Top Sales Influencer Jim Keenan's Blog


How Marketing Is Screwing Up Social Marketing

Hey, marketers, I have a suggestion. Reach out to some of the best social sellers in the world like, Koka Sexton, Brian Fanzo, Jack Kosakowski, Jill Rowley, Eric Mitchell, Carlos Gil, etc. and take notes. You need to learn how to social market because you’re making a mess out of it.

Social marketing is just like social selling. It’s about giving, not taking. It’s about sharing, and engaging, not about asking. Social marketing operates from the same principles that social selling does, yet for some reason too many marketers just don’t get it.

I got this email this morning;

Hi Keenan,

I am part of a great new software start-up company called, “We Don’t Know Social Marketing” Technologies. We are creating a mobile application that will breathe dramatic improvement into the lives of sales professionals. Basically, transforming great salespeople into legendary salespeople.

I have been reading and enjoying your blog, and wanted to talk to you about partnering up and having the opportunity to be a guest writer on your site.   I found your New Hiring post from the beginning of May particularly interesting, as we posted about LinkedIn and social profiles back in November.  Surprising that some people still don’t have public profiles in the sales world. You can read our post here, and the comments are a good read as well: “link to their post.” 

On our sales blog, we write about everything from “Bad Sales Habits to Avoid” to “Repairing your Customer Relationship” to polling and discussing if texting prospects is appropriate. We’d love to have the opportunity to be a guest blogger, as I think our posts would be of interest to your readers, and our company has the same edgy that you do.  Please let me know if this is a possibility we can discuss further.

Here is a link to the blog: “link to their blog.” 

I must get at two or three of these emails a week.  It drives me insane because 90% of the time, I’ve never heard of these people or met them before.

I get it. In today’s world links, retweets, blogger networks, thought leaders and more are critical to your success. You need links back to your site for SEO. You need popular bloggers, like traditional media of the past, to talk about you. You need thought leaders to know who you are and share your stuff on LinkedIn and Twitter. I get it, trust me. I know how important these things are to your job.  But, the way you’re going about it, is embarrassing and irritating.

Emails like the one above are annoying. They are invasive and selfish. Here’s what the email is really saying;
Check us out,! We’re a cool company and we’re gonna take over the world.
I know you’re a thought leader in the space were trying to compete in and therefore we need access to your audience. The audience you’ve meticuloulsy built up over the years, yeah we want access to that one.  We don’t follow you on Twitter. We’ve never shared your stuff. We’ve never commented on your blog. We’ve never connected with you LinkedIn so you probably don’t know who we are, but to soften that awkward fact, I’m going to reference a recent post you wrote to at least appear to be part of your community.
Now that I’ve gratitously said I like your work that I’m a “long-time” follower, even though I know you don’t know who we are. I’m now going to ask you to give me access to your community and brand so we can forward our own selfish agenda of growing our business.  But, knowing how selfish that sounds, we’re going to tell you how good our content is and how our request to access your community is really for your benefit, not ours, because our content is SO good your readers will just eat it up.
Now that I’ve wasted your time, trying to shamelessly get access to your communtiy and network, I’m going to prove to you how good our content really is and why were so good that saying yes is to a no brainer, by pointing you to a bunch of stuff on our website.
Thanks Keenan for letting us selfishly use you for our own gain.  You’re such a great guy!
I know it feels kinda creepy uh?  Well, that is exactly what is happening when marketers make these types of requests. It’s insulting to the recipient.
Social marketing is no different than social selling. You have to build relationships. You have to engage. You have to give. You have to share. You have to help. You have to earn the right to ask for access to someone’s community.
Social media makes it very, very, very easy to earn the right to ask, you just have to put in the work.
If you need someone to learn from, follow @PipelinerCRM on Twitter.  They are masters of how to social market. Recently they asked me to do a webinar with them. When I got the direct tweet, they required NO introduction. They had been retweeting my stuff, sharing, and engaging for months. I knew who they were, and they had built up tremendous social capital.  It was easy to say yes.
Do you want more links? Do you want access to thought leaders in your space? Do you want be a guest blogger? Then EARN IT . . . Please!!!!

What Are You Really Saying?

One of my favorite quotes is;

Your actions are speaking so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying!

I’m not sure why, but I’ve been saying this a lot lately.

It’s easy for us to say something. It’s easy to commit to an idea, an action, a movement.

What’s hard, is doing it. It’s hard putting in the work, the time, effort, taking action. Yet, that’s what everyone is watching.

What are you doing?

Being authentic with our voice means saying it with our actions. When our actions AND our voice are aligned, we’re being authentic and great things happen.

Our actions tell the true story. Our actions either quell our voice or expand it. When our voice and actions don’t align our ability to lead, influence, inspire, and support are jeopardized. We become inauthentic. When our voice and actions align our voice is magnified. We’re authentic. The vision is inspiring, our support is trusted, our influence amplified.

It’s not enough to say it, we have to do it, and that’s when it gets hard. It’s easy to speak, but hard to do.

What are you really saying? Don’t listen to yourself, watch yourself!

That’s what everyone else is doing.

How to Deal With Difficult Customers and Prospects

This week’s show The Word was one of the best. It tackled a subject I think many sales people struggle with and that’s the difficult customer or climate. It can seem cliche, but it’s not. Customers and prospects need to work with sales people in order for a good sale to take place and when they won’t everything goes south.

This episode of The Word tackles this challenge with Anthony Iannarino and Tim Ohai.  Anthony and Tim are brilliant and hit this subject exactly how I had hoped, directly and with fire.

They hit on it all. When to tell a customer to beat it. Why difficult customers exist. (This part may surprise you. Anthony’s answer was the shit.) How sales managers and sales organizations put the sales people in positions to have to deal with difficult customers and prospects and more.

This episode of The Word was awesome and we had a blast. These guys rock.

If you haven’t seen the other episodes of the word, you can see them here; The Word: A Jolt of Sales 411 w/Keenan


Why High Performance Sales Teams Are a Myth

This past week I had the absolute pleasure of hangin’ with two true sales badasses, Mike Wienberg author of New Sales Simplified and Kelly Riggs author of Quit Whining and Start Selling. These guys know selling and how to build world class sales organizations. So it was a blast spending 45 minutes freestylin’ on why sales teams aren’t performing and what it takes to get them there.

Anyone in sales knows how hard it is to build and maintain a highly functioning team so, breaking it down with them and sharing notes made for a great 45 minutes.

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As you would expect, many of the common issues plaguing sales teams came up, but so did some that I think will surprise you including, fear, bureaucracy and, believe it or not, the pressure to grow.  This was a great conversation. Mike and Kelly offered some straight-up truth bombs and some killer insight.

As I said in during the podcast, I high performing sales teams are a myth. I don’t believe a high performing sales team is a destination or something that can be achieved, but rather a constant journey or commitment. Too many factors change too frequently to ever reach the nirvana of a truly high performing team. Sales people quit, products change, competitors drop their pants on price, the industry shifts, etc., for there to be a destination called a high-performance sales team.  However, constantly pursuing a high-performance team gets you pretty damn close a lot more often and this session of Biz Lockeroom Radio does a great job breaking down what companies and sales leaders need to do to successfully kill it in the pursuit of a high-performing sales team.

Enjoy and if you’re not already be sure to follow Mike and Kelly on Twitter, they’ve always got good stuff to share.

The Surprising Benefit Of Social Selling The Best Are Leveraging

Yeah, yeah, we all know about the value of social selling for top of the funnel selling. How it’s great for engaging your prospects, and potential clients. We know it’s awesome for sharing information and insight.  We know it’s great for listening for prospect needs and complaints. But, social can be used for something else as well and it’s highly under used — learning.

Social, particularly Twitter are keenly structured to help you learn and find information, including long tail information. They allow you to find and access specific information from an array of people; authors, bloggers, fans, thought leaders and industry junkies.

Sales people often espouse the virtues of information in selling, yet we rarely build powerful, useful information absorption engines. We are reactive in our information intake. We look for the information when we need it, not before we need it.

Information works better when we have it before we need it when it’s been sitting in our heads, marinating in our sub-conscience. Therefore, getting more information in during our daily lives rather than when we’re cramming it in as we “research” a prospect or are studying for a big meeting is far more beneficial.

Social lets you put a bit of brilliance in your noggin every day. If that’s what you want then;

  1. Get on Twitter and create five hashtags around topics you want to learn about. Create a stream for each of them and check it at least twice a day. (You’re going to need HootSuite or TweetDeck, but they are free)
  2. As you come across articles, blogs and authors you like, follow them on Twitter and use Feedly to follow their blogs. Save the posts or articles in Instapaper or Evernote if you don’t have time to read them at the moment. Go back and read them later.
  3. Once your Feedly account grows, put time aside once a day to go through it and pick out the best posts.
  4. As you’re building your reading list, go to LinkedIn and follow the same people you follow on Twitter, remember, stick to those who create and offer information in the areas you want to learn.
  5. Review your LinkedIn stream once a day, looking for the best articles and posts, again saving them to Instapaper or Evernote.
  6. Put aside at least 1-2 hours (30 min – 1 hr. in the am and the in the pm) a day for reading from your social stream.

If you build a social learning cadence similar to this and stick to it, your knowledge and understanding of your space will grow exponentially. You will learn more in your areas of interest in a year than you have in the last 10 years. There is a ton of information out there. Information that’s not in your mainstream sources that will help you sell and grow.

Society is creating more information every 2 days than we did from the dawn of time until 2003.  Social is how you tap into that information stream.

Social has got mad value, and if you think it’s just for selling, you’re missing out.



The New Hiring Bar Surprisingly Few People Are Reaching

I’m having drinks with a friend. She runs a sales team for a mid-size company, and she’s sharing her frustration with finding impressive talent. She’s hiring and she’s lamenting about how difficult it is to find quality candidates.

Out of curiosity and because it’s what I do, I can’t help but ask her to tell me why she finds it so difficult.

She takes a sip of water, puts the glass on the table and starts describing her process. She says it starts with her recruiters sourcing the web, primarily LinkedIn and this is where the conversation is most interesting and you want to pay close attention. The rest of her story has no bearing or value to you, but it’s the very first part of her sales process that inspired me to write this post. It’s proof of a metamorphosis that is happening right now, that is affecting all of us, and if you’re not paying attention it will cost you. Amelia shares with me that she’s told her recruiters she will NOT meet with anyone who doesn’t have picture on their LinkedIn profile, or whose picture is not professional. Yup, you heard that correctly. NO picture no interest. A poor picture, not interested. If you look creepy or stupid, if your picture makes her uncomfortable, she’s not giving you a shot. But, that’s not it. In addition, Amelia said she won’t’ meet with anyone who doesn’t have at least 500 connections. Her logic, if they are a good sales person, they know how to use LinkedIn, and had better have built a network of at least 500 people. If not, she argues, they aren’t good sales people and aren’t worth reviewing. (To back up Amelia, A Sales Guy Recruiting also has clients who won’t see people without a picture.)

I hope you’re paying close to this. This information may be a disturbing truth bomb to some of you, but it’s real.

500 connections and a Picture

The Internet and social media are changing the way people are evaluated for jobs and if you haven’t adapted, you’re fucked. Fight it all you want, but it will do you no good. The world has changed, the industrial age is over. We’re now in the information age. No one does anything without going to Google first. No one does anything without information and if the information on you is bad, or worse non-existent, you don’t matter.

In 2011, (almost 4 years ago to this day), I predicted that the most valuable asset you could own would be your online presence. That was four years ago and this prediction is quickly coming to fruition. People want information, and if they don’t like what they see or if they can’t find anything, they move on. They make no investment in anything or anyone they can’t learn about before they engage.

500 connections and a picture are a low bar, yet it’s a bar too many people have yet to get over and it costs them tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

My friend won’t engage with you if you don’t have 500 connections and a profile picture that doesn’t creep her out. This is just the beginning. The bar is only going to be raised from here. We’re going to demand more and more from candidates, from those we’re looking to hire before we invest in getting to know them. Like companies, we’re going to want to see their work. We’re going to want to know who they know. We’re going to want to see their accomplishments. We’re going to demand a lot more information than we do today. Why? Because we’re in the information age, remember.

Consider this post a warning. Today it’s 500 connections and picture. Tomorrow it’s going to be a whole lot more. Will you be able to compete?

Tell Your Customer NO!

Can you tell your customer or prospect no?

You better.

When a prospect says; “Just send over a proposal.” But won’t give you any information about their company, what they are looking for, or what they want to accomplish. Say “No!”

When a customer asks you to reduce the price, but won’t have a discussion about why they want a lower price, the value they’ve received, or even offer what they’d like to pay. Say “No!”

If a prospect wants a demo, but won’t spend time to do a discovery call. Say “No!”

Here’s the deal. Customers and prospects can be demanding, They will ask for a lot, but it doesn’t mean you have to say yes every time.

Part of sales is telling your customer and prospects no. You’re not the customer’s bitch. You need to learn to say no.

The key is to position yourself as a peer and build a selling approach that increases your clients and customers ability to be successful. It’s not to be their gopher, their yes person or a pushover.

Some customers and clients see themselves in the driver’s seat and feel it’s their job to beat up salespeople. It makes them feel as if they are getting a good deal or taking control. Unfortunately, these people are misinformed and you don’t have to be the victim of their ignorance.

Good selling is helping. When people WON’T let you help them. Tell them “No!”, and move on.

Learn to say No! It’s one of the best tools salespeople have; if they learn how to use it.

Do You Have The Guts To Wear Red Suede Pumas?



These are my red, suede Pumas. They are my speaking shoes. I wear them on stage when I speak. These are my red, suede Pumas. In them are white fat laces. I lace them in a bar pattern. These are my red, suede Pumas. I wear them when I speak. I like my red, suede Pumas. My red suede Pumas accompany my jeans from Buckle and my red checkered shirt. This is what I wear when I speak.

In this blog is my content. I started writing it before I started wearing my red suede Pumas. I acquired the knowledge, insight, and expertise in this blog over years and years of practice, reading, implementing, experiencing and creation. In spite of how much I like my red, suede Pumas, they had nothing to do with the acquisition of my knowledge, nor did my jeans from Buckle or my red checkered shirts. My knowledge and expertise came from hard work and commitment.

Recently, I was asked to speak at a company sales kick-off. We hit it off. They were excited about me speaking; I was excited about speaking for them.  I loved the passion and enthusiasm of the team I was working with.  Towards the end of the negotiation, they asked a final question. They explained that they are a very conservative and formal organization and asked if I’d be willing to wear a suit or something more “business” attire like. They asked me NOT to wear my red, suede Pumas.

For a fleeting moment, my mind processed the idea of meeting their request, but before all the synapses finished firing my mouth blurted out NO!  And I meant it.

As it was coming out of my mouth, I realized that it could submarine the entire deal, and I’d lose the speaking engagement. But, I was OK with that. If they didn’t want to move forward, that was on them, and I couldn’t allow it to affect me. I’ve been in this situation before, and I say no every time. It gets’s easier and easier with each no. And this time was no different.

Here’s the deal. When you hire a speaker, you’re getting the speaker’s content, knowledge, insight, and expertise. You’re also getting the speaker –the person.  Asking a speaker to be someone different to fit your corporate culture is undermining the point of hiring a speaker.

I wear red, suede Pumas when I speak. They are my speaking shoes. I wear them on stage when I speak. In them are white fat laces. I lace them in a bar pattern. I wear my red, suede Pumas when I speak, and I like them. My red suede Pumas accompany my jeans from Buckle and my red checkered shirt. This is what I wear when I speak. It’s what I wear when I’m on stage — they have nothing to do with the value of my content.

If you want someone to wear a suit. Hire someone who wears a suit and not red, suede Pumas.

If you’re a speaker and have a brand you’ve built and managed, have the balls to stick to it. ‘Cause, if you’re not willing to fight in order to preserve your brand, why have a brand in the first place.

In the end, we came to terms, and I will be wearing my red, suede Pumas when I speak. I’m excited, and so are they. With that said, they made it clear they have other, larger, corporate events and if I wanted to participate in further events, I’d have to consider wearing a suit.

I said; “No!”

(But I do hope they change their mind. I like them!)

Women Need To Stop Trying To Balance Work And Home Life

For years, the idea of work-life balance has been the buzzword of the workforce, particularly for women.  It’s based on the idea that women need to figure out how to take care of their professional life and their home life.  They had to get the big presentation done, meet with clients, deliver the quarterly report AND chaperone the kids field trip, make dinner, clean the house, go on date night with their husband and more.  It seemed daunting and, therefore “work-life balance” became the motto women used to get control of their careening lives.

Teresa Taylor author of The Balance Myth has a different outlook. She argues work-life balance is a myth and she does a wonderful job of describing why in this video.

If you’re a woman battling the challenges of family and career, you’ll find this video emancipating.  Teresa tells a wonderful, yet emotional story about how she discovered that work-life balance was a myth and what she decided to do about it.

Teresa is going to be tackling the challenges and benefits of being a women in sales on The Word: A Jolt of Sales 411 w/Keenan this week. If you found her Ted Talk to be good, you’re not going to want to miss this live Google Hangout and Twitter chat.

Save your spot for The Word here.