Your opinion could be your most powerful tool.
9 min read
“What if this plane goes down?”
Marcus A. Murphy sat down in his seat, anticipating a relaxing, yet productive flight on his way to San Francisco. Suddenly, the conversation in the row before him invaded his consciousness, and he couldn’t help but overhear the dialogue …
“Hey, what’s your name? Where are you going? What do you do for a living?”
Murphy cringed as he quickly realized the context of the “conversation” and recognized the tragedy taking place. Before their impending flight, Murphy overhead the “Middle-Seat Man” trying to sell life insurance to the “Window-Seat Man,” who was in captivity for the duration of the flight.
“Are your kids going to college soon?” said the Middle-Seat Man. “I mean, have you taken care of your family’s future? What if this plane goes down?”
Murphy, also a salesperson at the time, remembers, “So I just sat there, and I was witnessing this train wreck of a sales conversation, and it just sparked something in me going, you know what? There’s a different way to do this!”
Murphy, in his moment of angst and inspiration, whipped open his computer and started typing furiously. In just one take, without any editing or filters, he composed his piece of passion, á la Jerry McGuire, and hit “publish.”
Moments later, the article posted on his LinkedIn profile entitled, “Why cold calling is dead and Jeff Weiner is my hero” shared his firm belief that cold calling was officially dead and that LinkedIn was the “No. 1 social selling tool on the planet.”
Murphy could not have foreseen what was going to happen next.
His controversial, impassioned LinkedIn article sparked a series of events that would transform Murphy’s career and catapult him into LinkedIn stardom. Hundreds of readers shared their opposing viewpoints in the post’s comments section, each one espousing why they believed cold calling was either dead or alive.
Even LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner commented, personally.
Murphy isn’t the only one to harness the power of this platform. Robyn D. Stoller-Shulman also accidentally leveraged LinkedIn to transform her career as well. She had been publishing articles on her website and then consistently sharing them on LinkedIn. She discovered it was a great way to spark conversations and to connect with others who shared her passion for education.
One day, Stoller-Shulman felt so grateful for what LinkedIn had to offer, she created a SlideShare deck entitled, “10 Ways LinkedIn Changed My Life In One Year”.
She shared the deck on LinkedIn, and within five minutes, received a call directly from LinkedIn. They invited her to work with one of their social media editors to put together an article about her journey for their member blog.
LinkedIn also began to share her story and the SlideShare deck everywhere. Today, her SlideShare is closing in on 500,000 views.
During a recent phone conversation, she recalls, “It was like this crazy 15 minutes of fame. I mean, people from all over the world were calling me. It was like…insanity. I was suddenly this LinkedIn superstar.” Stoller-Shulman became a writer for a variety of outlets and is also the editor-in-chief of EdNews Daily, an online magazine that publishes pieces for and by teachers, parents, students, higher education institutions, startups, and education technology specialists.
Similarly, Marcus A. Murphy’s Linkedin stardom transformed his career. In just a matter of months, he was invited to speak at DigitalMarketer’s Traffic & Conversion Summit, Fast Inc. Network’s inaugural event, and LinkedIn’s Social Selling Roadshow conferences, teaching the value of social selling.
Today, Murphy is the Director of Monetization for DigitalMarketer and an official member of LinkedIn’s Customer Advisory Board. He was also recently featured in LinkedIn’s newest videos for their Sales Navigator tool, talking about how the robust system is empowering effective communication and social selling strategies.
When asked via email about Sales Navigator and its potential for sales professionals, Steve Kaplan, Sales Navigator product manager, shared “Over the past 3 years, Sales Navigator has evolved from an extension of LinkedIn into one of the industry’s fastest-growing enterprise-grade SaaS applications used by more than 80 percent of the Forbes Cloud 100 to meet their revenue goals.”
3 tips for effective social selling.
With over 546 Million users inside of its ecosystem, Murphy is convinced that B2B companies simply can’t afford to neglect LinkedIn and social selling.
During a phone conversation, Murphy shared the following three tips for effective social selling on LinkedIn:
1. Pay attention to the themes of your prospects and where they want to have conversations.
It’s essential in today’s digital world that a salesperson or an executive have authentic social profiles and a consistent, professional identity. He claims it is a critical component to establishing trust and credibility.
2. Be genuinely interested in who your prospects are!
These are people with wants, needs, desires, and dreams. What do they care about? What are they reading? Where are they spending their time and energy? What are their biggest pain points and goals? How can you insert your solution, tool, or product to help them along the journey to answer those questions that keep them up at night?”
Murphy emphasizes the fact that you can either be a small part of their triumph or an affirmation of their distrust as they flounder without your solution. He claims it takes authentic thoughtfulness to pull off the modern sale and people know when you haven’t taken the time to get to know them.
Continues Murphy, “There’s just too much information out there on everyone to not lead with thoughtfulness. Do you want to see your retention skyrocket? If you add value from the beginning of your process, you won’t have to ask yourself ‘How do we keep our top clients?’”
3. Be useful!
Murphy claims that you can create value before you connect with your prospects by building your authority as a thought leader and sharing your wisdom by posting regularly on LinkedIn. He says any professional salesperson or executive should challenge themselves to write and position themselves as a thought leader in their industry.
“People buy from people they trust,” states Murphy.
“Earning people’s trust in a digital age is a journey and an art form. I’ve leveraged platforms like LinkedIn to establish that trust. Writing industry-specific articles, acquiring credible recommendations and endorsements, and expanding my professional network have all affirmed me as a trustworthy thought leader. Thought leadership is the new ‘one-call close.’ It establishes credibility before the conversation even begins.”
3 effective LinkedIn features you should use.
When asked if he had any unique tips or tricks that he could share regarding LinkedIn and its Sales Navigator tool, Murphy couldn’t think of just one; instead, he offered three:
Murphy estimates that people receive somewhere between 200 to 300 emails a day and that the average person on LinkedIn only gets 2 to 3 messages a day.
One of the primary benefits of using Sales Navigator is a tool called InMail. Murphy says InMail is a fantastic way to connect with executives and decision-makers and is an indispensable asset for successful social selling.
LinkedIn recently updated their social network to allow videos to be uploaded natively to their platform. Murphy believes that LinkedIn is giving video posts greater reach and that the “organic reach of posts in exceptional.”
He says people need to overcome the fear of not looking professional or perfect on video and that it presents a phenomenal opportunity to share valuable content with more people. He recommends doing frequent “short-form” video clips to build engagement and an occasional “long-form” video designed for in-depth consumption and thought leadership.
“One of my recent videos got over 17,000 views … organically!” says Murphy.
He’s also excited that Video Ads are also now available as an option on LinkedIn.
3. Live engagement
Murphy also discussed a new LinkedIn feature called Active Status.
It’s a new system that displays if a LinkedIn connection is currently engaged and active on the network or not. A full green-dot next to a user’s profile means they’re now active on LinkedIn. A white-dot with a green border indicates the user is only available on their mobile device and is notified if you send them a private message. This new resource empowers its users to determine whether or not a person is available to chat and makes it easier to start a conversation.
Murphy hopes that, with tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, the career of a professional salesperson is something that people will aspire to, once again.
“I think it’s coming back. I think people are starting to own it in a new way. Kids are actively going to school to get a degree in sales and learn the practical aspects of it, and that’s encouraging to me. I want to be a part of a wave that brings back the excitement of being a sales professional, and I want to be a pioneer in it so that I don’t have to sit there and watch another person take part in an experience like the one I witnessed on the plane,” says Murphy.
Does Murphy still believe that cold calling is dead?
“Yes, cold calling is dead. It’s basically thoughtless outreach. But the phone is not dead … it’s an amazing tool, especially when used with thought leadership and LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator.”