can then very quickly and immediately relate to whoever they’re talking to, in the lumber business directly on LinkedIn, for example. And of course, that’s just one example. There are dozens of examples of being able to do that another, I’ll give you one more example, then I’ll stop and let y’all speak as well. Is curating articles, media articles, there’s always really important articles coming out about a particular industry. And so why not have those content that have those articles right at your fingertips to leverage in a conversation. And just a very basic way to phrase it, “Hey, I was reading this morning, this article,” (which is true, because you want to read it before you send it in a matter of a minute or two) and I thought about you, because it reminded me of our last conversation, or it reminded me of the fact that your business…And that reminded me of the fact that I’d love to have a conversation with you about it some time, because I have another customer who has solved this problem.” Something like that, really is engaging. And so what vertical IQ does is pull and curate those articles by hand as an example. But those are just two examples. I could go on and on.
So I love… love that! So I mean…You are speaking our heart language. I mean, really, it’s awesome. One of the things that– we ran out a little study, which was really fun, and very enlightening. And some of this is you know, you can easily go into your existing connections and take inventory and say, “How many people Am I connected to in lumber now that I have this great article,” and I read it. So “how many people can I get this in front of?” So traditionally, we would say we have 18 people, we’re gonna semi customize this message, but send it to 18 people.Very similar, “Came across this article… thought of you, here are some of the takeaways. Hope you enjoy.” And we send the link and it goes and that’s how we’ve always done it. Well, someone in our industry kind of pushed back on us about a year a little less than a year ago, and he thought and said, “That spam!” We went, “I don’t think so, we’re sending value.” So we did a study and this is what we did and it blew us away. So we did this with 100 people, we sent the content, and 19 of them clicked through, not bad. Then we sent a message that said, “Bobby just came across some incredible information on how banks are now entering the social selling world. I know that this is a big vertical for you and thought you’d really enjoy this. Some of the takeaways I had were a, b and c. Let me know if you’re interested. I’d be happy to send you a link.” Don’t send the link. Our numbers are Incredible 69% of the people said, Sure, happy to have the link and 58 clicked through rather than other than 19. So I wanted to get your take on why you think that is like, that is how we’re doing it now. What we don’t know, I have my suspicions on why, but as someone who is brilliant in this world, why do you think that? asking permission to give the link was so much more powerful?
Bobby Martin 20:29
Yeah, I mean, what an incredible study! And I’m not surprised. I think part of it is– thinking through it very quickly but I would say, a big part of it is, its cultivating that curiosity that we’re talking about. That’s part of it. They’re like, I’m curious. Also, you’re offering them something for free, that’s probably valuable to them that doesn’t take them a lot of time or money. So therefore, they’re very willing and able to want to check it out. Because people really do want to learn, learn, learn, that’s what they want to do is learn. (Brynne:Yeah, we do!) I mean, your vertical IQ, I buy a lot of stuff like I’m a buyer and I feel like I spend more time buying than I do, selling. And so I want to learn what the best solution is. I want to find the right tools that solve the problems I want to solve and so I’m always reading and educating myself about these particular things. And I think that’s probably why you got the 69% response rate on that great, that great offer. That’s my opinion.
Brynne Tillman 21:32
We’re blown away. I think there’s a– I agree with you. I think there’s one other small piece of “FOMO” fear of missing out. If you have the link, I can come back anytime. But right now, I don’t have that link. So I don’t have the option (Bobby: Totally! I 100% agree) but thats part of the curiosity, we’ve piqued more curiosity than if we shared it. So…
Bobby Martin 21:57
The great thing too, is, excuse me for interrupting but I just want to make sure I point this out is it– Keep in mind if you’re a sales professional. And that’s who’s probably listening to the show right now, you have to get out there and hustle. And that’s why salespeople make a lot of money, because it’s very difficult. And you cannot just sit on the sidelines and hope people come to you, you have to go to them. So if you have to go to them, Why send them something that’s not a value to them? Why send them only information about yourself? For example, I get emails all day long from private equity companies who want to invest in vertical IQ, not because we’re special, just because that’s what they do. It’s always the same thing. They go straight to private equity. “I know how to help your company. I’d love to have a call.”
It’s a pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch, pitch…
Bill McCormick 22:46
“We help companies just like yours!”
Bobby Martin 22:49
And I’m like, “Why are they not emailing me something of value?” “Why is it always general?” And I can tell that it is not real because they say, “We’ve been looking– we’ve been studying your company Vertical IQ for some…” but there’s nothing about us other than our name. And so I see right through it, right. I see right through it. So I realize. And what you’re suggesting brilliantly, is that you take your time, you take a little more time, instead of sending out thousands of random emails hoping somebody responds, instead, you send out much less, they’re really thoughtful and helpful. And specific to them. I love it!
Brynne Tillman 23:29
I feel like you’re in our brains right now because we say all the time to “Slow down your outreach to speed up your outcome.”
Bill McCormick 23:38
Research and choosing the right content, not so much the content that you want to share, but the content that your prospective clients and your clients want to consume that help them solve their problems is really the key to doing it. Well, I like to learn to and I learned I took some notes. This is such a great episode. We could go on and on but unfortunately, we are running out of time. So Bobby, thank you so much. Really quick. Just tell the folks out there about “Unsolved Mysteries of Losing a Sale.” What’s that about?
Bobby Martin 24:14
Oh, yeah, so vertical IQ, we also have this inherent curiosity and we have a free white paper that the team has worked incredibly hard on it they did a fabulous job on it. And if you go to our website, verticaliq.com/mystery, then you will see all about this but hopefully you’ll find it very valuable to you. (Brynne: It’s wonderful!) because a lot of these things we’re talking about I think they did a much, much better job than I have done conveying how to go about that. And so if you’d like to check it out, please do, verticaliq.com/mystery but thank you for having me.
Brynne Tillman 24:53
Oh my gosh, and if there’s– I’m… first of all it is a great resource. You are amazing! So if that’s better than this? Like, like…This was absolutely– I think. I mean, I knew you were awesome but I mean, I’m so excited! I’m speechless now. We couldn’t be more thrilled.
Bill McCormick 25:15
Not good when both hosts are speeches, but we’ll put a link to that resource in the resources for this show. If you click on the resource tab you can see that. Bobby thank you so much for joining us and to all of you, thanks for watching us here at Making Sales Social! Bye. Bye, everyone.
Bob Woods 5:35
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 Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.