bookchevron-up

Cutting Through The Noise

 

How to find relatable and actionable advice on selling

 

There’s no shortage of sales content out there. The real challenge isn’t finding it, but rather it’s sorting through it all to find content you can take into the field with you to help you perform better at your job. 

That’s why I’m here. To help sort the fluff from real, relatable, actionable sales content that you can use in your daily process. 

We’re going to break it down by platform, people, content delivery mechanism and more. But first, we need to understand what makes content relatable and actionable. We know why it goes viral (see this post from my friend Gaetano DiNardi), but we have to figure out what matters most: Does it work and can I do something with it? 

If we can do that, then perhaps you can start writing some of this powerful content today. 

The first question to answer is: What makes content relatable? If content’s relatable, you believe what the creator’s saying. You can put yourself in their shoes. You have a similar background, you share feelings or thoughts, or have gone through similar experiences. It speaks to your soul and causes you to stop what you’re doing and take action. In fact, the duration between idea and action is a good barometer for how relatable a post is to you. 

Take these two examples. 

One sales leader is sitting on his private jet telling you how to make $10 million in a year. (You can probably guess who this is.) He talks about hustle and “hard work” as his secret sauce to success. He says “I’m the best salesperson in the world and I can teach you how to be great, too.” 

The second sales leader tells you that they’ve struggled, had a few failures, and even doubted themselves at times. However, they pivoted and took very specific steps. They’ve achieved success and are excited to share with you how they got there. You want to achieve what they’ve achieved and you trust that this person can help you get there. 

Do I even have to ask which person is more relatable? One sounds unattainable and one sounds like it could be any of us. The combination of vulnerability, authenticity and accessibility to help you out is impactful. Believe it or not, this type of content exists and I can help you find it.  

 

Platforms

In order to find the right content, you need to make sure you’re on the right platforms to find that content. Here is my stack-ranked order of platforms that every salesperson needs to be on and consume content from.

 

Platform #1 – LinkedIn 

The mecca of sales content, LinkedIn has become increasingly popular not just as a networking site but as a place to create and consume content. It’s also a place where salespeople naturally spend a lot of time as they’re researching prospects and customers, or working on their own personal brand. 

The platform’s popularity has caused a flood of people posting more frequently in a land-grab of the attention spans of salespeople everywhere. Spending some time each day on LinkedIn can not only help you sell, but you can go there to learn and build out your network. 

 

Platform #2 – Books 

Call me old school, but I’m a huge fan of a paperback book. I’ve always been a voracious reader, trying to pick up a few new ideas or concepts with each book I dive into. 

Books are a painstaking process to put together. I should know. Although this is a tough job for writers, it forces them to distill their best thoughts onto a page. Reading a book is like looking into the mind of someone you admire or want to learn from. 

For salespeople, I would separate books into two different groups: sales books and “non-sales books” that salespeople can learn a lot from. A successful salesperson is well versed in communication, psychology and negotiation, among other traits. A successful sales leader is well versed in all forms of leadership, from business to sports, politics to military, to education and training. Books remain an endless supply of insights you can implement and enjoy.

 

Platform #3 – Events 

I’m writing this article in the COVID era, so events feel like a thing of the past. But what I love about events is that they give you the opportunity to meet people in person and get to know them. You can also take enough notes from great speakers to fill up your notebook. 

The market has pivoted hard to virtual events. With most of us in isolation, the industry has been forced to innovate, and there are some fantastic virtual events going on that still help you learn and can create an intimate networking vibe at the same time.

I can’t predict the future, but allow me to try. The future of events looks micro, not macro. Deeper experiential events combining learning with relaxation and deep networking are going to be more commonplace, and are in demand. I built Surf & Sales a few years ago as I felt a shift was needed. I obviously had no clue the shift would be this massive and dramatic. The need for events has not changed; just the type of events.

 

Platform #4 – Podcasts 

Plain and simple: Podcasts are the future of media. People are creating and recording authentic, long-form conversations loaded with nuggets of wisdom that you can listen to anywhere, even (especially) while multitasking–cooking dinner, driving or doing yard work. And somehow they’re free for listeners. (For how long is another conversation.) It’s an amazing deal. 

I love that most podcasts come out with at least one new episode per week so you can have continuity with a guest. If you listen long enough, it’ll start to feel like you know them. Expect podcasts to become an even bigger part of the media world in years to come as businesses and individuals are compelled to enter the podcasting world to further their brand themselves and get their messages out. Heck, we are living proof after taking Surf & Sales from purely an event business to branching out and creating our own podcast.

 

Platform #5 – Twitter 

I’ve seen a bit of a rise in B2B salespeople heading over to Twitter in the past month. I’m attributing it to the fact that, as I mentioned, LinkedIn is getting a bit overloaded and people are looking for a new, under-appreciated place to communicate. Or maybe I’m super late to the party and folks like Jeb Blount positioned themselves there early and crushed it already. 

I will say this though: I am seeing a migration of folks from LinkedIn to Twitter, and it’s easier to cut through the noise because the follower counts are smaller for newbies, and each message feels personal and still special. I’d say that Twitter is a platform to start getting more comfortable with if you are in sales. It’s a great place for people to share quick, thought-provoking content, and perhaps reveal a bit more about who they really are.

 

Platform #6 – YouTube 

Ask any 12-year-old (including mine) what they want to be when they grow up and chances are they’ll say they want to be a YouTube star. And for good reason: It’s a powerful platform focused around video and is great for how-to clips and vlogs. It’s also birthed the “Dude Perfect” generation–a bunch of friends making hilarious and fun videos and getting paid to do it. 

This is somewhat unchartered territory for many of the B2B sales leaders (including me), but there are some major influencers who add a lot of value on the platform. With video on the rise to increase personalization, it feels like YouTube is still the most powerful platform to host your video content.

 

Types of Posts

Type #1 – Text

The most common type of post you’ll see is written: either in 1,300 characters on LinkedIn or 140 on Twitter. There are a few ways these messages can be helpful. 

One way is an actionable list. There is a great guide on how to grow your LinkedIn audience. Working to improve your copywriting? Try these tips. Want to find a new job? Follow these moves

Second, posts can allow people to be vulnerable. People open up about losing a deal, getting fired, or the insecurities they possess. Personally, I’ve written frequently about my autoimmune disease and hospitalizations and recovery, and how that’s set the tone for my career and life. Not only does the vulnerability make you feel closer to the writer, but it’s a great guide on what not to do. 

Third, the author can ask the audience a question. The gold here is not in the post itself, but rather in the comments. It’s about engagement. They may ask about the biggest leadership lesson or the favorite sales tool right now. You can search the comments for some great input from people that take the post down a rabbit hole filled with valuable insight.

 

Type #2 – Video Post 

Video has made a big jump in popularity the past few years and for good reason. Video works because it builds an instant connection with the audience. It’s not coming from your profile picture that’s all doctored up: It’s what you really look like that day. It’s your scraggly beard or messy hair. While it’s easy to get self-conscious putting yourself out there, it’s a great way to make a connection with people. 

Video can also be incredibly actionable. People can give tactical tips, even do a screen share to show you how to do something and, unlike text posts, there is no character limit. This allows the creator to get more detailed in the message they’re delivering. 

 

Type #3 – Audio 

I’ve said it: Audio is the future. It allows you to consume content anywhere and binge in a Netflix style. Why does it work?

First, you can really get to know someone. There are podcast hosts who I feel like I could invite over for dinner because I know them so well. You can listen to the same show for dozens or even hundreds of hours. It’s not just the host(s) whom one can relate to either. It’s the guests who can make or break the show. You know that one person you’ve heard of and maybe wished you could spend an hour with and pick their brain? BOOM! Now they’re in your AirPods talking to you.

Second, people are more likely to share personal stories in a long-form conversation. If the host is good at their job, they can distill personal stories. You’ll hear about how the guest hit rock bottom, about their vulnerabilities, and where they failed. Then it’ll follow the typical hero’s journey of a bounce back to success. It’s incredibly empowering to hear the failures of successful people. It makes us believe we can conquer our own demons. 

Third, there is usually a part of the podcast where things get tactical. Enough of the stories: Tell me how you did it. How should others follow in your footsteps? Grab your pen and paper for that. There’s so much wisdom to be gleaned from those moments.  

 

Type #4 – Events 

I’m a huge fan of building micro-communities and I believe that’s the way of the future. Fewer conferences with 10,000 people and more gatherings of 10-100 people. These communities should do three things: 

  1. Educate. If you’re joining, whether it’s free or paid, you should learn something. 
  2. Entertain. It should be engaging. The content should come to life. You shouldn’t feel like you’re back in calculus class. 
  3. Connect. This is often overlooked, but there should be a way to feel an intimate connection with others in the group. This mimics the appeal of in-person events and can help people make connections that last a lifetime.

 

Who To Follow

Here is where to start: 

Kevin Dorsey – VP of Inside Sales at PatientPop

Dorsey is one of the most entertaining and relatable people on LinkedIn. With a focus on growth and development, he blends his writing with humor, vulnerability and tactical advice that you can take into the field right now. 

 

Justin Welsh – Founder, The Official Justin

Welsh has a track record of joining and scaling startups as an executive. He’s grown his audience by 10 times in the past two years and drops daily posts and playbooks to help others follow his path to build their brands on LinkedIn. Welsh, Amy Volas and I also co-host Thursday Night Sales

 

Amy Volas – Founder and CEO, Avenue Talent Partners

Volas is a longtime veteran of the recruiting world and shares a ton of wisdom for anyone on their job search. If you’re looking for your next opportunity, Volas’ content can help you find it. Volas joins Justin Welsh and me as co-host of Thursday Night Sales. 

 

Scott Leese – CEO and Founder, Scott Leese Consulting LLC

Hey, that’s me! I’ve been building and scaling startups for two decades now. I’ve battled some really hard times and am known for “keeping it real” and telling it like it is. You can check out my book, the Surf & Sales podcast and join the weekly sales virtual happy hour Thursday Night Sales for more real talk. 

 

Richard Harris – Founder, The Harris Consulting Group 

Harris is a top-notch sales trainer for some of the most successful technology companies in the world. He’s also an advocate for mental health and a board member of the mental health awareness platform, UNCrushed. He also co-hosts the Surf & Sales podcast with me and runs a weekly Coffee Talk with Tom Alaimo. 

 

Becc Holland – Head of Sales Development, Chorus.ai

Holland is one of the foremost authorities in the field of sales development. Her “Flip The Script” series on YouTube is a gold mine of actionable information that any salesperson can use to hunt for new deals. 

 

Morgan Ingram – Director of Sales Execution and Innovation, JB Sales Training

Ingram is a bright, young talent in the sales community. He is laser-focused on delivering real and actionable content to the sales development community. He even drops a “Tactical Tuesday” post to get into the weeds on a certain topic that people can learn from. He’s also the host of The SDR Chronicles’ YouTube page. 

 

Sarah Brazier – Senior Sales Development Representative, Gong 

Brazier has possibly the most unique voice in sales on LinkedIn. As an SDR in the trenches, she has instant credibility on what works and doesn’t work in the world of sales development. Her writing captures people’s attention and she is wholly authentic on each post. You get the real her every time; no fluff.

 

Wrapping Up

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve taken the first step: You’re spending time learning. You now know that relatable and actionable sales content exists and where to find it. Now let’s make a quick action plan to take advantage of this knowledge. 

Go to the platforms I’ve outlined. Start connecting with us (no pitches, please) on LinkedIn, follow us on Twitter, and check out the podcasts, YouTube pages and events. Start by following along, then start to engage with the content. If a post or podcast really resonates with you, let us know. We want to hear from you. It’s called social media for a reason. Let’s connect and get to know each other. 

Finally, start creating your own content. You have a history, a set of skills, and experiences that others can relate to. You have a story to share. Remember the person we described at the beginning who shared their vulnerable story of getting from point A to point B? Well, you’ve done that too. Pass the wisdom along to others. Who knows, maybe you’ll become the next big name in sales content. 


Scott Leese headshot

A 6x Startup Sales Leader & author of “Addicted to the Process”, Scott is the founder of both Scott Leese Consulting and The Surf and Sales Summit, and co-host of The Surf and Sales Podcast and Thursday Night Sales. Scott is a Strategic Advisor to companies around the world.