EP 4 – How to build authentic relationships – Bill McCormick

Presentation of the episode

On the fourth episode of The Virtual Selling Podcast, Bill McCormick, Sales Trust coach at Selling from the Heart, tells us all about building authentic relationships.
He explains how sales should approach their prospects in a virtual environment.

About Bill McCormick


To learn more about Bill McCormick, click on the links below :




[00:00:00] With the pandemic that came upon us, the rise of video conferencing tools like Microsoft teams and zoom has led to more aspects of the sales conversation to occur virtually. And what began as a crisis reaction has evolved into the new normal, but how normal is the new normal. We’re talking about how the strong shift from in-person to virtual selling has transformed B2B sales experience, virtual sales enablement, new organizations, KPIs.
Everything is evolving. n the virtual selling podcast. We address these issues in depth, twice a week, with the experts and leaders of these transformations, heads of sales, sales, ops, and sales enablement of the most innovative companies in the field. This podcast is sponsored by sales, the new SAS platform to make your customer meetings more engaging and better prepared. Find out how you can shorten sales cycles, convert more leads and increase and increase customer engagement. Virtual selling is here to stay. And so is sales

Welcome to another episode of the virtual selling podcast. I’m Gabriel Dabi-Schwebel, founder of Sales and the host of the show. I’m excited to welcome today’s guest Bill McCormick. Sales Trust Coach at Selling from the Heart. I Bill, how are you?

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I’m great Gabriel, thanks so much for having me and thanks to everyone who’s listening and watching. I’m really excited to talk about virtual selling and how we can build authentic relationships, even in a virtual environment.

Great. First I love the name of your company selling from the heart. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

Absolutely. So my friend, Larry Levine wrote the book selling from the heart and he and Darryl, Amy both have the podcast selling from the heart. And what they discovered is it wasn’t just a book and a podcast, it’s actually become a movement. And what we specialize in is instilling trust, enablement skills to sales teams, because what we know is transactions happen aside from relationships, but as salespeople, when we can build relationships and build trust, we then have customers for life. And that’s kind of where we specialize and they knew they had a movement on their hands.

And so they, a movement has to be more than two people. And so my friend, Jackie Joi joined before me, and then they just brought me on last month. I’ve been there for about four weeks right now. And I’m just really enjoying it and enjoying working with Darryl and Larry and Jackie.

It’s great. But what is trust enablement? What are the tools to enable trust?

It has to start with building relationships. So we have what we call the trust formula and in order for trust to be built, it has to be done with first authentic relationships and then meaningful value. So that’s the beginning of the formula. If you go back to your mathematics, you know, everything that’s in parentheses, you do first. So we have trust equals AR plus V. So authentic relationships plus meaningful value. That enables trust to be built. And they both really work hand in hand. You can’t develop an authentic relationship until you provide meaningful value and the kicker is whose value, right? It’s gotta be your client or your prospective client.
What is it that they value? And you have to provide meaningful value around that. And that takes conversation. We have to be able to talk to our clients and our prospective clients find out what they’re struggling with, what are their areas that they need help in. We don’t so much want to jump in to save the day, but we want to be able to provide them with the value that they need to solve those problems.
And then we have some multiplying factors in the formula one or inspirational experiences and the other is discipline habits. So what we have to do is make sure as sales professionals that when we’re interacting with our clients, we’re creating inspirational experiences that they remember. And so that we’re just not a transaction, but we’re someone who they look forward to talking to.
And then the discipline habit part actually goes to the person to the individual sales rep. What does their morning routine look like? How are they capturing their time and how are they managing their time? So that they’re the best possible person they can be. Because what we know is that. When we become really good humans, we end up being really good sales professionals.

And so when you put that all together, it fosters an environment of trust. And when clients can trust us, then we know, you know, what’s the saying from Bob Burg, you know, all things being equal, people do business and refer business to people they know, like and trust. And I’m excited to talk about the virtual environment because many people thought that quote kind of went away when the virtual environment came, because they’re like, well, how do people get to know and like us so they can trust us if we can’t go meet with them in person.

But what makes the difference between virtual selling and in-person selling in term of trust enablement?

Yeah. And you know, some people think that you’re not able to build trust virtually, but that’s really a myth. It really is because of what we’ve seen since the pandemic of, you know, two years ago, March, 2020, right around this time of year, it was the last in-person event I attended.
And I remember coming home from it and saying to my wife, I had traveled the first seven weeks, I think, of 2020. And I said to my wife, I don’t want to travel anymore. Little did I know it would be a very long time. But what happened was because people couldn’t meet in person. We were forced into this virtual world and we developed, we found out that, yes, you can develop trust virtually.
And really what we have to do is we have to start treating the people on the other side of the screen or on the other side of the direct message or that LinkedIn connection requests or the Facebook message the same way we would treat them as if they were sitting across the table from us and you know, if we’re able to do that, and make that transition,I believe we can begin to build trust because we can build relationships with people.

What do you mean? Because everything goes faster on digital, you DM people faster, you go from one meeting to another meeting without drags faster, you go straight to the phone during meetings. So how do you build this trust?

So things can happen faster. And we were talking about that in the green room before we started, you know, I went to in-person events yesterday and I only did two in six hours. If I was sitting at my desk at home, I would have done six. So it’s faster, but what happens as sales professionals, what we do is we think faster and more and bigger equals better results.
You know, there’s that dreaded five letter word scale. We want to scale everything. We want to scale our outreach and on digital and virtual selling, especially on some, on a platform like LinkedIn if you try to go too fast you’re going to end up getting worse results. You know, if you try to take the LinkedIn connection requests and scale it, like you would telemarketing, or you would like email marketing campaigns, you’re going to really hurt yourself because first of all, your return may be about the same. But the difference is if you gave her a few cold calling. I see your number on my phone and I don’t recognize it. I’m not going to answer it.

And then, you know, I’ve got fancy, fancy apps on here that tells me it’s spam. So then I don’t answer it. If you send me a spam email, a marketing email, I see it, I’m just not going to open it, but if you reach out to me in a spam type of way on LinkedIn, I see your picture.
I see your company name. I see your title. It’s much more personal and I think it ends up hurting us more. You know, I don’t know what the current cold call numbers are because I don’t cold call, but let’s say it’s 1%. So if I do a hundred calls, I’m going to get one appointment. And so if I get three appointments, then I’m three times than the average I’m doing really great. On LinkedIn, let’s say you got five out of a hundred. That’s great. But what you don’t understand is the other 95 that rejected your connection with you, they have a negative perception of you now, because they’ve seen your picture. They’ve seen your company. So this idea that things are faster. That’s true. But as we used to say a social sales link, they still say it that’s a company I used to work for. You know, we have to slow down our outreach to speed up our outcome. So if we slow things down-

Slow down our outreach to speed up our outcome. That’s nice.

Yeah. So, so what you want to do is personalize things more and really what you want to do is build relationships and that takes time. I think it was Covey who wrote the book, business at the speed of trust, right? You can’t speed up trust. There’s just no way to do it other than taking the time to build relationships with people. And when we go to the virtual environment and I’ll speak to LinkedIn specifically, to build authentic relationships on LinkedIn there’s really two areas you need to focus on. The first is how you show up. What is your profile look like? Because LinkedIn basically started out as a recruiting site. It kind of defaults to this resume type of profile that talks all about me and my strengths and what I’m good at. And the thing is my prospect, they don’t care about that. They don’t care about me. Who do they care about? They care about themselves. And so what I need to do is I need to show up in a way that tells them that I care about them. So it needs to be more customer centric rather than me centric. And you know, that has to do with having the right images. So many people don’t use the background banner image that’s behind their profile picture. If you think about that as a free billboard, that’s really what it is. You should be branding that and sites like are a great place where you can just, this morning, I was playing around making a new banner image and I’m 59 years old, lots of gray hair. If I can do it, anyone can do it. You know, I’m not a graphic designer. So having your profile imagery look good and then having your headline, which is area underneath your name, rather than that, being all about your title and the company you’re at, creates some curiosity there and talks about how you help the people you help.
So that when they read that they’re like, oh, you know, Gabriel, he works with people like me. And when it comes to your about section, really use that to provide some meaningful value. And then not the value you think is important. But actually do some research. We call it socially listening. What is it that your ideal clients and your prospects, what are their problems that you help solve? What are they struggling with right now? I mean, I can tell you everyone right now is struggling with logistics problems, you know? So what is it and use that space there, kind of like a mini blog, to really address their challenges. And so if you can do that now you’re showing up authentically. So there are no hidden agendas. They know who you are, they know what it is that you do. And then the second thing is how do you connect with people? Right before the pandemic really kicked in what we were seeing on LinkedIn were many people were sending connection requests with no personal note, no note at all. And just this morning, I was reading a post by someone who said that they’ve studied it out and you get more acceptance of connection requests if you don’t put a note. That may be true on a very high level, but my question is what’s the quality of those relationships you’re building. Remember, that’s what we’re talking about here. Building trust and building relationships. So what we were seeing was people were sending connection requests with no notes. And if you accepted it, then they would pitch their product or service. And

Yeah I saw it on a post yesterday. It is called pitch slam. I didn’t know it before.

Yeah. Pitch slap. Yeah. And so then what happened with the pandemic is nobody was in their office. No one was answering their phones. So it’s like, oh, you know, the sales leaders were like, we’ve got to get our message out there. And so they started telling the reps, just get on LinkedIn, just start connecting with anybody and everybody. And then what they were doing was they weren’t putting a personal note. They were putting a pitch note. Hey, Gabriel. Great to connect with you here on LinkedIn. We help companies just like you are their webs with your web presence or with this. Yeah. And it’s not it’s and this is what I always say. If you’re going to pitch right off the bat, I don’t care if you’re selling a $50 promotional thing, or you’re selling a million dollar SAS solution. If you’re pitching right away, then you’ve relegated your offering, no matter how much it costs to a transaction and that’s it. And you’re hoping you come across someone who wants to buy it at that very moment. And again, as we said before, the ones that aren’t ready, they’re seeing you and they’re saying : they’re spammers. And so, and LinkedIn actually caught onto this and about, I don’t know, three or four months ago, they actually put an invitation. On on the number of connection requests you could send per week to a hundred. And it’s not exactly a hundred, it’s a formula between how many you have. But if you send more than a hundred, your profile gets shut down. You get restricted. And so LinkedIn recognized that. And so what we have to do is we have to reach out on purpose and for purpose. And what I say is you have to look at people’s profile and find a context for connecting with them and selling to them is not a context. And a few of the big mistakes that I see, a lot of people use false praise. So many times I’ll get a connection request and people say, and I have several companies that I’m listed active with on my profile and I co-own a company with my wife called team creative connections. So I’ll get someone who sends me a connection request and says, Bill love the work you’re doing with team creative connections and they actually copy and paste it right from my profile. Cause I’ve got some symbols in there. And so I’ll answer them and say, Gabriel, thanks so much. I’m curious. What was it about my work with them that’s so impressive? And there’s no reply because they don’t know because that wasn’t an authentic and genuine statement. It was a ruse. Right. So how can I build trust with someone when they start a relationship, that way. That’s not gonna work. Another one is, Hey, I see we have some mutual connections in common. Yes, so? If you want to leverage mutual connections, then actually find someone that knows me and ask them to introduce me. In fact, that’s how we connected, right? Colin Mitchell was our connector and he said, I should connect. So I reached out to you and said, I was just talking to Collin, he said we should connect. And you accepted right away. That’s the better way to do that. You know, there’s a number of different things that are happening now.
Here’s the bottom line. When you connect with someone, you want to do it in such a way that starts a conversation. No sales happen aside from a conversation, unless you have an e-commerce site, but if you’re selling in the B2B space, you’re not going to start a sales conversation until you actually start a conversation.
And so that starts by sending a note, telling someone why it is you want to connect. And then when they connect saying, thank you, you know, people ask me all the time. Well, what do I do when someone sends me a connection request and they don’t put a note, should I accept or not? And what they don’t know is that there’s a third option. You can actually message the person back. And I do this with every single connection request I get where someone doesn’t send me a note, unless I met them at an event in person. And I know, or I know them. So if you had sent me a connection request with no response, or I’m sorry with no note, what I would do is I’d send a response back to Gabriel saying: thanks so much for the invite to connect. Typically, I only connect with people I’ve either met in person or have had engagement with here on LinkedIn. Can you tell me how you found me and what it was about my profile that triggered the connection request. About half the time people come back and say: Hey, I heard you on the Virtual Selling podcast. That was really great. I’d like to see more of your content or I saw your post or I saw your comment and someone’s, they have a reason and I’m happy to connect with them. And the other half of half of that half. So a quarter don’t reply at all because they don’t know. Somebody just said, Hey, go connect with everybody it can on LinkedIn. So they’re just collecting connections. The other half will actually pitch me. So they’ll not even read what I said. And many times it’s because they have automation that actually violates LinkedIn’s terms of use, which many people don’t understand that a lot of automation that’s out there violates LinkedIn’s terms of use and get your profile restricted or shut down.
But the automatic reply would be, Hey, thanks for accepting my connection. We help companies just like you. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I’ll come back and say, I haven’t accepted your connection request. Please go back and read my reply. And then they don’t reply because they’re all about scale and they’re going on to the next person.
So, you know, really building authentic relationships virtually, and on LinkedIn especially, starts with us being genuine and authentic ourselves and putting out the right profile that people, when they look at it, say, okay, yes, this is somebody I can do business with. This is somebody I would want to do business with. And then when we’re connecting with them, we want to start conversations

I agree with you, but as you said sometime when you try to connect with a personal message, you have less answer and less accepting than if you connect with less personnal and no notes. What do you do with that? Because you take time to make the personal message, to check if there is some real links. And I had done that for sales deck before, and I changed my way because it was useless. I made hundreds of personal notes and I had no acceptance, or when they accepted the note and the interaction, they didn’t want to go through. So what do you do with that?

What we have to realize, another great Bob bird quote is you can’t push your row. And the whole idea is we can’t force it. We can’t make people buy or make people connect with us. And so what I’ll do is I’ll send a connection request. I always add a personal note and here’s why I want them to know why I want to connect with them. It also automatically puts you into their LinkedIn inbox. So, the whole idea here is for us to start a conversation and move that conversation offline, either in a virtual meeting or if people are able in a face-to-face meeting. So we have to start with a conversation. If they don’t want to talk with me, there’s really nothing that I can do about this. Think about it as in a face-to-face meeting, you go up to someone, you introduce yourself and maybe you exchange business cards and you say, you know, I’d like to get together and like, well, I’m really busy. I can’t, or they find an excuse and they walk away. So what do you do? Well, you have to just let them walk away. To your point about people who may accept a connection request without a note, versus if they do have a note, then what I would do is I would always first start with sending a note, do that, give it a week. If they haven’t accepted, you can actually go into your manage invitations page on LinkedIn, and you can withdraw that invite. I’d wait a day or two, then go back and hit connect. And don’t put a note.


And so they might accept. Here’s the thing with whether you send a note or you don’t send a note, you always should send a welcome message that once they’ve accepted your connection, you’re going to come back with a welcome message and that welcome message shouldn’t be a pitch. It shouldn’t be a link to your calendar. It just should be: Hey Gabriel, thanks so much for connecting with me here on LinkedIn. And you may put in there, not sure if you’re exploring ways for ’em to have better virtual meetings, but if you are, I’ve got some great resourceful insights I’d like to share with you. Let me know, and I’ll send you a link. Now, this is where it gets hard because as salespeople, we just want to put the link in there, send them the resource, get it out there, but that’s actually spamming them because they didn’t ask for it. And so in the other company I was a part of, we actually just used to send a link and another LinkedIn trainer said to us, you shouldn’t do that. You’re spamming them. We’re like, no, we’re sending them insights. We’re sending them resources. We’re not pitching them. He says, but they didn’t ask for it. And we’re like, we’re going to prove you wrong. And so we A/B tested it. We sent the link to a hundred people, right, and the welcome message. And 19 of them opened up the link and looked at the resources and that’s a good response. 19% is a good response, but then we did another hundred where we said, Gabriel, let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you the link. 69 out of 100, 69 said, yes, send me the link. And 58 of those 69 actually clicked and read through it. So, you know, that’s permission-based marketing, it’s hard for us as salespeople because we don’t like leaving it up to them, but it will really pay off in this instant. And again, you’re looking to have a conversation. So you know, however you connect, whether you send a note or you don’t send a note. I always send a note, always. That’s just who I am. Whether you do or you don’t make sure you have a welcome message and you have some insightful resources that you can share with them if they’re interested in taking the next step, because remember our whole goal here is to connect with them and then turn this into some type of a conversation, either in a virtual meeting or more in a face-to-face meeting.

And how do you go from the exchange on the subject to the virtual meeting or to the face-to-face meeting?

Yeah. So what I do is I’m always offering resources along the lines of the trust gas that we see in sales. So, you know, right now, according to HubSpot, you know, 51% of top level buyers, rank trust being the top thing that they want in a sales rep, but only 3% of them say they actually trust their sales reps. So that’s a huge trust gap. So I’ve got some insights around that. So I offered a share a document on trust gap. It’s a PDF with just some, some stats on it. And on that document, I have a link to my two calendars asking them if they’d like to talk more about it. I want to hear their insights because that’s what I want to do. I want their insights on it. And so it’s not a Sale call you know. So I’ll send the document and if they don’t schedule something, I’ll reach out in a day or two and say, Hey, Gabriel, want to make sure you got the document and see if you have any thoughts about it. I’m always looking for more insights on the trust gap and would welcome an opportunity to speak with you. Virtually, or if they’re in my immediate area, if they want to have a coffee and that’s where I’m looking to make that shift, because I want their opinion. I want to hear from them. Then when I get them in that meeting, what I’m looking for is a moment where I can kind of shift and find out, you know, how they’re dealing with this trust gap with their sales team. And I’m looking for an opportunity to kind of give them some of my insight where they go, Hey, you could train our sales team on this. So that’s kind of how it works. You always want to be giving insight and asking for their opinion, people love to give their opinions. And so we find people willing to get on a call and give us their opinion.

Great. One more trick before we finish this very interesting interview?

Yeah, so I would say what you want to do is whenever you’re reaching out to someone on whatever medium you’re doing it, if you’re doing email, you’re calling them on the phone, you’re sending a LinkedIn DM, or you’re sending a LinkedIn connection request. Remember that they are people. They’re humans. They’re not a number in your CRM or a dollar amount on your goal, on your quota. They’re actually people. And so if we treat people how we want to be treated and how they want to be treated, we’re always going to win because we’re going to start relationships authentically. And if it doesn’t turn into a sale right now, it’s going to benefit everyone in the long term, because we’re going to be making these connections. So treat people in the virtual space the same way you would treat you, treat them if you were face-to-face with them.

And I will try to repeat what you have said before : Slow down your outreach to increase your outcome. Is that true?

It’s the truth. That is correct.

Thanks a lot. This episode of the virtual selling podcast is over. Thanks for sticking around. We’ll meet twice a week for a new episode, with new stories and challenges of giants in the field. If you enjoyed today’s episode, we are always listening for your feedback. Share the show and subscribe on your favorite podcast platform so you don’t miss any episodes. This episode was brought to you by Sales The virtual selling platforms that increase your sales team CVR on sales readiness and enable remote management and vents sales operational excellence. Book your sales demo today to discover how you can close more deals with engaging and better preps customers meetings. Thanks a lot, Bill.

Thanks, Gabriel. Great talking with you. Thanks everyone for listening.


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