We are here today with Mario Martinez Jr., CEO of M3Jr Growth Strategies. He has been called the Wayne Gretzky of social selling and was the man responsible for launching an ultra-successful North American social selling program for a SaaS company. Mario was recently a keynote speaker at LinkedIn’s Annual Users Conference and has been featured in Forbes, INC., the Examiner.com, and most recently a contributing writer for the Huffington Post.
Q: Mario, can you tell me a little about your background in sales and what led you to form M3Jr Growth Strategies?
A: I was born and raised in sales. This includes 18 years in sales and sales leadership, but it doesn’t include my jobs as a retail sales associate. I started out in software sales and moved into consulting sales, infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), telecom, and my last stop was in SaaS —a span of five industries.
I have managed organizations as large as $300 million in revenue, and during my 18 years in sales and sales leadership, 15 of those years have been in either the 100%+ Club or President’s Club. It’s been an exciting sales career.
Our company, M3Jr Growth Strategies, was formed just after I left my last position as vice president of sales for a SaaS company. The idea started during a conversation with my 5-year-old son who asked me to take him to school. When I said yes, he did not believe it, because I typically could not take him. Naturally, he wanted to know why I said yes. I told him I was no longer working with my last organization. He then asked me if this meant he would lose his backyard playground since I had told him before that I had to go to work to pay for it. I couldn’t help but laugh. He asked, “What are you going to do next?” I explained I didn’t know, and I was looking for the next great thing. He suggested that I go to work for ‘IN.’ I said, “I don’t know what you mean, what’s IN?” So he ran into his room and came out with a black baseball cap that had an‘IN’ logo on it for LinkedIn. He said, “Why don’t you work for them? You said they help you make money because they help you find people.” My son totally understood the concept of personal branding and how to leverage LinkedIn.
I posted the conversation on January 5, 2016.Within a week, I received a LinkedIn InMail from the vice president of Worldwide Sales Operations and then a phone call from the head of America’s Marketing—both Fortune 100 companies. In addition, I had been in conversation with a CEO who reached out to me directly from another Fortune 100 company. By the end of January, I received two signed statements of work to help with the launch of a digital transformation or social selling training program. I then turned to my wife and said, “Well, I guess we better form a company.” M3Jr Growth Strategies was born and formed on February 12, 2016.
These series of events occurred because I was asked to be a keynote breakout speaker for LinkedIn’sAnnual Users Conference in October2015. During the conference, I showcased how I launched a successful corporate social selling training program for a SaaS company.
Q: How has the sales industry changed over the years?
A: If we reflect on the last two years, the sales industry has completely changed due to today’s modern buyer. Today’s modern buyer is social and mobile-enabled. They have access to information like never before, which almost eliminates the need to engage with sales people during the buyer’s research phase. In addition, sales leadership has traditionally managed sales people via the sales productivity model. Meaning, how many cold calls did you make? How many emails did you send? In the past, there was a direct correlation between the number of cold calls you made and emails you sent to the amount of opportunity and amount you would close. Essentially, activity equaled opportunity development.
Today, that is still partially true. Our buyers have changed as a result of being digitally and socially empowered, but most sales leaders and sales organizations have not. How we help the customer, how the customer wants to engage, and how we engage with the customer has changed in a large way. Yet again, most sales leaders and sales organizations have not. So, we as a sales community have to think, how can we connect with the modern buyer in a way that they want to engage?
One of those avenues available to connect salespeople with buyers are social networks. We used to engage customers face-to-face, but now we work from home or remotely. The challenge is building a relationship when often times you cannot see your customer face-to-face. When you do meet with a client, you may not be meeting them in their office rather in a borrowed conference room or a local coffee shop.
So, we miss the personal interaction that allows a relationship to develop. This is where social media comes into fill the gaps and facilitate a personal connection that helps our buyers. Helping in turn, leads to building trust, building trust leads to opportunity and revenue. In fact, one of the areas I teach in our social selling training program is the importance and significance of humanizing the connection experience. There is a specific art to it and it requires that sales people learn to be vulnerable and stand out from their competition.
Q.What is the most common problem you see sales professionals make when it comes to social selling and what’s the solution?
A: I see two big challenges. First, sales professionals think social selling is using LinkedIn to do research —wrong! That is only one of the five major pillars that is part of social selling. B2B social selling through Twitter and YouTube or social video is as important as LinkedIn.
The second biggest problem is misusing LinkedIn’s messaging feature, InMail. Many are using it as a way to get inside someone’s email with generic, impersonal messages being sent to a prospect’s inbox. You will wear your buyer out, you will turn your buyer off, and your buyer will delete your message, just like they delete your email when you engage that way. The problem is a lack of personalization and using InMail as a channel to get one more opportunity into their inbox. Whether you are making a cold call or sendingInMail, sales people need to ensure they are looking for opportunities to help, not pitch!