A Practical Guide to Social Selling from Small Businesses – Interview with Tim Hughes

12th October 2017

The Digital Co Masters in Digital

A Practical Guide to Social Selling from Small Businesses

The Digital Co chatted to Tim Hughes, Founder of Digital Leadership Associates and Co-Author of Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers & Changemakers.

Tim is the #1 worldwide most influential Social Selling expert. With over 200,000 followers on twitter, and over 25 years in sales, Tim is THE-GO-TO guy for Social Selling.

Our interview looks at the practicalities of Social Selling for Small Businesses.

Tim shares what ACTUALLY works – so grab a coffee and get comfy, this is awesome.

Tim is the #1 worldwide most influential Social Selling expert

Join Our Newsletter

Summary of our chat

Tim offers up gold in this conversation. For any small business, sales person, start up or any marketer, this is a book you must read and our conversations goes someway to distilling a few of the key points made; he is his own case study, practicing exactly what he preaches.

Tim takes you through how to get yourself set up to Social Sell online. He tells you what you need to do to implement it, with live, successful, examples of what has worked for him.

Here are a few of the Highlights

What is Social Selling?
Social selling is new, but actually the process of social selling is not new. It is the same concept of what Tim did 25 years ago to sell, only now it is online, and at scale.

Social Selling is not selling online, it is the process of building a profile as an expert on a subject. This process involves creating and sharing content, engaging with buyers & changemakers, and influencing their buying decisions via social networks.

Social Selling takes time, and is not easy, but is a much better use of your time than spamming via In Mail, cold calls and newsletters.

There are 3 Must-Do’s when Social Selling:

01. Building a Personal Brand
‘People buy from People’.

Tim says that when a buyer is interested in your product, they will be researching the business, and you, online. Ensure your online profile showcases your expertise. Let them know that they are buying from someone who knows what they are talking about. It’s what going to help you stand out from your competitors.

02. Sharing interesting content
DLA share original content everyday

Firstly, creating content shows you are an expert. It allows you to answer questions buyers have, it let’s you dig deeper into your chosen subject and it allows you to start conversations with your opinions.

Sharing content is where you take someone elses information and share it with your network – it is a scalable way to show you are interested and understand topics within your specialist subject. Again, it’s another way to jump into conversations with likeminded buyers.

03. Act with Common Sense
It can be so obvious, yet we still forget

It is easy to stick to our comfort zone, doing what we normally do. But if it does not work, then things need to change. If you feel like you the content you create or the marketing assets you produce are ineffective, its probably because they are. And if you feel like the cold emails you send may be intrusive, they probably will be.

Don’t waste your valuable time. Follow the first 2 points and you will being to see results.

Finally – You must follow Tim. And after listening to the podcast, you’ll understand hust how much you need his book.

Tim on Twitter

Tim on LinkedIn

Buy the Book: Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers & Changemakers

Is Self-Learning your thing?

The Digital Co have written about top podcasts and books you can listen to and read that you should check it out after reading Tim's Book.

Our Top 10 Marketing Podcasts

Our Top Marketing Books



Paul: Welcome to the Digital Co, I am Paul Monteath, we are going to try something different today; we are going to speak to Tim Hughes. Delighted to have him on the screen for those of you who can see him.

Tim is the Founder of the DLA and the author of Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers & Changemakers Welcome Tim.

Tim: Thank you Paul, it’s great to be on your show. We have loads to talk about.

Paul: We won’t drag this out too much, but I want everyone to get as much from you as possible. I have recently read your book and it is fantastic. That’s why I wanted to have this chat with you.

Tim: Good. Thank you.

Paul: It really is. I just told you a story before we came online, I was reading it on the plane and I took a Valium, and I have now probably read the book more than most because I had to re-read it a few times.

Tim: We need to say that you didn’t need to take a Valium to read the book, you were just taking a Valium.

Paul: Of Course, of course, that was to help me with flying. I am not particularly good at the flying side of things.

So we are going to focus on the book, specifically social Selling. But before we go into that, and I have read the book. But I am a bit of a Fan Boy of you Tim. I didn’t mention when we spoke before. I have followed you for the last year or so. You are a bit of a hero of mine so I can tick this off my bucket list.

Tim: Thank you very much.

Paul: Now the thing I love about what you do, and the thing I love about the book you have written is it is so practical.

It is the practicality part I love in how we share digital marketing knowledge. It’s not the talking about the grandiose and the theory, it’s talking about what to do. And you actually practice this on a daily basis. And I see this across your social networks. It is why I love the book and it’s why I had to make this the first show.

So, to give listeners or readers a little more, I have given a brief introduction, but who is Tim Hughes.

Tim: Ok, so, I started Digital Leadership Associates with my co-founder 12 months ago, with my co-founder Adam Gray. What we realised was there wasn’t anyone who focused in on Social. So we focus in on Social.

We help organisations from a strategy point of view by getting the directors or the C-Level part of an organisation to understand why Social is a strategic imperative. And we do that through workshops so they can buy-into it; they come up with a mission statement, they come up with an 12-24-month roadmap.

We then drop down into the different departments, Sales is one of the areas because I am the #1 most influential person on Social Selling worldwide, I’ve got a bestselling book, therefore we get an awful lot of inbound leads from organisations looking for social selling.

We have a 12-week programme because social selling is a change-programme. It’s a way of getting people to do something differently.

We could do this in a HR department as we have worked with organisations who want to take the culture of the organisation and externalise it – so changing the recruitment process from push to pull. And you can do this in supply chain, you can do it in purchasing.

And finally, we run people’s social media for them, because, although we didn’t set out to do this, somebody came to us and ask us to run their social media for them like you do your social. That’s how we cam up with the business idea of doing that.

We have been doing all this for 13 months, we have just signed a re-seller in North America and we are hoping to pick up re-sellers across the world, so we are seeing global growth. Its just fantastic. There are so many people out there who need help with social – I do a lot of podcasts – and want to share the knowledge, really.

Paul: Exactly, I am currently doing a social media review and it is phenomenal the standard approach people stick to, but it doesn’t work. People follow, but it doesn’t drive, you can see the stand out competitors in the review I am looking at because they are so different. Its amazing, and people need that education. Some people might not need it all. Some people might need a steer so a few people move with it, some people might need the whole culture to move with it and some people might just need someone else to do it for them, because it is not part of what they do.

Which is all good, but it’s the learning process. They need to understand why it’s important. And the book you have written takes you through it. Social Selling is a new process – it’s a new thing, and you take people through how to get ready, how to do it and what happens afterwards and why it’s important.

Tim: Yeah, I think it is important to say that social selling is new, but actually the process of social selling is not new.

It’s no different to what I was actually doing when I started 25 years ago in sales. But what I am doing now is I am doing it on Social Networks.

When I started selling, we had typing pools. You’d write letters and hand them to the typing pools using word processors. And I remember I had this whole bunch of customers who I needed to connect to but I just didn’t have time to do it. They weren’t people who were top of the funnel. What we would call ‘Top of the Funnel’ stuff, and I remember seeing articles in magazines, and I would cut it out and put a ‘with compliments’ slip – do you remember those – and I would say, ‘Saw this article, thought of you’, put it in an envelope and put a stamp on it and send it off.

Now, I do that EVERYDAY, but I do it at SCALE.

Its no different. I read interesting articles – I have a couple here I have lined up on my web-browser, that will get posted out over the next couple of days. One is about the growth of cyber crime: I saw it and thought it would interest my audience. It is no difference from cutting out an article and posting it on.

So, the process is new, it is also very old.

Quite often, if we say it is new, it scares people. And people shouldn’t be scared. The people that we find, or the people who get social selling the best are actually people who do business breakfast events. You know, ‘Oh Paul, where are you from… well I am from Scotland…’ and those people tend to understand social selling quicker than people who are maybe using social, but they are using it with friends.

Paul: Exactly, this is a perfect time to explain what Social Selling is. It’s that process you explain so clearly in the book. It helps people to understand that its not a new way of doing something, but it is a new way of approaching it. Its quite easy to get your head around if you read your book. There were bits – I mean, I have been in digital or over 10 years, - and there were things you re-iterate, or explain in a way I hadn’t read before that I thought, that’s so clear and obvious. And I think I know it, but I realise I am not doing that. And for you to teach, show and educate at scale is exactly.

Tim: To explain to people what social selling is, or isn’t – we all know that wherever we buy anything, the first place we go is Google. Whether we are buying a car or $200,000,000 outsourcing contract from IBM, we are till going on and checking these organisations out.

And we jump to conclusions about the company and the individuals. In most cases, even through we may be buying an Audi car, we are still buying from Colin, the Audi Sales person. And I would certainly be checking Colin out before I go to the Audi Garage. And we all do that now – we check people out and we jump to conclusions to get an idea of what the meeting will be like. Whether it is going to be exciting, or boring. So as sales people, we have to react to that, and realise there are discussions going on, on social. That’s where our customer are.

40% of the worlds population is on social now. In 2016, people joining social went up by 21%. So a lot of people on UK & IRE, but the global growth averaged 21%. So there are 500million people – if you want to get access to as many professionals, who are in professional industries – there are 500 million on LinkedIn.

So you are able to look at you, you are able to have conversations with people and you are able to do this at scale. And this is the great thing for Small Businesses, actually the only investment you have is your time.

Because, to a certain extent social media is for free. I know that a lot of small companies say they do not have the resources – you don’t need the resources. It is actually small companies that, for example, we are 12 people, we are growing out twitter by 1000 followers per month. You know, my co-founder, Adam Gray, he had 2 weeks in Australia and we basically booked back-to-back meetings for him in Australia through social media. So through our growth as an organisation and the fact we are only 12 people, we are in a position to sign up a Canadian re-seller, we are able to go global with 12 people. You couldn’t have done that without the internet. Or social media.

So it’s the reaction we have as sellers to the fact that buyers can now ignore us.

There is some research from CEB, that most people are 57% of the way through the buying process before they contact a sales person. When I started selling, you couldn’t buy whatever I was selling by going on the internet. You had to me. And you would engage with me and the view is you would get 80% of the information from me. Now you only need 20% of the information from the sales person. I am aware of people who are buying accounting systems completely online. Doing all of the work online, and only speaking to a sales person as that’s the only way they can actually buy it.

And what we have to do as sales people or as a business leader – if you are running a small business like I do, I am a salesman as well as a CEO it comes with the territory - what we have to recognise is that our clients are on social media too, and we have to be there engaging with them. They want to buy a new telephone system and will look on line ‘what is the best telephone system’ . you know as well as I do, we had some problems before we started this, we went on the Google ‘how do you do this, how do you do that’, everybody does it. It a way of life now.

And what we did was, Matt, my co-author, when we wrote the book, is that I was part of a 3 years sales transformation at Oracle, where we had to take the sales people from selling traditional l on premise licenses to selling cloud base SaaS systems. The market had changed, the competitors had changed, and we had to change the sales process – and we completely ripped up what they did. We changed the way they presented, we changed the way they worked with clients and one of those things was social selling. And I kinda picked it up and ran with it – I started writing about it and blogging about it and decided I wanted to be famous about it.

Paul: Awesome. It’s worked!

Tim: So I am a case study for what I talk about. Which is that if we as sales people go and interact with organisations, we will always say, we are the #1 best in whatever… there is no differentiation with brands because everybody says we are the same. No one believes us. But they will buy from people. And if we are saying that (people buy from people) and we are passionate, and saying that online, then people will find you and recognise you, and what they want to do – if you are buying a new car, you want advice, but you won’t want to talk to is a sales person, but you WILL want to talk experts – so what we need to do is set ourselves up as experts. So what I have done is set myself up as a social selling expert. So people jump to conclusions that I am the best social selling expert in the world. I think I am, but I am at the point I do not need to tell people that.

Paul: Exactly, therefore you are differentiated because of the context you have you’ve set yourself in, you’ve earned, rather than you going in and explaining it to someone, and they can go and find out about yo. You have built that platform that they can find out about you, rather than you having to approach them.

Tim: We are only 12 people as an organisation, and we put out and original piece of content every single day. 7 days a week. Because it’s the content that drives the inbound. So we do no outward bound cold outreach. Everything we do, all the business we get is basically inbound. So there is 3 core people, Alex Low, Adam Gray and myself, all 3 of us get inbound EVERY single day. And that’s really the flip people should be looking for, that you can use content people will find it and they will contact you.

This doesn’t happen overnight, and it’s hard work. There is no silver bullet, there is no switch or Valium you can take. When it all comes together, when you are using your social profiles right, if you are not, you will not get inbound.

Paul: So Social Selling is taking that 1-2-1, face-to-face aspect of offering fantastic information and working on a numbers game where you have to meet 100 people to get 10 sales. Where you can then create that same information, put it online and then you can have millions of people view it, will get that same value and income to you, based on the platform that you have chosen. So you don’t need to explain yourself.

Tim: One day this week I wrote 3 blogs – 500 words each. And these will be things where I have walked into clients- you know, we have 1 client who contacted me over LinkedIn and said ‘I am having a real problem to get my sales people to do social selling’ – and there a number of common reasons why she was having this difficulty. And I said well its about empowering people. Explain to them the world has changed, which is what we do in our programs. And she couldn’t do that. So she wrote into their T&Cs that they have to use social. So I wrote a piece on the fact there are 2 ways to motivate people: carrots and sticks.

Most people, as leaders, want to use carrots to motivate people, and I actually think writing T&Cs in contract saying you must use Social Media is a way of motivating them. I think it is a stick. Now that and I wrote my opinion on what I believe and what I believe can motivate people. You can make change. There is nothing about us or our products or what we do. That’s a blog, 500 hundred words, 1 side of paper and that will go out and we do that daily.

Because if your someone running a social selling program and are in difficulty, and we get a lot of people who have hired people who have not done much. If you are in this situation and find the post, you will Tim Hughes is the guy that will sort me out because if he knows this level of detail, they’ll check him out and realise he knows his onions. He looks like the guy for me. And that’s the way it works, you don’t have to sell and in fact if small business owners think they are not good at selling. Well that’s perfect, you’re the perfect person to be on social media.

What social selling is not is selling over social.

If you are in position where you are going to people on LinkedIn, and saying, ‘Hey it’s Tim Hughes, and want to sell you a website with 30% off’ – you’ll just get blocked.

Paul: You are right. If I go onto my Facebook feed right now, I will get 27 opportunities to download an eBook. A Free eBook, telling me how I can do something revolutionary. It used to be cool. But its not useful anymore, I don’t have time to read them.

Tim: And that’s a race to the bottom. What they are doing is using that as a way to get your email address and then they are going to market to you.

Paul: So when I think of a small business. Let’s say they can write a bit of content, they are a one many band or they have 2 or 3. And they don’t fully get what they are doing, if they are going to start this process – assuming they have 100 followers on twitter, I think you have over 200,000 followers Tim – they don’t have that platform, they are not as good at what they are doing. What can they do to start this process, so when they out a post out or write a bit of content, they can get the value they need? What would they need to so to start?

Tim: Ok, so there are a couple of things. A following is not necessarily important. I wrote an article a couple of years ago about a friend of mine who is getting 10 c-level meetings a week using twitter. He only has 450 followers. So you do not need to have a massive following. But what you do need, you need is the people who are going to buy from you need to jump to the conclusions that you are the right person to speak to. That you are the expert in that area. You need a personal brand, if you look like a spammer online, you don’t have a photo if you don’t do a few basic things around your LinkedIn profile or twitter, then people will think you are a spammer and they will ignore you.

Paul: To re-iterate that people-buy-from-people so that person needs to be part of the brand. So if it is a 1-man band running Brand A, do they come at you from that brand or do they come at you from ‘my name is Joe Bloggs, who owns Brand A’: is it Joe Bloggs who comes to you or is it Brand A?

Tim: Branding does not matter anymore, it is about the individuals. If we are going to interact with Customer Services, Sales, or HR, whoever it is, we are interacting with individuals. We are not interacting with Brands. Brand does help in certain format – apple, amazon, Facebook. I am the face of DLA – DLA brand does not matter. That’s one of the things that Digital Marketing perspective that people have not got hold of – they still think that the brand is all important. It’s not, its now the individuals. That’s changed, you cannot put the genie back in the bottle. We now have social media, you have to get all your employees on social media, and you need to get them talking – not about the brand or products – you need them thinking and talking about the way that you can help people.

You know, what are the top 10 ways to maintain garage doors (if you are a Garage Door Seller), you know, go out with a camera and take loads of pictures of colourful garage doors and put them on Instagram. There are lots of ways you can be thinking about your content – if you lose a deal. Why? Write about the business issue on why you lost that deal. There are a lot of things you can use to write about – I know it is difficult, and if you are not used to doing blogs or podcasts, it can be difficult. I put it off for probably 6 months but now, the way I can see I actually, you know, when we stop writing and putting blogs out, the inbound dries up.

I have no data, but I see the emails stop. So that is why we do it every single day. We think our content is better than Forbes, Business Insider, and stuff like that.

Paul: it is fantastic.

Tim: and what we do is write something that is thought provoking. But don’t forget, if you do this and someone rings you up and says ‘I read your article and I disagree’, you go great, but now we are talking.

Paul: there are 2 things I wanted to jump on here – How do you prepare, and why is it important? You mentioned you need to be there as inbound leads will dry up. I was doing a consultation and a customer said ‘When I go on LinkedIn, I do not have much time, but when I do, I get such a great response rate, but it is hard to find time. I then asked him what his key objective was, and he said driving revenue. So he wants to drive revenue, that comes via LinkedIn but doesn’t enough time to spend on LinkedIn to drive revenue. That’s your biggest Goal. I then asked him what’s your biggest problem – and he said I don’t make enough money.

It is very clear, you need to re-align your time to focus on what is right. Its like you said, it might not be the branding, maybe you are writing and doing the things that come easy to you because that comes naturally. But to get out your comfort zone to actually do what works is so important.

Tim: Paul you have nailed it there. People generally focus on what they want to do, rather than focus on what generates the revenue. And that quite often means you need to step outside your comfort zone. There was a guy, that one of our colleagues reached out and he said he was too busy to see me as he was too busy writing newsletters. Now, I can assure you he would have got diddily-squat results from writing newsletter because nobody reads them. We get so much email we delete it or we throw it in the junk box. The open rate is so small. I can get higher, quicker, in organisations using social. We are doing a social selling role out for a Google Re-seller, and sales director was previously running an organisation, and I contacted him, and he said ‘I was sitting there one day and I was looking through all of the In Mails that look exactly the same, and eleting all those. I was deleting all the cold-reach that look the same. And I saw this one, and I said I have to meet this guy. And that was me.’

So I contacted the MD of a Multi-billion organisation on the Thursday – by the Tuesday I had a meeting with him, the Marketing Director, his head of PR. And you cannot do that through cold calling, or crappy emails or in mails. You can only do that with Social.

Paul: So now they have prepared, they have their personal brand – what do you say to that guy to get him interested? What made you stand out? What was your approach, the process you took? How did you implement your personal brand?

Tim: I actually did some research about him, his organisation, and I wrote a very quick In Mail. I saw they had put out a whitepaper about Digital Transformation. But reading their LinkedIn Profiles, I realised they were not doing much Digital Transformation themselves. So I just had a hunch to say, read your white paper, very interesting, particularly liked this bit. If Digital Transformation is on your own internal agenda, I’d like to meet with you. Now he came and looked at my profile, it wasn’t just the message I sent him. IT was the fact he saw me, and he realised he needed to meet me. That’s why personal brand is so important. We did training with an organisation; we usually get people with folded arms saying ‘you cant teach me anything new’. And there was one guy – working in supply chain – he said, I reached out to 250 supply chain leaders, and didn’t get 1 response.

I told him its because he looked like a spammer.

Paul: 1 of these where he changes the name a resends it to all 250.

Tim: Exactly. It doesn’t work. I read things about working in a hyper personalised world. Hyper personalised is 1-2-1.

Paul contacted me, you said I want to do this, I have read your stuff. Not only were you clear on what you wanted, Sales people are never clear. They always offer you 10 more parking spaces, and I’m like I don’t have a car park. If you had done your research you would know I don’t have an office or car park. So you are wasting you time with me, the 30 minutes you’re asking for is a waste of your time. You only have 200 says, you need to focus on the areas where you can sell.

But you were very clear when you reached out to me Paul. You told me what you wanted, what you wanted to do… and that’s why I am sitting her with you now. Because you were upfront and honest about it.

You were also very structured. What people can’t see is I have a list of your questions on here, and you have been very structured. An it’s fantastic. Perfect.

Paul: Thank you, it’s because I know I need to speak to lots of Tim Hughes’ before there are millions of pounds coming in. But I also know that I want to learn, I want people to learn and there is a goal off the back of this that focuses just on the content. This is 1 bit of content that will go out – a very valuable piece, but its still just 1 piece. I don’t send this out and that’s me done for the year. I won’t be sitting back and watching the money come rolling in for the Digital Co. and we want to learn, and its understanding what you know and we don’t know – and then using the skills and assets to bring that in. So when I approached you, I knew you would be valuable. So it took me time to follow you, it also took a little bit of guts to get in touch and then I thought, how can I make this easier. Because Tim has 30mins / 1 hour, whatever, I need to make sure he knows what we are going to be doing, make his life easier so that I can offer more value. You mentioned you write 500 words per blog, and then write 3 in 1 day and you can roll them out and probably do that over a couple days a week. And that’s your content done for the week. But some smaller businesses do not have that so they need to be focused, but it will still take time. You cannot make this work without putting that effort in.

Tim: Alex Lowe joined us 9 months ago. He now has a personal brand, certainly from a famous point of view, larger than Adam or myself. HE spent 9 months doing that. We insist all 12 employees in the organisation – if they want to be part of here, they need to write a blog post every 2 weeks. We initially asked for a month and they were about, so everyone has to contribute. Adam, Alex and I do most of the writing ourselves, and we also seek guest blogs too, but its so important to drive that level of engaged and content. And no, there is no silver bullets, and yes this is hard work, and yes it sounds onerous, but it works.

Paul: Exactly, you sent 1 email to multi-billion-pound organisation and you got that contract.

Tim: And I don’t need 100 or 200 leads – I need 1.

Paul: And small business and start ups just need that 1. That 1 allows you to go to other businesses and say ‘I got 1’ and you have seen it work – you might need 10 conversions, 10 pieces of content, then 1 more person gets in touch. But if you stick at it, you build a portfolio. This content doesn’t disappear, this content grows in value because it exists.

Tim: So, let me talk about the book – cause you asked a question right up front.

When Matt and I wrote the book, we were really tired of the fact that everybody was telling us to social sell, but nobody was telling us how to do it. There was a why – you need to be social selling, because of this. Ok, right, well how do you do it?

Even today, I don’t see very many people telling you – there is a lot of people telling you it is good or bad, or you should be doing it, or taking you through basic steps, but not many people real go into the detail.

What Matt and I did was we set about writing a How Book. Our publishers said we do not need another Personal Branding books. That was a catalyst for me, I did not visualise this being about personal brand – it is about how to sell online.

I also recommend you buy the hard copy, not on the Kindle, because we have written it in a way you want to put it on the shelf and then come back to it. And I have had people tht have come to me that have read it 4 times. The first time they read it, next with a highlighter pen, then stickers and I have a special club of people who have done that.

The way we wrote it, we would always brainstorm a chapter on a whiteboard, then one of would go away and write a chapter on the piece. The first time we brainstormed it, I had previously been sitting across form a sales leader, and he had said to me ‘Tim, this social selling is all very well, but where is the F*cking leads.’ And I told Matt this story. Every time we brainstorm something, we are going to use ‘where’s the F*cking leads’. If we ever thought that a chapter is looking a bit fluffy, we would say how can a sales person really grab hold of this and get business form this. We made sure we built that into the book.

I am pleased that you think it is practical. If you look at the reviews on Amazon – last time it was up to 28 5* reviews – it is all sales people saying, ‘you HAVE to read this book if you are getting into social selling – AND it is really practical’.

Paul: Exactly. I see people using the #Hashtag that you have (#changemakers) – I see people using to say, ‘bought the book, thanks Tim’. I follow marketing leaders who have millions of followers and they do not get that as often as you, because you have clearly driven people on a subject that they want to learn and once they have read it, and use. You don’t talk about the theory – digital transformation is a great example; someone has put a whitepaper out, and they don’t even do it form their own business, but they are trying to sell it – marketers are fantastic at that; telling someone else how to do it, but they don’t for themselves. And ultimately Sales & Marketing are so closely aligned that social media is about generating that interest to sell something. Getting someone to act. And that’s what this book completely teaches you to do.

When I read this book, I thought ‘God, I don’t do half this stuff’. I mean, I thought I did, but I don’t. I really don’t. I am not trying to get millions of followers and whatever else – I try and offer value. The Digital Co is growing on the social side of things – we want to share content that offers value, and it does engagement.

You are doing that in scale – you have taken you and built that across 12 people. It is certainly not easy to do, but it is doable. And Small Businesses worry about that, and say ‘LinkedIn guy – I don’t have enough time, but it is the most valuable thing to my business’.

Tim: We are working with a Google Reseller – 120 people, so they are not are not massive. We are working with their technical team and sales team. So, its more about employee advocacy, rather than social selling. Like most of organisation, they have a bunch of passionate people who are really invested to the organisation and what we are going to do is flip it and put it externally.

What that is going to provide – there is a person who is particularly technical with a first from Oxford. He is so passionate passing the baton onto the next set of engineers – so I said, ‘great, let’s take that external. Hear you have done some videos’ he said, ‘yeah but they are internal.’ And I said, ‘well we are going to put them external’. Because the best advert for this company, is to take the passion and place it externally. You’ll find you’ll start gaining a following of people. All good technical people are interested in more information, bettering themselves, because they know the industry is moving. Same as Sales & Marketing, we know we need to be learning every single day. So we said ‘let’s educate people about it’. And taking most organisations and flipping that passion and externalising it will get you sales.

Paul: Sales to someone who is not in sales is an ugly word. Its breeding the culture of the expertise is key, it allows you generate revenue. What you are advocating is for those experts who are dedicated to driving those numbers are going out to interact with the right people. So it doesn’t mean that Sales guy A can work with Tech guy A to get the information that is required. A smaller business might have less people – I was speaking to someone the other day who said ‘I am an old fuddy-duddy. No one wants to see me on camera’. I said, ‘no, but they want to know what you know. That’s how we get them to engage’. He was saying ‘We get a steady stream of leads, we don’t need anymore’. I said, ‘you could triple it’. He said we couldn’t deal with that. I said ‘well hire more. Hire more of the right people and you’ll have a bigger business’. And you could see it going through his head, he had 15 different road blocks, before he realised that this digital could help him make a money. And Social media is a key part to that. Obviously, your book was fresh in my mind, and I was advocating that.

Very conscious of time, I know you are off to Canada next week, and know you have a lot to prepare.

To close, what are your key tips, your must-do’s, your absolutes for Social Selling. How do yo uget into Social Selling for Smaller Businesses?


01. The first thing you need to do, is you need a personal brand, because people will check you out.

02. You need to be sharing content, interesting content and doing it consistently.

For me, one of the things I find difficulty around Social is that I actually thought a lot of this is common sense. I thought it was common sense not to be boring, and posting boring corporate content. I thought it was common sense not to be spammy. There are not short cuts. If you are being manipulative to get me to open emails, I am just going to block you because I can. And the buyer is in control. And I think most people need to use common sense. If you feel it is wrong, then you shouldn’t be doing it. You are probably just annoying people and pissing them off and that doesn’t get you sales.

You need to post good content -there are so many ways to find content. I have too much, I can’t share it all. People need to get tot the point to look around and realise there is a lot.

I had a meeting yesterday at the national theatre in London. I got into London and I thought I’d walk past a skater park, and it was full of street art. I now have loads of photos ready for my Instagram coming up over the next few days around street art. We walk by content every day. People ned to get into that mindset.

03. Just common sense. I don’t like the term, ‘providing value’ and I don’t think many people know what that means. But if your being spammy, people will just reject you.

Paul: Exactly. They are important. Common sense is so critical. There is a thing you mention in the book, and example – it is also in David Meerman-Scott’s ‘The new rules of marketing & pr’. Have you read it.

Tim: No I haven’t – but I didn’t steal it. I promise.

Paul: No, no! Haha. IT was a brilliant example. Its where I would love to close. It goes down the common sense route and it turns the offline into online.

If someone walks into a party, you both reference cocktail party – my parties are clearly different, but if you walk into a party, you are not going to walk into the front door, stand there and shout, ‘I am Tim, and I sell Books’. Cause no one will want to talk to the guy that shouts something uninteresting – because who wants to talk to that guy.

You are going to buy from, or talk to the guy that goes up and speaks, listens to smaller groups, engage with 1 or 2 interesting people, and then build a relationship. And meet them at future parties.

Online, you can do this scale. In a party there may be 20 people and you might get around all 20. And find out bits that interest you and you can quickly understand who is important to your business and who is not.

So it’s taking that offline experience into an online experience.

You cant shout on twitter, ‘I sell training’ and expect people to find you. The value, it’s the non-spammy ‘here’s something that will make your day better, your business better, will help. And that’s when people will start to show interest.

That cocktail party is a great example. Great analogy. Tim: There are so many marketers that still see the cocktail party that shout. And everyone looks at the floor and call security. They spend so much money on marketing and wonder why it doesn’t work. Paul: or they just say marketing is rubbish. I don’t need to do it doesn’t work. To end on a positive note, where can you find your book Tim. Tim: You can get Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers & Changemakers is available on all Amazon platforms worldwide. You can find me at

Tim on Twitter

Tim on LinkedIn

Buy the Book: Social Selling: Techniques to Influence Buyers & Changemakers

Please reach out.

Paul: you are mad if you do not follow Tim! Thank you very much Tim.

Tim: Thank you. Bye.


The Digital Co Membership

Just £42 per month!

Become a Member


Social Media Skills Tests

Up for the challenge?

Take a Test

Join our Newsletter

Stay up to date with The Digital.Co

Sign up for a membership

This is some text regarding signing up to the Digital Co's membership.

Learn more