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How To Extend Your Sales Reach with Social Selling w/ Tim Hughes [Episode 324]

Among the many topics that Tim and I discuss are Tim’s journey from salesperson to sales expert and author, how social selling is becoming mainstreamed, how the traditional sales methods are being replaced, and why most sales reps are still not taking advantage of the opportunities presented by social selling.

Joining me on Accelerate! once again is Tim Hughes, UK-based Founder and Partner of Digital Leadership Associates, a social digital transformation agency. He is one of the leading experts on social selling, and author of a great new book, Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers.

Key Takeaways

  • Ok, you’ve got a Twitter profile; You’re set up on LinkedIn — what do you need to do now?
  • Why too many reps think that just putting their profile on LinkedIn is “social selling.”
  • Social Selling Index scores don’t pay the rent, but your LinkedIn and social profiles provide ways for people to find you, and are sources for inbound contacts.
  • Tim shares strategies for taking traditional sales methods and applying them online.
  • Sales reps need to understand the relationship funnel and how to use it to move prospects into the sales funnel
  • What happens when you ask prospects if you can connect with them on LinkedIn.
  • What is the impact on sellers and prospects from technology changing society from a very hierarchical structure to a very flat one.
  • Sales cycles are shorter, but buying cycles are longer. The buyer is researching long before talking to the rep.
  • Does your content actually educate? How to interweave your unique selling points and value proposition into it.
  • The customer is now in charge of the buying process. The shift in power has taken place.

More About Tim Hughes

What’s the single biggest challenge facing salespeople today?

Management that does not support them in social.

What solution do you suggest?

In the book, it tells how to pitch the benefits of social selling to management and others within the organization.

What’s one behavior sales reps need to master, that would make a huge difference?

Early on, I learned to shut up, and then to ask ‘stupid questions,’ that helped me understand the customer.

Episode Transcript

Andy Paul 0:35

It’s time to accelerate! Hi, I’m your host, Andy Paul. Join me as I host conversations with the leading experts in sales, marketing, sales automation, sales process, leadership, management, training, coaching, any resource that I believe to help you accelerate the growth of your sales, your business and most importantly, you. 


Hello, and welcome to Accelerate. Joining me again on the show for the second, actually the third time is my guest, Tim Hughes. Tim is the UK based founder and partner of Digital Leadership Associates, a social digital transformation agency. He’s one of the leading experts on social selling and author of a great new book titled Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers. Tim was previously on Accelerate Episode 157: The Five Pillars of Social Selling to Re-energize Your Pipeline. I urge people to go back and check that out. Tim, welcome to Accelerate.


Tim Hughes 1:30

Hi, Andy. It’s great to have me back. The five pillars was one of your top most listened to social selling podcasts.


Andy Paul 1:39

It was, yes. People really enjoyed the content there.


Tim Hughes 1:42

Yeah, I had really good feedback. So I appreciate that you’re asking me back. I’m really excited to talk to you again.


Andy Paul 1:48

Well, you’ve just set a high bar for yourself, high bar for your software today. So no pressure, here we go. So maybe for people that haven’t listened to one of the previous episodes, just briefly introduce yourself again.


Tim Hughes 2:01

Yeah, okay, so I’m a salesman. I’ve been in sales for 27 years. I got into social about seven years ago. And I’ve been on a very long journey with social. I started a blog two, three years ago. And I was part of a sales transformation program at a very large US software company. And basically the company was moving from an on premise model to a cloud model. So we went through and changed the way that people sold. Part of that included a social selling program, of which I started writing about where we talked about the five step methodology. And then I wrote the book, Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers. I’m Timothy_Hughes on Twitter, and I’ve got about 155,000 followers.


Andy Paul 2:52

Alright, so a few people think you’re an expert. So really, what was the impetus for for writing the book at this point? Because this is a field where, gosh, it seems like as soon as you write something, it’s maybe even obsolete. But you were a little more, at least based on my reading of it so far, looking out toward the future a bit.


Tim Hughes 3:15

Yes, I was talking to my co-author, Matt, in a coffee bar in London. And we were kind of fed up with a lot of the discussion about social selling, which was about LinkedIn and having a buyer centric profile, all important stuff. And what we wanted to do was really take the narrative forward and say, so you’ve now got your Twitter profile, you’ve now set yourself up on LinkedIn. What do you need to do now? 


And really, that’s where we decided to write the book. And we talked about how you can create your own community, how you can create your own influence. There’s a social media maturity model. And really, it’s about how organizations can take social selling and break out of it as social selling as a tool, but think about social selling as a strategy across the organization. 


And we deliberately wrote the book as a way of– I would always recommend people buy the book, not the Kindle. Because we want it to be one of those books that you want to get off the shelf, and you read it, and then get it off the shelf, and go back to something. And it’s really like a workbook that you work to.


Andy Paul 4:29

For those who are Kindle readers, I have the Kindle version. I’m enjoying it on Kindle. Actually, I can carry my whole archive around with me. Actually, it’s all in my iPad. But if I need to go back to a book, it’s right there. So one of the things that really struck me as I go through the book is, especially in the beginning, the layouts or the framework of what social selling is becoming and influence its had on both sides of the selling and the buying equation is that– are we at that point where we can say, look, we can drop this whole social moniker, because this really just becomes an integral part of selling. I mean, you can’t do without it at this point.


Tim Hughes 5:22

I’d agree, Andy. And really, I think now selling is social selling. But I was at a conference even a couple of weeks ago, which was actually at LinkedIn’s offices in London. And somebody asked the question, can you tell me somebody who’s actually getting some sort of ROI from this social stuff? And it was one of those things where you even know, probably because we’re in the industry and we talk about this stuff all the time, we kind of think everybody’s doing it. But everybody isn’t doing it. 


And I would still say that the greatest majority of people still aren’t using social and still all they’re doing is that they’re just– we did some LinkedIn training the other week. And the people said to us, we’ve just never had LinkedIn training like that before. Because we just thought you just had to put your LinkedIn profile up, and it was tick some boxes, and that was it. 


And I went through with them about how you should be using LinkedIn to get competitive advantage. So we talked in our training about how to get inbound. And that’s really the way that we see the measure of LinkedIn and whether it’s working for you or social selling and whether it’s working for you.


Andy Paul 6:36

Generating inbound leads for you.


Tim Hughes 6:37

Yes, yes. So I mean, there was a discussion today on LinkedIn, which I decided not to get involved in, because I get a bit too passionate, which was about SSI score. And someone said, I’ve got this SSI score of this. You need to get away from your computer screen, and go in, and do some selling. Because SSI scores don’t pay the rent. But you can use your LinkedIn, and your social selling, and your social profile as a way that people can find you. And you should be getting inbound from that. And of course, as a salesman, every inbound I get, I don’t have to make an outbound, do I?


Andy Paul 7:21

Right. Don’t say that to some people. That’s heresy!


Tim Hughes 7:25

Well, I know it is. I was reading an article on LinkedIn today about the fact that you should be making outbound. And you should be making outbound. You shouldn’t stop picking up the phone and ringing people. That’s not the point of social. Social is just another channel. But you should be thinking of it as a way of really driving out there into the market, and getting people to find you, and owning the territory. 


Before social started, when I owned my territory, I knew everything that was going on. I knew everybody, and if a competitor came in, I knew that that competitor came in. And I did a whole load of things to make sure that competitor left. And all I’ve done is I’ve kind of taken that and I’ve put that online. And that’s really what the book is about, is how I’ve taken that whole selling as I used to do it and now how you can sell, but do it online in the modern way of selling.


Andy Paul 8:25

So talk about the modern way of selling. So one of the concepts and premises of the book is that the modern sales model is broken. Your contention is that, hey, we were sort of merrily sailing along for the last– you use 50 years. I tend to look at it as 130 years. Things fundamentally hadn’t changed since the guy at National Cash Registers pioneered with Tom Watson, pioneered the modern sales organization, at least in the US. And you’re saying now it’s changed forever.


Tim Hughes 8:58

Yeah, so I was very lucky to have a call yesterday with Brent Adamson who is the co-author of The Sales Challenger and works for the research organization, CEB. And they’re the people that came up with this figure of the fact that buyers are going through a process of actually evaluating and doing research online before they interact with a salesperson. And their latest research says it’s about 57%. 


Andy Paul

57% what? 


Tim Hughes

So people are going about 57% of the way through the sales cycle before they contact a salesperson.


Andy Paul 9:40

Which still remains hugely contentious, because you have serious decisions and others coming out with their research saying BS, it’s ground zero for most prospects. They’re not even aware of opportunities until a sales rep proactively reaches out and touches them.


Tim Hughes 10:00

Well, yes, so actually with my book, there is some bonus material, which is available on the page website. And in that, I talk a relationship funnel. So if you think about the classic sales funnel, which is you’ve got loads of stuff and it’s at zero percent, and then your sales manager says, well, why haven’t you moved that to 10%? And then you drive that down, and you close that deal. And sales move, get qualified out, and then some fall by the wayside. But ultimately, you’re closing something at the bottom. 


If you’re seeing that as your area that you’re going to sell into, things won’t have changed for you. Because at that point, people are coming to you and saying, let’s engage. And what will usually happen is that you’ll be on a shortlist of three. So if you’re somebody that says I’m always on this short list of three with these two others, then you’re not getting to the deals fast enough. 


And that’s where social can help you. Because you need to break out of the classic sales funnel. Because all that happens is you’ll compete with the usual three people. And you’ll get driven down on price and margin. And it will be the same old, same old, we lost it because they gave it away or whatever. We won it because we dropped the price. You need to move above that and into what I call the relationship funnel. And some people have come up with different names for that. 


But that’s where you’re moving out of the traditional sales funnel onto social. Because that’s where your customers are, and that’s where you’re engaging with people or getting people to find you on social. And then what you can do is use your great sales skills to actually close things down before the competition. 


Andy Paul 12:02

Okay. Well, it also has the benefit of giving you more ample opportunity for creating awareness about who you are as opposed to the rifle shot outbound prospecting.


Tim Hughes 12:13

Yes. And so I’ve been teaching a tow sales team how to use social. You’re on the phone. And as you reference somebody up, one of the questions is, can I link to you on social media on LinkedIn? And then LinkedIn provides you with a perfect nurture program. So rather than using a Marketo, or an Eloqua, or an Act-On or something like that, to actually nurture people, you can do it within your own social profiles.


Andy Paul 12:48

Right, through the content you publish and so on.


Tim Hughes 12:50

So if you’re putting out interesting content, and I know people that are– I’ll give you an example, an ex colleague of mine, sales guy. I worked with him. He was a new sales guy. And over three months, we wrote his LinkedIn profile. And he’s selling into the education market, which in the UK is public sector, which is government. And there’s always been this thing in government, and I’ve done my time in selling into government, which is where they put out these terribly thick ITT’s that you have to respond to for RFPs. 


And we’re putting out the tender. You now need to respond to it, and the person with the best one wins. And we all know that that’s not actually the case. Soon as they put the tender out, you need to work out some way of actually getting into the organization and actually controlling the sale or getting people to understand what you’re doing. And this person was in an ITT situation, and he put some content out on LinkedIn. 


I’ve been getting into thinking about some thought leadership pieces to break down some infographics, put some interesting stuff around education. Because I’m building up as a thought leader in his own territory. And he put something out on LinkedIn, and the CFO was a decision maker on this particular tender, liked his piece on his post on LinkedIn. 


And for him, he phoned me up after that. And he said, this is a changing moment. He says, I realized that I can actually influence tender processes now by what I post on on social media. And so that’s not just the easy stuff, but that’s actually the difficult stuff.


Andy Paul 14:35

Right. So you talk about it, again, in the book that getting back to this concept that the sales model has changed, and you put it in the context of the fact that as organizations become more digitally based, the interrupt driven sales model just doesn’t doesn’t work as much. Because you put that the salespeople are bringing their own bias to what they’re selling, whereas customers have all this access to information. So instead of being sold at, they’re able to make up their own mind of what they need.


Tim Hughes 15:06

Yes, and I think that’s the case. I’m not saying that we should stop calling. But in my previous role, we did a lot of tele sales, and we would get a 5% response. So for every hundred organizations we would ring up, five people said, yeah, I’m kind of interested. Can Can you come and see us? So it’s still a response. 


And then what we would do is there would be another 25 to 30 people who would say, yes, but not now, but maybe in three to six months. And traditionally, what I did with that was I would put something in my Outlook to say, give this person a call in three months time. But now what I’m able to do is connect with them on social and actually nurture them as I’m going through the process. 


Now, most organizations if they say they’re going to take three months will probably be about five months. But there were one or two that would say three months but actually came back sooner than that. And if they’re watching you, and they’re seeing what you’re posting, and they like what you’re saying and go, this person, I think I can trust them. This person obviously knows about my industry. This person obviously knows about the business issues that we’re facing. 


And I’m not talking about posting corporate stuff. I’m talking about stuff, Harvard Business Review information that they would actually see and possibly even use within their own business case. And posting that stuff and showing that you know about this stuff, and you know about that, and empathize with their business issues, then they’re probably going to give you a call.


I do these podcasts, Andy, because I get inbound from it. I get a lot of people coming to me saying, I listened to the podcast with Andy, really like what you say. Can you come and talk to us or something like that. And that, for me, is a great way of getting business.


Andy Paul 17:12

Right, and it feeds into this concept that you talk about. We’re moving past – not that we’re completely past obviously – we’re starting to move past the stage where we sell at decision makers. But decision makers are using social as a way to educate themselves, even in advance perhaps of getting a proactive outbound call from somebody. But they’re educating themselves and creating this awareness and interest.


Tim Hughes 17:38

Yes, I’m going to hesitate there. Because in the book, we use the Google research that came out in November 2014. And that Google research pretty much said that the C level people don’t generally get what’s going on in terms of Uber and stuff like that. They may have read an magazine and they think social’s for kids. And they’ve delegated decision making to a particular group of people, which we call in the book changemakers. And there’s a hashtag that we’ve been using as well for changemakers. 


So Google see these people, and I’m not trying to be ageist. It could be less than this. It could be more than this, but Google sees that these people are between the age of 28 and 35. And the reason why they’re picking that age group is that they say they understand social. So they were around when text messaging first came out. And they also have the business acumen. 


Now the text messaging or the social changemaker pieces is interesting for salespeople. Because what happened with text messaging and mobiles is society changed. We went from a very hierarchical society to a very flat one.  And what people learned when they got hold of text messages was that they could ask questions. 


So when I was at school, for example, it was very hierarchical. Whenever we did the homework, we would have to stand in line with the teacher, and the teacher would mark it all. And if you got it wrong, you’d get a clip around the ear. Whereas now, teachers are very much part of the gang. 


And if you don’t know an answer to your physics homework, you can text them. Whereas I would have had to go and wait in the classroom and ask them to, you can actually text them while you’re actually doing it. And they can actually be watching something on the TV and helping people do their homework by using a mobile phone. And so this group of people in society is used to asking their network questions. 


So if somebody comes out, a C level person says, the telephone system doesn’t work. We need something. Or we need a new accounting system. They go to those people and say, can you find us a good accounting system? And they will go to their network and say, can you recommend a good accounting system? And then their network will respond.


Andy Paul 20:15

Well, I have to admit, after having read through that research that you cited by Google, my reaction was, yeah, that’s really nothing new. What’s new is how they outreach for information. But fact is, you’re talking about middle management. Middle management fits that demographic they put together in terms of the age range and so on. And middle management, quite honestly, has really almost always, in my opinion and my experience, always driven change within organizations. The difference is that social makes them visible where they were really hard to reach before, right? 


Tim Hughes 20:51

And it allows you to scale. So you don’t have to be a massive US corporation to win deals. You can be two people in a garage, and social allows you to scale and to be in these people’s networks. The other thing that we see in organizations is that I came from a background of Miller Heiman and Holden in terms of sales methodologies, where you had this concept of this internal salesperson where they would take your proposition and go and sell it internally. And they would give you information about, well, you need to go and talk to this person. Because they don’t like your organization, or they had a bad experience.


Andy Paul 21:41

Your champion, your advocate, right.


Tim Hughes 21:42

So you’d need a champion or an advocate. Now you still need that, but now you actually need it by another person. Now, it may actually be the same as your champion. But generally they’re actually vendor agnostic. So if we take a step back, if you think about anything that we’re selling into companies now, probably they’ve got it. Or if they haven’t, you’re going to have to convince them quite hard. So whatever you’re selling, there probably has to have change taking place in that organization for their somebody to support it. 


Now every company since the dotcom bust started writing business cases. We all do that. Everybody can provide a business case. But what we’re looking for is somebody in that organization that will put their hand up, probably vendor agnostic, and say, I will actually take on this project as change, and I will support this in the organization. And so salespeople need to be not only having their champion, but looking for this person, this changemaker who will actually support the change in the selling process.


Andy Paul 22:57

To me, that would be ultimately the same person, right? To your point, they’re gonna be agnostic for deeper into the buying process than they might be originally.


Tim Hughes 23:08

Yes, it could be or it might not be. So if you take the CEB’s figures which are that in any sale, 5.4 people will be involved. They’ve got a new figure coming out in September that is now 6.7.


Andy Paul 23:30

I’m laughing only because, yeah, again, that’s another one of the things that from my own experience and perhaps from yours as well, it’s really not too different than it’s been.


Tim Hughes 23:41

It’s always been like that, Andy. I’ve always explained to salespeople that at the end of the day, there was a meeting, a committee meeting where they get together and they say, are we going to pick supplier A or B. And you need the people around the room who put their hand up for yours. Now I’m simplifying the situation, but that’s really what your endgame is. But from the evidence that I’m seeing, sales cycles are shortening, but buying cycles are getting longer. 


So the customer is spending more time actually doing the research. And as a number of people will say to me over LinkedIn, they need to talk to me and when they come to me, they’re completely confused. They may well be. And they may actually need a salesperson to actually sort it all out. If you’re selling a 200 million outsourcing deal to a big bank, you’re going to have a different relationship to somebody who may be selling a networking membership for $5,000. 


But at the end of the day, when people are going out and actually looking for these things, things have got so complex because there’s not only that there’ll be the person with the supplier outsourcing deal at $200 million. But there will also be 10 cloud vendors that say, well, why would you want to do that? You might as well just get a whole new cloud platform. And you can buy this platform, and this platform, and this platform. So the amount of choice that customers have now, certainly within the IT industry and in lots of industries, has now got more complex, which is why people are taking longer or the buying process is taking longer.


Andy Paul 25:35

Right, but you make this to this point, which I think is actually really one of the central points of the book. The perspective to look at social selling is really more as a different way of buying.


Tim Hughes 25:48



Andy Paul 25:50

It’s social media creating a different way for customers to gather and evaluate information than they were using previously.


Tim Hughes 26:01

Yeah, so as a salesperson, traditionally what you did was you pushed. And what you need to be doing now is pulling. And you need to be putting out content or information that will educate your buyers. And that’s completely different from going out and saying special offer, 30% this week. 


There’s a company in the UK that sells furniture. And the joke is that every week, they have a sale to the point where nobody believes them anymore. They just go there, and they buy it. But they know they’ll always say that this offer ends this week. And they go, no, no, no, you’re gonna have one next week. 


So yes, you’re going out and you’re teaching people. And the classic would be if you’re selling telephone systems, the 10 things you need to know about buying a telephone system. And in that, you interweave your unique selling points and your value proposition, like we’ve already always done. 


But if you think about when we’re going out and buying, if we don’t know anything about telephone systems, what we want to happen when we go to Google or find your content is to actually be educated and go, yeah, I never thought about that before. Yeah, I need to get call holding or, oh yeah, I’ve not thought about voicemail. That’s probably really important.


Andy Paul 27:32

But then the next step, though, and you talked about this in the book, that I think is important for people to understand is that they may have done the search on Google for certain capabilities or certain content. But then they may also go out and query their social networks about what their experiences have been evaluating, procuring this type of product. And if you’re a sales rep, and you’ve got a territory, and you’re listening on social, suddenly this creates information intelligence for you.


Tim Hughes 28:00

Yes. And there’s also a side around, which I talked about in the book, about creating community. Now if we think about the house where I live in London now, we moved here about 18 months ago. And when we moved in, the first thing we said to our neighbors was, do you know any good window cleaners, and do you know a good cleaner, and do you know a good gardener. And we all got recommended people. 


And one of the things about community is that it immediately is not only that you start getting inbound, but you also start getting recommended. And the great thing about community, if your community is strong, and I see this amongst my community of 150,000, 155,000 followers, is that people will make recommendations, and they don’t expect to get a monetary gain from it. And you’ll see people helping people as well and not expecting to get a monetary gain from it. 


And when that happens within your territory, that you’ve marked out on social and you’re listening to what’s going on, and you’re hearing people going out to the market and saying, I need to get a telephone system. Does anybody know anything about them? Can you help me? 


But you will also find that there’s people outside of your network saying, you need to talk to Tim. Because he’s really good at telephone systems, and we bought one from him. And it’s been fantastic. And again, you’re going to say, we’ve always done that. Yes, it’s word of mouth and referrals. But what we’re doing, the difference is that we’re doing it on social media. And we’re doing it at scale.


Andy Paul 29:48

Yeah, which I think is incredibly exciting that we have that opportunity and ability to do that these days. Because you talk about this concept in your book about ideation, which are drives – a little bit what you were just talking about. People are using their social network, their community to gather this information not just about particular vendors, but about what are the solutions, right? What are the opportunities to come up with a solution for the problem they have? And it’s not being driven by sales. It’s being driven by the customers.


Tim Hughes 30:22

Yes. I’m just smiling, because I know that Matt used the word ideation. It’s not the word that I would use. But yes, and that’s something that we’ve seen where there’s been a change. The customer now is in charge of the buying process. And it doesn’t matter how the salesperson may try and get in control of it. At the end of the day, the shift in power has taken place.


Andy Paul 30:53

Right, and I think we’ve seen that happening. And we’ve all made the comment that the buyer’s in charge and been doing that for several years. But it’s becoming increasingly the case. If there’s been any doubters, a book like yours and what’s happening in the market should hopefully put those doubts to rest in terms of how they should be selling.


Tim Hughes 31:12

Well, I’m hoping so, Andy. The book’s going really well. I’ve already had two organizations, small organizations, one is a Sage partner and one is an Oracle partner, buy the book outright for their sales and marketing people. So that was 10 copies in one go. And I’ve just got a big brand– I’m not able to mention them at the moment. We’re doing a launch in September, but they bought 70 copies for all of their salespeople. 


So it’s really the way that Matt and I always wanted to write this, the book, was to provide salespeople now with a manual and a booklet that they can use to sell in the connected economy. Because as much as I love the challenge of sale and the challenge of customer books and lots of other sales books, they generally either say right, there’s a problem, and they don’t give you a solution. 


And what Matt and I wanted to do was actually provide you– we kind of expect the person who picks the book up, they already know that they have a problem. But they’re looking for the solution. And one other story that I’ll say is that one of the things that we were really concerned about was it will become a fluffy marketing book. And I’m a salesperson, I’m not a marketeer. And I’d been for a meeting. 


The way that Matt and I worked is that for each chapter, we would brainstorm it one evening and then the person would write the chapter at the weekend. And the first brainstorming session we had, I’d been for a meeting in the morning. And a sales leader had leant across the desk, and I’m not going to use the profanity that he used. But he basically said to me, Tim, this social selling stuff is very interesting. But where are the leads? 


And I relayed this story to Matt. And he said, this is fantastic. Every time that we brainstorm a chapter, we’re going to use, and I’m going to say, where are the leads? And in any evening, we would brainstorm a chapter and then we’d say, I think this is a bit fluffy. Okay. So how can we monetize this? How can we actually get leads from this? How can we actually be using social to help people progress? And how can they actually be winning business? 


And so the book is about selling. Marketeers should actually read it, because I think they need to understand now we need to be thinking about marketing and selling together. But this book was written to help salespeople to make that transition from, really, analog to digital.


Andy Paul 33:58

Okay, well, great. The last segment of the show, I’ve got some standard questions I ask all my guests. And since you’ve been on the show before, I had to come up with new questions. 


Tim Hughes



Andy Paul

So the first question is, what’s the single biggest challenge facing sales professionals today?


Tim Hughes 34:18

I would say most of the salespeople, I understand, get social. But they go back to their organizations, and the sales management don’t support it. And that could be down to all kinds of demographic reasons. And I’m sure the sales management have other challenges. But that’s probably the number one. I get a lot of people coming to me saying, my management don’t get this. What can I do to change it?


Andy Paul 34:56

Okay, so that was the follow up question. What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give that sales professional about that challenge.


Tim Hughes 35:03

Okay, so I’m going to plug the book. So in the book, I do actually talk about how you can pitch internally to different people, the CFO, the marketing director, the sales director, the benefits of the social selling program. And so if you’re going to sell the social selling program, you need to do it two ways. One is top down and the other is bottom up. 


So top down, I talk about in the book about how you need to talk to these different people, the metrics that they would be wanting to hear about. And also what I would do is do it bottom up, which is either you or a couple of people get together and build a pilot, and actually show that there is a benefit to actually doing social. 


At my previous role, I used to have a sales guy whose dog had 2,000 followers on Twitter. So it was quite easy going to Andy and saying, hey Andy, we’re thinking of doing this. Do you think it would fly? And it would be, no, I don’t think so. Or yeah, okay, let me have a go. And then he’d do something. And then the other salespeople would go, how’d you do that? He said, I just contacted them. How did you get in to see this person? Well, I just sent them an email or I just contacted them over Twitter or whatever. 


And it was that point where you had that salesperson to salesperson bond. And that’s really how we certainly started some of the momentum and getting rid of some of the inertia of selling this program. So top down and bottom up.


Andy Paul 36:46

Okay. And last question, so what’s one behavior that sales professionals need to master that would make a huge difference on their sales? A behavior. Not a skill, but a behavior.


Tim Hughes 37:00

In terms of the behavior, the one thing that I learned very early on was to shut up. And people quite often– I remember I was in a meeting, and I came out. And that person said, you don’t know a lot, do you?I said, why’s that? He said, well, you keep asking stupid questions. I said, well, look at this page, look at the information that we’ve got. He said, yeah, but they were stupid questions. I said, well, it might have been stupid to you. But it was all about getting information and finding out. 


We were selling a supply chain system. And we needed to understand the metrics around the throughput of the warehouse and stuff. And it’s like, well, we’ve got all that. We can actually go away and actually build them a very quick business case that we can present at the demo. I never thought about it like that, they said. So it was shutting up. And I am well known for asking what some people think are stupid questions. 


Usually what happens is I have to tell the person, if I’m going with somebody, I have to tell the person, because they start answering them for the customer. Or it’s like, no, no, no, that’s a stupid question, Tim. And it’s like, no, no, no, this is the whole point of us. We need to understand what the customer is about more than what we’ve just learned on the website.


Andy Paul 38:21

So you have to tell your sales partner, you sit there and shut up.


Tim Hughes 38:24

Yeah. It’s like, I’m gonna go in and ask them stupid questions. Let them answer.


Andy Paul 38:30

I love it. Great. Well, Tim, thanks for joining me again. And tell people how they can find out more about you and your book.


Tim Hughes 38:37

Okay, so yes, my book is Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers and Changemakers. It’s on all Amazon platforms. I’ve got 10 five-star reviews on amazon.co.uk and complete, another 10 on amazon.com. So if you’re unsure about buying it, then read the reviews. But you can find it on Amazon. 


I’m Timothy_Hughes on Twitter. So that’s T-I-M-O-T-H-Y-_-H-U-G-H-E-S. I’m also Timothy Hughes on LinkedIn. Please come and contact me, please follow me, please engage with me. I’m more than happy to take questions after this, and I’m happy to connect with people. So please, don’t hold back and please make those connections. And Andy, thank you for inviting me again, on your podcast.


Andy Paul 39:30

I’ll just say that from your perspective, there are no such thing as stupid questions.


Tim Hughes 39:33

There are no stupid questions. Trust me. 


Andy Paul

Feel free to ask them. Well, again, thanks for being on the show. And remember, friends, make it a part of your day every day to deliberately learn something new to help you accelerate your success. And an easy way to do that is make this podcast, Accelerate, part of your daily routine. 


Listen on your commute, in the gym, or make it part of your morning sales meeting, that way you won’t miss any of my conversations with top business experts like my guest today, Tim Hughes, who shared his expertise about how to accelerate the growth of your business. So thanks for joining me. Until next time, this is Andy Paul. Good selling, everyone. 


Thanks for listening to the show. If you like what you heard, and want to make sure you don’t miss any upcoming episodes, please subscribe to this podcast on iTunes or stitcher.com. For more information about today’s guest, visit my website at AndyPaul.com.