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Social selling on LinkedIn with Nicholas Thickett at Alignd

Fresh off a 12-city tour, Larry Long Jr. joins the pod to share how motivate sales teams in the current climate. If you feel like they're tuning you out, then tune in to this interview for answers.

Show Description

Where B2B marketers come to talk sales. 15-minute interviews published every Monday and Wednesday morning. For heads of marketing and founders who support a sales team.


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Show Notes

Nicholas Thickett helps salespeople and organizations with go to market strategies for social selling with training, enablement, and consulting. Their team specializes in LinkedIn and Nicholas discusses authenticity, automation, and thinking beyond content on LinkedIn.

Our conversation also explores how sales is changing heading into 2023.

Follow Nicholas Thickett on LinkedIn:
Learn more about Alignd:


[00:00:00] Harris Kenny:

[00:00:00] Introduction

[00:00:00] Harris Kenny: Welcome to Pipeline Meeting where marketers come to talk about sales. I'm your host Harris, Kenny, and I'll be joined by guest every Monday and Wednesday for brief 15 minute interviews where we'll share tips that you can apply to support your sales team and help them close more deals.

[00:00:16] Harris Kenny: If you don't have time to listen to this whole episode, you can skip ahead in the show notes in your podcast player, or find the transcript at All the episodes are published there.

[00:00:28] The end of the anonymous seller

[00:00:28] Nicholas Thickett: we're now in the world of we're not an anonymous seller. So people, especially with the trend line, moving from more senior buyers, being now millennials, they want to know what you're about and they want to know more than just, you're simply the best.

[00:00:45] Nicholas Thickett: It's almost like that 50 50 of are you credible and can I trust you? You as a person and then your product.

[00:00:52] Nicholas Thickett: Now more than ever, the seller actually matters. And I know lots of people argue about this, especially like more senior sellers, but back, you know, before 2014, you were the single source of truth.

[00:01:04] Nicholas Thickett: You didn't have to have as much credibility cuz it more was built on the brand that you worked for.

[00:01:11] Nicholas Thickett: Almost like working for or being on a big NHL team like the jersey you wore determined your success.

[00:01:18] Nicholas Thickett: Now it's not the case. and I feel like we're even in a transition where even as an individual and a high performing team, we're now moving to a more team based atmosphere where it's not even good enough to be by yourself, especially when you move into enterprise companies.

[00:01:34] Nicholas Thickett: So we talk about why socials. It's more the question of how do I stand out? And why does it matter? And the reality is, why are people going to social? What happened in the world that made social so evident as a resource?

[00:01:50] Nicholas Thickett: Well, the question is, where are your customers going for their industry information and where are they going for professional development?

[00:01:59] Nicholas Thickett: You and I both know that LinkedIn is one of the best places if you're a marketer or seller. Because that's where we can go to go and talk to colleagues about what's going on in the real world.

[00:02:10] Authenticity on LinkedIn

[00:02:10] Harris Kenny: As much as people make fun of it or as easy it is to make fun of LinkedIn, it does feel like it's a platform where with authenticity, you get substantially better results than doing the same thing that everyone else is doing.

[00:02:23] Harris Kenny: It feels like, by doing a little bit of individual expression, you get way, way, way better performance. Is that your experience? What do you see in the companies you work with, the sellers you work with? The like, blah vanilla corporate voice. People just scroll right past it.

[00:02:38] Harris Kenny: It feels like it's be, you might as well not be there at all, right?

[00:02:40] Nicholas Thickett: You're actually better off to not be there at all if all you're doing is resharing company garbage. It doesn't work.

[00:02:47] Nicholas Thickett: If you're talking about employee advocacy, the moment that your company dictates that you need to do something on social, it now loses its power.

[00:02:56] Nicholas Thickett: If I just stuff enough promotion down their throats, eventually they're gonna won want it. But the reality is what people crave as somebody that understands their problem and helps them understand it better than they could otherwise. You think of change management, like why change? Why now? Why you?

[00:03:14] Nicholas Thickett: What are most people default to in sales? you, they always want to go and say, well, we're the best. But why should I change? I'm already getting the job done and why right now?

[00:03:27] Nicholas Thickett: And I feel like that's why social stands out so well. And you know this so well from triggers in the work that you do, but when you have a credible voice, you're seen by the influencers in the space and people are getting to know you, that depth of conversation in that first meeting, you're no longer saying, why? Why are you here?

[00:03:46] Nicholas Thickett: You're saying, okay, so this is what's going on. Like you skip all of that. I would've killed for that, you know, 10 years ago where we got to jump to that level of conversation.

[00:03:58] Nicholas Thickett: This is why social goes so wrong, is people skip that step and what do they always do? They go after the mythical senior decision maker,

[00:04:06] Harris Kenny: right.

[00:04:07] Nicholas Thickett: Because there's so much going on in the world right now where there's so much a big push of risk management, it's death by committee.

[00:04:14] Nicholas Thickett: Well, the only way to go and make that work is to look credible to the committee and have them know your name.

[00:04:22] Nicholas Thickett: We're in a world right now that your corporate brand matters, and the content they're putting out and what they're known for, you know, like the old saying of nobody got fired for hiring GE. it's your personal brand of why you, and why specifically can you help me understand my problem and help me guide me through this buying process that I may have never been through before? And how can I share that with the. a way that's more friendly and it also doesn't kick up their defenses.

[00:04:54] Nicholas Thickett: I think that's the biggest part that we gotta think of with social too, is because nobody's forcing you to do it. It's opt in naturally. And so there's no wall that goes up a defenses cuz nobody's trying to sell you. Like the great social sellers are putting out great content because they've connected the dots.

[00:05:14] Nicholas Thickett: Social selling gives you that platform to start that conversation in a non-threatening, non, uh, confrontational way, which to be able to learn. You can't be stressed and you can't be on the defense. To make your mind open to change, and right now, with so much stress going on, everything else that's going on around us, you know, even the security in our job, the question is, why the hell would I go to bat for you? And without social, without the right information, that's a really hard . Thing to answer.

[00:05:48] The new burden on sellers

[00:05:48] Harris Kenny: I feel like this puts a lot of burden or responsibility on the salesperson to know about building their own personal brand and understanding their industry. I'm curious how you feel like sales leaders or marketing leaders can support individual reps, account executives who are trying to sell in this new way.

[00:06:11] Nicholas Thickett: On, I would recommend reading Challenger customer, cuz that definitely changed the way I look at content and how to go and bring together the right insight.

[00:06:20] Nicholas Thickett: But I think what gets missed in a lot of onboarding sessions is domain knowledge. We bypass instantly to go to product knowledge, but we never look at what is the industry trends going on that makes change inevitable.

[00:06:36] Nicholas Thickett: We've all been in a scenario where regulation changed things and you had no choice but to go and do it right now, or there was gonna be a penalty. What is going on in your industry that they can no longer afford to miss or no longer afford to ignore, that the status quo is no longer available?

[00:06:51] Nicholas Thickett: What's going on? Is it cuz they're moving to, you know, more digitized ops? Is it because they're, buyer preferences change? What's going on in the indus in the industry. Break it down by the persona. So you got your industry vertical and then what's going on in those personas eyes? What's their world look like?

[00:07:12] Nicholas Thickett: And this is where social listening gets so interesting cuz you look at the influencers.

[00:07:16] Nicholas Thickett: Why did that content go? Why did it work so well? Was it a great hook or is it because it's a problem that nobody's really talked about before and it was like burning on their mind? What questions are they asking? What clarification do they need?

[00:07:27] Nicholas Thickett: I think that's the biggest thing that social makes you realize is think of when you first started on LinkedIn, how much you've learned just by reading content. And I wouldn't even say just the content itself, but it's the comments and the questions you get cuz they really highlight what you know and what you don't know or what, or what you should know.

[00:07:45] Thinking beyond content on LinkedIn

[00:07:45] Harris Kenny: You have to have that authority where they can to really see you as a trusted advisor. And I feel like if you're doing social selling well, you are really putting out that like flare up in the sky that indicates to people, Hey, I really do have something unique to say here. And even if you're not gonna buy from me right away, I'm at least someone that's worth having on your radar.

[00:08:07] Harris Kenny: You know, maybe don't like click the bell to get notified every time I post, but if you're scrolling and you see my post, you might pause and just read it and maybe forward it to somebody or maybe, you know, bookmark it and read it again later.

[00:08:19] Nicholas Thickett: When you start trickling out that content of helping people better understand their problem, why it's almost like the champion self-select when it's done well. I think the one thing I wish people knew about social selling is that it's not just content.

[00:08:35] Harris Kenny: right.

[00:08:36] Nicholas Thickett: How many people, how many great friends have you made from LinkedIn?

[00:08:41] Nicholas Thickett: And it wasn't from content, it was from your comments. It was from constantly showing up and being part of that. I, I always call it the community and the comments where people got to know you and you do that with prospects and you do that, they're not going anywhere else cuz you've invested.

[00:08:58] Nicholas Thickett: Because they tune in. It's almost like I actually, I'm starting to see content as the new nurture sequence, but, but it's optin, so you're never gonna have a problem with any of the things we have with email or cold calling now.

[00:09:15] Harris Kenny: It's so much of an opportunity where you can contribute. When you're , social selling and you're creating content and commenting and getting involved, you are not just doing everything on your own. You can piggyback off of other people. You can learn from other people. You can even tag someone.

[00:09:30] Nicholas Thickett: Yeah, I think of like AEs right now and how empowered they are to quarterback. So not only do they have stronger, way more account, well way more knowledge for account research than they've ever had before. But you got your SDR social listening in that account and then they see something really interesting.

[00:09:49] Nicholas Thickett: So they tag you in.

[00:09:50] Harris Kenny: Right.

[00:09:51] Nicholas Thickett: There you go. Now you're in the conversation that they're already having. Or their VP says something brilliant and you know that your VP would be good to go and comment on that because they have that domain knowledge where they could have a great conversation. You tag them in. So now you got executive, an executive in there that's gonna go and open that door.

[00:10:10] Nicholas Thickett: We never had that before. No executive was gonna pick up the phone and cold call or go with you to do a pop-in like like right? Like it's such a game changer. and it's also super cost effective. So like why not? And now with all the available tools, I think people are trying to automate the wrong pieces.

[00:10:32] Nicholas Thickett: And that's part of why LinkedIn is going wrong, is they're trying to automate the humanity as a campaign instead of automate the things that really define why now.

[00:10:46] A better method of LinkedIn automation

[00:10:46] Harris Kenny: right. Yep. Yeah, I think there's a lot of opportunity around automating, and we were talking about this before, doing with clay monitoring posts, monitoring topics, just to basically say, Hey look, this is something that's happening now. You human , jump in and contribute your unique thought versus just send a thousand connection requests to anybody that you know went to this school or something.

[00:11:09] Nicholas Thickett: Somebody said it really interesting. They're like, you know, using really good sales intelligence software that's set up properly at the right triggers, whether it's based on win loss or just, you know, earn wisdom like we talked about earlier. It's almost like a service ticket. Somebody like puts their hand up and then you're going there to go and service that ticket,

[00:11:29] Harris Kenny: Yep.

[00:11:31] Nicholas Thickett: and then it's your choice of how you're gonna go and service that.

[00:11:34] Following Nicholas Thickett

[00:11:34] Harris Kenny: We covered a lot. Is there anything that we didn't cover? That you wanted to mention, feel free to plug the show by the way.

[00:11:42] Nicholas Thickett: Don't be afraid to fail, just try new things. Me and Morgan built the B2B Power Hour based on teaching people what, what didn't work and what did you know? Sellers, that's what we do. We A/B test constantly. We listen for tone. We go and watch how the me the message resonates. Just because it's not in person doesn't mean you can't still do that.

[00:12:04] Nicholas Thickett: And find places where you can be open and honest like that with your peers, and you're going to accelerate really quickly. But the moment that you are trying to be perfect and write that perfect comment or send that perfect DM email, whatever is the moment that we get stuck. Be open to failing and you'll succeed.

[00:12:23] Nicholas Thickett: We run the B2B Power Hour, we talk about social selling, and you're more than welcome to go and join us. I think we're gonna be doing, depending on when this comes out, a profile review extravaganza, where we just go and talk about the things we've learned after looking at thousands of profiles.

[00:12:38] Nicholas Thickett: Jump in the comments and if you need help, I say at the end of our show too. It's 2022, almost 2023. It's no longer okay to suffer in silence. If you're a seller and you need help, reach out. Get in the comments, shoot us a DM. Don't need to buy anything. Just know that we're here for you. Thank you very much.

[00:12:55] Closing Credits

[00:12:55] Harris Kenny: That's all for now. You can find show notes at intro The theme music for Pipeline Meeting is by Neighbourhood Vandal. If you learned something, consider sharing this show with a friend. Thanks for listening.