Episode 7: Jeff Molander – Talking Less About Yourself and Starting More Meaningful Conversations
In this episode, Brynne and Bill are joined by Jeffrey Molander, a sales communications coach and managing partner at Communications Edge, Inc. Learn how Jeff and his team help those in sales and marketing initiate sales discussions and spark conversations.
Bill McCormick 00:03
What is “Making Sales Social” mean to you?
That’s an oxymoron, right? The word sales and social next to each other don’t make any sense. And I suppose that’s true.
Brynne Tillman 00:15
To make sales social, what you put out there should expect a conversation back.
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 00:49
Hey, welcome to Making Sales Social. I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 00:53
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 00:54
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 00:56
I am so excited about our guest today, Jeff Molander, is one of these people on LinkedIn and social that draws me in all the time. So for years and years, I’ve followed him, the content that he puts out there is creative, it creates intrigue, and curiosity and tons of engagement. And every once in a while it’s even controversial, but at the end of all of it, he’s got people talking and starting conversations. So when you and I were looking for a kind of a little uptick to our messaging, we went right to Jeff and hired him to help us with some of our stuff. And so we wanted to take his genius and share it with you the audience today. Hi, Jeff, how are you?
Good, good, guys. Thanks for having me.
So tell the audience a little bit about you.
I have found out that I’m a good teacher, when I was probably 25 years old, working in marketing, didn’t think I’d ever end up in sales. And I saw other teachers, people were teaching around me, I thought, “Man, I could never do that.” And as it turns out, as I started doing, and I took a path down the marketing, and I still do marketing. And then I went into sales, and I still do sales. And but the business itself that I find myself in today, really, if people say, say to me, what do you do I teach? What do I teach, I teach a better way to help people start conversations. Generally speaking with people who don’t want to have conversations with, which is what sales, prospecting and outreach and social selling is all about. The fact is that most people that we’re reaching out to are very good at ignoring us. And, you know, the job is to get a conversation started with them. And many times they’re, you know, they’re avoiding us on the phone. They’re avoiding us on just about everything. So but that’s, that’s what I do. I suppose a little bit about me is, I teach. I’ve got a couple of dogs. I like to hike and fish and when I’m not working, but like you guys, I love my work. And that’s, that’s an important part of, I hope, every wish everybody could be in that position to love what they do.
Brynne Tillman 03:12
Yeah, we both feel very, very fortunate to truly love what we do. And it’s clear that you love what you do. Because your passion comes through like crazy.
Bill McCormick 03:21
Yes it does, definitely does. So we’re so excited to have you here. And so one of the traditions we have, we ask every guest the same question to start out, what is Making Sales Social mean to you, Jeff?
I remember a few years ago, and I don’t remember who it was who said it, but they’re like, that’s an oxymoron, right? The word sales and social next to each other. Don’t make any sense. And I suppose that’s true to a large degree. And what we see today is the word sales and social whether you’re engaging on LinkedIn, social media, where you’re doing sales anywhere else. There’s not a lot of etiquette involved. skiddo It’s, it’s rough, it’s a lot of connected pitch. And, you know, so I think what it means to me, I don’t know if this is a valid answer, but it’s kind of more of a confusion to me. I think we’ve had how many years now of social selling a decade, right? Something like that plus or minus. So I think for me, personally, it’s a little bit confusing.
Brynne Tillman 04:30
How would you Make Sales Social now, coz you do?
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of talk about be empathetic. But you’ve got to be magnetic. And I think part of being magnetic is, the fact of the matter is you’ve got to interrupt you got to be comfortable interrupting people. I mean, I think that’s 80% of it, to be honest with you. If you’re comfortable interrupting people, you have to be good at it. There has to be something original or unique to you. So if you watch Guys like Benjamin Donohue over in the UK, I love to watch him. He’s just if you haven’t had him on you should because he’s an entertainer, but he’s a damn good classically trained interrupter, no Sandler, classic type of stuff. So I think you have to be a good interrupter, and you have to be comfortable interrupting and on the phone or with digital, you’ve got to be like, this isn’t going to be just me pressing send. Right, there’s gonna be something coming back at me. And I think that’s what’s missing from a lot of it is people press send, and nothing comes back, which is…
Brynne Tillman 05:39
so I, I just to clarify what you said, or what I heard you say, was to make sales social, what you put out there should expect a conversation back?
Yeah. I mean, I don’t know. Like I said, I think I’m kind of confused with how do you “make sales social.” You should, of course, be empathetic. But you’ve got to be, you’ve got to be disruptive. You’re breaking into people’s days, and they’re just going like this on LinkedIn, or on their mobile device. They’re deleting they’re like, “I don’t want any of that I don’t want.” So you’ve got to break through. And I suppose, you know, you’ve, as you know, Brynne, I’m all about sparking people’s curiosity. And I think in a social context, that’s what when you go dating, you know, you’re not going to get the next date unless that other person, you know, has some curiosity about and has more questions for you. You know, “I’ve got more questions for you.” Hopefully, hopefully, today. I don’t talk so much, such that people might have more questions for me, right? That’s the whole beauty of I think the challenge for selling in a social environment with social media is brevity.Less is more, right?
Bill McCormick 06:51
Brynne Tillman 06:56
Ah, that’s a tweetable moment.
Bill McCormick 06:58
That’s it. Yeah. Magnetic interruptions.
There’s a guy named Hank. Hank Barnes from Gartner, who says, he calls them… he says, You’ve got to be graceful, graceful interruptions. I think that’s a really cool term.
Bill McCormick 07:13
I like that one better. ( I do ) That’s good ( Ahh, he’s with Gartner, it’s not Molander ) Yeah, for sure. For sure. Alright.So Jeff, so tell us, what do you teach your clients in the marketing realm in the physical world that they can apply that helps them at the top of their funnel, the top of their pipeline?
When you say physical world, what are you giving out? I’m not sure I understand.
So what are you teaching them to do each and every day that they can do themselves as opposed to in the social world, in the physical world.
Talk less about themselves. Get comfortable with not asking for meetings, even though you’re looking for a meeting. Those kinds of things that you, you know, normally wouldn’t do. And then again, Benjamin, Donna, he, and the Sandler people have taught us very well that, you know, a lot of this we’re programmed from children. We’ve been told by our parents “don’t talk to strangers.” And there’s a lot of, well, some very good reasons. So we have to kind of engage in what Darryl Praill over at VanilaSoft calls psychotherapy. So I find that I’m kind of in the psychotherapy business, rather than, you know.There are certainly practical things that I teach you to do, to help start more conversations, talk less about yourself, don’t ask for a meeting, don’t talk about your customers in email number one, you know, don’t sound like a marketer. And there are many different ways that we can do that. So I’m the guy who comes in and kind of deprograms people from making a call to action. As an example, if you’re going to tell a story, there’s a specific way you’ve got to tell a story. It’s not, “We did this for our client.” No, it’s “These people did this.” Remove the “our client” part. That’s irrelevant to sparking their curiosity. Otherwise, it just sounds like you’re talking about yourself. You’re trying to persuade people. So all of that stuff that we have done to us, all of us, you know, we see it all the time. And we’re annoyed, but we’re, you know, we know what marketing looks like, I’ve got to kind of come in and say, “Whoa, there’s a different way that we need to come at this.”
Brynne Tillman 09:27
I want to, can you go one more deeper on that sparking curiosity and how important that is?
Well, I mean, you’re not going to get a conversation started these days, unless you have the ability to make somebody go, “What are you talking about? That sounds important” or “No, we don’t have that covered and it sounds like you’re suggesting that you could help us with that” or “Yes, we do have that covered. I’m not interested.” You know, even those responses we have our students are doing very well going back at people who say not “interested” or “got it covered” and engaging them in a way where there’s a discussion, because many times you have to talk for a year, as long as a year. Before you can actually sell to somebody. So what do you do if you’re selling, you know, you’ve got, $5 million quota to sell, and that is a million dollars each thing, and you’ve only got to, you’re gonna sell five customers this year. Well, you’ve got to start talking to them way far in advance. So you’ve got to find a way to get them to go “Huh? What? Stop,” you know, they’re going like this.You’ve got to find a way to get them to go, “Wait a minute…Woah, woah, woah… what?”
Bill McCormick 10:32
We Talked about more raised hands. And it really goes to the next question, I think, because there’s a lot of noise out there. I mean, today, my email’s filled with people who are saying, “Dear Masi” or “Hello Masi,” because my LinkedIn profile is Bill McCormick, “comma,” Masi, M-A-S-i. So they think that’s my name. And then they say, “Hey, I sent you an email last week, you didn’t respond yet,” catch the hint. But there’s a lot of noise that’s out there. And so what is and I think I know what it is, but what’s the marketing strategy that you recommend that your clients do or perform, that helps them stand out from their competition?
Jeff Molander 11:13
That would be, I would have to say, “say less.” So as an example, let’s change the context from cold email outreach, which is kind of what we’ve been talking about. Let’s say you’ve got warm leads coming in. Lots of nice warm leads, you guys have lots of nice warm leads coming in. When you’re looking different. I mean, no matter what the context is: cold outreach, warm inbound leads, you’re gonna reach out to them.Just doing what other people don’t do. Breaking the pattern that they expect you to do. So if you sign up for a webinar, you’re probably going to get an email a few days later saying, “thanks for signing up for the webinar,” that’s going to be the first sentence, why would you thank them for signing up for the webinar? I would say… when I…I don’t thank people for signing up to my webinar. First of all, everybody does it. And the reason I don’t thank them is they should be thanking me. I provide a lot of and you might call that rude, some people go, “that’s rude.” I’m just telling you, that if you break that pattern of the way that people are, trained, expect, all of a sudden, they start paying attention a lot more. So if you were to say to them instead, “what caused you…” and usually, usually there’s a you know, “thanks for attending the webinar” , you know, it’s gonna be about a 15 to 22nd, maybe a 42nd read that they’re asking for. I just send one and I recommend you send one sentence, “What caused you to attend the webinar?” “What caused you to download the white paper?” And if you don’t like that phrase, you can change it.
Brynne Tillman 12:51
The guy… we might say what triggered you?
Jeff Molander 12:55
Right! Correct. “What triggered you?” Now, it depends on your model. You might not have the staff to respond to that. That might not be, because I remember working with you guys, you’re like, “Well, we don’t, you know, we want to send out messages,” “We’d like some help with these crafting, these messages.” But we don’t want to go one on one necessarily with these people, because we’re not selling them a half a million dollar solution. Right? So we can’t afford, right? It’s not part of our business model. So different people sell different things to different people. I’m just giving you one example of how we… I’m sorry Bill I lost track of your question. How do you break out…
Bill McCormick 13:32
How do you help them to stand out from the competition? And you’ve given a great example of you know, I think about you know, as we’re recording this, it’s the holiday time. And, you know, while a lot of people won’t be gathering in groups, we can all remember back to either Christmas parties from our past, or family gatherings from our past. And we all have that either that one employee, or that one family member that you always wonder, you just never know what’s going to come out of their mouth. And so while you may dread them coming, everyone’s anticipating “Hey, what’s Uncle George’s gonna say today?” And I think what I’m hearing correctly is “be Uncle George,” you know (Yeah) a person that says something like, “I’ve never gotten an email like this before.” Of course, keeping it clean and don’t offend your clients. That’s always top of the line but being that way, and I think that that’s a great,great idea.
It’s not easy to do, necessarily, but because, then people start thinking, “Oh, what do I say?” I say focus on… (I love your example, by the way,) because it relates, because it’s not usually “what is said, it’s how it’s said.” It’s usually that, you know, I expect everybody in the room to kind of have nothing to say, but I expect that guy to say some. The way he’s gonna say it is gonna be different, right? So almost like certain presidents, right? Just like things come into your head, and then they just come out of your mouth. Yeah, that’s essentially what you’ve got to do and is that social, I’m not sure that’s social, but you’ve got to find a way to draw.
Brynne Tillman 15:20
The social piece, I think is the goal is that you’re creating engagement. Right? That’s social, whether it’s awkward or not. There’s socialness to it.
Bill McCormick 15:30
And I think part of making sales social is taking that awkwardness and flipping it in a way that it’s leaning towards a conversation, that’s gonna go in the right direction.
Absolutely. And there’s a certain element of authenticity. There’s another great calling trainer named Scott Channell and he hits it on the head when he says, “How much fake sincerity do you have to give someone, project to earn trust?” you know, “How much fake sincerity do you have to give to make someone trust you?” And we see a lot of those attempts at faking their way into being sincere about somebody. Asking someone a question that clearly you don’t have,you know… or saying to them all this empathy with the COVID situation and all that. People know that, you know, you’re just trying to shoehorn your way into a sales conversation. So be careful with that. But being authentic has a lot to… in your “uncle,” obviously, it’s very authentic, right? Well, maybe not your uncle but your example.
Bill McCormick 16:43
I was going to say, just for the record, I don’t have an Uncle George. So but alright, so let’s switch the conversation around just a little and talk a little bit more about consistency. So what would you say is a daily market activity that you teach your clients that if they’re performing on a regular basis, they do it consistently. It’s going to open up or create opportunities for them?
Well, boy,we do a lot of things. But I would have to say, “less is more.” Reducing the amount of words that you use. When you use questions, the way that you structure a question should be, avoid yes or no questions. Ask questions that focus on the customer’s status quo situation. So don’t ask me as a small business owner, if I’m getting enough leads, because you know, I’m gonna answer, No. And I’m not going to answer “No” to you because that’s a trap. I’m going to make myself vulnerable to you, you’re going to pitch me so I’m simply not going to do it. So again, getting back to these breaking patterns. We’ve got to break out of the patterns of what we see in our own inboxes. And so I try to be consistent. Let’s identify what these are. When I say questions should, you know, it might take some time to explain to you and show you some demo, some questions that are structured in a way that helps you reflect on your status quo situation, right? What would cause you to examine new ways to generate leads? That’s not a hook question. Right? That’s a question that makes me, “Well, what would cause… Well, what would cause me to..” Or “When would I be ready to?” That’s a question about my own decision making process. It’s not a question that’s going to lead me into a trap.
Brynne Tillman 18:43
I love that differentiator. So like, I just want to make that really, really clear. The questions that work, that create the thinking, the “Hmm… let me contemplate that” are when we are asking them about how they think about their situation, how they think about their process or their goals, not necessarily how it relates to hiring us.
Correct, which gives them the space, right? They need a little space to go “Hmm…” and stop being assaulted with these questions, these hook questions that are self serving, which is definitely not social. (Right) And, yeah, so you’ve got to, I always like to say, create that space. So Bill, to answer your question, I guess, you know, how do you consistently create that space? So don’t ask for the meeting. Be aware of yes or no questions in general. Be aware of the bias, the inherent bias in most of your questions. So having a sense of awareness of all these things that we normally do, because we’ve been trained to do it. We’ve been told by other sales trainers to do it. We receive it in our inboxes, we see it all the time, we figure out “ahh that must work.” These are the things that are difficult to break the pattern.
Brynne Tillman 20:06
I want to follow up question on what goes through everyone’s mind and we agree, we are very aligned with how you think. But the number one question we get, and we know how we answered this is then, how do you convert that into a conversation? Whether a phone call or a zoom call, or whatever that might be If we’re not asking for the call? What is the cadence or the process that you recommend that people do so that they can take it from social to one on one?
That’s the question. And it really depends on the context. So as an example, as you’re describing the gear, you’re giving me the question, I’m thinking in my head, I was recently presented by someone who I don’t do business with, I just met him on LinkedIn. And he’s a geek, he practices all this stuff. He’s always practice it. And he said, Look, I documented this exchange with somebody. And it started with a rejection. It started with, “we’ve got it covered.” So people get that all the time, “Yep, we’re on it.” “We’ve got it covered.”
Brynne Tillman 21:15
I answered, pitching me.
Exactly. So Exactly. So he says, I go back on these, and I go back consistently, because I know from his experience, that there’s two things, they’re either going to, (Oh, I forgot what is one) they’re either looking for an excuse to talk about themselves? Or (what was the other one? I can’t remember what the other one was.) But for him, he said, 60 to 70% of the time, if he’s done his job, right. He’s identified people who are open to talking about themselves. So what he does is he goes back, and he finds different ways of saying, “Well, what do you mean by that?” And, you know, how can you… So it’s more of a I’m here, I’m aware of this trend or this issue and I’ve come at you with this, I’m interrupting you. I’m looking to have a conversation, you said, we’ve got it covered. I know where you’re going with this Mr. salesperson, but I’ve got it covered. And then what do you mean by that? That is again, breaking this pattern, and really finding a different…so connecting that marketing, or that sales outreach, or that outreach, you know, with the actual conversation is, you know, it can be a rejection like that it can be someone saying not interested. And again, statistically, we know that not interested often times means they are confused about what you’ve just said to them. Their not something they’re not interested in, that’s the way that they express it. So it really depends on you know, making that connection depends on the situation.
Bill McCormick 23:01
This is, this has been fantastic. I know, you know, Brynne and I can speak to Jeff, what you do and how you work with people, because, I mean, we had short emails, and it took forever to get them not not forever. It just took a while because this is not easy to do. Asking questions and coming up with the right questions to this day. Now, when we’re talking about emails, Brynne will say no, you can’t ask a yes or no question. So she learned well from you. So how can people reach out to you, connect with you, learn more about how to work with you?
Sure. Best way to get going is join our academy our online Academy gold, silver, bronze level at the moment as at this recording, bronze is free. We’re looking at changing that in the near future. (Just sign up quickly) yeah, exactly sign up quickly. If you go to joinsparkacadamy.com that’s the easiest way to get involved. Learn a little bit about what we’ve been talking, today about how to “Grab the attention” in a different way. Less is more, and how to spark that curiosity in your potential customers.
Bill McCormick 24:12
Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for joining us and to everyone listening for Making Sales Social. Thanks, Jeff.
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