Episode 59:

Phil Gerbyshak is a speaker and a trainer, who delivers programs on the power of technology, social selling and connection. With a unique speaking style—part technology and sales expert, part entertainer—Phil keeps his audiences awake and engaged while providing micro-tactics to help you get more leads, earn referrals, and improve your business. When he’s not traveling, speaking, or making new connections, Phil writes. He’s published 5 books, including “10 Ways to Make It Great” and “#TwitterWorks,” more than 2,500 articles, and has been interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times, and more.

 

 

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Social selling: getting people to convert for you
  • Making a connection with someone online (this isn’t a follow or a like)
  • Why keyword targeting isn’t necessarily the best path to success
  • Why Phil actively connects people he thinks should know about each other
  • How Phil uses LinkedIn as a powerful sales and research tool
  • Why you have to share content that isn’t your own
  • Why you should congratulate your competition — and why you need to be genuine about it
  • Phil’s strategy for creating content people need and starting conversations
  • Cultivating and leveraging testimonials
  • How to use your pinned post wisely
  • Things you can do right now to start putting into practice the ideas from this episode
  • Phil’s podcast “Conversations with Phil”

 

The Golden Nugget:

“Shooting a shotgun is not a good marketing plan and it’s a worse sales plan.” – @PhilGerb Click To Tweet

 

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Announcer:

If you’re going to take the risk of running an agency, shouldn’t you get the benefits too? Welcome, to Build A Better Agency, where we show you how to build an agency that can scale and grow with better clients, invested employees and best of all, more money to the bottom-line. Bringing his 25-plus years of expertise as both an agency owner and agency consultant to you, please welcome your host, Drew McLellan.

Drew McLellan:

Hey there, everybody. Drew McLellan here with another episode of Build A Better Agency. So glad that you are with us today. If this is your first podcast, welcome. If you’ve been around for a while, you’re going to love this episode hopefully as much as you have loved all the others. My guest today is a dear friend, someone I have known for gosh, over a decade for sure. I met him back when blogging was very uncommon. Marketing and salespeople, all those kind of people weren’t really blogging back in ’06, ’07. Phil was one of the very first people that I met sort of in that genre.

I will tell you that his topic is one that I think is super important for agency owners and agency staff to understand. He lives it and he breathes it and that’ll come through I think throughout our conversation. So let me tell you a little bit about him. Phil Gerbyshak believes in the power of social selling and connection with a unique speaking style, which I have enjoyed many times. Part sales expert, part entertainer, Phil keeps his audiences awake and engaged while providing actionable steps to bring in more leads, more referrals and more business.

When he’s not traveling or speaking or making new connection he writes. He’s published five books including 10 Ways to Make It Great, #TwitterWorks and more than 200 or sorry, 2,500 articles and has been interviewed by everybody, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Financial Times and more. So, Phil, welcome to the podcast.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Hey, thanks, Drew. It’s great to be here, man. I can’t believe that it’s been over 10 years. Holy cow. It seems like yesterday.

Drew McLellan:

I know. It does, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve always said that blogging years are sort of like dog years.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Absolutely. Well, they’re long and sometimes they’re lonely but I can tell you that I’ve made some of the best friends in the world because of my blog. So I’m so grateful for it.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, me too. So let’s talk a little … Let’s define first this idea of social selling and connection. A lot of agencies sell social and a lot of agencies do social but in many agencies, it’s sort of relegated to an intern’s job or something like that. They’re just sort of cranking out articles or things like that but they’re not really engaging in the way that I think you talk about. So let’s define first social selling and then we’ll talk about connection because in my mind, although, they’re linked they’re obviously pretty different.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah, they’re definitely different, so that’s good. Yeah. Let’s talk about social selling. So social selling really is about getting people to convert for you, so that could mean getting them on your newsletter list. That could mean scheduling a face-to-face phone call. That could mean actually responding to your email. That could be being okay with maybe going in with some sort of demonstration of your work. It could even be as simple as agreeing to have a cup of virtual coffee with you over Skype or Zoom or some other session but it’s about going beyond the typical, “Hey, look at me. Be aware of me. I’m really good.” And really gets to the point where you’re actually converting them and have an opportunity to earn their business.

Seldom does the actual conversion, the transaction of money take place online but often, once they’ve seen enough of your information and touched you enough times, just like any other sales tool, social selling now offers the ability to really go deep and to really make a difference and to really convert people so they can make an informed decision about, yes or no. Are you the person that I want to do business with? Are you the agency that is going to do business with me? So all of the social type stuff really penetrates to the heart of where the sale happens.

I think a lot of agencies end up signing clients by luck more than they do through any sort of process or any sort of deliberate social means online, right? Offline, they have some great programs, they have some great tools. I bet they probably have amazing pitch decks but they don’t really have that same philosophy when it comes to online tools and doing that social sale.

Drew McLellan:

Okay, so let’s define connection and then we’ll go back and dig into social selling first.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Sure. So connection, really that’s kind of the first step and connection is more than just someone liked your fan page or someone is following you on Twitter. Connection is where they actually give you that first glimmer of starting that persona of a real email address and answer some real questions. Often, the connection piece is where you now finally become a LinkedIn connection and now we have some more richness of information. That connection will take place because there’s something in common. When we think about a connection, if it’s you and I, Drew, we have some third thing that we’re both interested in either because we love it or because we need it for our business or because it is of interest to us in our world.

But there’s something else that connects us together typically, it’s not just you and me. It’s something else and so that’s where a lot of the social tools make that very easy to make a connection because people don’t just share business stuff unless they’re really boring and put people to sleep. They share their passions and that’s easier to connect with or they share their interests. Maybe they are interested in food or beverage or wine or beer or whatever it is that they’re interested in. That then is the basis for which a connection is formed. It’s that third thing that’s out there between a relationship between you and I that starts because of something that we can connect to.

In our case, many years ago, it was the blog and as you become more and more connected to someone, you find that there’s more and more things that you have in common. Small talk becomes more meaningful because we can get beyond the superficial. Here’s one thing in common and we can find out what’s really important that’s in common and how that aligns with our values and our message.

Drew McLellan:

So I’m guessing that for some of our listeners they’re hearing all of that and they’re going, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. But oh, my God, that sounds like it takes forever and I want to sell somebody something today.” So talk about the speed at which all of that can and does happen.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Sure. So it can be fairly rapid. It doesn’t happen in a day unless you really do some digging and really find a need. Seldom do people directly say, “Hey, I really want an agency to do my work.”

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Phil Gerbyshak:

It’s not typically how it works, okay. Now, if it did-

Drew McLellan:

It would be awesome if it did. If there were just a sign on their forehead.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah, if they put a help wanted sign on-

Drew McLellan:

It could be like Pokémon GO, where you just walked around looking for them and then you just threw something at them.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah. That’s what people do though, with social, Drew. It’s funny you say that because that’s often what we do, right? We key in on those keywords that automation. I can tell you that I get automation targeted all the time on Twitter and it drives me nuts. I mentioned something about, “I hope that works out.” I think I said workout instead of works out. So of course, 12 gyms followed me and sent me messages that I should really check out their fitness gym because it’s clear that I’m passionate about fitness.

Drew McLellan:

Ha.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Hmm.

Drew McLellan:

Okay.

Phil Gerbyshak:

No, not so much, right? I hope that works out, hmm, no. So if a human being had read that, they would see that I was not talking about working out but rather work out, right, works out. Hope something gets better or has a positive outcome. That seems obvious when I point that out but so many times we keyword target and we think that’s the fastest path to success. We use some … There are tons of tools out there that help us better target our people and we create these great personas for our agencies of, these are the things. If people say these words, “Oh, my gosh. Let’s jump on them.” We hope that’s going to convert to an immediate sale.

That’s what people hope but I can tell you, it is seldom that somebody is that obvious about what they need. So it does take a little more time but it takes a lot less time than you’d think. I mean, it doesn’t draw the sales cycle out to be a year or 10 years or anything like that but it does require more attention to the right things, to actually what people are posting, what the intention of their Tweets, of their LinkedIn posts, of their information is. Paying attention, I mean, we do see clues that can lead to faster change.

So if we’re watching the news stream of some of these companies on LinkedIn, let’s say. We notice that they suddenly hired 20 or 50 people or even five people in a small company, now might be an opportunity where they might need some help. So if we’re paying attention to that and we’re connected to them. We’re excited about their news and we have some listening tools set up, it does actually speed it up. This does not slow down the sales cycle at all. It makes it more meaningful and gets you to the point where people can say, “Yes, or no.” much faster than before.

Drew McLellan:

When I hear the word connection, especially when I hear it in relation to you, for me, connection is about making connections. I think one of the ways you’ve built your business is by being as Disney calls it, aggressively friendly. You have gone out of your way many, many times to make connections between people saying, “Hey, Drew. I think you would love getting to know Babette.” Then making that connection and then stepping out of it so it’s not really about you but it’s about finding like-minded people and bringing them together.

But I also have to think that being the connector A, positions you in the marketplace but B, creates opportunity for you because I’m guessing that in the universe out there when you connect me with someone else and that’s a valuable connection for me. I sort of consciously or unconsciously sort of keep tally in my head that I sort of owe you, right? That I want to return the favor someday so again, it’s probably I’m not thinking about every night before I go to sleep but I am looking for and recognize pretty quickly the opportunity to introduce you to someone that I think would be helpful to your business, don’t you think?

Phil Gerbyshak:

I do think so. I think that does help. I think at first that was very unintentional. I really do. I light up watching people that I care about connect. It’s really amazing whether I care about them personally or professionally. Watching that connection get made is so much fun. I get a lot more joy from that then I get from a referral fee. Some might say, “Well, dude, you don’t pay your mortgage with goodwill.”

Drew McLellan:

With joy.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Right but you do though and I say that because here’s the thing. There are a lot of people that I can connect, that even if I wanted them to do business with me, they likely wouldn’t. Not because they don’t want to either but because right now there might not be a fit. So instead, I go out of my way as you said, to be aggressively friendly, aggressively connecting people. Absolutely, that pays back because what happens is then when there is a need, people think about that.

The other thing that happens is when the first thing that those people talk about is me, when I make that connection, “So how do you know, Phil?” “Well, I know Phil because of this.” “Well, how do you know Phil?” “Well, I know Phil about this.” Then it often sparks a totally different conversation because they never … They know that I would not refer them business if it was something that I did but now as you said, you think, “Well, he referred that business away or he connected that nice person to me. Boy, I wonder what Phil needs?”

I can tell you, I have an amazing network with you of course, Drew, and very near the center, my friend and who are always helping me and always willing to make a connection for me. So seldom do I have to ask and if I do ask, here’s the other thing. By making valuable connections, even when sometimes they go awry and I’ve had a couple times where people that I have mad respect for have forgotten the social part of sales and gone right for the, “Hey, you look like my perfect target. Will you promote my blah, blah, blah?”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah.

Phil Gerbyshak:

They copy me in and I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. Really, dude, did you really do that to that person that I’m connecting you with?” I don’t say that but then I get the nice private message back from the person that just yakked on that says, “Hey, just-

Drew McLellan:

What the heck, right?

Phil Gerbyshak:

… what happened here?”

Drew McLellan:

Right.

Phil Gerbyshak:

But they give me a little more grace than they would if this were the only connection or if every time I made a connection I thought it was because they could do business together. Sometimes I make that connection just because I think they’re great people or you have something in common, again, that third piece. Yes, on one side it’s me but on the other side, once you get past that I mean, I’m not an egotistical person. I don’t expect that somebody’s going to spend an hour talking about me. I expect there’s going to be some value that’s achieved-

Drew McLellan:

There could be some awkward stories if they’re talking about you for that long.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah. Well, that would be with my mom so if you’re connected to her on Facebook … No, I’m just kidding. Mom doesn’t post that embarrassing stuff but, yeah. I expect that there’s going to be a third reason. There could be a need that I saw because I do pay attention even if it’s not me. If I see someone needs PR help or agency help or design help or whatever, I am not shy about making that recommendation to someone I think can best serve. I think absolutely, Drew, that definitely serves me well.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and you know what? In my opinion it works as well offline as online. One of the things I always recommend to agency owners is that they create some sort of an event where they … It’s sort of a private event where they have all of their clients come and are invited. They also invite some of their best prospects because as you say, the very first thing they’re going to say is, “Well, how is it that you’re here?” “Well, Agency ABC has been my agency for years and they do this.” “Oh, really? Tell me more about that.” So it’s a great way to have other people sell for you without asking them to or without it being manipulative or feel yucky, you know?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah.

Drew McLellan:

So when you’re making connections for other people, a lot of times when they’re saying, “Hey, how do you know Phil?” I suspect that sometimes when the person says, “Oh, well, he does X, Y, Z for me.” The person goes, “Oh, I didn’t know he did X, Y, Z.” Right?

Phil Gerbyshak:

I was just going to say, yeah. Absolutely. That’s often the kind of collateral benefit-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Phil Gerbyshak:

… is people don’t realize all the services that anyone provides. It’s impossible that anyone does and if nothing else, it serves as that proof of, “Oh, yeah. Phil does do that. Oh, yeah. That is a value.” And absolutely that collateral proof without asking for it, if I had said, “Hey, Drew. Will you go say three nice things to this person for me-

Drew McLellan:

Right, right.

Phil Gerbyshak:

… well, maybe two but not sure about three.” As opposed to, “Oh, yeah. Phil does this and that and this. Here’s some of the results he got for me. What’s he doing for you?” Then somebody’s like, “Oh, well, I’m thinking about …” “Well, you should definitely use Phil because he’s a great pick for that.” Yeah, absolutely great collateral benefit for sure.

Drew McLellan:

It’s you used the word collateral benefit and I think that’s one of the keys to creating, being a connector is if you’re connecting simply to make a sale or to have people talk about you in their mutual introductions, that doesn’t work. You have to be connecting them because you genuinely want to help both of them and you think that there’s value for each of them in the connection, right?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Absolutely. Absolutely. Even if they and I mean, really, I don’t know what their conversation is. I don’t care. I don’t monitor that. I do my best to remind people that once I make that connection I’m out unless you need me. Absolutely, that’s never my goal. That’s manipulative. That is shady and frankly, if that was my intention, it would be a lot more forced and a lot less genuine. Frankly, it wouldn’t work.

Drew McLellan:

Honestly, it wouldn’t be fun. I know you and I both love connecting people and for me it’s fun to watch those connections sort of bloom and people to create new relationships. I like that and typically I’m connecting people that I like and respect. So why wouldn’t I want two people that I like and respect, to like and respect each other?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Absolutely. Absolutely. That’s the key. When you think about connection again, that’s the joy that I get from the connection and I know the joy that you get as well, Drew. That’s so important because the last thing I want is more work that doesn’t pay, right? I don’t need more work that doesn’t pay. I have enough, thank you. So when I can get some joy instead and make a genuine authentic fun connection, between people that I know will hit it off, man, there’s nothing better.

Drew McLellan:

So I think in today’s world, when people hear connection they immediately, their brain flips over to LinkedIn. Is that a tool that you use a lot and if so, how do you use it to serve your connections there and your business?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah. So absolutely. LinkedIn is one of the most powerful tools in my tool belt for sales. I am out there just about every day. I’m looking for things to comment on, where I can add value to the conversation. A lot of times I get the best insights into things to write for a blog post because of things that I see on LinkedIn in the stream. I’m able to fill my social channels up with other people who have similar thoughts to what I do that either validate or maybe that challenge my way of thinking.

Those are all great ways and those are sometimes a little bit passive ways to do it. By passive, I don’t mean that they don’t acquire work. I mean, people have to be finding me to do that but then the other way is I am intentional about those connections. So if I see something or … something that is valuable or something that I can add great value to, if they are looking for something, if I do get that random, “Hey, what the heck? I need this or I noticed this …” Absolutely I’ll send them a message but often, LinkedIn gives me the ability to research a company or organization that I want to work with so much more rich than anything else because I can get the whole organization view really quickly.

I can tell you that in a sales organization if the top dog in the sales organization is someone who is not very active on social, chances are the opportunity for me to go in and train them is nearly zero. So that doesn’t work. It’s not worth my time. It doesn’t mean that I might not pay attention to that company if they’re in my target range but it does mean that I’m not going to invest a lot of time now. But what I’ll do instead is I’ll use LinkedIn to make connections with others in the organization that I know could be my advocates and try to share articles with them. I’ve got a financial advisor that I’ve worked with. I know that they’re office is not very social at all.

The head of the office has been a financial advisor for 35 or 40 years, could give a crap about LinkedIn but I’m connected to the junior partner in the group because eventually, that junior partner is either going to grow up and become a senior partner. Or that junior partner’s going to go somewhere else where I’m going to be able to help them in another way. So actively cultivating that network, actively sharing my content on LinkedIn and actively being part of conversations is really important and really one of the biggest tools that I have in my tool belt that grows my business each and every day.

Drew McLellan:

So as you were saying that, agency owners across the land are going, “Crap. One more thing to do and I don’t have time blah, blah, blah.” Are there some … Can you give us A, a sense of how much time that takes you and B, are there tools that you use to make that more efficient or effective?

Phil Gerbyshak:

So you can add as much time to it as you have or you can just take 20 or 30 minutes a day. That’s really what I do in a couple of different chunks. I’ll typically take five minute here and 10 minutes there and 15 minutes there and make it happen. If you distribute that amongst your agency, you have a lot better chance of being successful because if every message comes from the president of the agency, you’re really missing out on a lot. So instead, distribute that to your team. Get others involved. Use some employee advocacy to share the message and then from there, it’s really important that you’re consistent more than that you do a lot of time.

So what I mean by that is show up every day. Show up a little bit every day even if you have five minutes, pull out your phone. Spend five minutes each and every day on it. As far as tools that work, frankly the LinkedIn mobile app and then the LinkedIn desktop app are the two you need. The mobile app does a great job of surfacing the popular things. They show up in your network and a lot of times I’m going to see that. I’m going to pay attention to that. It’s going to show me that somebody just celebrated an anniversary. Somebody just changed jobs. Somebody just did something to their profile. Somebody did something that pops up in my stream as the first thing.

I see all the people that I might want to connect with. So on the front-end as you take some time connecting your mobile app, first to your calendar, really important because if I just had a meeting with Drew, I want then after the meeting, hopefully it was successful to then connect on LinkedIn so we can deepen that relationship and make a real connection on that. I typically do not do that before a meeting not because people don’t accept those connections. Seldom do people mark them as spam because I always personalize them but I do it after the meeting as a follow-up of, “Hey, Drew. I really had a great meeting. I thought we discussed some important topics and I’d love to connect to you on LinkedIn and see how we can help each other.”

Now, by personalizing that, then that shows up once you accept that, it shows up in my inbox. So now, on LinkedIn, now I might not talk to you for a week or a couple of weeks via LinkedIn but I go back and I’m like, “Oh, yeah. That’s when we had that meeting.” And because I connected LinkedIn to my calendar, LinkedIn mobile will prompt me that says … The day before the meeting if you have that person in your meeting request. So use your email in a good way, actually invite people to meetings, it will come up and say, “View profile.”

Or if you’re not connected, it’ll say, “Connect to them.” That is so valuable because now I can do that extra minute or two of research before the meeting that shows, “Oh, yeah. Maybe they did post something this morning that’s going to give me something to talk about.” I could say, “Hey, Drew. I see you just posted a blog post about your travel woes. Man, I have some travel woes too.” Now, we start out on a common foot instead of starting out as strangers.

Drew McLellan:

Great and as you know, comment woes is one of my favorite posts, so now, I want to shift to social selling. So, Phil, I will tell you and if you’ve watched most agencies the way they use social is they use it as a broadcast medium. So they are A, pumping out too much information about themselves, awards and stuff like that. But B, if they’re not talking about themselves, they are pushing out third-party content or potentially content they’ve created themselves. Is that good? Is that bad? How should they be using social if they actually want to use social to sell?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Sure. So first, you have to share content. I mean, absolutely that’s important. You want to show up as a person of value. If you just go in and spear fish and try to sell, sell, sell, that’s not going to work. So content does matter. People do look for people that are of value. People do look at your profile to make sure that it’s up-to-date, to make sure that the picture of you matches who you are in person if they’ve met you or [crosstalk 00:27:26]-

Drew McLellan:

It’s not your high school photo.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Right, right. Yeah. Quick sidebar here. I have someone who wanted to be my client really bad and we got together. We had the first meeting and like I said, I don’t connect to people before we meet. So after we meet, I send a LinkedIn request and right after I sent it I see, “Wow. This picture’s kind of old.” So our next meeting I said, “Hey, so when is that meeting … When’s that picture from?” He says very proudly, “Well, Phil, that’s when I first became an insurance agent in 1973.” I said, “That’s the year I was born and I can tell you, that doesn’t look anything like you.” He said, “Well, I just never invested the money to ever get another picture taken.” I can tell you, he’s not my client for that very reason because he refuses to change.

He does not want to invest the time or the money in order to do that. That is ineffective social selling so that’s something you also need to think about is, “How does your team look as an agency? Do you look similar?” By that I don’t mean, are you all white bread people from the Midwest. I mean, do your pictures have the same energy? Do they have … Is everybody smiling? So those are things that kind of precede the sharing of any content. So I would say people don’t pay you to get dressed in the morning but I can tell you that if you showed up to a meeting naked they would be like, “Dude, really? Put some clothes on. Get dressed. Be appropriate.” So it’s the same way on social. So those are kind of the first things.

So you get dressed. Then you share some content and then when we think about what that’s better to do or what we can do that is more effective, it’s about making those connections and finding that to happen. So take the content that you have. Look for a group that, that might be valuable in and try to start a conversation. Don’t be a link and leave person, right? Liz Strauss a long time ago said, “Don’t be a one-link stand. Don’t just post a link and run away from it. Instead, really genuinely try to start a conversation.” So what’s controversial about that great content that you just produced?

If it’s only informative, that’s great and people might find that. That might be incredibly useful for clients or prospects that are sort of looking to make a decision but remember, less than three to 7% of people are in a buying mood at any one time. So if there’s 100 people in a LinkedIn group, you realize that there’s less than 10 people that are going to buy anything at this present time, right, when you post that. Of those 10 people, probably only two of them are actually logged in to LinkedIn to see what the heck you posted.

So instead, you have to be a little bit more edgy, a little bit more controversial. If when you’re posting content you have to think about, “How does this tug on an emotion?” Maybe it makes people mad or it makes them happy or it makes them sad or it makes them really feel something. By controversial, I’m not insisting that you post anything about race or sex or politics or anything like that. But I do mean take a controversial stand on something and have an opinion because there’s enough crappy content out there-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, right.

Phil Gerbyshak:

… that if you’re not taking a stand, you’re just informing people. That’s okay. I mean, my posts are not always controversial but sometimes they are and I can tell you the ones that are get a lot more play than the ones that don’t. I just wrote an article about you can do better than congrats on the new job, “Hope all is well because I got …” When I put my podcast on my LinkedIn profile, I got 300 people that mobbed me with a generic default LinkedIn message.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. It takes three extra seconds to type a personal message.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah, yeah, if that.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I think from an agency’s perspective it doesn’t necessarily have to be controversial in a social way but it’s a take a stand on a marketing practice or a tool or whatever it may be. But have a strong opinion because again, hopefully what you’re doing in social is you’re modeling how you would behave in a business relationship. What clients want from agencies is they want somebody who has expertise and isn’t afraid to speak out and provide direction and counsel. So why wouldn’t you do that in a social setting as well?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Exactly and that’s exactly right, Drew. That’s where let your voice shine through. Have that opinion. To your point, it is not controversial for controversial’s sake but do take that on. My friend, Stephen Shapiro wrote a book called Best Practices Are Stupid. Well, you read the book and you realize he’s right on the money but even having a title like that Best Practices Are Stupid, holy cow. That’s controversial and we’re talking about just on that. So if there’s something that you have like that, that can be not controversial for controversial’s sake again but controversial because it’s true but it’s just a little different way of looking at the agency approach-

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, it’s about taking an edge, right?

Phil Gerbyshak:

That’s right, yeah. Pick an edge and go after it. Don’t be afraid.

Drew McLellan:

Yeah, yeah. So okay. My agency is sharing content and is it just about pushing out content? Is it also reaching out and engaging with other people’s content? What else does that look like?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah, great question. So it is not just about pushing content because if it’s just your stuff, you’re going to do a lot of navel-gazing and while you might attract some people to you and you’re being controversial can get to you some results, you do need to engage with other people’s information. So if Drew makes a really good post, going out and commenting on that because here’s what happens. There are people that are considering Drew’s agency and they’re considering my agency. If I comment on that, they look at that and they say, “Hmm, I agree with Drew and I agree with Phil.” Or, “I agree with both of them but I can’t afford Drew or I can’t afford Phil.”

Maybe a third person comes in. They click around and they look and they’re like, “Oh, yeah. You know what? That Phil, he’s all right. I should check him out now.” More, so absolutely engaging with your competition’s posts is a great way. Even sharing them and offering them kudos that they did something fantastic, “Congratulations to Drew and his company for landing this big client. Well done.” Well, really? Somebody’s going to be excited about that? Well, that client is already won. You’re not posting, “Hey, Drew. I really hope you get this business for me.”

No, no. You already got the business. “Congratulations, dude. I know you worked your butt off on that. Congrats and will you share some secrets of what you did and maybe write that as a blog post.” Now, Drew shares seven insights into how to land the client of your dreams. I see, look, there’s one thing there that really resonates with me, one thing I disagree with, the one thing I can add and I can write a counter blog post. I can say, “You know what? I’m really excited for Drew that his agency won this but now I’ve got now something else.” So it’s really kind of infusing more than sharing your content and making that shine in such a way that you don’t put other people down.

I would never trash a competitor online, so that’s one thing that I just recommend you never, ever do. Even if you think they’re being shady, it just makes you look bad to ever trash anybody else. So not just about sharing and creating your own content, remarking on others, sharing other people’s content. Believe it or not, most people when you share content, even if they click through and read the article, which most people don’t do, even if they click through and read the article, they think that you wrote it.

They don’t even realize that anybody else could possibly be the author of that. So it indelves that in their brain that says, “Phil writes great articles.” Even if Phil isn’t writing that article so it is helpful to do. Then again, go out there and look for people. Let’s not forget about the social piece of social media. Who are you trying to connect to? Which companies have employees that are using social? Connect to them. Look at them. Congratulate them. Be part of their success. I can tell you, some of the best results I get, some of the best clients I get is as a result of genuinely and this is important, be genuine in my congratulations of them.

I’m very excited for them. One of the first things I do every day is I wish people a happy birthday on social or I pick up the phone and I call them because nobody calls anymore. Everybody is so … They write HBD on somebody’s Facebook wall. Well, HBD is no BFD, right? Who cares? So pick up the phone. Call somebody or better yet-

Drew McLellan:

I had to think for a minute to figure out what that … I’m embarrassed to admit to go, “What the…” Oh, I get it, happy birthday. Okay.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Right?

Drew McLellan:

Yeah.

Phil Gerbyshak:

I don’t think that’s enough, Drew. I’ve seen that. In fact, some people are so lazy they just put HB like … Seriously, why are you even doing that? Does anybody look at that and say, “Wow, man. You really impressed me with your use of two letters instead of taking the time to genuinely wish me a happy birthday. That is killer.”

Drew McLellan:

Right, right. Well, I know you call people because we have a lot of people in common and every once in a while, I’ll see on Facebook or somewhere on somebody’s birthday they’ll say, “Oh, my birthday started out great. Phil called me and blah, blah, blah.” So I have observed the impact that, that has. Obviously, those are people you have more personal connections with because you have their cell phone number but still, your point is well taken. That if you’re going to make the effort, go the extra half step and make it authentic and genuine and feel real as opposed to automated or without thought.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Yeah. Absolutely and, Drew, they don’t have to be people that I know exceptionally well. I do pick up the phone and call business people as well. I make it really short and sweet, “Hey, Drew. It’s Phil. I know you’re really busy but I recognize that today’s your birthday, buddy. I just want to wish you a super happy day.” Now, a lot of times I leave a voice mail on that and still though, that’s fine. Of course, the ones you see are mutual friends but I can tell you, I get business out of that, folks, because people if they remark that I’m thoughtful enough to call them on their birthday, they know that I’m going to be thoughtful enough to care and feed their business just like it were my own.

Drew McLellan:

I’m sure agency owners are listening and thinking, “This sounds like a lot of time.” How do you … Are there tools that you use or … So for example, let’s say there’s an agency out there and they specialize in ag equipment, tractors and stuff like that. How would you recommend to them that they identify who they should be connected with in social and are you talking about Facebook? Are you talking about Twitter? Are you talking about LinkedIn?

Are you talking about Instagram? What tools are you suggesting that they use and how would you go about coaching them to find because it’s not about quantity, right? It’s not about having a bazillion people connected to you on LinkedIn or Twitter, it’s about the right people. So if I’m an agency that specializes in big equipment for ag, what would you tell me to do, to use my time most effectively in terms of connecting with people, finding and connecting with people?

Phil Gerbyshak:

So first, really draw that out. So where do they work? Think of some companies. Come up with a list of 50, 100 companies that they work at, even five. Doesn’t matter. Come up with a list. Then go out to each network and do some searching. Look for them. Be really slow and methodical in this though. So here’s why. Go to Twitter. You find someone. Twitter then says, “Well, you’re now following Drew McLellan. Here are six other people you might want to follow.” Of them, three or four are people at that company. Often, one of them is the social media manager at that company. So now, you follow them.

So now, I follow the company, now I follow three employees and I’m slow and methodical about this. I’m paying attention. I’m taking some notes and I take some of those people back. I look to see who are they following? So now, I take half an hour and I do this research. I think, “Wow. One connection half an hour.” But I draw out this client profile and now I see first their corporate account. So all the corporate news because most big ag companies, most big companies to be honest, they post mostly corporate news on their Twitter. Not a lot of opportunity for engagement but great opportunity to get custom news about these companies on Twitter.

So you add them to a list, a private list called potential customers. You put them there and now you follow three or four of these employees that are recommended by Twitter. Now, you follow them. You put them in the same list and now you start looking to see who they engage with. You add them to the same list and now you’ve got your own custom newspaper. In fact, you could even add a tool like Nuzzel N-U-Z-Z-E-L, Nuzzel to actually send you a daily email recap of that Twitter list that then says, “Here’s the things that they shared.” Now, you’ve got a list every day of the things that they curated that they think are newsworthy.

You look through that and you might … It takes you five minutes tops to scan that. You might see that they all just post company news. Well, that’s probably not a good channel. So now, you take those same people and you go to LinkedIn. Now, you might again, you distribute this amongst your sales team. You might use LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Sales Navigator’s a great tool. Right now, an annual subscription runs you about $800 bucks a year per person. So you set this up and I would say two or three people in an organization is probably enough. Again, you do the same thing. You follow the company in Sales Navigator and now you start looking for those people that you connected with on Twitter, on LinkedIn.

Often, they’ll be the same but not always and if they’re not, then you add those other people, those other influencers. Often more senior people take LinkedIn seriously so now we add them on LinkedIn. Now, we’ve got another curated news source. Again, if we’re methodical about that, now periodically, we might see that they left something that I can add value on. So I might see that Drew just posted an article about something, a question that I can answer. I’m going to go and answer that. Better yet, I might write that up as a blog post, mention that company and then send that to that person. I might comment on their post and share, save that for later. Now, I’m trying to start a conversation because I’m going to do the same thing I did on Twitter if I can. I’m going to connect to that individual on LinkedIn.

LinkedIn does the same exact thing. LinkedIn says, “Well, seeing as you connected to Drew, here’s seven other people you might want to connect with.” On the bottom right, you’ll see people also looked at these people. So whether they’re in your company or not, now we see, “Oh, yeah. Look at that. There’s the CMO. Oh, yeah. Look at that. There’s the CEO and look, people also look at the vice president of operations. Boy, that’s not someone I’d normally think about.” I go look at their profile and I see that’s because they’re looking at overhauling their whole web platform.

Now, as an agency owner, now I have enough information that I can go out and I can target them. I can say, “Hey, I see you’re changing your web platform. Can we have a conversation about that because I’ve got some ideas in the best practices on how to do that. It saves you time and money. You’re under no obligation to do anything with me. Just would love a convo.” So now, we have a chat. Now, hopefully we meet in person and now we can then take that to Facebook. We can say, “Okay, well, I know we’re kind of friendly now.” Just try to be Facebook friends. They’re not going to block you. The worst that happens is they ignore you but if they say, “Yes.” Now, you get that third view into their world.

So now, as you’re doing that prep for that meeting, as you’re doing that research, now I’ve got a Twitter list that has curated news, I’ve got LinkedIn Sales Navigator, which has got that curated people and now I’ve got a couple people at that organization maybe on Facebook that I’ve connected to. So now, I can see three different views into that organization all for less than an hour per company per day. Really, if a big ag company is going to invest $10 million dollars in me, heck, I’m going to give them an hour of my time a day. Absolutely and I might distribute that amongst my team so it’s 20 minutes here, 20 minutes here and 20 minutes there.

Drew McLellan:

Well, and I’m a big advocate. Agencies don’t need 10,000 new clients. They need two or three great, perfect fit clients a year to keep growing their business by 10 or 20%. So really, if you had a list … One of the things I teach is that they need to have a list of 25, I will die of joy if I get these people as clients. You work them for as long as it takes until they either A, get a restraining order or B, hire you, right? So again, if you narrow it down to 25, that’s a awfully manageable number to be able to cultivate a relationship the way you’re describing.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Absolutely, yep. It’s never about numbers. It’s always about quality because quality wins the game. Shooting a shotgun is not a good marketing plan and it’s a worse sales plan.

Drew McLellan:

Yep, absolutely. So I have a couple more quick questions. I’m mindful that we’re sort of getting to the top of the hour here but you speak a great deal. How do you use social to create speaking opportunities for yourself? A lot of agencies want to present themselves as thought leaders in the vertical or the category where their agency has expertise. How do you leverage your social profile to get speaking gigs?

Phil Gerbyshak:

So first, the fact that I do speaking engagements, I am not shy about asking people for a testimonial on social. So I’m going to ask them to write me up a LinkedIn endorsement. Many times it comes unsolicited I’m grateful for that, for those who do that. Sometimes though, you have to ask, so I ask. Then I take that and I turn that into an image. I turn that into an image and I’ll post that on my Instagram. I’ll post it on my personal Facebook. I’ll post it on Twitter. I’ll post that on LinkedIn. I might write an article around that and I’ll share that because I want people to see that other people find me valuable.

That’s important and then the other piece of that though is the video. You have to post some video. You need to put together kind of a greatest hits package and you need to post videos often as you can. Even if it’s not the best quality video, hopefully you have quality content. You can show that people are laughing and engaged with that. Those are great ways to do that as well and that certainly helps me with that social proof. Then I’m not afraid to ask for help on that.

So I might share something and I might send a private email to a couple people, “Hey, would you mind boosting that out? Would you share that?” That gets some exposure as well and then let’s not forget about the power of the pinned post. So whether that’s Twitter or whether that’s on Facebook on our page, we can pin a post, the most popular post, the one that we want people to see. So, yes. I often will Tweet out my link to a speaking video and that’s great but that’s only if people catch it. That’s like catching rain. It’s really hard to do but instead, not always but sometimes, I’ll take that pinned post and I’ll make that my speaking video. I’ll make that my kind of page about my speaking profile.

I’ll make that an event that I’m speaking at and I’ll add that to my email signature as well. I’m doing a talk in Colorado Springs in about a month so I’m talking to the Cherwell Global Conference and I’m excited about that. So I add that in the PS of my email signature to leet people know that A, I’m excited about being there. B, if you bring me in, hey, guess what? I might promote that and C, “Oh, yeah, that’s right. Phil does speaking.” So it’s simple stuff like that is really key. Then I use it again for the same sort of research that I do that I’m talking about before. I’m going to look for organizations that are having an annual conference and I’m going to reach out to them.

I’m going to again, try to build a relationship. I’m going to share their event. I’m going to be excited for them because really I am excited. Of course, I’d be more excited if they hired me to speak at it but I’m genuinely excited because many organizations do not invest any money in outside speakers. They think that they can get vendors to talk and what vendors end up doing is they often just talk about their products or service and they’re not that good. So I show that as, “Hey, I’m excited.” Then they come back and they look at my profile and guess what? A, ring a ding-ding. There’s my pinned post that says, “Hey, Phil Gerbyshak is doing speaking.” Huh, puts that in their brain and then I just ask.

I ask them, “Hey, are you still looking for speakers?” Or I’ll look and I have Google Alerts and Mention Alert set up for requests for proposal for speaking. So I’m going to fill those out and that’s another way to use social because a lot of those go out via social media. So you absolutely need to do that. I also use a tool called Social Quant. Social Q-U-A-N-T, the socialquant.net and that allows me to target the right Twitter followers. So I’m paying attention to them based on the words in their profile.

So I have meeting planner. I have event planner. I have Speakers Bureau. I want to see what are they writing about? I’m going to listen to them if they’re going to show up in my stream now because I’m going to follow them first. I’m going to listen to what they have to say and if they have any value, heck, I’m going to stay followed with them and I’m going to jumpstart a conversation. I’m going to do my best to remind them that, “Hey, if you need a speaker, I am your guy.”

Drew McLellan:

Yeah. Great, great advice. So we’ve barely scratched the surface but I’m sure people are getting off the treadmill now or they’re almost to work so I want to kind of wrap this up. If people have been listening to us and they think, “Okay, I can do this. I want to jump into this but I need to sort of tiptoe into the water. I can’t leap into the deep end.” What are one or two things that you would recommend that an agency owner or a new business Dev person or maybe a senior account person who’s trying to create, build out their own network? What would you recommend, two or three things they can do on their own right now to sort of begin to wade into the water of the things we’ve been talking about today?

Phil Gerbyshak:

So the first thing they need to do is they need to understand who their perfect customer is. They need to understand as much about them as possible and do that research on social. Pick a channel that you’re comfortable with or that you’re willing to invest the time to get comfortable with. I don’t care if that’s Twitter or Facebook or LinkedIn. Though, I recommend LinkedIn or Twitter simply because there’s often the most business there and really spend some time in the platform. Connect to the other people in your office. Connect to other agency owners. Make some conversation. Join a few groups.

Just get involved and get comfortable kind of floundering around there because if you’re not comfortable yet, I promise you in 90 days, if you make this a priority, you can get comfortable. So you do that. You get comfortable with that and then I want you to be intentional about the connections you make from there. So of course, maybe your first 50 or 100 are random people, people that show up as people you might know and you customize every one of those invitations. That’s great or you follow them on Twitter and you make smalltalk with them. That’s great but then, you have that then that great customer persona.

You’re comfortable now on the platform. Now, I want you to go and hunt. Find the right people and try to engage them in conversations. Not telling you to try to add them on LinkedIn or force them to follow you on Twitter but I am saying, take a look at their profile. See if there’s things that you can remark on. See if there are things that you can use to pick up the good old-fashioned telephone and call them about. If there are, then I encourage you make the next steps you take to be very intentional. Where’s the value that you add that they need? Get that in front of them in a phone call. Get that in front of them in an email.

You can’t do it in an LinkedIn connection. LinkedIn does not allow you to send links in your connection and you don’t want to. I’m not telling you to sell. I am telling you to show value, so make those clear. Write up those lists. Think small. Think impact so that ultimately you can influence people’s thinking to get them to consider you. Then at the very end, you can turn those connections into conversion and increase your agency’s income by knowing where you’re valuable and knowing why people want to do business with you and giving them the opportunity to convert.

Drew McLellan:

Awesome. So before we go, I want you to tell everybody a little bit about your podcast because it is packed with good advice and interesting people. It should be on everybody’s radar screen. So can you give everybody just a quick snapshot of your podcast and where to find it?

Phil Gerbyshak:

Absolutely. Conversations with Phil is what I call it. I talk to smart people like Drew, like other people that we want to talk to that are [crosstalk 00:54:41]-

Drew McLellan:

You might want to give a better example just in case.

Phil Gerbyshak:

All right, so other people. I’ve talked to Tim Sanders, Bob Burg, Michael Port, talked to Lisa Haneberg. I’m talking to a lot of people, some that you’ve heard of, some that maybe you haven’t but everyone of them shares insights and actionable tips that you can have in your business or in your life. My first episode was with Dan Griffin. Dan Griffin is a men’s recovery specialist and just action-packed insight into how you can actually start healing yourself. I’ve got other folks that are all about kind of healing your business and making that better but it’s really about the stories and the actions you can take.

Every episode is only 20 to 30 minutes. I don’t go long. I’ve got a couple that are longer only because holy cow, I could not believe how fast the time went but I encourage you conversationswithphil.com is the easiest place to find that. If you follow me on Twitter @PhilGerb of course, I’m Tweeting it out often. It comes out Mondays and Thursdays at 7:00 AM Eastern time, 6:00 AM Central, 5:00 Mountain, 4:00 Pacific. Check it out. Let me know if there’s a great guest that you think should be on the show. Please let me know. Send me a note, real easy [email protected] You can always text me 414-640-7445. I’m still old-school. The last four of my cell phone, my phone still spells Phil so it’s kind of cheesy but it works and I’d love to hear from you.

Drew McLellan:

I love it. I love it. I love it. Okay, so you have demonstrated for the last hour exactly what you’re talking about by being valuable, by sharing what you know without expectation. You open up the door for opportunity and hopefully our listeners have caught onto that. All of the things that Phil has listed throughout the show, so all of the different tools he talked about, all the different ways including his personal cell phone number that he gave you, all of that will be in the show notes. So if you weren’t able to jot it all down fast enough, have no fear. Just go to the show notes and it will all be there. Phil, my friend, as always, thanks for bringing 120%. I am grateful for how much you are always willing to share and certainly for over a decade of friendship thank you so much for being with us today.

Phil Gerbyshak:

Oh, it was my pleasure, Drew. Thanks for having me, buddy.

Drew McLellan:

You bet. Okay, guys, that wraps up another action-packed episode of Build A Better Agency. Hopefully you took some rabid notes and you are out to make connections as soon as you’re done with the podcast. Please remember that we are here every week so if you have not subscribed … Let me try that again. If you have not subscribed, do so, so you don’t miss an episode. I will be back next week with another great guest who is going to help you build a better agency. In the meantime, if you’re looking to track me down you can find me at [email protected] I’ll talk to you soon, thanks.

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