Welcome back to episode three of Sales Leaders Spotlight. If it's your first time listening, in this podcast series we speak with key players who are sharing their experiences and insights on the current sales landscape.

In this episode of Sales Leader Spotlight, Joseph Fung and Kelli Lampkin dive deep into connecting with your customers through social selling, leading with credibility, and how to leverage your LinkedIn for sales success.

Kelli is a Social Selling Expert and Corporate Account Executive at NetSuite selling into technology companies, helping them transform their finance leaders from tactical to strategic, from reactive to proactive, and their processes from manual to automated with the power of NetSuite's cloud business suite.

Listen here:

Joseph Fung: So Kelli, it's great to be chatting. I would love it if you could help us understand a little bit about your role, your background, who is Kelli Lampkin?

Kelli Lampkin: So I work at NetSuite Oracle, I started out in our business development program. I was actually one of the original members of the BDR program that NetSuite builds. I did that for a little while when I got promoted to a sales rep, which is the typical path that we see from our BDRs. Excelled in that role for a couple of years, then helped design and build our merging team and managed a group of primarily out-of-college reps. Then I had the opportunity to travel the world, so I pitched NetSuite on the idea of traveling with a group called Remote Year.

Together with Remote Year, I did about 22 countries in 12 months, and in that role with NetSuite, I was designing our Social Selling program. So I worked really closely with LinkedIn and our sales operations team, as well as our customers, our partners, and our sales reps on four continents to help us grow and be more effective in our Social Selling. And now, I'm back in the United States, relocated to San Francisco and covering our most strategic customers in that San Francisco technology vertical.

Joseph Fung: And the ideas of Social Selling are so pervasive everywhere. In fact, my most recent conversation with a sales rep from NetSuite was just yesterday on LinkedIn, so it's definitely resonating. But that's so fascinating, traveling and sharing Social Selling. What was the genesis of that program, and what did it look like?

Kelli Lampkin: Yeah, I think NetSuite has always been interested in partnering with LinkedIn to better understand how we can listen to our customers, how we can sell to our customers. And I think in a market where products are becoming more and more commoditized, and people want to buy not based on the product or the features, or the pricing, they want to buy based on the service. We really saw that as an early adopter to invest in making sure that our sales team is really well equipped to bridge that connection with our customers. Especially in an age where they're expecting much more of their sales team and of their company that they're gonna partner with.

So I think NetSuite was the real innovator in how we design and how we prioritize our Social Selling half. And then I had the opportunity to work really closely with our head of marketing and head of sales ops to design this role, and it was mostly to facilitate some travel, but also to give me a little bit of diversity of thought in how other markets are participating in this space.

Joseph Fung: So when you talk about helping a sales rep sell socially, what are some of the tips and suggestions that they can better leverage?

Kelli Lampkin: Well, first of all, I'll say when I took on this role, I had to Google what Social Selling was. I put on my LinkedIn for a while that I was a Social Selling expert, and then I Googled what it meant. I think that's the epitome of social selling, right? I faked it until I made it, I think. So I think there's a lot of misconceptions around what Social Selling is, and I don't think that it is just broadcasting.

Well actually, we did an experiment. So as a part of my role, we built a newsletter. And the newsletter was sent out to all of the sales reps and it had links they could click, and they could automatically post to their feed with content that our marketing team designed. I could see the impressions and the feedback from customers and people that work with me into these links. When we posted our press releases on our website or our customer stories, very little feedback. The NetSuite channel for YouTube, or the NetSuite channel for the press releases or the blog posts.

However, we found an outside story that was like, “Spotify grows to 10 million daily active users.” Or one of our customers is having a success, not related at all to ERP, or Grindr posts a new blog, or they do some cool thing that's totally outside of the scope of what we would normally expect. That is when we had the most feedback. Because it's an interesting story about one of our customers, and we're just bragging about that customer's success in a totally separate channel than ERP software. And that was really interesting to see. I mean, it's just numbers, right?

We can tell that the social impact that we're having is much more interesting when we're not broadcasting about our software or even our customer's success using our software, but our customer's success doing something innovative in their own space.

Joseph Fung: That's awesome. Early on, you also drew a difference between just simple social selling and social listening. You emphasized the importance of that, maybe you can elaborate on that?

Kelli Lampkin: Yeah, I hadn't really thought very much about social listening. I thought also when I first started that it was about broadcasting, and creating content, and posting content. And then I started to take over our user groups as a part of my role. I didn't really understand why user groups would be a part about Social Selling until I started doing it. And then when we took user groups under our umbrella, we really started to realize that there is so much information that our customers that they're posting about us on the internet. And we want to be able to control that message, and also to help our customers with problems and troubleshooting.

So when we took over the forums on LinkedIn groups for the user groups, we were able to have our top managers have access to see what our customers are posting, help them more directly. In their own communities, we were able to organize many more events. They actually formed, I think when we started we had four or five active user groups, now we've got over 25 on 3 continents. So it's been a huge growth for our customers to be able to interact with each other more.

And then, we also offer a really cool service that I think is neat. One of our customers came to us and said, "I had a really great experience using NetSuite, not just because I had automation that I saw in my business process, but because I, as a young finance professional, growing in my career got to take on some leadership and organized my team, and have an impact on change management in the organization. I want to write a blog post on my LinkedIn profile about my experience going through change management, and a series of blog posts about what it took in our organization to adopt a newer fee of professional services, automation tool, an E-commerce tool, an HR tool." They really took on the entire suite.

So for this particular customer, she was the young controller and had to work with every part of her organization in the small tech company, and learned a lot about that. So what we did with her is we partnered together and did a series of blog posts where she offered the blog post, I just ghost edited them with her to help her have a more professional brand to it. All the services that we offer for our customers if they wanted to write about their experience in their own personal blog post, not featured on our blog or with our PR. And then we could promote it across our team, so our sales reps would be able to promote it in their networks to help her elevate her personal brand.

Joseph Fung: That was fantastic.

Kelli Lampkin: So that was a really cool opportunity that we had, and I think something innovative that we did in Social Selling.

Joseph Fung: In that case, the customer came to you about it. You said it was a service that you'd offered to others. How did you bring that up with other customers?

Kelli Lampkin: So it came as a service where she asked, could she do this, and we're like  "Great, let's do it together while we enable that." And so, now what we often find is our account managers are reaching out to customers to talk about an upsell or to talk about a renewal, and it's not always a value-added service and it has a perception. It has become a routine of, "Hey, when the NetSuiter calls me they want to sell me something", and that's not what we want the relationship to be.

So now that we have this amongst some other value-added services, when we call our customers and we say "Hey, we're not calling you to talk about a renewal or coming to Suite world or doing this or that, we're calling you to see how we're doing and if you're happy and if we can help you to promote your own brand as you accel in your own career". So we partnered with the leadership council, we offer passes for our local customers and those geographic areas to attend these leadership events. Together as the guests NetSuites, and that's another service we offer. That's less on the social side and more on the customer service side.

Joseph Fung: Now NetSuite has such a large breadth of offerings. I mean, they have starter editions for earlier stage companies, and they enclosed billion dollar companies. Did you have any patterns on which type of deal size or segment your reps were in when they were able to leverage Social Selling?

Kelli Lampkin: Yeah, it's interesting to be in a company that is moving both up-market and down-market at the same time.

I don't know that many other organizations that are doing that across every industry in the world. I think every NAICS code in Numeric's has one NetSuite customer at least supported among it. So we really are touching every kind of company you can be in the world. So, I think in terms of our strategy, when you work with a bigger company or a smaller company, it doesn't really deviate that much.

Think as a baseline, if you're a sales rep, you're going to pick up the phone and you're going to call somebody that downloaded a lead, or that you're prospecting because you think they'd be good for NetSuite. You have to look them up on social media. If you don't do that, you're not going to have a good conversation. So it doesn't really matter if they're a one person startup, or if they're a multi-billion dollar entity, it's person to person selling. Look up that person on the internet and see their LinkedIn profile, find out what they're about, and see if they've used the product before. The great thing about NetSuite is, especially in San Francisco, the majority of my customers have already used NetSuite, or they're familiar with it, or they have a friend, or a neighbor, or a partner that's used it before.

For every call that I get on, and I recommend my team to do is to look up the person on LinkedIn. I look up the entire executive team on LinkedIn and I'd look at Team Link to see if they're connected to any of our executives. Very often in the software technology vertical, our executives are asked to be on their executive's boards because NetSuite was the first, the leader, in a lot of the cloud software. So it's very often, and it's embarrassing. You should know that when you go into the company if our CEO is on the board of their company. If you don't know that, you're not going to have as productive of a conversation as you can.

I also look up their competitors on Owler. Owler is a great resource to take a look at trends in the industry and also to compare companies to each other. So every company that I go and look at, I look at their ten competitors and I find out if they're already customers. Because it's very likely that you know your competitor's companies. Maybe you used to work there, maybe you came from that organization. If they're already using their product, that's an immediate factual reference if they can do. It adds credibility.

So, if I do that I will also ask the accountant that manages the account if they're happy, what they're using. I also get an understanding of what parts of the product they're leveraging, because if their competitor's using our Commissions module, or our Advanced Billing module, or our HR module, then I know it's likely that this company might also be a candidate for that. If they're using our E-Commerce module then I know "Hey, we're gonna talk a little bit more about e-commerce." Because we have so many products, it's also helpful for me to carry on a conversation.

I also look up their private equity and their backing.  I'll go on Crunchbase and I'll find out if the company that I'm speaking with has received any funding and who it's been from. Then I'll look and see if any of those funders have also supported my other customers. This is another quick way to find out if there's a connection that I can bridge between my new customer and existing customer base to build credibility again.

So, all of this takes me about fifteen minutes. It would take a new rep a little bit longer, but you have to find out who on the executive team is connected already to our company, who is their competitor and already using our software, and then who they receive funding from or who they're connected to that's already in our network and that we already have a relationship with. Because then when you come into that conversation, you know a lot about their organization and a lot of mutual people that they know, and that's really helpful for them in feeling a connection to your brand already before you have even talked about the product.

Joseph Fung: Yeah. All these are fantastic tips for when you're talking about a change in behaviour. Especially in sales reps that are bombarded by so many new changes. It's easy for them to just say "So what?" and "Why should I change behaviour?". Do you have any great antidotes or go to stories that you go to about how those social connections and Social Selling move the deal forward?

Kelli Lampkin: Yeah, I think first of all I would bring up that a majority of customers today have already decided what they want to buy or they're already leaning toward a solution before they ever get on a call with you, so before you reach out to your prospect or before you start reaching out to them, they already have an idea of you and your competition and they might already be leaning toward the competition.

So, you have to differentiate yourself and win on the first call. I say win on the first call. I think all of my deals, I win on the first call because I'm coming in prepared. I'm coming in with credibility. Also, just like in dating or anything else, your first impression in interviews is really important and it shows the reflection of the rest of your relationship with that person.

If you come to the first call lazy and you don't really know what you're talking about, and you haven't really put in the work and the effort. This is the best time you're gonna be. Once they're a customer maybe you don't always put in that extra effort because they're already captured. So from the customers' perspective, the first impression is really the best version of you that they're going to see, and they know that over time that level of effort might not be put in as consistently.

So if you don't start with a super high level of investment, then the customer is immediately going to assume that it will only go down from there. So that's the first part anecdotally about how I think customers are viewing the sales process. In terms of actual stories, we have got so many great stories.

I had one rep in Austin, in our food and beverage base, and he went into his local grocery store. He saw a cider or beer company that he was prospecting into on the shelves of his local store, even though they were based elsewhere. So he took a snapshot, used the location filter to show that it was in Austin, and then sent it to the CFO, which is based elsewhere, and said "Congratulations on opening up into a new market. I'm a huge fan of your product. I'm really enjoying your cider. Also, it indicates to me that you might be expanding your exhibition channels. You might need some software to help you do that. Let's talk about NetSuite." I think that was a really creative way to bring the conversation to be something personal and get the CFO's attention in a new way.

Joseph Fung: That's fantastic. You've also had the really awesome opportunity to be BDR, an AE, a team lead, Social Selling expert all inside NetSuite. It's been one heck of a ride. I'd love to hear a little bit more and I'm sure our listeners would love to hear a bit more about what the heck wealth was like What gave you those opportunities to go from BDR, to AE, to team lead in such rapid succession?

Kelli Lampkin: I think if we're talking about the topic of social selling to that length also, I would say that we talked about social listening, we talked about broadcasting outside and using your tools to broadcast to your customer base and your prospects. I think it's equally important to use social selling as an internal way to talk about mobility within your organization. Another thing in particular, where global organization, many times my manager were based in another country, in Canada. So I did not have such access to our leadership and I was in Boston at the time and our leadership was from Ireland, San Francisco. Maybe once a quarter I would get some face time with an executive or my manager, and that does not really help. If you are in the HQ you have a much better chance of getting promoted, everyone knows that. If you're visible over social, you can replicate some of that face time that you don't actually get person to person. I think that actually helped me a lot in progressing my role.

Into the roles that I had a NetSuite, I pitched the idea of giving me a chance to do this a little earlier it would be more natural. I think because I could back it up, of course, with the numbers that I had behind me in my sales role but also in the brand that I had built both internally and externally. It really helped. As an example, when I became a team lead, I managed our East Coast team. There wasn't a team to manage. We had a territory breakdown which was all software companies under a certain number of employees. It was a huge gap of customers.

What I found is that reps were only talking to the bigger customers. So it was like the limit was 500 employees, and they were talking to the three hundred and four hundred person companies. No one was even calling the thirty-person companies because it didn't make sense. It would take the same amount of time to close the deal but it would be for a lot less. I only covered one area code, so because of that geography restriction, I was calling everybody.

I could have closed fifteen deals when the average Joe was seven deals a year, and most of the companies were under fifty employees. Because I was even calling those smaller companies, I basically pitched our organization. What if we took a couple of our business savvy reps that have been in the role for a couple of months and put them on a team where we get to have an opportunity to get to sell to these smaller companies? If the reps call and they don't really know what they're doing and they mess up a little bit, we will get them when they get bigger. If we can get them when they're earlier, we have an amazing opportunity to insulate against competition coming down market and then also to grow the account and get them on the right solution earlier. So this really big team, our merchant market, I would start with two reps and a couple logos, turned into I had almost eight reps by the end of that year and we closed more deals than the entire corporate team combined.

Joseph Fung: That's fantastic.

Kelli Lampkin: So it really escalated our market strategy and impacted our product. It was really cool to see as a young rep and a young leader in the organization how we can have an impact in a global organization to field out a product and to change the way we market and to change the way we communicate with our customers. For me, I was twenty-six at the time, to be able to have an influence in a global market was really exciting.

Joseph Fung: So you had the opportunity to help these reps that were early in their career, and step into a new segment, you closed sales that you wouldn't have had the opportunity to before. Almost stepping into a leadership role, but you didn't have before. Are there any key takeaways or key lessons that you picked up in making that move from a rep to a team lead?

Kelli Lampkin: Yeah, I think I was nervous at the time. I didn't really understand what it would take to manage. I read a couple of books about it, but I hadn't really done it at that kind of level before. What my manager gave me some guidance to that really seemed to help me feel confident is he said, "As a rep, you're going to close maybe another fifteen deals this year and you'll get experience and exposure to those fifteen accounts and they'll be relatively similar and they'll be in the same market that you already understand. If you take over half a continent, and you run a team of ten reps, you're going to have fifteen deals per rep. You just quadrupled, quintupled, ten times your number of deals you're going to have exposure to in new markets and with new variables and new competition. You as a person will be able to grow and understand our business so much better by exposure to this diversity of deals."

That was really attractive to me. It was like a laboratory to understand how our product was going to work in different markets and how our customers were going to respond and how we were going to really sell to different areas. So that was what gave me excitement and motivation to really invest in understanding how to manage these reps because they were each going to have different challenges that I wasn't really going to know how to deal with, but I was excited to learn together with them.

Joseph Fung: So you've demonstrated leveraging social selling techniques and closing deals in your navigating internal organizations. You've clearly really owned your career progression. Actually, to kind of wrap up the conversation, as you think about advice that you might give to someone who's also trying to take ownership of their own career direction. What would be some of those suggestions that you have for them?

Kelli Lampkin: First of all, get a LinkedIn profile. I hope that no one that's listening doesn't already have a LinkedIn. I would invest some time in optimizing your LinkedIn profile. I've got a whole YouTube channel on ways you can do that if you'd like to check it out. How you can optimize your profile, the first thing I would say is to make sure your LinkedIn profile is dialled in because that's your first exposure to the world, especially when you're selling to a geography that you might not be in. I sell in San Francisco, so I can often be on-site. I sold in Pennsylvania when I was living in Boston. I couldn't go visit my customers. They only had my online presence as assurances to my credibility.

My next tip would be to connect with everyone you meet on LinkedIn, and have them be a valuable connection. Put a message as to why you connected and what the context was. You go to a barbecue, you meet somebody … My cousin is a real estate agent in Hoboken and I met somebody at a picnic that she had at the barbecue with one of her tenants that she was leasing out. He ended up moving to a software startup and then called me three months later and asked if we could sell NetSuite into his company. I brought my New York city rep into that deal.

For example, when you're at a barbecue, connect with that person on LinkedIn and have a meaningful connection. Anytime you have bi-directional communication with somebody, even over email, I would connect with them. That helps you to build your network. Especially as a young person I was twenty-five years old, selling to CFOs my parents' age.

For a young person, especially who manages a team of twenty-two year olds that were just out of college and had six months of phone training, and then I'm like "Great, go call this CEO and CFO of this hundred person company and tell them how they should run their business." and they were like "What?"

I think the best way for you to build your credibility is to understand your product but to also understand your market. When I go and talk to that CFO and they're decades older than me and they have a lot more experience and they brought a company public ... I haven't done those things, but I worked with hundreds of companies that have. So I have a good story that I can tell them about their peer group, and there's a lot of stuff that I know about their organization and their peer group that I see from the outside and can be valuable. I think having the confidence to connect with your customers, understand their story, and really be able to tell that story to your prospects bridges that connection and it helps you to become an expert and a friend to their organization and not a sales rep.

Joseph Fung: That's awesome. That's really great. One last tiny question then we can close up. Would love to hear, what next? What kind of big projects are you working on that we can watch out for as we follow you on LinkedIn.

Kelli Lampkin: So I'm doing a course with LinkedIn on their Lynda network. I'm putting together a Social Selling course on Lynda so that should be available over the summertime. Right now I'm back in the United States, that whole travel around the world thing we didn't really talk about, but that's got its own story to it. That story is not published on any blogs. That's a cocktail story. I'm in San Francisco, working with our fullest companies, and running a lot of events in this area and still travelling quite a bit.

Joseph Fung: Thank you so much for sharing your time and all of your comments. I'm looking forward to seeing that course on Lynda.

Thank you for tuning into this episode of Sales Leaders Spotlight.

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