How to write the best LinkedIn messages for social selling.


Remember what it was like to be the newbie on the first day of a new job and you didn’t know anyone in your office?

You have two choices: try to make friends with your colleagues, or sit by yourself at lunchtime every day.

Sales is a lot like that. You don’t know hardly anyone you try to sell to, and you can either make the effort to get to know them, or you can completely miss your sales targets. So, what’s it going to be?

When you’re starting in sales, most people know hardly anything about communicating with inbound leads. Let alone prospecting for outbound ones. But it doesn’t take long before they overcome their fears and realise that being a successful salesperson depends on initiating conversations. Just like making friends in a new office. If you want to generate interest from outbound leads, you need to put yourself out there.

Fortunately, you don’t just have to rely on cold calling anymore. One of the many tools used in social selling is LinkedIn. It’s particularly powerful because it allows you to connect one-on-one with potential customers in a way that you couldn’t before.

In the new data-driven age and the wake of GDPR, not everyone lists their information publicly on their company websites anymore. It can be hard to find contact information for everyone you want to reach out to.

This makes LinkedIn a great option when you’re running into a wall, trying to find a prospects email address or phone number. LinkedIn also features messaging and shows when your connections are online. Allowing you to have more personalised real-time conversations with your leads. It also allows for voice messaging and video messaging for those you’re connected to. Further increasing your ability to personalise your messages.

Before we start…

It’s always good to keep in mind that if you want to directly message people on LinkedIn that you’re not already connected with, you will need to be a LinkedIn premium user or purchase in Mail credits. Any LinkedIn member can message with a connexion request for free. Still, those messages are limited to 300 characters, and the recipient can decline your connection request without even seeing it. (Some people don’t like to be messaged by strangers; who knew!?)

So going on the basis you’re set up with LinkedIn premium and ready to go. Here are our top tips on nailing that first outreach:

Find that common ground.

The most significant advantage of using a LinkedIn message for outreach is the amount of information available relevant to your prospects job role, work history and interests. When you find a prospect on LinkedIn and want to connect with them, the first thing you should do is dig into their profile a little and find some common ground with the person you’re messaging.

If your prospect is active on LinkedIn, read what they are sharing and what they are interested in. Take note of their current position, how long have they been with their company and their past professional experience. You can also check which LinkedIn groups they belong to and find common areas between themselves and them. Are you working in the same area? Did you attend the same University, maybe? Do you know anything unique about their industry? Or it could be as simple as what do you find interesting in their profile?

The worst thing you can do is use the same message for every single prospect. Instead, use what you learned from LinkedIn to tailor your message to each individual. So that they know you paid attention to their profile and to who they are. By finding commonality between yourself and your prospect, you can ensure that when you’re crafting your first message that it’s targeted, personal and relevant.

Got any mutuals?

Another thing you can do is see if you have any connections in common with your prospect. It’s a lot easier to strike up a conversation with a stranger if there’s somebody else who can vouch for you. You can check if you have mutual friends or former coworkers in common and try asking one of your mutual connections to introduce you.

Another more traditional approach is to mention your mutual connection in your first message. You can start by writing something like ‘Hi [Prospect Name], I notice you and I are both connected to [Name of Mutual Connection], and thought I would reach out to connect to you as well.’ However, this approach has downfalls in that you don’t know the relationship that these people have and whether it is actually of value.

Keep it short & sweet.

One of the biggest mistakes people make is thinking of LinkedIn messages as emails, not instant messaging. This means not sending paragraphs of text when a few concise sentences will do the job just fine.

Your goal in a cold LinkedIn message is to get the recipient to respond; that’s it. So keep your message short and to the point so that your recipient actually reads it.

It can be challenging to keep your LinkedIn messages brief while still conveying warmth. Don’t be blunt; instead, focus on how you discovered their profile, what you have in common or what about their experience interests you.

Don’t go for the sell.

The biggest deadly sin in cold outreach is asking for a sale in your first message. If you feel the need to beg a stranger to buy your product, it sends a message that you aren’t successfully attracting customers and that your product probably isn’t worthwhile.

So when you introduce yourself to your prospects on LinkedIn, keep reminding yourself that your goal isn’t to push your service. It’s to make a connection and start a conversation.

Give them a reason to reply.

If you think about it receiving a message from a stranger, you’re not going to be inclined to respond unless they give you a good reason, right? While your first message should focus on establishing a relationship instead of selling, you want to include an ask to keep the conversation flowing.

Include a question in your message that will give them a reason to respond. This could be about their experience, their interests, a mutual connection or even their current role. People love to be helpful. So asking a prospect for insight or expertise on a specific topic will make them more inclined to respond.

Follow up.

You’re probably not going to be reaching out one lead at a time on LinkedIn. So you need to keep track of those you reach out to and follow up on them if they don’t reply straight away.

We’ve created another excellent guide for tips on following up, which you can find the link for here.

Or if email marketing is what you’re after, we wrote about that last week too!

Now that we’ve covered the basics for connecting with your prospects using LinkedIn, it’s now up to you to put them into practise and begin forming meaningful value-adding relationships.

Published: 1st March 2021

Mass emailing is dead. How to get back in the game and win business through email.


Mass email is dead. So, what’s next?

Put your hands up if you’ve ever spammed your prospects with email marketing.

We’d be amazed if you didn’t, most sales and marketing professionals have at some point in their career with varying levels of success.

Unfortunately, many companies haven’t stopped mass email marketing, and it’s muddied the practice. Making success from email marketing that much more challenging.

Today, we’re going to demonstrate the evolution of email prospecting and how to change your emails from old-school generic spam filter bait to a modern, focused and value-adding strategy.

What is mass email marketing?

You may not even be aware you’re doing it!

Mass email marketing is when you send the same email to an extensive list of prospects. This could be across any sector – marketing, sales, recruitment, even supermarkets do it!

It’s a marketing strategy that gained a bad reputation over the last few years after poor execution yielded a very low conversion rate.

Mass email is not customised, targeted or personalised, often being sent to an unfiltered audience who may or may not be interested in what you have to offer.

Buyers today expect targeted and customised emails that provide relevant information and offers to their immediate needs.

The Old-old School

Mass emailing used to generate enough leads to keep sales teams happy with a consistently full pipeline.

These typically included:

A piece of content to add value.

Using articles and blogs in mass emails is an old tactic to draw away from the fact the email is clearly not personalised.

You knew the content would grab your buyer’s attention and hoped it would be enough to action the second part of your email.

The connection request.

To be closing sales, you must always be asking. Or so they say! Asking for a call or offering a consultation of some kind shows interest in your prospects’ business and piques their interest in how you could help.

So, these old school emails weren’t inherently bad. However, they don’t work anymore and here’s why:

Openings were too generic.

Terms like ‘Hi there’ or ‘Good morning/afternoon’ are an automatic switch-off for most. It automatically rings automated email alarm bells in your prospect’s brain.

Follow that with a generic question like ‘Are you looking to increase sales right now?’ or ‘What does your marketing strategy look like this quarter?’ and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Your prospects don’t know why you’re asking them, and you’re not giving them a reason to care. They are busy and are probably zoned out and moving to other emails before they even finish yours.

Making assumptions.

Nobody wants a random salesperson to insult them – especially through a mass email.

When you include comments such as ‘You really need to work on X or Y’, ‘Our service can fix X problem for you’ or ‘You’re leaving money on the table not using us’ you instantly switch your prospects to the defensive.

A better approach would be to research your prospects before sending an email. Then include something you really like about their process or service then suggest an idea or two on what can be improved or share your experience of helping a similar company.

This is a much less direct and jarring approach to offering your help. It allows you to provide immediate value, without being too pushy or offensive.

Putting all the work on them.

Using vague or non-committal calls to action puts all the work on them. ‘Let me know what works for you’ or ‘When would you be free for a call?’ leaves it up to them to not only reply but then wait for a response and still be interested further down the line.

A much more proactive way to close would be to include a calendar link or booking tool. ‘I’d love to learn more about your unique business challenges. Click here to book in a no-strings consultation: [Link to calendar]’

Personalised… but not.

Whatever the cause, a combination of the ones we detailed above or another email faux pas, prospects stopped opening and responding to emails.

The industry started to adopt ‘personalising’ emails, just not to the extent they should’ve.

Without changing much of the email content, they started greeting each prospect by name and suggesting specific call or meeting times.

‘Would you be free to discuss at 3 pm on Tuesday?’

Looking back, it’s not too hard to see why adding someone’s name and demanding their time still didn’t work. Your prospects will still see through this type of copy and pasted template.

The Answer

It’s been a confusing transition. After all, not so long ago, these same prospects would have been responding to these types of emails.

All of a sudden it seems like adding their name isn’t enough, adding their company name isn’t enough.

So, what’s the answer?

Your prospects don’t want ‘personalised’, they want tailored, focused, and value-adding content so give them what they want.

Don’t be afraid to send emails one by one, quality over quantity.

Focus on them.

Detail an event in their professional life; perhaps they run a podcast you could listen to and comment on. Or they’ve just posted a great article on Linked In. Whatever it is, use it to build that initial relationship.

‘You did a brilliant job on your recent podcast on [Subject]. How do you think this will change as XYZ develops further?’

Connect the dots.

Connect their role and expertise to your own or the company you represent.

‘I had a few ideas on X related to your project with Y, which I recently read about on your company LinkedIn profile. I help SME’s like yourselves bring their business to the national market through a unique multichannel approach.’

Galvanise your CTA.

Provide a specific time and method to continue the conversation without being demanding.

‘What’s the easiest way for us to get 10 minutes together on Thursday to share how our expertise could be mutually beneficial? For me, it’s through my Calend.ly here.’

Using the tips above, you should start to see your email prospecting begin to pick up again.

So, start sending and tracking truly value-adding emails to your prospects and see what combination works best for you.

While you’re at it, why not try using personas to tailor your messages further. And how to increase your credibility through social proof.

Oh, you want to make email prospecting even easier? Click here to learn more about Intelligent Talk and how our unique methodology can open the doors to new business opportunities for you.

Published: 22nd February 2021

“Recruiters are now marketers – they just need to think like them!” Guest blog by Brogan Lovatt


If you’d have spoken to me five years ago and said, ‘You’ll be working in marketing before long!’ I’d have laughed in your face.

I was climbing the career ladder in corporate recruitment, managing three teams and determined to become the youngest director in the companies’ history.

I was a recruiter! That was nothing like marketing.

Right?

At first glance, recruitment and marketing seem worlds away with barely anything in common. It doesn’t take a lot of digging though, to see that today’s potential candidates employ similar tactics as buyers do when considering new products or services.

If you’re a recruiter, you should already know that your clients and candidates have been driving change for the last few years. The days are gone where you could just reach out on LinkedIn or post a job ad, sit back and wait for the applications to roll in.

Huh, recruitment is like marketing?

As a recruiter, you need to stand out and use innovative channels to find your audience. Use these to start real and meaningful conversations with them. Just like a marketer!

In our ever-changing, digital world, recruiters are now marketers, and if you don’t think so – you’re wrong.

Recruitment is all about using marketing tactics and techniques to attract, hire and retain candidates and clients.

So, without realising: using social media, content marketing, email nurturing, video, referrals, employer branding, events and data analytics – I was already grooming myself into a marketer.

A recruiter’s role is to turn an applicant into a hire. Just the same as a marketer converting leads into a sale.

The Changing Recruitment Environment

The way that people search for and apply for jobs is entirely different now from how it was. Which means you need to know where they are spending time. Plus, how and when to communicate with them to stay successful as a recruiter.

Like a marketer, you need to understand your audience and how to reach them using personal and relevant conversations.

The biggest mistakes I saw recruiters make in my eight-years of experience were people just doing what their competitors are doing. Without giving thought to the industry’s changing nature and their roles as recruiters.

Start to think like a marketer, and you’ll always be ahead of your ‘that’s the way we’ve always done things’ competitors.

You are fighting for your candidates’ attention, they have options now! Candidates today want purpose, cultural fit and inspired leadership. 

Having a strong employer brand, showcasing your existing staff and why they genuinely love working for you. This make it easy for your potential hires to interact with your brand through social media and content marketing.

It is your job to have an online presence to build your digital visibility. You need to become part of the communities where your potential clients and candidates spend their time!

In essence, you need to adopt a marketing mentality.

Digital technology has changed the game forever, if you don’t, you won’t be in the recruitment game for much longer.

Why Does It Matter?

Hiring the right staff is critical for the health and continued success of a business.

Proactive, rather than reactive recruiting, should become the new norm allowing recruiters to attract new talent through employee branding, social media and sharing videos focused on company culture.

Adopting a marketing mindset allows you to create a brand presence, attract candidates through multiple channels and nurture your applicants through a talent acquisition funnel.

No More Word of Mouth Marketing

Marketing channels are increasingly digital-focused, companies are working remotely, everything happens online now.

Sharing, engaging, commenting and interacting with your brand is all done at the click of a button.

Social media is just another marketing channel to make real human connections, start conversations and expose your brand to more potential candidates and clients.

 To break away from the pack, you need to act differently and think differently.

Changing Your Mindset

Today buyers complete 70% of the buying process before they even make contact with a real live person.

Great companies are built with great people, so make the most of yours by preparing them to be more like marketers and less like recruiters.  

The internet changed the way candidates search for jobs almost precisely the same way it changed the buyer’s journey. In a digital-first world, your employer branding is more important than ever before.

You can apply the same tactics as today’s marketers to reach candidates (and particularly passive candidates) at the candidate journey’s various stages.

Alternatively, you can continue to do the same thing you always have and find yourself becoming redundant in the process.

You don’t have to go the whole hog as I did and move entirely into marketing, but don’t get left behind.

Published: 15th February 2021

How salespeople can gain credibility in 2021 – Social proof and how to use it.


Since the recent popularity of our Social Proof post on LinkedIn we thought we’d dig a little deeper on the subject.

In business there is little that matters more than your credibility, your reputation.

Do your customers value your services?

Do your prospects trust in your ability to deliver?

These are the types of questions answered by your reputation, before your salespeople ever interact with a prospect – your credibility and social proof speak first. 

What’s the difference?

Your credibility is caused by the actions that you take directly that influence what others think of you, Social Proof is the reputation you hold through what others are saying about you. The two are closely linked and sometimes overlap but for this purpose, we’re separating the two.

Building credibility:

Fancy strategies, marketing campaigns and business development all have their place. But if you really want your business to succeed, you need to be trusted in your industry.

That’s where credibility comes in.

Building credibility is complex; it takes a long time to build your clients trust. Even more work is needed to maintain it.

However, complex and difficult, it is absolutely vital for small businesses and huge corporations alike. Without it, your business will find it difficult to attract and retain clients.

If you want to build credibility, you need to put in the effort. Show your clients that you are trustworthy:

Never sell a solution that isn’t in your customers best interest.

You won’t always be perfect for everyone. Sometimes, you don’t have the right solution at the right price. When this happens, it’s always best to be honest with your client, instead of proposing something you know won’t deliver what the client is looking for.

Never misrepresent the features, advantages or benefits of a product or service.

Your clients don’t want a product or service that only comes close to meeting their requirements. Give them a full, unvarnished truth of your capabilities, then let them decide if your solution will work for them.

Don’t promise anything you can’t deliver.

Some salespeople find it very difficult to say no to their clients about anything. However, telling your clients a certain solution with specific features and benefits will be delivered by a certain deadline, when you know you can’t deliver, will always be a recipe for disaster.

Keep pricing consistent to all clients.

You will poison relationships with your clients if they discover the discrepancies.

If problems develop after a sale, don’t make excuses and place blame; fix the problem.

Your salespeople are the face of your company, make sure that they are delivering on the promises they made and aren’t passing the buck down the line.

Don’t withhold bad news.

If you think your clients will be upset when you deliver bad news, imagine how much worse it would be when they found out you knew bad news three weeks ago and didn’t tell them.

If you must speak of your competitors, be respectful.

Some salespeople think that if they trash-talk the competition, it will make their services look better. Usually, it just makes them look petty and immature.

Give your word and keep it.

Above all, you must do what you said you would when you said you would do it. This is one skill that will put you head and shoulders above your competition and see your credibility soar.

Now you’re doing all of the right things to build your credibility across your existing customers, here’s how you mobilise it into an essential tool to attract new clients.

Social Proof is the trust, brand, and reputation you build through your service testimonials, reviews, likes, and online mentions.

It has a hugely powerful psychological effect of your potential clients. This is because the feedback comes directly from your current and previous clients – positive messaging about your service from those who use it and not your marketing team.

Your future clients will see this social proof as their peers giving your team and services an endorsement.

A recent Trustpilot study showed:

–      66% said that the presence of social proof increased the likelihood of choosing a particular service.

–      Positive star ratings and reviews are the most important trust symbol with 82% saying it would make them likely to purchase.

–      Positive star ratings and reviews on your website will drive 86% of prospects to choose your service.

So, what are the different types of Social Proof?

–      Star ratings

–      Reviews

–      Client testimonials

–      Industry recognised certifications

–      Case studies

–      Public figure/Influencer endorsements

–      Company social media presence

There are many forms of social proof, but some make bigger trust signals than others. Some prospects may hold more respect for your positive reviews, whilst your client testimonials will influence others. That’s why it’s important to build all different types of trust signals and socially prove yourself in this digital age.

Tailoring your signals to your target audience:

Most important of all is to understand who your audience is. Once you identify them, you can share the social proof that matters most to them.

Baby boomers are more likely to be influenced by case studies and reviews, whereas Gen Z put more faith in social media presence.

If you know your audience, you know where to focus your attention.

How social proof works:

Despite being well and truly in the digital age, surrounded by ads and social media noise; it’s now harder than ever to inform, build trust with and engage your prospective clients.

The days of clients relying on advertisements and word of mouth when choosing services are long gone. They now look for social proof.

Social proof helps in the four main areas your prospective clients look for:

Uncertainty – Looking for guidance in an unfamiliar situation, e.g. a company looking to branch out into a new market.

Similarity – Gathering and using feedback from sources they relate to, e.g. successes and feedback from a competitor or company working in a similar field.

Expertise – Valued opinions and verification from people who are more knowledgeable and experienced than themselves.

Numbers – The number of satisfied customers in your client base or transparency of the ROI they received is greatly influential for those of your prospective clients who are financially focused.

Your prospects require guidance and help to trust you; social proof offers this in the authentic formats they want.

Where to use it:

All marketing efforts across all industries work better when they use social proof. However, you must be aware that they can work differently in different formats and places.

For example, guest blogs or endorsements from influencers and thought leaders are great to raise your brand awareness. If you’ve got a prospective client trying to choose between two suppliers, case studies and testimonials should be your main focus.

For your social proof to work for you most effectively, it must be delivered the right way at the right time, to the right audience.

Like everything important, using social proof takes a lot of work and effort.

Partnering with business development experts like Intelligent Talk can help get your social proof in front of your ideal clients, building meaningful and honest relationships.

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help take your business development efforts to the next level.

Published: 8th February 2021

So you want more high-value customers? This one tip will make all the difference.


If you take a good look at any business that has been successful in the last couple of years. There is a very strong possibility that you will see a clear Unique Selling Point or USP.

Your Unique Selling Point is essential to building your business and continuing growth. That’s why we’ve put together some ways you can work on your USP and help draw even more customers to your business.

So much more than just a way of selling your business, your USP needs to be part of your company’s culture, the foundation even. 

What on earth is a USP?

It’s the thing that sets you apart from your competitors. It gives your business it’s edge in the mind of your clients and potential clients and makes you stand out.

If you break it down; unique means that no one else does it yet. Selling point means the reason your clients spend their money on you or your service. These aren’t just gimmicks, they’re the reason to buy from you.

If you’re a marketing automation company that offers a full brand review with every sign-up, that’s a USP. 

What isn’t a USP is price. Don’t get sucked into the belief that being the cheapest is a USP, neither being the cheapest or the best is unique. Most businesses think they offer the best service for the most competitive price. Equally, for most of them, it isn’t true. 

With a strong enough USP, your pricing will be worth it- no need to try and offer bargains if your service is worth so much more!

Developing a strong USP ensures your customers focus less on price.

If you can develop a strong and genuine USP, the prices you charge become secondary to the service you provide. Clients will pick your business because of the USP and will be willing to pay the extra for it. These are the types of clients you want to attract, those that choose you for price will always be looking for a cheaper deal elsewhere.

Many companies develop or build their company around a USP. If you’ve been trading for a while and still aren’t sure what yours is – speak to your clients, their reasons for using you may not be what you expect.

Reach out to your clients and ask them why they chose you and keep track of the answers. You’ll probably start to see a trend appear in their answers, that’s your USP.

It’s absolutely vital to identify your true USP, the one that exists in the minds of your clients. You may set out to have the best quality service within your industry, but if your clients actually choose you because you have friendly, knowledgeable staff then that’s your USP.

Helping focus your marketing efforts.

Knowing your USP and having it tried and tested with your clients suddenly makes marketing your business a lot easier. Sticking to your USP and avoiding anything that deviates from it builds consistency and integrity for your brand.

Take Krispy Kreme for example, their USP is that their donuts are baked fresh in store throughout the day, guaranteeing the best customer experience. They even went so far as integrating a unique sign that illuminated when the ovens were on, notifying customers that hot, fresh donuts were imminent. 

When Krispy Kreme then started allowing cold, off-site baked donuts to be sold in supermarkets to gain an extra revenue stream, they damaged the brand integrity and lost touch with their client base which nearly cost them their business.

Keep it simple.

The best USPs are simple and easy to maintain. This also helps to keep your business easy to market, because the reason to work with you and your company message is clear.

Without a USP, you may find marketing your company and services a struggle. When such a simple concept can make it far easier to generate new business and boost your success, you’d be crazy not to!

Published: 1st February 2021

2020 The Lasting Effects – Hybrid Offices & The Future of Sales


In general, 2020 is regarded as a year that no-one would want to revisit.

Sure, there have been worse years in history. But nearly all of us alive have seen nothing even remotely close to last year.

To give a little context:

  • You would need to be over 100 years old to remember the devastation of World War I and the 1918 flu pandemic.
  • You’d need to be about 90 to have a sense of the true deprivation caused by the Great Depression.
  • Finally, you’d have to be in your 80s to have any memory of World War II and the horrors it brought with it.

The rest of us had no frame of reference and no training for what occurred. The natural disasters, the civil unrest and of course the virus that turned the whole world upside down and to date, has ended the lives of around 1.5 million people globally.

If 2020 were a dystopian movie, you’d probably turn it off.

It wasn’t the thrilling, action-packed apocalypse we were conditioned to expect. It was, despite being woven with immense pain, maddeningly mundane for most, the average every day turned against us all.

Businesses that could, worked out how to set up their operations remotely. Many didn’t have that privilege and were led to making redundancies or closing up completely. Meanwhile, we realised just how essential our NHS heroes, supermarket workers and logistics staff really are.

But we’re not talking about ‘history’ here, not how you’d normally think of it. This was last year; you don’t need reminding what happened, you were there.

No one knows for certain what the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be. And it will be quite some time before we do.

However, the history of previous calamities and disasters tells us two things; Firstly, even in severe economic crises, downturns, and recessions, some companies gain an advantage and are able to grow. Secondly, crises not only produce a multitude of short-term changes but also some lasting ones.

So, what’s already happened?

Businesses innovated to help the world cope with the pandemic.

As the pandemic worsened, it put global supply chains under an unprecedented amount of strain. Items needed most, medical equipment like masks and gloves, ironically, were often produced in locations such as Wuhan, China and these links were severed by the virus.

Companies of all sizes adjusted quickly and went into overdrive to help provide medical equipment and support.

Companies such as BrewDog utilised their distilleries to switch from producing alcohol to hand sanitiser. Ford collaborated with several other companies to build respirators and ventilators. Clothing companies switched to making medical gowns and masks. Tech giants IBM created the High-Performance Computing Consortium to offer high-class computing resources for the medical and science communities.

The business world said “Black Lives Matter”

The awareness of racial injustice took a huge leap forward in 2020. In some ways, CV-19 played a part in this as BAME communities were some of the worst hit by the virus and are twice as likely to die of COVID-19 in the UK. But the cold, undeniable video of American George Floyd’s murder was a tipping point.

Along with protests and marches across the globe, nearly every organisation felt a need to say or do their part in supporting Black Lives Matter, showing their commitment to justice.

Many companies did this by committing to raising the level of Black representation in management or buying from and supporting more Black-owned brands. There is a more comprehensive list of actions here.

Many symbolic statements were just as important. One that really stood out came from the most unexpected source of BabyNames.com. Usually a happy place for expecting parents to explore names for their newest family member, the site posted a black box with white lettering; listing dozens of names of black men and women who had been tragically killed by police or white supremacists. This was joined with a simple statement: “Each of these names was somebody’s baby.”

The definition of corporate responsibility has hugely expanded.

Companies are increasingly being held responsible for a much broader spectrum of their ‘impact’ on society outside of the usual physical aspects such as treatment of workers, land use or pollution.

This was made clear when Disney launched the live-action remake of Mulan last year. Part of the movie was filmed in areas of China that have detained at least 1 million Muslim Uighurs, one of the world’s biggest human rights disasters.

They received an enormous amount of criticism and push-back because of this decision and became a lesson in the new expectation of companies. How a company treats communities, social issues, and the natural world is increasingly under scrutiny and is now key to how the C-suite and business entity as a whole is judged.

What’s next? 

Reassess your business growth.

Businesses now need to reassess their growth opportunities in the ‘new normal’ and adapt their business models to better understand and take advantage of new types of opportunities.

The pandemic has not only disrupted global business practice and consumption; it has forced and allowed people to unlearn old habits and adopt new ones.

Most studies show it takes between 21-66 days to fully form a habit, which means each lockdown has lasted long enough to significantly change habits that had previously been the foundation of your client relationships.

To emerge from the ongoing crisis in a stronger position, you must develop an understanding of the changing habits of your existing and prospective clients. For many, that will require new processes to detect and assess those changes before they happen.

Unless you sensitise yourself to these new habits and their ongoing effects on your client’s decision making, you’ll fail to identify upcoming problems and miss opportunities in new areas.

Take a new perspective. 

By taking a new perspective outside of what you’re currently focusing on, you can identify potential blind-spots and further opportunities.

Who in your industry is doing well? What are they focusing on? What products are they pushing, or are they launching new ones?

The same goes for your clients too: Who has stayed loyal? Which are showing a change in behaviour or a withdrawal from your service? Are there any new needs emerging due to the crisis that you could provide support for?

Don’t forget your own teams: What workplace changes are being adopted by leading companies? What new challenges are your employees facing? What new methods are your employees responding well/badly to?

Once you’re armed with this new knowledge, you will know where your opportunities lie, and you can reshape your business to make the most of them.

Get comfortable with hybridisation.

Even pre-pandemic, questions have been raised about the effectiveness of the traditional 9-5 office set up. When the age of COVID-19 dawned, the future of the office was thrown well and truly into limbo.

Remote working became the new normal instantly for most companies that could make the switch. Employees retreated to home offices, kitchen desk setups and other makeshift alternatives to complete their roles as best they could.

Many have thrived under these new circumstances. A recent study by Citrix found that 69% of employees working remotely reported to be more productive now than when they were working from the office. Others have found the switch incredibly difficult due to loneliness, poor conditions and declining mental health.

The only certainty through this pandemic is that things cannot stay the same as they were before.

We feel that the solution will lie in a middle-ground of flexible working. One that caters to each individual’s strengths and habits – the hybrid office.

In its most basic form, a hybrid office allows employees to work in the workplace and remotely. It is a versatile solution that can be adapted to suit the needs of almost all companies.

For some, it could mean a fixed office building with hot-desks available for ad hoc usage; for others, it could be more dynamic, allowing for alternating hours or a rota schedule.

Most importantly, it caters to flexibility, allowing employees to choose where and how they want to work.

When done right, this hybrid approach combines the use of a physical space and digital technology to create an innovative and agile workforce. Taking the best elements of the traditional setup and optimising them with remote working. Thus allowing the business to exist as successfully in the digital realm as it does in the physical.

Many larger companies have already adopted this approach. Implementing 2-3 remote days weekly with individuals working from the office the rest of the time. Although the hybrid solution does feel like the logical next step for most. It’s important to remember it isn’t a one-size-fits-all method and any decisions should be made with the input of all employees and with their best interest at its core.

What does this mean for sales? 

With all of these changes coming and some that have already arrived, what’s next for sales? One thing we can be sure of is the gap between businesses and their clients has never been broader. Sales and business development must adapt to bridge that gap.

Technology is evolving, but research is still king.

Technology is always evolving; it has its place and it’s okay not to know the answer to all your client’s questions all the time. Learn to ask questions, actually listen and add value in your response – trust us, your prospects will thank you. To do this well, you have to do your research.

At Intelligent Talk, we’ve written numerous posts and shared templates on how important your research is and how to go about it. This hasn’t and won’t change – people buy from people they like; you get them to like you by getting to know them.

Efficiency will lead to a greater need for training.

To grow and be successful in a post-COVID landscape, salespeople will need to be efficient, technology-supported and effective. Those that aren’t will probably be replaced by technologies put in place by those that are.

This means there will be a much higher need for sales training. These will focus around navigating new and complex sales processes efficiently and around the ever-important conversational skills.

More sales = more specialised. 

Sales will need to become more specialised in order to continue adding value to your clients. Expecting one person to specialise in research, prospecting, outreach, discovery, negotiation, closing and account management is simply unrealistic.

Now more than ever, it is important to have the right people doing the right jobs. Invest in your marketing efforts to generate leads and support your prospecting. Have project managers to research and conduct pre-sale activities. Develop your account executives, so they become fully comprehensive account managers, delivering the best service to each client.

Get more leverage by using technology.

Evolve your services to include data-driven automation. By accessing more data and expanding your sales stack, you facilitate your sales and business development reaching a higher level of success in spite of less-than-ideal circumstances.

Companies unafraid of expanding their use of technology will come head and shoulders above their competitors in the years to come.

In Summary

In times of crises, it’s often the go-to to relapse back into old habits, to when things last felt secure.

But this is the time where new approaches are the most valuable and need to be embraced. 

While preparing yourself or your company for the ‘new normal’ don’t allow yourself to be limited by traditional information or behaviour.

Challenge your own thought processes, revamp your business strategy and invest in the right areas to not only survive but thrive in a post-pandemic world.

Whatever the future of sales is, there has never been a more exciting time to be a part of it. It’s clear to see that the future still holds plenty of opportunities for those willing to innovate.

Published: 29th January 2021

These top sales books will keep you motivated to beat the competition and smash targets in 2021.


The right book can change your perspective, boost your sales prowess and unlock more potential than you ever thought possible.

For many salespeople around the world right now, we’re starting the year as we ended it – working from home. It’s a lot more difficult to get motivated without the buzz of the office or sales meetings with your colleagues to get you going. So, whether its motivation, new techniques or inspiration you need – we’ve got you covered!

For Techniques:

“Jeffrey Gitomer’s Sales Manifesto”

Author Jeffrey Gitomer reveals some of the most out-dated sales tactics, then shows you how to replace them with modern sales strategy. Helping every salesperson reach the top and stay there – this is a straightforward, no-nonsense masterclass in the art of selling.

“Let’s Get Real or Let’s Not Play”

Sales culture has long since moved past just getting new customers and demands a new kind of sales book. Co-authors Mahan Khalsa & Randy Illig show how focusing your efforts on helping your clients succeed is the key to closing deals and generating repeat business.

“Smart Calling”

Although originally published in 2013, “Smart Calling” remains one of the highest-rated books on selling by phone. With all-new examples from the world of sales, the 2020 updated version brings with it even more advice for turning the act of cold calling into a lucrative sales tool.

“Eat Their Lunch”

If you want to solidify your company’s advantage against its competitors, Anthony Iannarino’s “Eat Their Lunch” is the book for you. A step-by-step playbook that explains enabling growth and increasing your company’s market share by winning over your competitors’ clients.

For Motivation:

“Go for No!”

Learning how to use failure to find success is key to keeping motivated in sales. Unlike most sales books, this book features a fictional character who jumps ahead 10 years to meet a more successful version of himself. The trick is that his “future self” will only come about if he overcomes his self-limiting belief system and fear or failure. A truly intriguing read, you can find out more by watching this video.

“The Most Important Question”

This book is perfect if you have trouble defining your goals. With so many possibilities and others’ expectations, it can be difficult to get what you want and even harder to enjoy it. Peep Vain gives a simple, easy to follow method for maintaining balance so that more urgent demands don’t detract from your bigger goals.

“Mindset”

Dr Carol Dweck has written more than just a sales book. “Mindset” explores a groundbreaking, yet simple concept: those who believe their abilities can grow are more likely to succeed than those who believe their abilities are limited.

For Inspiration:

“To Sell Is Human”

Daniel Pink shows you how serving customers first and selling to them second, is a natural extension of our ability to move the people we care about to do the things we want. This is a must-read if you’re looking for a more organic approach to selling.

“Sell It Like Serhant”

For those of you new to selling, Ryan Serhant’s guide is one of the best books to start with. It talks you through negotiating tips, finding your USP and guides you through managing and closing multiple deals.

“The Go-Giver”

If you’re looking for an alternative to the ‘dog-eat-dog’ world of sales, then look no further than co-authors Bob Burg & John David Mann. This book contains valuable sales and life lessons through the tale of a go-getting executive who meets a legendary sales consultant and goes on to learn the secrets of success.

There are many more books out there teeming with knowledge; these are just a few of our favourites. What would you recommend?

If you’ve enjoyed this post, why not check out our others here.

And remember, if you are tempted to purchase any of these books, there are plenty of independent booksellers who would really appreciate your custom in these trying times.

Published: 4th January 2021

10 Shocking sales statistics that will change the way you sell in 2021.


For those of you that have been in sales a long time, it can be an uncomfortable thought that you need to change your approach.

These sales statistics reflect the cold hard truth of what you’re coming across every day but may not have noticed.

These statistics we’ve put together will help you get on track to boost your sales in 2021.

  1. Nearly all customer interactions happen over the phone. Email is a wonderful and powerful tool, but nothing compares to the real-life human connection.
  2. 15% of a salespersons time at work is spent leaving voicemails. Sometimes leaving a voicemail is necessary. But 15% of your total time at work is a big chunk of time that could be better spent elsewhere. So, if you must do it, make sure it’s getting results.
  3. Around 40% of salespeople don’t feel prepared for their calls. Having enough information in front of you before a call is essential. It builds confidence and makes for much more successful calls to both new and existing clients.
  4. 92% of salespeople give up after being told ‘no’ four times; however, 80% of prospects say ‘no’ four times before saying ‘yes’. It would be best if you got comfortable with the feeling of rejection. The more times you hear ‘no’, the closer you are to a ‘yes’ – persistence is key. 
  5. Almost 50% of prospects contacted by email will mark it as spam. You may be sending your emails from a legitimate source, but if you don’t do your research and catch their attention, chances are you’re going into the spam folder next time.
  6. 35% of prospects will access your emails on their phone. Keep your emails short and to the point and avoid including too many graphics.
  7. Increasing your client retention by 5% can improve your profits by as much as 95%. Focusing on constantly improving your service offering and continue building rapport with your regular clients can boost sales as much as new business.
  8. 80% of potential clients can be reached through social media. We live in the digital age, utilise it when trying to reach your prospects, and you will maximise your success. 
  9. 85% of prospects are not satisfied with their experience from salespeople over the phone. Make sure your calls are productive and professional by being prepared for every possible outcome that may take place on the call. Researching your prospects not only helps build rapport but also trust and credibility.
  10. 3 out of 4 managers will take action from a cold call or email. When you give your prospects the information and successfully create a value proposition, they will want to follow up with the next stage of the process.

Data and information are only as good as the action you take as a result of it. These stats aren’t hard and fast rules for every situation, but if you allow them to help you think about solving problems in different and more creative ways, then they’ve done their job.

Another great way to ensure sales success is knowing your audience, if you’re not working from customer personas already – you should be! 

Published: 28th December 2020

The final push – How to stay motivated in the run up to Christmas.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s also a huge productivity killer and being motivated isn’t always the top priority.

The Christmas season is a time to celebrate and enjoy yourself, but – can you do this while staying productive at work?

We’ve put together our Top 5 Tips to stay productive, without becoming a grinch!

Plan Ahead: 

The first thing that can do wonders for your productivity is planning. December is here so set aside a little time to note down that all-important to-do list. It’s so satisfying to cross something off your list and helps keep you on track when you can see what is still left to do.

Don’t Over Commit: 

It can be tempting to take on one last project before the Christmas break, but nothing kills motivation more than an unachievable goal. Use your list from step one (check it twice!) and make sure you have enough time to add a new commitment if not, it can wait until the New Year!

Enjoy It: 

The best way to keep yourself and your colleagues motivated during the festive season is to enjoy it! Arrange small ways to celebrate together – have a festive feast in the office where everyone brings their favourite Christmas snacks or if you’re working remotely, arrange a virtual Christmas party or arrange a remote Secret Santa.

Engage With Your Customers: 

Christmas is the perfect time to really interact with your clients. Send out Christmas cards, check in with a pre-Christmas call or consider an interactive social media campaign: It’s the ideal chance have fun and strengthen relationships!

Wrap It Up: 

We’re not talking gifts here! Knowing you’re coming back to work with a list of goals you’d like to achieve in 2021 can give you that much-needed boost to get you through to the end of the year. You know you’ll have a headstart for getting back into the swing of things!

Jingle all the way…

… to a motivated and fun end to the year! Remember to take some time off to decompress, but don’t lose sight of yours and your clients’ goals too! Think about what you want to achieve, and we’ll be right here cheering you on and bringing in the holidays with a big plate of mince pies!

Have you got any more tips for staying motivated during the festive season? We’d love to hear them – let us know in the comments!

Published: 21st December 2020

The perfect match – How aligning sales and marketing transforms businesses.


Marketing works. Sales works.

Independently these teams function, but when they work together, it can be incredibly powerful.

Think Shaggy and Scooby, Batman and Robin, Mario and Luigi, Buzz and Woody.

These all have one thing in common – they’re all fantastic duos where you can’t imagine one without the other. I mean you probably could, but they’d be nowhere near as good!

The same should go for your sales and marketing functions.

It’s not all smooth sailing:

Bringing these two teams together can be a tricky process for several reasons. It isn’t easy to measure and takes a lot of people management but, if you want success for your business – it has to be done.

The more sales and marketing work in unison, the more successes the business will see. Most companies will have separate sales and marketing teams, but to reach your customers from all angles, they must work together.

Marketing campaigns are put in place to build brand awareness and inform customers of your services – this then generates leads. 

The sales team are there to convert those leads into new business opportunities by following up with the customers and giving more information.

Marketing works well on its own but where’s the sense in generating leads with no sales team to follow them up?

Sales can also generate their own leads, but this tends to be a much slower process, and why should they do it all themselves when they could be utilising the marketing leads too?

Time to make improvements:

The first thing to do is identify where you are right now:

  • What are the goals of your sales and marketing teams?
  • Do they have any common goals they could work on together?
  • Do the teams hold regular meetings together to understand each other’s activity?
  • Is there anything that needs to be addressed to streamline processes?

Once you’ve pulled all of this together, you can start to get a plan in place.

  1. Set common goals. If team objectives don’t align with one another, both will have issues converting leads. 
  2. Involve both teams. 68% of marketers think their sales team don’t utilise their content correctly to generate leads. If sales were more involved with marketing processes such as creating customer personas, there would be more interest and buy-in from the sales teams. Keeping sales involved also gives your marketing team much better insight into who the customers actually are. It’s sales that interact with them the most after all!
  3. Keep in contact. A crucial part to aligning any business areas is communication, sales and marketing are no different. Dependant on workload and company goals these should be held weekly, monthly or at the very least quarterly. Create a setting where both teams can share what they’ve been working on, collaboration opportunities moving forward as well as key areas of success and needing improvement. Meetings are also an excellent opportunity to cover new content ideas; not everything has to come from marketing!

The really important bit:

You must be able to measure the successes of your teams. Knowing what you should be measuring is even more vital. Metrics such as marketing qualified leads or ‘MQL’s help the marketing team keep track of different steps in their process, but not a huge amount else; so they’re not giving much back in the way of reporting. 

If your sales and marketing teams don’t know what they learn each month from analysing their reporting data, chances are they’re reporting on the wrong metrics. 

Key areas to track improvement are:

  • Lifetime customer value
  • ROI
  • Lead generation through your website and socials
  • Sales qualified leads

Keeping your marketing and sales teams informed not only of what their goals are but also how their success is being measured will ensure the alignment between to two teams will continue and bring further successes to the business.

Food for thought:

Not everything needs to be internal. There is any number of reasons why you would want to engage an external agency to support your business growth plans:

  • You need your sales function to have support through team alignment changes.
  • You’ve never had much success with internal sales, so you’re outsourcing completely.
  • You’re launching new products and need a separate team to market it, but don’t have the resources to hire a whole new team.

Whatever the reason, Intelligent Talk has the solution. 

If you think your team could do with an optimised sales stack – check out our advice here.

If you’re looking for a bit more heavy-duty support, get in touch and let’s see how we can help!

Published: 14th December 2020.

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