Leslie: I really wanted to find a platform where I could connect more directly with either new sales professionals, or that next generation of sales professionals, and it was really about me wanting to like inspire and educate those folks that were very early in their career, particularly women, particularly people of color to say, like, “hey, I know this might be really hard right now, I know firsthand that this space was not created for us. But like, stay strong, we can do this together
Kushal: Hi there. Welcome to On the Flip Side, a podcast for anyone who wants to live their best sales life. We're going to be talking to buyers, sales managers, SDRs and AEs about things like, what does it take to be a great sales manager, or how can you go home happy month after month? So let's dive right in.
Hi, folks, top of the morning, afternoon or evening, depending on wherever it is that you're joining us from. I'm Kushal from Wingman. And as per usual, I am super excited for today's chat. Because today it's going to be all about all things social selling, and TikTok in particular. And we have the most amazing guest here with us today. She's got years of experience in setting up sales playbooks that actually work. She's here to transform sales into a more respected and inclusive profession. She's a three-time head of sales, and she's an avid TikToker @SalesTipsTocker. Leslie, it's so great to have you on the show.
Leslie: Kushal, thank you so much for having me and Happy St. Patrick's Day to anybody out there watching live.
Kushal: Yes, amazing. Leslie, I'm just gonna throw the first question just to warm up things a little bit here. Could you describe social selling for us in three words?
Leslie: Social Selling in three words. Like connecting authentically and organically.
Kushal: I love this.
Leslie: We won't count that ‘&’. What’s one ampersand, we won't count it.
Kushal: We'll go with it. We'll go with it. Okay. So I have to go ahead, Leslie. And, you know, we you, of course, have been on TikTok for about, I think, a year and a half. Now you've got an amazing, you know, following as well. I think you're one of probably the earliest people in sales to sort of be experimenting with this platform as well. So we'd love to hear about it. What made you really start with TikTok, you know, for B2B marketing and for sales? Did you initially think that it would have the potential that it does today?
Leslie: You know, I hoped that it would have the sort of outcome that we've gotten to, but it really felt like a pipe dream. If I'm being honest, like I don't mind admitting that I did not get on TikTok because I thought it would be a good social selling engine, or I thought it would generate leads. I think I shared with you last time we were chatting that from leads that I can trace 100% back to TikTok either directly from TikTok or referrals. I built over 44K USD last year. So like, mind-blowing, but thank God there. Yeah, it's pretty crazy. I don't mind sharing, like being transparent about the actual amount, because people are like, what do you like sold a couple of playbooks? And I'm like, no, I like, real dollars. And that was as my side business, that was me turning down clients because I didn't have the capacity to balance both that you know, additional side work for my passion project and my day job.
So we'll see what happens this year as a full time. So for newer, but the reason I found myself on TikTok was twofold. One, I really wanted to find a platform where I could connect more directly with either new sales professionals, or that next generation of sales professionals, and it was really about me wanting to like inspire and educate those folks that were very early in their career, particularly women, particularly people of color to say, like, “hey, I know this might be really hard right now, I know firsthand that this space was not created for us. But like, stay strong, we can do this together. So that was a huge motivator. And then it was sort of doubled down by me being really dissatisfied by a lot of the content that was being celebrated on LinkedIn, which was just like a lot of bro culture and a lot of like hustle and grind, and I wake up at 3am. And if you're not winning, you're not trying. And it just, I wasn't buying into that nonsense. I wanted to go somewhere else with my message and TikTok just really felt right. And obviously, it was a good choice.
Kushal: So to sort of, you know, for people who want to maybe or who are thinking of kind of starting their own journey on TikTok, how is creating content for TikTok, especially in terms of the research, right, How's it different from creating content for any other platform?
Leslie: Yeah, so I mean, the most obvious difference is that it's all video. So I think for a lot of folks that are in our sort of, you know, B2B marketing and sales community, their primary channels are LinkedIn or Twitter, or maybe Instagram, which is text and image primarily. So getting comfortable on camera really important. And what I always say to people is, one, don't put up false barriers, like you do not need a super expensive setup to start recording your videos. Just admit that your first videos are probably going to be pretty terrible. Like you even right now I'm like being attacked by the sun, I'm sort of like half in the light, half in the dark. It is it is what it is. Sometimes you just gotta gotta roll with that.
So my first kind of call to action is don't put up those false barriers, like get on there, start creating content, your first videos are probably going to be terrible. That's okay. Like you'll iterate you'll learn from what doesn't does not work for you. And then I would say in terms of creating content, before you start burdening yourself with trying to create content trees, and what are my, you know, first 50 ideas or whatever it is, sit with yourself and really think about the kind of umbrella topic or the theme of your channel. So the theme for me is you know, creating an inclusive, respected sales culture. So I'm out there sharing, you know, B2B sales and marketing tips, sharing my own story, inspire other, sometimes I'll do trends and you know, try to get a laugh. But think about what that is for you. What's that topic that you are so passionate about that gives you so much joy and purpose that you could talk about it for ages. And from there, the creation of your content and your content tree, it becomes a lot easier, because it's something you're genuinely excited to talk about and share with others.
Kushal: Leslie, how much time would you estimate you probably spend creating content for TikTok on an average on a weekly or a monthly basis?
Leslie: Yeah, so I batch create my content, I didn't do that at first. And what I mean by batch creation is that I record all of my videos in one sitting, and then I edit them in one sitting as well. I didn't do that at first. And it, it felt burdensome to be constantly creating content, it took some of the joy away. So if you're like, I want to be on the spur of the moment type of person, like do that, if that works for you. But for me, the batch creation works better. So I only create once every two to four weeks. I'm not sure exactly how much time if I only put TikTok in there. But I was doing some math, I had a chance to join Scott Lease for his tequila Tuesday. And so I was kind of doing some math with that group. And it's about 40 to 80 hours a month, every single month, between TikTok and LinkedIn and that's recording, editing and engaging. So it is not a small amount of time.
Kushal: And it's almost one week, every month, I guess.
Leslie: Like one to two work weeks, every single month just creating free content, which is also why I really push people to find like a channel theme that they're really passionate about that gives them purpose. That might change a little bit if it's like, you know, you're a real estate agent, or maybe you're in insurance, or you're a founder of your own company, and you're creating content with that explicit business purpose. But for me, guys, you know, I had a full time corporate enterprise sales gig, so I was really just doing it on the side of that, on the side of my side business, it’s sort of like my third.
Kushal: That's a lot of sides. Got it. So Leslie, you talked about you know, sort of editing, you know, shooting your videos and then editing yours them yourself, as well. It would be great to kind of understand what the basic tech stack really for TikTok would look like, what should someone be investing in.
Leslie: So as you get started, feel free to invest in absolutely nothing and edit directly on the app. So I think this is another like barrier that folks put up for themselves that there is a conception that not only do you have to have a really fancy setup in terms of all your green lights and your fancy camera and your microphone, whatever that you do have to have a whole tech stack. But TikTok doesn't want to put any barriers, they want you out there creating content and adding you know to their world. So you can record right on your phone. You can record right in the app, and you can edit right in the app.
If you want to expand after that. There are certainly apps out there that can help you see what the top trending hashtags or sounds are. There's apps, the only one that I use pretty regularly is captions app. And that's literally the name of it captions apps, because I think the captions are a lot cleaner than the ones that are native to TikTok. And I really like to make sure I have captions on my videos just for accessibility. There's some external editing apps. I mean, you could certainly do it just in like the iMovie, you know, if you have a Mac, but you really, really don't need to. So say for people starting, don't get caught up in that yet, just get started. For people that are evolving, figure out what is most important to you, like, do you want those really, really clean videos, then you're going to have to invest in some editing software. Are you going for that more just like, hey, a thought came to me and here I am, just my face, then you're probably fine to keep recording right in the app?
Kushal: Leslie, thanks first off for being so transparent and honest about you know, the sort of tools that people need, right. Like, I know, a lot of folks will, you know, kind of have people go on a wild goal chase, and kind of figured out a lot of these things themselves. I think it's really cool. You know, that you're so open and so transparent, and really so helpful. And I know you've kind of shared this, you know, knowledge across platforms. I've been following you for a while, right. And I think it's amazing that you're sort of opening up, you're really creating this culture really opening up and helping each other. I think that's really amazing. So let's see, it sounds like maybe the only barrier to getting started with TikTok is actually just overthinking.
Leslie: That's exactly right. And I think that's true, not just for TikTok but for so many of the things we do, right? Like the number one thing holding us back is that we're probably overthinking it, or we're not in the right headspace. So, I mean, one of my, like, personal calls to action that I give myself is just take action. Like just do it, just try it. If it is like a raging dumpster fire or like, whatever, like you tried it, you don't have to keep doing it. You can erase the videos. But like, you're not going to make a TikTok video, and everybody's going to watch it. And if it's bad, they're gonna like make fun of yours. Like, that's just not the, I think the reality. But if the viewer’s really…
Kushal: Maybe we don’t need to take ourselves too seriously.
Leslie: Yes, that's exactly right Kushal. Because, I mean, if the viewers are anything like me, not only do we take ourselves too seriously, but I'm just like, hugely anxiety ridden. And I like to think 17 steps ahead, you know, follows…
Kushal: Nothing perfect.
Leslie: Yeah, nothing's perfect. You just gotta let it go. I mean, still 18 months and my videos are hugely imperfect and that does not stop them from helping people.
Kushal: I think that's really a great way to put it. Who are maybe some of the other TikTokers that you really look up to, and not just TikTokers, you know, creators on LinkedIn as well. Would you recommend that people really follow?
Leslie: Yeah, so some of my favorite TikToker, I can start there. So the first person to start talking about B2B sales on TikTok is a guy whose handle is @techsalestom. So shout out to him like when I joined the platform, and I was really like the second person here do you have like 80,000 followers, so he was like light-years ahead of me. There's another guy called Will Aitken, A-I-T-K-E-N, who runs the sales V channel for Vinyard. He is super, super funny. So check him out. Morgan Ingram, who a lot of people know who does like Muffins w/Morgan. He's all over LinkedIn, he recently joined. Belal, I'm never gonna pronounce his name right, B-E-T-R-A-W-Y, yeah, he just joined that's a great channel. There's a couple of women who just joined Jenny Anderson, @techsalesgal whose lives Miller, Heidi Solomon, or like, join with the girls who sell group. So it's growing.
There's a lot of folks who McKenna join, which is you know, she's a fan favorite. So just in the last like three months and Q1 of 22, we've seen a lot of new faces, joining the sales talk community. So like, come on over there space for you is well. Beyond that, I have to give a shout out to two of my mentors, Josh Braun and Andy Paul, who both create tremendous content on LinkedIn. Andy just released a new book that's called “Sell without Selling Out” that is like, it is good. It is like, if you think it's an exaggeration to say a sales book made me emotional, then like, go check that. Go check that book out. Also a huge fan of you know, folks like Jason Bay, I think he's, you know, he's incredible Brandon, flirty, really wonderful. I mean, I could go on and on like I'm obsessed with our sort of sales talk community, we have some, I think some really special like women in sales whose voices… I'm in the dark again over here. Some really special voices of women in sales that are really being amplified, obviously Shruti, the founder of Wingman. We had the opportunity to co-author a book that was all about women dominating in B2B sales. So a lot of I think, really amazing voices of women, particularly women of color, and then a lot of advocates that are really helping to amplify. So I always try to point people in the direction of those people that are like doing the work.
Kushal: I think those are some amazing names. Yeah, I can think of at least a few of those folks who we should probably get on the podcast as well, so thanks for that. Leslie, taking things a little ahead. What have maybe been some of the most surprising things or realizations for you on this journey of TikTok, but not just TikTok really, you know, along this journey of sales, really, you've been at it for so many years now. What's maybe some of the most surprising things along the way?
Leslie: The most surprising things, so maybe like TikTok specific. Because I live, I think to some extent, like in a bit of a bubble on LinkedIn, I mean, I think we all do, right. Because… yes, yes, the echo chamber. That's exactly right. I mean, it just happens when you're, you're sort of curating your own community of connections. And you know, on LinkedIn, I'm super, super intentional about connecting with people outside of my circle with different perspectives, different lived experiences, but even so it's still a bit of a bubble, because it's a lot of like, you know, sales in B2B sales, and marketing is amazing. And here, all these things we're doing to be, you know, seller centric, and buyer centric.
Kushal: So, are you saying we shouldn't be, Leslie?
Leslie: No, it's great. It's great. But you know, I think you could, I could spend a week on my LinkedIn feed, and I could really trick myself into thinking, wow, like all companies care about diversity and inclusion, like, Wow, all of these sellers really get it like they've really evolved to meet the needs of the modern buyer. But that is BS. Like, it is so not what's actually reflected in the b2b sales and marketing reality. So the answer to your question is one of the most surprising things for me on TikTok was to get that gut check of how bad people still are, like how much help people still need, like how outdated their techniques are, maybe more importantly how outdated their mindsets are around sales, and you still see it in like some of the creators that are being celebrated on TikTok, like I got into like a beef with Jordan Belfort the guy that Wolf of Wall Street is based on last year where he called me stupid for suggesting that we like hire with inclusivity in mind, and he has like over 2 million followers and his you know, his like major fans came after me. And like you're just a stupid woman, how could you even sell, women aren't even good at sales. And there's a couple other account out there. There's one that's like new to the scene who I will not drop the handle, who's, you know, going on a rant about how good salespeople have to be extroverts and like, need to wear their Rolexes and we're you know, all we're doing out here all us women in sales are doing is attacking, like, masculinity is. So I think one of the biggest surprises to me was how much work still needs to be done. So that was a big one. And I think the other side of that was also a gut check of like, how much people still hate sales, like as a profession, because sometimes my videos will be pushed outside of the sales community for who knows what reason Tiktok algorithm is a mystery. And it's not just me like I see this with like tech sales Tom or Will or other creators, like some really, really hateful comments from non-sales people, like really hateful comments. Because they just, I think often, I mean, they're not in B2B sales, they only have experienced that the b2c element of sales they like don't actually get what we do. But there's like a vitriolic, there's like a very emotional reaction for people on TikTok when you tell them that you're proud to be in sales, or that like you have a whole channel about sales, and they're like, you know, forget to the ground sales people are terrible.
Kushal: Oh, no. What you think sales still has that rap, the bad rap, Leslie? Why do you think that impression is still around? I mean, are we still doing something's wrong in sales? Could that be?
Leslie: Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest reason is that there are still so many people that are not doing the work to evolve and are not doing the work to like be a modern seller and meet the needs of their modern buyer. They're just hanging on to the things that worked, you know, 10, 15, 20 years ago. So I think part of it is our fault. Like as a B2B sales community, it's our fault, because not everybody's putting in the work and all the leaders are making them do that, I believe, I think there's some knock on effects, like a lot of people work for, you know, companies or founders that just don't get it. So they're putting wrong incentives in place, they're putting the wrong KPIs in place. And like, some of that's not the sales person's fault, right. Like you have to eat got to pay the mortgage got, you know, sometimes you just got to show up and do the job. I personally think a lot of it still ties back to like, all of the movies from the 80s that the, you know, in every single one, the sellers were white men. And in every single one, they were, you know, ABC and we don't take no for an answer, and they were all con artists. And so there's this conception that like, that's what a sales person is. And I was like, no, no, those weren't actually movies about salespeople, like those are movies about Connors and scam artists and thief's, and we're not the same. But because, you know, because they're so famous. I just think that like that's the conception that's been carried forward.
Kushal: It seems like sales needs a new movie or a lot of new movies to be done. I should maybe we should do that some next thing for you to make less maybe that should be our series.
Leslie: Yeah, the girls that did the women that did the hills two deals book, our next big adventure can be to create.
Kushal: A movie, exactly.
Leslie: That would be fun. That would be fun. I don't know what the plotline would be. I felt like it would be boring. Because like the like real sales is just like getting in and like doing the hard work not like standing in a boiler room and yelling about Cadillac’s. And like how you can't have coffee.
Kushal: So you say that you don't do that Leslie?
Leslie: No, I don't do. I don’t, I like light my candle. And I put on my like meditative music in the back. And like, sit calmly in my office.
Kushal: Yeah, maybe all that cardboard make for good television. So let's just, you know, sort of, it's obvious if you've had like, a lot of experience in sales, you've seen sales really evolved from, you know, the impressions that were there that we spoke about till where it is today. And of course, you know, like you've said, we still need to do a lot of work on this. What do you think are really the main things that you think, you know, if you were and in your advice to people who are today setting up their own sales teams, for instance, right? What do you really advise them to get right this time around?
Leslie: A couple of things, I would say. One is understanding the difference between diversity and inclusion. Because we do have a lot of folks having conversations around diversity, which is you know, great kudos. But I think often that same group of people don't understand that diversity isn't enough. Like if you have a diverse team, but they get in seat and you're not doing anything to make sure that they feel welcome comfortable and safe. They're like you're not doing enough. And I think, like part of that is that we often don't acknowledge that almost all historical, like sales, training and sales processes, sales scripts, everything, like almost all of that historical sales knowledge comes from a white male perspective, like it was made for white men by white men, which is fine, like they've given us some incredible stuff. But like we were, you know, a new generation you know, sales professionals, so we need to interject our new perspectives in there and our personalities and our voices in there. And that doesn't always happen, folks build a diverse team but then they're like, but here is the only way to sell. And that just like those things are the, you know, they're mutually exclusive. So I think that that's one thing I would say, the second thing is that we still often really struggled to put the buyer at the center of what we do. And you know, I challenge anybody listening or you know, even sales people that are listening to go back and look at their like last emails, I'm in the dark again, I swear of Chicago, to go back and look at their the last emails they've received or sent, and how many of them start with I statements. And I mean, if you think about like a typical sales email, it's like, Hi, I'm Leslie, the founder of Sales Team Builder, and what we do is and I want, and that just, it's folks that are simply you know, again, not doing that work, to evolve to be the modern seller to connect with a modern buyer. But those are really easy bad habits to fall back into. So, you know, I think twofold like one we need to evolve, we need to evolve the way we connect with customers. And that's both like we as a sales community by being inclusive by incorporating new voices. And by really challenging ourselves at every turn, to put the buyer at the center.
Kushal: I think those are the two really key points, right, to the bringing in more voices, like you said, making it truly more inclusive, not only to people, but also ways of, you know, doing sales today. And then of course, you know, kind of, you know, bringing in that fresh thinking, and doing all of that other work as well. I'm sure if I go back to my inbox, I will see at least a few emails that I have incredibly ashamed of sending at some point.
Leslie: I do it too, nobody is perfect, right, but it's like how can we constantly like try to bring ourselves back to, to those pieces that we know, are like the right ways to interact.
Kushal: Leslie, I know we're almost at the end of the segment. I have one or two last really questions for you. One is, of course, what would your advice be, you know, for your younger self?
Leslie: Oh, my advice for my younger self would be probably look, trust, trust your intuition more. Yeah, I think there were a lot of times I moved from Montana to Chicago without a job. I didn't want to go into sales. But I like found a company that I thought was cool. And I took a sales job because it was all that was open, and I thought I would just go to another job. And so when I got here, like I didn't have any connections in Chicago, I didn't really know anybody that lived like in the big city. I didn't know anybody that was in B2B sales, I had absolutely no reference point. And the like the work I was doing, often felt bad, and felt icky. And that was my intuition. But I was like, Oh, I guess this is just what it is. Like, I guess this is just what it's like to have a have a corporate job. I guess this is just what it's like to work in the big city or work in sales. So I think if I could go back and be like, no, you’re right this, it shouldn't feel this way. Like it's okay, if it's uncomfortable. Because you're learning new things, you're pushing your boundaries, but like, it shouldn't feel icky.
Kushal: I think that's an amazing way to sort of put it to trust your intuition more to stay away from situations that make you feel icky or, you know, just learn from them and sort of know that you can do things better. I guess we've all been in those icky situations, right.
Leslie: Lots of learning experience.
Kushal: Yes, exactly. Leslie, I'd love to also learn more, if you could tell us more about sales team builder, and what's happening there?
Leslie: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm getting ready for an official launch. I'm so excited. Earlier this week, I actually went and got like new professional headshots taken, which I've done before. I mean, I've had professional headshots but all of them are the ones where you're like, you know, arms crossed sort of looking. So I went and got some taken that were a little bit more Leslie so loud and sounds.
Kushal: That’s a nice way to put it.
Leslie: Yes, and I'm getting my website redesigned, just got a new logo. So I'm having so much fun in this process of like creating the next like the Sales Team Builder 2.0 to look out for the proper launch coming in the last week of March, but sales team builder is a sales consultancy company. So I primarily do fractional sales support, I come in and help early stage founders bridge the gap, when they know they need like leadership strategy, but they're quite ready to resource against a full time head of sales. And then I do some really fun interactive coaching workshops directly with reps, because I love to like get my hands in the clay and work directly with the sales people. I love sales people. So yeah, I'm just out here having a blast.
Kushal: That sounds so exciting Leslie. I cannot wait to see your Leslie headshots. I'm really going to be waiting. Leslie, I know we're almost at the end of the segment, I just have one last question for you, which is sort of a fun part that we play right to the end. It's called wrong words and wrong meanings only. So I'll give you I'll throw a few terms at you and you have to give me the wrong meaning for those words. Are you ready for this one?
Leslie: I mean, no, but let's do it.
Kushal: Okay, give me a wrong meaning for social selling?
Leslie: Oh, a wrong meaning for social selling. I felt like the first thing that popped into my head was actually like in person, like at a social gathering and somebody's just like throwing all their business cards into the air.
Kushal: That's an interesting image for sure. Here's the next one, TikTok for sales?
Leslie: TikTok for sale, selling. If you are actively selling, you're doing it. Wrong, isn't that doesn't mean that you can't put like some sales videos out there. But if you get on TikTok only to sell.
Kushal: And here's the last one, sales playbooks?
Leslie: Sales playbooks, what's a wrong sales playbook? I don't know the first thing that came into my mind on that line was like people in an actual office and it being built like a football play. And like where everybody needs to be in the boiler room for it to be as loud and as chaotic as it possibly could be.
Kushal: That is incredibly funny. Thank you so much Leslie. I think this has been one of the most fun lives that we've done recently. I've really enjoyed having you as a guest. Thank you so much.
Leslie: Thank you so much. And for everybody that listen, thank you for taking time out of your day to join us.
Kushal: Great, thanks, folks. We've got you again soon. Bye, bye.