Using CONTENT TO SELL (Become A Valuable Resource To Your Customers)

Koka Sexton is the founder of the social selling movement which is still sweeping across the sales industry. Currently he resides as the Global Industry Principal of Social Strategies at Hootsuite.

On this episode of The Salesman Podcast Koka is explaining how we can leverage content as a sales tool and the steps to becoming a genuine partner and valuable resource to your customers.

You'll learn:

Sponsored by:

Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Koka Sexton
Social Selling Expert

Resources:

Transcript

Will Barron:

Do you want to know how you can use content to become an incredible resource for your potential customers so that you don't have to go prospecting them, they come directly to you? Then, keep watching.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sales Nation and welcome to today's episode of The Salesman Podcast. On today's show, we have the legend that is Koka Sexton. He is the global industry principal of social selling over at Hootsuite. He is known as the godfather of social selling, and we're diving into social selling today, diving into content today and how you can become a real valuable resource for your potential customers. And so with all that said, let's jump in to today's episode.

 

Will Barron:

Koka, welcome to The Salesman Podcast.

 

Koka Sexton:

Thank you for having me, Will. It's been a long time since I first found out about you and I've been waiting to be a guest on this.

 

How to Become a Valuable Resource to Your Buyers · [01:10] 

 

Will Barron:

Cheers, man. I appreciate that. I'm glad to have you on. I appreciate in San Francisco, you coming and shaking my hand. So, I appreciate that. And it has been a while since even that event. So, we should do this more often, mate, because today we're going to talk about… Clearly, we're going to talk about social selling, we're going to talk about a whole bunch of subjects, but the premise of the show is becoming a genuine resource for our buyers. So, before we jump into the how, I guess we start with the what. Do you have any definitions or any, I guess, templates of what being a resource actually is for buyers, because seemingly it could be one of a million things?

 

Koka Sexton:

Yeah. I mean, I think when you talk about being a resource for your buyer, it begs a few other questions. First of which you have to understand your buyer. So, you need to know what matters to them and understand the things that they're already reading, the things that they're already consuming. So, listening is probably the key component to all of this. You have to be able to listen and understand and then pivot off of what your buyers are already spending time consuming and then produce that type of content for them. Moving down the line, when it comes to actually being the resource, I believe one of the pillars or one of the fundamental pieces of my social selling methodology is that content is the fuel for social selling.

 

“How do you become a resource for your buyer? Find the right content that starts opening up those lines of conversations with decision-makers. And if you can lead with insights into most of these conversations, everybody's going to want to take your next phone call because they're always going to learn something new from that interaction.” – Koka Sexton · [02:38] 

 

Koka Sexton:

And so content is much different than collateral. And I define the two differently, specifically that collateral is all about my company, it's my whitepapers, it's my data sheets, it's my product information whereas content shouldn't really fill that gap. Content is the educational piece. It's what drives people to learn new things, to open up their minds and maybe challenge preexisting beliefs on stuff. That's where I think content matters. And so how do you become a resource for your buyer? Is that you finding the right content that starts opening up those lines of conversations, those communications with those decision makers? Sometimes, it could be, I'd say, controversial in nature because it is challenging these misconceptions or these inherent beliefs. But many times it's just adding new insights and teaching these buyers new things. And if you can do that, I say, lead with insights. If you can lead with insights into most of these conversations, everybody's going to want to take your next phone call because they're always going to learn something new from that interaction.

 

How Well Do B2B Salespeople Understand Their Buyer? · [03:20] 

 

Will Barron:

So, there's about five tonnes of stuff right there and about four episodes of the show. So, I was doing my best to shut up and just not interrupt yet and not interject there, but let's start where you started. How well do you think if we had to give people a score, kind of A, B, C, D, E, B2B sales reps, how well do they understand their buyer? And I'll preempt this in that, I don't think we spend enough time on that single starting point.

 

Koka Sexton:

I would absolutely agree with you. And depending on the industry, I think when we look at the maturity scale of companies in different industries, it's going to vary. But, I would also venture to guess that most sales professionals do not know their buyers well enough. And that then also raises the question of why not? Because the companies understand their buyers. So, that is an initial indicator of, there is no sales and marketing alignment, because the marketing team knows the buyers inside and out. They have all the data, they have all the insights. Why isn't that information then being somehow transferred to the sales organisation, so the sales people know who the personas are that they're going after? What are the sub-personas of these individuals? And all of the other insights they have about the industry and where things are going so they understand that buyer's methods and potential buying opportunities that are coming up.

 

The First Step to Creating Content in Sales · [04:50] 

 

Will Barron:

So, we'll get into content for sure. That's clearly going to be the crux of this conversation. But when you say the company knows, if we're going down a filter I guess, the company knows, the marketing team knows then they have the personas, then they have the sub-personas. Where should we start as if we're going to start either creating or curating content to add value to be a resource for our potential buyers? Are we looking at one-to-one interactions in creating content for individuals as salespeople? Or are we looking to curate and curate content for a persona level of individual? And I guess, to add more context, for me, medical devices, is this, I'm creating content for Dr. John down the road, or am I creating content for the urologists who live within a geographic area?

 

“As a salesperson, if you are going to curate content, you have to do it at a larger scale. You have to be able to curate content that touches a wider audience, but still very strategically focused.” – Koka Sexton · [05:40] 

 

Koka Sexton:

So, that's an interesting question that then starts spiralling into a bunch of other stuff. So, I believe that as a salesperson, if we are going to curate content, we have to do it at a larger scale. We have to be able to curate content that touches a wider audience, but still very strategically focused. So, in the example you gave, like you're doing within a specific city or region that you want to target, a specific type of doctor. Now, that being said, you should know a handful of those doctors, intimately. You should know exactly what they do throughout the day, what their hours are like, what kind of patients do they see? You should know very specific things about the business, and the only way to do that is by meeting some of these doctors.

 

Koka Sexton:

And so great companies are building campaigns around a specific industry or specific type of doctor, in this example, but it's also the responsibility of that marketing team, or maybe insights from the sales organisation to say, “Here's the individual details that fit within those personas.” So, that as they're curating content, they know exactly who that should be going to.

 

“Social selling is about being a resource and sharing information to a wider audience. But you have to know how to then structure this information really down to a conversation with just one person.” – Koka Sexton · [06:42] 

 

Koka Sexton:

So, that's the broad scheme. As sales professionals, we have to know how to then pivot that content and give it and deliver it to a single person in many ways also. But it's a blend. Social selling is about being that resource and sharing this information to a wider audience. But you have to know, and most salespeople already should know how to do this if they're good, how to then structure this really down to a conversation with just one person, and why I share this thing and why it matters to you, whereas most marketing teams are saying, “This is enough. We're giving you the air cover. So, when you start having the conversations, you as a sales professional should know how to get granular to that one individual.”

 

Will Barron:

So, the layer that we are adding as sales professionals is choosing the right content for the right person, and then telling, “I guess, there's value in this” or telling them why that piece of content is specific to them versus we are reverse engineering all the marketing's hard work and going just one-on-one, one-on-one, one-on-one, one-on-one. It may work for super high value.

 

Koka Sexton:

But that doesn't scale, trying to find one piece of content and then delivering it to each individual. I mean, that's why marketing teams have marketing automation platforms and why sales people in some ways are now getting the sales tech stack expanding and they're building like Salesloft, for example, or Serious Insights where they have the ability to send cadenced out emails to individuals that are coming from generalised content, but then personalised the email channels to that one person.

 

Engagement is The Key to Knowing If Your Content is Impactful · [08:00] 

 

Will Barron:

Got it. Okay. So, how do we know, and this is a crux question here, this is what separates the spammers from the people who are really crushing it by putting all this into practise, how do we know whether our content is educational, whether it's controversial, but I guess useful, and whether the insights are actually insightful that we're passing on?

 

“If you put something out there and you build a campaign and nobody's actually interacting with it and liking it and sharing it and commenting on it, it's falling flat somewhere and so you need to figure that out.” – Koka Sexton · [08:51] 

 

Koka Sexton:

So, you know it based on, I would guess, engagement. I mean, this is one of the things that the marketing team should already have insights into. The marketing organisation should know… Well, they should be able to categorise this stuff at a base level. They should say, “This is the evergreen content. This is the stuff that will be challenging these preconceived notions and here's the stuff that is really just insightful and adding value.” The measurement of that is how is it being adopted? How is it being consumed by your audience? If you put something out there and you build a campaign and nobody's actually interacting with it and liking it and sharing it and commenting on it and adding that with those other layers, it's falling flat somewhere and so you need to figure that out.

 

Koka Sexton:

What I find with sales people, because marketing is again doing this on a very large level, and then they're aggregating data based on their social listening or other platforms they have in place, whereas sales people, they're having these one-to-one conversations with these buyers and they can say, “Hey, did you see that latest research report that we sent off to you? It had some really good stuff about your industry and specifically, maybe even some of your competitors that were mentioned in this.” And you'll have some very honest conversations sometimes. They're like, “Oh yeah, I read that. We knew that things like five years ago.” “Oh, interesting. They should be making notes of that and then filtering that back up.” This is where the sales and marketing alignment happens. It's not just so much marketing aligns with sales, but sales needs to align also and provide those insights back up the chain to say, “This stuff is falling flat. We need something that is actually unlocking more insights.”

 

Best Practices For Sharing Content With Prospects · [09:55] 

 

Will Barron:

I might be teasing you up for a massive plug here, but with marketing, there's plenty of platforms that show, because I use it for the show to track likes, subscribes, people clicking through, there's certain funnels that we have in place and we don't really sell anything, it's all just to work out what content people want so we can produce more of it. But for sales people who are having these conversations. So, this might not be a case of when they put a piece of… I put a new urology report out and one urologist likes it on LinkedIn, but then perhaps I've had two or three messages about that, or perhaps on the rounds, as I'm going around in the theatres, someone said something about it, someone thanked me for it, it was sent to someone else who then emailed me. So, it's all over the place. Is there any way to track some of this so that the sales people know what they should or shouldn't be sharing? And whether there's a point to share and get any of it in the first place?

 

Koka Sexton:

Yeah. There is. So, what I use and I mean, this is one of the reasons why I work with this company, Hootsuite. I've been a customer of Hootsuite for since like 2009. So, I've been using this platform forever and now I just have this opportunity to work with them. But that's how I use the platform. So, I have specific streams set up in my dashboard. One for identifying new content based on keywords or RSS feeds that I have set in place.

 

Koka Sexton:

But in many cases, what I'll also do is I will take the link for the landing page for a piece of research that the company's producing and I'll run a search within Twitter just for that link. And you'll start seeing people sharing this, and then you start identifying who are these individuals? Do they fit my buyer persona? If so, am I connected to them? Yes or no? If no, yes, I should connect with them. If I am connected with them, thank them for sharing it. And I think this is just all the best practises that sales people can do within a social network very quickly. It's not going to take a large amount of time for them to run this search and then say, “Oh, here's a bunch of people. Let me like that. Re-share that. Thank them for sharing it.” And then they move on about their day job.

 

How To Track All the Pieces of Content That You Put Out · [11:55] 

 

Will Barron:

You've just touched on something here. This is something I've never done. And I think this is super useful. And so I don't want to gloss over it. So, tell me if I'm right or wrong here. So, we use a Google URL shortener, whatever URL shortener. So, we've got a unique link. We share that with someone on Twitter, whatever the platform is. And then we search that platform to see where that link is gone, and then we engage with the people who perhaps out of that initial conversation that we had, who were then engaging with our content and that sparks up 15 new conversations. Am I on the right track with that?

 

Koka Sexton:

Yeah. And Twitter's the best platform for that because it's an open network. You can't do the similar stuff on LinkedIn. You can do some of that stuff within the platform, but Twitter makes it very easy because it's just a wide open network. So, you can just search for a URL or specific keyword. As far as Twitter's concerned, you're looking for a very specific keyword that's just a URL parameter.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. Makes so much sense. That's genius. So, I do something similar… You're laughing. You're laughing as if you didn't know that you were a genius with this Koka, you are mate. And that's why you're on the show. And I guess, all these little insights can perhaps make a big difference to some of the audience members. So, I do something similar and I use Hootsuite to track all this. And I use the hashtag Sales Nation. Whenever I post about the podcast, the audience now, even if they don't tag me in the conversations, even if they don't connect with me on LinkedIn, which you should be, Sales Nation, they use that hashtag as well whenever they're talking about the show. So, then I can find out their posts, even though when they're not connected. And it's interesting to see some of the sales experts when they are talking about me.

 

Will Barron:

And again, they haven't linked stuff. They'll use that hashtag Sales Nation because they want their comment to be in front of my audience. So, there's multiple dynamics to this and clearly that the podcast is a bigger audience than perhaps what salespeople need to crush their target. So, the dynamics is slightly different there, but having a hashtag alongside a unique URL gives you, I guess, double the amount of trackability there without doing anything weird. It's not like you're asking people to opt in on the content before then you give it to them, so then you've got their email address and you are going to assume that they want to talk to you. I guess, Twitter's the best place for it because you can just jump into a conversation. If you're on Twitter and you're sharing stuff, you are without question open to having a conversation, right? That's what the poll platform is about.

 

Koka Sexton:

When I talk to sales organisation from the digital natives to, what I call the non-digital natives, the baby boomers, the people who have been in sales for 30 plus years. And I explain to them this idea of tracking hashtags and how that matters and why you should be looking at these conversations. It makes a huge difference in how they start engaging. And they're like, “Well, what if it seems weird that somebody posts something and then I'd leave a comment or I try and connect with them based on…” It's like, they're putting it out there for a reason. People are on social to be social. And if they're sharing this content, why do you share it? You want to see that engagement. Well, I share things I like to see the engagement. It's universal.

 

Koka Sexton:

That's why they're putting that piece out there. So, the best thing you can do, the nicest thing you can do is actually engage with it. And by doing that, you start building social capital with those individuals. And if you build enough social capital over time, you can then make your withdrawal by asking for their time, trying to sell them something, whatever that may be. You have to build that social capital, and that is the best way to do it by engaging with these individuals in the content they're sharing.

 

How to Know It’s Time to Sell To The People Engaging With Our Content · [15:28]

 

Will Barron:

So, you've took us to the next step here, Koka, perhaps. How do we know when we have been a resource, and when we continue to be one, but how do we know when we've invested enough into the bank that it's now time to make a withdrawal? Is this a gut feeling? Is this something that can be measured and algorithmic… I'm not even going to attempt that word. We can use algorithms to sauce it out and give us a ping when it's ready, when we've built enough rapport with someone through social? Is it a gut feeling or is this something that we can use math behind to find out when we make that ask?

 

Koka Sexton:

One of my other sayings, this is a nice little soundbite, is that you should always add value in excess of whatever you are asking for in return. And when I bring this up to sales professionals, I kind of get a question, “Look, what does that mean? It sounds very fluffy.” Add value in excess of whatever you are asking for in return. And I say this, anybody who has been in sales has had the pricing conversation, where somebody has a buyer said, “Whoa, hold on.” Maybe it's a sticker shock. Maybe it's something along those lines where you give them proposal and it's a $40,000 product, $50,000 product, whatever it may be. And they look at it and say, “Oh wait, hold on. That's really expensive.” Immediately, what that should tell a salesperson is that they do not see the value in whatever it is you're selling.

 

“Anybody who has been in sales has had the pricing conversation. Maybe it's where you give them proposal and it's a $40,000 product, $50,000 product and they look at it and say, “Oh wait, hold on. That's really expensive.” Immediately, what that should tell a salesperson is that they do not see the value in whatever it is you're selling. But if the buyer is somehow already envisioning some ROI or some cost savings or whatever that is, that is 3x, 4x, 10x what you're actually selling it for, they're going to be throwing money at you.” – Koka Sexton · [16:17] 

 

Koka Sexton:

If the buyer is somehow already envisioning some ROI or some cost savings or whatever that is, that is 3x, 4x, 10x what you're actually selling it for, what are the chance of them buying that? It's a no brainer. They're going to be throwing money at you. So, that's adding value in excess of whatever you are asking for in return. Most sales professionals understand that dynamic. The same is true in all aspects of life, with decision makers, with C-level executives, with doctors in your case, they're busy, they're running around all day long. Their time is their most precious commodity. So, how are you investing in them enough time so that when you ask for that 30 minutes, that hour, whatever that may be, to get on a phone call, come into their office, where they're going to say, “You know what? An hour with this guy is going to be like spending a week of my own research.” That is adding value in excess.

 

Koka Sexton:

You want to get to a point where when you ask for that meeting, they are saying, “Heck yes, I will clear my calendar tomorrow to get you in here if that's the only time you have available.” If you can get to that dynamic again, that's an extreme, that is a huge win because you've already added value. That social currency is maxed out or getting maxed out. So, how do you know when you've done this? You know this based on their interactions and based on their behaviours.

 

Koka Sexton:

If you are sharing content on a regular basis, even if you're engaging with that person online, if they're engaging back with you in a reciprocal manner where you're sharing stuff, they're liking you, retweeting you, leaving comments on your updates, you're doing the same thing. And you do this for a few iterations, I'd say, four or five times, you should feel confident reaching out to that guy and say, “Hey, you know what?” Or lady, and say, “You know what? I would love to get on the call with you for 30 minutes. Or do you think it would make sense? I would like to hear your insights or your inputs on these other topics that you've been engaging with.”

 

Koka Sexton:

You make the barrier of entry for that initial phone call so low that it's almost, it's a no brainer for that individual. You're not trying to pitch them anything. You can explicitly tell them, “I don't want to sell you anything. I just want to get on a phone call and hear more about what you do in your company.” Because, your title is interesting, you work in an interesting company. I would just like to know what that looks like. That then breaks down all the walls and any defences they have, because they're going to just have a general conversation with somebody who they have already been in interacting with in a positive way online.

 

Koka Sexton:

So, yeah, they will find that time. It may not be for a week because of their busy schedule, but that's what we have to deal with. So, you schedule the time and you say, “Okay, let's get on a phone call.” And again, you position it as, “I'm not here to sell you anything. I really just want to understand or get to know your industry or you better.” And that is what that initial phone call is all about. There has got to be some also conversation around, “At some point as a buyer, you may be interested in this. So, if you ever have any questions, I'm your resource for this.” Goes back to that conversation of being resource. You want to be that ultimate resource. And I tell sales people this all the time, that if you can become the ultimate resource in your industry about a specific topic, you are going to be a cash cow anywhere you go, because everybody's going to follow you.

 

Koka Sexton:

And this is what I've found in my own career. I became a massive resource for sales professionals on how to leverage LinkedIn, Twitter, other social networks, on how to be effective and find new buyers and connect and engage with them. And because of that, I rarely, I mean, as a formality, I still have a resume, but I haven't had to actually use a resume for the last decade because people have just know me as that ultimate resource. And when I was in sales, people were coming to me. I created my own inbound funnels because everybody was like… So, my background in sales, I started in the disaster recovery backup software, totally unsexy industry. It was a commodity in most cases, but my goal was to become this ultimate resource in the backup industry.

 

Koka Sexton:

So, I just started sharing content day after day around best practises and ways to do mirroring these backups and how to do offsite backups and what that rotation looks like. And I was the only person that was breaking it down to the layman's terms, because everything I found was technical documents. And most individuals, maybe it is a CIO or something like that, like you want the technical stuff, but that's heavy reading. You want to break the stuff down so that anybody can understand it. And that's what I started doing. And because of that, I became this resource for, at the enterprise that were trying to find ways to protect themselves from this risk of losing data. And because of that, I figured I stepped into something interesting. And I just started using that exact same model throughout my entire career. How do I become a resource for whatever it is the industry that I'm selling into?

 

Will Barron:

What you just described, well, there's multiple elements to this. And again, I had to bite my tongue the whole way through that Koka. One, you've just described what I, and me humbly not knowing jack shit about the sales industry, other than how to sell for one individual person. Clearly, you've got a far wider business acronym and far wider knowledge of leadership down, as opposed to me the sales grunt looking up at things. But what you just described is it's the only future of sales that I can imagine, that there's no weird cold calling and weird techniques and tactics to leverage people, to get them on the phone, to keep them on the phone, to sell them on the phone, any weird stuff like that, because people just won't give out the phone numbers or phone numbers won't exist.

 

Will Barron:

You will just have a mobile device that will be a LinkedIn number on there, and a Facebook number on there. Something along those lines, a business number or a business account and a Facebook account. So, it's interesting that everything that you've just described there is what we literally preach on the show, week in, week out. So, there's that element, there's the elements of you becoming the cash cow, use your words, building your personal brand and this obviously offsets, then the initial huge amount of time and investment it takes to build your personal brand of when you can take customers from job-to-job and why you don't need a resume because you're getting employed because of your social influence within an industry versus not you personally, but potentially even someone's skill set. It's the reach that they've got and it's that engagement that they've got, and it's the ability to get in front of people. So, we'll touch on that in a second, because that is devil's advocate of, “I can't do all this stuff. I've not got time.” So, we'll come onto that in a second.

 

Koka Sexton:

I love that argument.

 

Will Barron:

Yeah. And I don't know the data on it. I don't know how long it takes. I don't know how long you have to invest into it. I know for me with the show, this is like two and a half years now. And I'm now getting offered to speaking gigs, all kinds of stuff that I've got no interest in doing. And there's the cash cow element of it starting to move along nicely now. And we can perhaps touch on that in a second as well.

 

How to Use Content to Position Yourself as an Expert · [23:30] 

 

Will Barron:

But then the other thing, as I'm looking through my notes here, which was, I don't want to gloss over was through the content that's being put out. Do we need to position ourself as an expert specifically? Or is it okay just to put out content? Because I used to do in medical devices, what you just described then of taking these super dull German engineering specification marketing leaflets that we'd get for these endoscopes and these optical elements for doing keyhole surgery.

 

Will Barron:

And I would pull the picture off, I'd give the surgeon how thick they are, because that's all they care about, because that determines what kind of port they can use, whether it's a single use port as it's going into the patients or whether it's re-usable ports, things like that. I would then stick it on an image alongside the competitor's products, and I knew all the competitor pricing. So, I put all the pricing in and what differentiated us was the image quality and then the after sales service. It's a billion dollar company, the last company I worked at, but it is family owned. So, they don't care about profit as much as the customer service, they're in it for the long term, all this kind of stuff, that would all be on the page as well versus the angle.

 

Will Barron:

It does this, it does this, the amount of light that goes through it, because they surgically don't care about any of that. They want it to work and they want to know that they're going to be supported after the fact. So, a friend at LA, Koka, with that document, for example, with me, that somewhat sets me up that I know the industry and the space, but if I was sharing that out, do I need to position it even further that I'm the person you come to because I know more about this than anyone else? Or is it okay just to put out good content? It won't get out. Is there a layer of, “We just put out good content for long enough and good stuff happens”? Or do we need to sauce out what we want to be known for within our vertical and then try and reverse engineer that?

 

Koka Sexton:

So, I believe that one of the biggest concerns or I guess obstacles for sales people that I come across is just helping them build this habit of sharing. For many different reasons, data is continuing to show that it comes down to being seen, being uncomfortable or lacking confidence on how to do this online. That's the biggest barrier for sales people. Most sales professionals I know are very type A personalities. They are go-getters, they are hunters, they're the people you want in sales. But you put them in a social selling aspect, you give them channels to actually start broadcasting, engaging people with and they get shy. And there's many different reasons or explanations for this. It's a lack of confidence.

 

Koka Sexton:

So, skill level one, is just learning how to share the content, identifying what the resources are and start putting it out there. Now, you want to see yourself as a resource. Not everybody wants to be the expert in their space. Now, I think that depending on the industry you're in, somebody needs to be that expert. If you are that type A superhero that wants to be in that space, it's yours for the taking, 9 times out of 10. I was at a commercial real estate conference recently and I was talking to a few hundred commercial sales brokers, real estate brokers. And I was explaining that, I was like, “When I was doing research for this event, there are no thought leaders in your space. There is a lot of companies and a lot of executives who have very strong opinions about where this is going, but anyone in this room can disrupt that entire mix by being the person who has an opinion about this space.”

 

Koka Sexton:

And I think that is where that shift starts happening is when you start sharing enough content that you feel confident, you feel that comfortability of doing it, that you start actually injecting your own opinions or own thoughts, or you start tying two different trends that you're seeing together and saying, “This is where I think these two things are going to collide and this is going to happen.” That's when you actually start becoming an even larger resource to your industry, because now you're providing additional insights out to what's happening in the rest of the ecosystem. So, sharing content is the most important piece. That is what starts allowing you to become a resource. Now, at some point you start having your own opinion, you start injecting this other stuff. That's like skill level two. The next question that usually comes up within these organisations is, from sales professionals or even leaders, should I be creating my own content?

 

Koka Sexton:

And that's a very interesting question that I have bounced back and forth on over the years on both sides of the spectrum. As a sales prof professional, that's how I got out there. The content that was being produced was boring and wasn't interesting, and it wasn't interesting to me. So, I had to start creating my own content. Now because of that, I've worked that muscle in the back of my head that I call my marketing brain on how to do this better, where salespeople to different skill sets, sales and marketing are two different skill sets. So, they have to learn how to work that muscle. Now, at one point, then I flipped the script a little bit and said, “You know what? Sales people shouldn't be creating content.” Look at the emails that sales people are sending. They're horrible.

 

Koka Sexton:

In many cases, there are typos. I mean, salespeople need writing courses in many cases. So, I jumped on the other side of the fence at one point and said, “You know what? Salespeople shouldn't be creating content.” All you're going to be doing is making yourself look bad in the process. But now I've found this middle ground because over the last, I'd say, five years, maybe even the last three, I have been seeing so much greatness coming out of the industries from sales professionals who are learning how to do this well. And they're learning how to adapt their persona and they're authentic being into creating their own content. You're a primary example. And this is why I've been fascinated with your rise over the last few years. You look at somebody like Morgan Ingram, who is at a company called Terminus.

 

Koka Sexton:

I think you've actually had him on the show. And if not, you should. He was an SDR. Again, entry level sales world, and he started realising that he had to start explaining to his team, best practises in being SDR. So, he is like, “How am I going to do this even further? I'm just going to start creating videos around this.” And now he has this entire other thing that he's working on called SDR Chronicles, where he is actually training or teaching sales reps, best practises and things they should be thinking about and why this is important, and he's starting to create content. And the very first level or first piece of my social selling methodology, and I tell people when I'm in conferences, if there's one thing you walk away with out of the hour long conversation I'm going to have, it's write this down and walk away with this. The rest of it will follow it.

 

Koka Sexton:

Visibility creates opportunity. And I preach this from the rooftops everywhere I go. Visibility creates opportunity. And again, if skill level one is sharing content, that's just being visible. But how do you add even more visibility? How do you build a bonfire around your professional brand or your industry, or what you're doing that is so bright that everybody's coming in to watch it? And that's what somebody like Morgan Ingram is doing, what you're doing with The Salesman Podcast, right? You're building that fire. You're building a bonfire and people are now coming to see it, as opposed to you having to run to people and say, “Come look at what I'm doing.” They're actually hearing about it. And just saying, “I want to go see what this guy is up to.” And I think it's a unique place for sales professionals to be in, that they have to find out what their voice is.

 

“Information is now democratised. It used to be that salespeople were the gatekeepers of information around a product or service. Now, you can get anything from a Google search. So, what is the value that sales people can provide? It's additional insights. It's the trends, it's, “Hey, here's what all the other customers that we're working with and what we're hearing and this is where we think you need to be paying attention.” That stuff isn't necessarily Googleable.” – Koka Sexton · [31:16] 

 

Koka Sexton:

And eventually, in years to come, that's going to be what differentiates us, because technology is going to start overtaking many sales roles. I don't think salespeople are going to go away, but technology, as we're continuing to find is starting to chip away at what the value of a sales person actually is. Information is now democratised. It used to be that sales people were the gatekeepers of information around a product or service. Now, you can get anything from a Google search. So, what is the value that sales people can provide? It's additional insights. It's the trends, it's, “Hey, here's all the other customers that we're working with and what we're hearing and this is where we think you need to be paying attention.” That stuff isn't necessarily Googleable. So, that's the value of a salesperson. So, how does a salesperson then take those insights and then boost themselves up with it so they're able to have much more insightful and relevant conversations with these buyers in a way that technology isn't going to be able to match.

 

You Don’t Need a Large Audience to Be Considered a Thought Leader · [32:19] 

 

Will Barron:

That is the next episode we're going to record. How to curate non-Googleable insights. I mean, that's a fascinating topic in itself, because that's where your personal thoughts, experience and opinions is not Googleable at this moment in time. I'm sure at some point we're going to have some kind of chip in our head that'll make it Googleable. But until that point, and there's two things that I want to just touch on before we wrap up Koka. One, with me and The Salesman Podcast, it's only been in the past few months or so that I've been injecting my, and the audience might disagree here if I've argued with people in the past on the show, but as I've called people out for talking just nonsense on the show before, but I've only started recently making a proactive effort to give my thoughts and opinions on things and people who follow me or friended me on LinkedIn will see this in the comments and the posts that I make there that I try and stir the pot when I can, I've only started doing that recently past six months or so.

 

Will Barron:

So, that's a good two years of me building my personal brand by just bringing other people on my platform, on the show and sharing their insights. So, not mine. So, I don't know if that was a confidence thing. I don't know whether that is just the fact that that was my pathway to not be the sales expert, to just be a salesperson and allow other people to speak and hopefully bring their insights together and share them with an audience. So, that's one thing. And then the second thing, and we covered this when Morgan came on the show. He's been on the show twice now, but the first time, and I think this is really worth drilling into because you've got a huge audience, everyone knows who you are in the sales space. Hopefully, chomp in at your heels and hopefully kind of 5, 10 years down the line, be in a similar position.

 

Will Barron:

I don't think that we need to, or I think that it's worth drilling into the audience that they don't need to have a huge audience for this. So, Morgan, especially when he came on the show and I said this to him on the episode, I was like, “No disrespect to you, but how many subscribers do you have and how many views are you getting on your videos?” And he had a couple hundred subscribers and he was getting say, 50 to 80 views on his videos. And that was enough for him to be known, for him to get opportunities, for him to get his promotion he's got now. And that is not unachievable for anyone in the audience. So, perhaps you don't need to be the thought leader to be stood up at the conference speaking. Maybe that comes over…

 

Koka Sexton:

Some will argue that he is still a thought leader, even with 50 to 80 views and a few hundred subscribers. He's found his niche.

 

Will Barron:

Well, we're talking about him, right? We're literally talking about him, but he is not even here.

 

Will Barron:

So, I just wanted to double down on that because I don't want the audience, there's almost an element of potential procrastination here of going, “Oh, well, Will, you get $20,000 an episode and it took you two and a half, three years to get to that point.” And tell me if I'm wrong here, I don't want to put words in your mouth, Koka, but I don't think we're saying that. I think well, what I'm saying, and I think you agree with is that you need to be visible in front of your very specific vertical and audience, and for me, medical devices, that was 50 urologists in here in New Yorkshire, in the UK.

 

Will Barron:

It was probably 20 procurement officers who would do the deals on the behalf of the urologist. And then it would be 40, 50, 60 nursing staff and auxiliary and support staff to the urologist. There's probably a couple hundred people and it's not a crazy amount of people to be creating content for when it's so specific and local that, obviously I didn't do it at the time and not as well as what I could have perhaps, but I feel like that's an hour or two a day. It's not 10 hours a night when you come home. It's almost at this point, I feel like a no brainer.

 

Creating Content Is About Creating Content Specifically For Your Target Audience · [35:39] 

 

Koka Sexton:

So, it's interesting. You're talking to a very small group of individuals, whereas most sales reps are trying to reach thousands, right?

 

Will Barron:

So, I'll just ask you on the go, like maybe they are trying to reach thousands, but perhaps if they chose a hundred who are best qualified and applied all this, would they have more success?

 

Koka Sexton:

They would have more success. In fact, that's why this idea of ABM, account based marketing is becoming this new buzz. And I laugh. I mean, I talk about ABM. I do think that it's an important thing for marketers to start adapting into and adjusting to. It's part of that evolution of the marketing, but at the same time I laugh and I chuckle whenever I talk about it, because this isn't new to sales people. Sales professionals have been account based since, as far back as I remember, and probably even before that. Marketers are just finally catching on, like this is a better way of doing business. Yeah. So, when you are adapting to an ABM model approach, this is the best time to start building that sales and marketing alignment.

 

Koka Sexton:

And definitely start adding in those social layers because ABM approach from a marketing standpoint is going to incorporate social also. So, why not marry that into your sales team? So, I think in many ways, sales reps want to talk two thousands. They want to build that audience. And I always believe that sales reps need to continue to strategically grow their networks. That being said, if they know the data, they know these personas, they know the buying signals that matter most, they're going to be able to say based on some algorithmic approach or just insights they have as a company, to say, “Here are the hundred accounts that we actually know we can do business with. If we can get in front of these hundred accounts, the chances of us winning deals is upwards of 80%. Because if we look at all the data, these are our sweet spot.”

 

Koka Sexton:

And I think that's where marketing really can help because marketing understands data. Sales people understand data to a certain extent, especially when you get to the management side, but it's more the opportunities and win-loss ratios that comes into play. But marketing has all the other demographic information that will also help. If those two departments match those data source and say, “What does our ideal customer look like? Not just the persona, but who's actually spending money on this?” Then you actually can build that list of a hundred accounts and go after them systematically, and you're going to have a much higher closed ratio.

 

Will Barron:

And what a nice job that becomes then. There's less rejection because you are getting more high percentage of your deals closed. You're dealing with the same people over and over. You've got the opportunity to actually build relationships and get on with people and have conversations as opposed just spam emails and hopefully, and clearly for this to work has to be perhaps a higher value sale. You're probably earning more money from it as well. So, that's probably a kick in the ass for the audience of, if you're in a role where you can't just focus on a hundred accounts or whatever, the number is arbitrary, but a smaller number of accounts. That role is probably under threat from AI, under threat from auto-dialers or under threat from bots and all kinds of other things as well. So, that's a kick in the ass to move to a role where you can focus and leverage what salespeople do best, which is build these relationships and add insights.

 

Koka’s Advice to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [38:49] 

 

Will Barron:

And with that Koka, there's about five things there on my list that we've not got time to dive into. One of which was I really wanted to get into and we'll start the show with this perhaps next time around of how long does it take to implement all this? And obviously the devil's advocate side of this, of it, it takes too much time front. So, I've not got enough time to close deals as it is. So, we'll get into all that next time round, mate. But I've got one final question that I ask everyone that comes on the show. And that is if you could go back in time and speak to your younger self, what would be the one piece of advice you'd give him to help him become better at selling?

 

Koka Sexton:

I would say the best piece of advice I would give my younger self is to really know your buyer. When I was in sales, I really focused on knowing my product because that was what stood me apart. I knew my product inside and out, better than any of the sales people, because the sales people relied on sales engineers or some other department to actually do the nuts and bolt stuff. So, I think that, there's a marriage between the two. What I lacked was understanding my buyer. So, I knew my product really well, but I didn't understand actually what they needed. So, the more you can understand your buyer, put yourself in your buyer shoes and ask yourself, would you be willing to buy this if you were in that position? That should definitely allow you to have more confidence going into that deal.

 

Koka Sexton:

That leads me into the most important part of what I would tell my younger self is this, build your confidence, find those wins, celebrate the easy wins, celebrate the minimal tasks as well, because confidence builds on itself. And the more confident you are as a sales professional, moving into a new customer, that confidence is going to project itself. And I see this time and time again now being on the opposite side of the table, where people are trying to sell me something, and you can tell like, you can see it in their eyes, they're not really convinced of the words they're actually telling you about their own product or service. And buyers can see that and they can sense it. And it's this weird, like animalistic mentality where you see that and you're like, “Wait, hold on. There's something fishy here. If this guy isn't even confident about what he's selling me, why would I even be interested in this?” So, build your confidence, know your product and know your buyer.

 

Parting Thoughts · [41:05] 

 

Will Barron:

Love it. You've just given us the quote, that'll go on the quote card with this episode of “Ask yourself, would you buy this?” And it's going to have your face next to it in that quote. So, I look forward to sharing that with you. And with that Koka, we touched on it, tell us a little bit about Hootsuite and then tell us where we can find out more about you as well, sir?

 

Koka Sexton:

Of course. Yeah. So, Hootsuite is the world's largest social media management platform. I think we've got over like 15 million customers around the world. We have products that were specifically originally designed for social marketing, social customer service, but we have a large cohort of individuals that are using our platform as a sales tool as well. And so we've got a product called Hootsuite Amplify that aggregates your accounts and allows you to share content easily. That's content amplification. If you want to contact me, I am very open on my networks, LinkedIn, Twitter. Yeah. I've got a Facebook page that people comment on. I'm very easy to find. I've got a very unique name, Koka Sexton, and that is my profile name across the rest of the globe.

 

Will Barron:

Love it. Well, I'll link to all that in the show notes to this episode over at thesalesmanpodcast.com. With that Koka, I want to thank you for your time. I want to thank you for throwing up just as many questions that I want to dive into is what we answered. So, I appreciate that mate, because there'll definitely be a follow up. And I want to thank you for joining us on The Salesman Podcast.

 

Koka Sexton:

No, thank you for having me, Will. Appreciate it and to all the Sales Nation

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