Here is a transcript generated by of The Content Mix podcast interview with Jake Potter, London-based social media specialist, on the shift to social selling:

Shaheen Samavati 0:15
Hi everyone, I’m Shaheen from The Content Mix, and I’m here with Jake Potter, global social media manager at Colt Technology Services, the international telecom company headquartered in London that serves B2B clients in more than 30 countries. Jake, thanks so much for joining us.

Jake Potter 0:30
Thank you so much for having me. I’m really excited to be here today.

Shaheen Samavati 0:34
Well, to get started, I just wanted to ask you a little bit about your background and how you got into marketing.

Jake Potter 0:39
Sure, so I suppose it starts when I was at university. I did a degree in events management, which is quite specific, I suppose, because we’re learning how to organize events and execute them, but there was a huge marketing spin on everything I did within that degree, and I did a placement year as well, so it’s a four-year degree. And within my placement year, I was organizing events that I was spending a lot of time in marketing, marketing those events and using social media as well, which is kind of probably the start of where my social media career comes from, because I started really using social media when I worked for that first company. And when I finished university, I was lucky enough to go back to them, organize more events, but still again using that promotional element, email marketing, social media marketing. And as time went on, social media sites overtake the events element of my career and I started focusing entirely on social media, and learning a lot more about paid social media and organic social media, and all those kinds of things. And it ended up with me having a role at Colt Technology Services, where I’ve been for the past three years, and I head up social media for them globally, and I love it, I love social media, so it’s great.

Shaheen Samavati 1:55
Your experience is really in the IT and B2B side of things, right?

Jake Potter 2:01
Yes, every single role I’ve had is in a B2B-based, like IT, technology company. So I’ve worked for Oracle, my first company was called Oracle User Group. So I’ve had a quiet Oracle-like career, so to say, and now I’m in telecoms.

Shaheen Samavati 2:19
Okay, so quite a specialization then. Well, for those who don’t know about Colt, I mean, can you just give us a brief little background on the company?

Jake Potter 2:29
Sure, yeah, so Colt provides network services to businesses around the globe. So that can be voice services, so anything like using your phone to speak to people, to things like connecting to the cloud. So if you’re using applications in the cloud, we’re helping connect you from where you are to that cloud application. So yeah, we’re providing network services around the globe to businesses.

Shaheen Samavati 2:55
I see. And then so your day-to-day as a global social media manager, what is that like?

Jake Potter 3:03
So there can be some structure to it, and can be also some changes as well. So I suppose the structure element is that each week, I make sure that obviously I’m building my pipeline for organic content. I do a lot of collaboration with other stakeholders within the business. So I work a lot with other marketing teams within the wider marketing functions, like business partner marketers who are in local countries, making sure that I’m messaging to their audiences; they might also be organizing virtual events, so working with them, and including their messaging on social. And also working with the sales teams, as well, to make sure we’re putting out messages that resonate with their audience as well. And then on top of that, because social media isn’t just a lead generative tool, we’re also trying to build our brand awareness and build our awareness as an employer. We work with other teams, such as working with the brand team, which I am actually part of, to make sure we’re building the brand there, and then working with our HR recruitment teams to make sure we’re really showing what a fantastic company Colt is to work for.

Shaheen Samavati 4:08
I see, very cool. So it’s a combination of internal and external communication across the channels.

Jake Potter 4:13
Yeah, so my usual day is quite mixed. But it’s all to do with collaborating with people to get key messages.

Shaheen Samavati 4:20
And what would you say is kind of your unique approach to, that Colt takes towards content and social media?

Jake Potter 4:31
That’s a really good question. I suppose our unique approach is making sure we don’t focus on one channel—it’s very easy to focus on a channel that’s got a huge audience. So for example, our LinkedIn page has like 135,000 followers. It’s very easy to focus on that because we’ve got a ton of followers there. But what we also know is that the workforce is aging and as new generations come in, there’s going to be other social networks to focus on. So even if you’re a B2B brand like Colt is, you need to be making sure you have a presence on all the social channels. So we have an Instagram page as well; it’s not our largest following page, but we do have a good group of followers on there who engage with us. And then we make sure we’re engaging the next generation, so come to work with us or for us.

Shaheen Samavati 5:20
And you were saying that your role is kind of, it assists both marketing and sales. So what is the social selling aspect of it?

Jake Potter 5:30
Yeah, so when I first joined Colt, we decided to launch a social selling framework, which really was aimed to help salespeople transform online relationships into sales. So at this point, we do kind of focus on LinkedIn because we know that’s where they’re having their current work conversations. And we had a few chats with LinkedIn and we actually found out that our sales force has around 10 times more connections/followers than the brand has itself. And that’s because we’ve got quite a lot of salespeople, you know, if each salesperson has a couple of hundred connections that can really grow exponentially in comparison to the brand. So we really saw this opportunity for people to be using it as a platform to sell our products and services. So what we do is we split it into four areas. We focus on making sure our salespeople have a killer profile, as I like to kind of go with it, because your profile is one of the first impressions people get of you. Then we split into content, and that actually covers two of the four areas I was just saying about. So spinning out between sharing content just about Colt’s products and services; that’s one part. And then sharing content about the industry and about things that are important to us as individuals. And this is so key, because if we just share stuff about our brand, we’re not social selling, we’re social marketing. Or that’s what I believe, anyway. So when we make sure we’re sharing stuff about the industry, we’re making sure that when we’re speaking to new prospects, or when we’re building relationships with our current customers, they’re not just seeing a job title, they’re actually seeing an expert and someone who is reading about what’s going on in the world. And the final element of social selling for me is making sure that people are engaging, because if we have a good profile, and we’re putting a ton of content on social media, that’s not everything—we need to be making sure we are engaging, and staying at the front of people’s minds, particularly if there’s longer sales cycles, anything like that, where they could take months to close a deal. And you want to make sure that people are thinking about you and that they know who you are. Because if you call them up after putting in tons of work on your side, and they’re like, “Who’s Jake, who’s Colt?” that’s going to be really frustrating. So really making sure that you’re staying in the front of mind for those prospects and customers.

Shaheen Samavati 7:47
So would you kind of define the difference between traditional social media marketing and social selling, as you see it, like basically sharing directly from, creating personas for the salespeople and sharing directly from their profiles?

Jake Potter 7:59
Yeah, and creating your personal brand, which I know is a term that’s thrown around quite a lot. But when you’re sharing content and having an up-to-date profile, you’re actually giving the opportunity for people to see your personality, especially if you are taking the time to write the social posts yourself. Because you can show like a more fun side to you. And if you share stuff that’s not 100% about the brand, as well, you can share fun stuff in a fun way, even on a platform like LinkedIn where everyone is probably, you can envisage them in a suit and tie using their LinkedIn profile. But if you’re sharing stuff, maybe if, currently we’re in lockdown, maybe you’re sharing the fact you’ve gone to the park for the first time in weeks because you can’t go out. That is giving personality and it’s help building personal brands, and it will make sales easier.

Shaheen Samavati 8:52
Absolutely. And now we’re, you know, we’re in the middle of this lockdown, in a global pandemic. Is it impacting you much in your day-to-day?

Jake Potter 9:01
I believe that the current situation is an opportunity to increase social selling. And I am seeing both in my role, and from what I see online, that social selling is on the up. I do a lot of training as part of my role, so I teach people how to use social media. And I teach them how to social sell, and how to get better and really elevate what they’re doing. And since this current situation has happened, I’ve been giving a lot more of those trainings, and when I go onto places like LinkedIn, I see people just sharing so much content now. And it’s really, I think LinkedIn’s actually transformed in that way as well, to become a place where we all share content. So I believe it’s impacting social media for everyone, and not just businesses.

Shaheen Samavati 9:50
Absolutely. I mean, the fact that we’re constantly connected to our devices right now means we’re more likely to engage with this kind of thing.

Jake Potter 9:57

Shaheen Samavati 9:58
Yeah, absolutely. So I know you’re based in London, and could you kind of give us an idea of the scope of the business and the markets you operate in? I know I said 30 countries, but you’re kind of focused on Europe, right?

Jake Potter 10:13
Yeah, so we started in the UK, in London, in the early 90s. And then we grew across Europe, and then started growing more and more around the world. So yeah, we have a huge UK and Europe kind of brand and it’s growing globally as well.

Shaheen Samavati 10:32
Okay. And, I mean, at The Content Mix, we’re kind of focused on the European market. So I’m curious to get perspectives on how it compares to, maybe, other areas of the world, or any challenges or opportunities you see, related to the European market.

Jake Potter 10:50
I think it’s really key—I don’t know if what I’m going to say is, maybe can be obvious for everyone—but it’s really key to make sure that when you are promoting stuff, whether you’re doing it on social media or doing it by email, or however you do your marketing, making sure you do change that content for the audience you’re speaking to. For example, in England, English people quite often can add loads of different words into a sentence, that rather than saying, “Can I have a cup of tea?” they might say, “I don’t suppose I could possibly have a cup of tea?” But in other countries, say Germany, German is a bit more of a direct language. So it’d probably be, “Can I have a cup of tea?” So we need to make sure that our marketing is targeted to each location, and we see that in our own marketing. An image that can be bright orange in the UK needs to be a different color for each different country. And I think data is so key to what we do, so we need to make sure we test in all the countries we operate in, to get that data, to make sure we’re then splitting up the messaging and making sure it suits each audience around the world.

Shaheen Samavati 11:58
So is that also part of your job, adapting those messages for the markets?

Jake Potter 12:03
On social, yes, I work with a work within a wider team. So I work with a global campaign manager, we have graphic designers, we have brand team and we have digital team, and we all work together to make sure that our messaging is right for the right audience. And obviously, we don’t have the answer to everything. So as I mentioned earlier, collaboration is key. And we work with all our business partner marketing people in each country to make sure that the messages resonate, or will resonate with their audience, because they’re probably more likely to know them I probably am.

Shaheen Samavati 12:38
Yeah, that makes sense. I was gonna say on the comment about the tea, I live in Spain, so it’s famous that in Spain, what people would say is like, “Give me a tea.”

Jake Potter 12:48

Shaheen Samavati 12:50
And British people think that’s really weird.

Yeah, it’s very direct.

Yeah, definitely. Well, I guess that we can go into the recommendations that I asked you about earlier.

Jake Potter 13:05

Shaheen Samavati 13:06
So, what would you recommend for an app or a tool that helps you in your job?

Jake Potter 13:11
Sure. So my favorite application is Content Cow. Around two years ago, I was approached by a guy called Andy, who is the CEO of Content Cow, and it’s a very small company. And the application is a social media scheduling tool, so it’s a content calendar. And it’s just the most simple and easy-to-use social media calendar I’ve ever used. It works as a calendar, and you can drag and drop your content, you can edit as you see fit, and you can also have approval flows as well. So for example, I’m the social media manager, but we also have a graduate on our team, so the graduate may write a post and then it goes to me to press approve before it goes out on social. And that’s just to make sure we don’t have a spelling mistake, for example. And I do the same as well; I make people check what I write as well. So it’s really, it makes my job so much easier, because we can make sure it’s harder to make a mistake on social media. It has content hubs as well. And you can view all your old content and search old content if you want to reuse it. And it also has really good analytics, as well. And because it’s a fairly small company, you get the opportunity to make changes. You ask them for a certain kind of feature, and they are happy to work on it because they’re a smaller organization that are great for that kind of thing.

Shaheen Samavati 14:40
Yeah, that’s super interesting. I mean, there’s so many options when it comes to social media scheduling, that it can be hard to choose. But yeah, does it have, like… so these features are ones that other ones maybe don’t typically have, like the search features and things like that, and the corrections?

Jake Potter 14:56
Yeah, some of the features do cross over, but it’s the ease of being able to use those features, I think, that really makes them kind of win over other tools. And when I say they’re a small company, they actually have thousands of customers, so they’re probably not as small as I make them out to be. But yeah, they have a lot of features that other things do, but it’s just so much easier to use those features.

Shaheen Samavati 14:56
Yeah, I actually, oftentimes, when I’m looking for a tool, like, search for one that’s kind of like an up and coming, that is a little bit smaller, because they tend to be a little more agile in developing new stuff, and also have more personalized customer service. And might, you know, if it’s a new startup, they’re more kind of on the cutting edge, too. So I’ll definitely check that one out. So, I also wanted to ask you about any marketing influencers you follow in Europe?

Jake Potter 15:49
Yeah, so I follow a guy called Joe Glover, and I actually met him a few months ago. And since I met him, I’ve just, I find him so insightful. And he’s also really personable as well, but it’s very easy to relate to him. And the reason why I find him so influential is because he decided to kind of quit his day job to launch a network called The Marketing Meetup. And this marketing meetup has grown around the UK, it now has European events and also a US event as well. And it’s a fairly small network, so the fact it’s grown so much really shows kind of the influence that Joe has on the marketing industry. And when I met him, I went to one of their events a few months ago, and I actually had the opportunity to speak at their event. And so I met him that night, and he was just like, the most nice person to speak to, and then when I look at his LinkedIn, he shares so much insight on his LinkedIn. But when you read it, it just feels like you’re reading something your friend wrote, and that’s why I think he’s really amazing.

Shaheen Samavati 17:04
Yeah, he must be really good at his job, as a marketer.

Jake Potter 17:07
Absolutely, yes.

Shaheen Samavati 17:09
Yeah, that’s really cool. I checked them out, and I think they have, like, really similar values to what we’re doing with The Content Mix, so I’d be super interested to collaborate with him. I’m gonna definitely get in touch. Well, I mean, we’re nearing the end of the interview. Was there any other takeaways you’d like to share, or some final advice?

Jake Potter 17:12
I would say, as kind of a final piece of advice, if your organization isn’t social selling right now, that I really think you should get out there and just start doing it. We’re in such a unique time right now, where we’re not able to go to meetings and have face-to-faces with people. And social media really is the key to getting to do that. So I really strongly advise anyone to kind of build their own social selling framework and really launch social selling, and help their salespeople to share messages about your brand and about the industry that you’re working in, because they are key to helping you with your marketing strategy.

Shaheen Samavati 18:12
Yeah, I was also curious, what do you think social selling isn’t? Because I feel like I’ve heard that term used so many different ways. And I definitely have seen it in reference to a lot of, like, automation tools for doing outreach on LinkedIn, basically. But when you talk about it, you mean it more as like networking in general, and having a strategy around that, right?

Jake Potter 18:32
Yeah. So I think a lot of people think social selling is just, overnight they’ll get people to share stuff about a brand. And it really isn’t that; it’s about helping these individuals really build themselves up to look like they know what they’re talking about, and to be seen as people, and kind of not job titles anymore. And so I suppose to answer the question, what is social selling not? It’s not using all your salespeople just to share the same message over and over again, specifically relating to your products and services. That is social marketing. And I think it’s really key to–

Shaheen Samavati 19:09
Or social spamming, maybe?

Jake Potter 19:10
Yeah, or social spamming, yeah! So it’s really key to… especially some people say to me, should social selling come from marketing? And I say absolutely, because you can plug it into your marketing strategy. And you can help these people really strategize their own social selling journey. So yeah, I love social selling.

Shaheen Samavati 19:31
It’s like getting your sales team to be kind of ambassadors for your marketing, right? Kind of tying that together, yeah.

Jake Potter 19:38
Definitely. And we see lots of, I see a lot of people on LinkedIn, like CEOs that are great at talking about the industry and about their company. And I think we need to stop just focusing on the CEOs and making sure that people know that anyone can kind of do what the CEO is doing on social. Share stuff about your industry, share the fact you went to the park, and you’ll be so surprised at how many likes and comments you’ll get off the post about you going to the park. It’ll be amazing.

Shaheen Samavati 20:08
That’s interesting. So it doesn’t have to be all business necessarily, you want to show the whole person.

Jake Potter 20:13
No, because I think as people, we want to meet people. We don’t want to meet kind of robots, but we want to make sure we can relate to people, and have common ground with them. And so I think that’s really key, is that we share something personal every now and then. It doesn’t have to be super personal about your life. You don’t have to share your bank balance. But yeah, just things like, I went out to the park and it was nice, the sun was shining.

Shaheen Samavati 20:40
Yeah, just to relate with people in general. Yeah, makes a lot of sense. Well, yeah, it was awesome to get your insights on social selling. Sounds like you really know what you’re doing!

Jake Potter 20:50

Shaheen Samavati 20:55
So, yeah, it was great to have you on the show.

Jake Potter 20:58
Thanks for having me, it’s really good.

Shaheen Samavati 21:01
Thanks, everyone, for listening in. For more perspectives on the content marketing industry in Europe, check out, and keep tuning into the podcast, where we’ll be sharing interviews like these every weekday. See you next time. Bye bye!

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