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Interview with David J.P. Fisher – How to Become a Trusted Marketing & Sales Expert – Episode #59
David J.P. Fisher (D. Fish) is an internationally recognized keynote speaker, sales trainer, and business coach focused on bringing empathy and the human touch back into sales, social media, networking, and entrepreneurship. He is also the author of 9 books including the best-sellers “Hyper-Connected Selling” and “Networking in the 21st Century”. And lastly, he is the host of “Beer, Beats, and Business”, a podcast that shares his casual conversations with leaders in sales, marketing, and entrepreneurship.

Questions I asked David include:

  • How does David grow his personal brand as a “soloprenuer”?
  • What are the benefits of being a published author?
  • Any tips on how to market a book in 2021?
  • What are the biggest mistakes sales professionals and marketers are making on LinkedIn?
  • What strategies and tactics have you used to grow your personal brand?
  • How has public speaking changed in 2021?
  • What is a Sales Sherpa?

Full Episode Transcript:


Kenny Soto 0:02  

Hello, everyone, and welcome to the people of digital marketing with your host, Kenny Soto. This is Episode 59, believe it or not, and today’s guest is David JP Fisher. Hey, David, how are you?


David Fisher 0:21  

I am living the dream.


Kenny Soto 0:23  

This is going to be a great conversation. And as always, I like to start each episode by asking a very straightforward question so that the audience can get some context about who you are as a professional. So the first question, yeah, the first question I have for you, David, is what got you into marketing and sales?


David Fisher 0:42  

Well, I got into sales. First, actually, in college, I worked with a company called Cutco cutlery, which may be familiar to many of your listeners, the number one selling cutlery in the United States, but it’s all direct. So I learned as a 20 year old how to pick up the phone. Yes, this is old school, we were using the phone, picking up the phone, going out and doing sales presentations, building value, you know, really kind of connecting with the prospect turned into a customer and getting referrals a whole nine yards.


And I did that for a number of years, actually, through my graduation out of school. And then I ran the Chicago office training new salespeople. And that’s really where I first started understanding how to become a marketer because a lot of what I was doing as a manager was actually recruiting and so learning how to use all the different advertising channels and learning how to really get the word out to a specific market. 


And then after that, I ended up starting my own firm, Rockstar consulting. I was actually about 15 and a half years ago, so somehow we’re still around, which is surprising to everybody, including me. But in that role, I’ve done everything from sales coaching, I do a lot of speaking and training, working with organizations consulting on especially digital selling, and using all the new tools we have in the sales and marketing world. 


And as a solopreneur as a business owner, you know, a lot of people don’t realize that you are a marketer, you are a salesperson, you basically do everything. And so over the last 15 and a half years, I’ve been able to consistently develop my marketing skills, learning from some of the best in the business, and, you know, kind of continuing to practice it on a daily basis. Because if I can’t market and sell, I can’t pay the bills. So that’s kind of been my journey here.


Kenny Soto 2:43  

Now, you’ve mentioned a keyword, which is a solo printer, I don’t want to assume but that’s what you would consider yourself, Correct? 


David Fisher 2:50  

You know, I still would, I’ve built a really fantastic team around me of people that helped me, as I work my business everywhere from advisers, and designers, and video editors and editors and graphic designers and website designers. But at its core, my business is still very much about me and the value that I bring in the messages that I share with my clients. So yeah, I would still call myself the solopreneur even after all this time.


Kenny Soto 3:22  

Now, I would assume that as a solopreneur. A lot of the marketing that revolves around you could be considered personal branding as well correct on our percent. Now, what are some strategies or tactics that you’ve used to grow your personal brand?


David Fisher 3:39  

Oh, that’s a really good question, I really feel that the concept of personal brand has grown up, kind of right in parallel with my career as a solopreneur. I think one of the things that have been really important is, is using digital, you know, we think of tools like social media, I’m a big LinkedIn user, I write books on LinkedIn, you know how to use it. 


But the idea of using these tools that we never had before to share a message more broadly, I think a lot about networking. And that’s something that I also talk about a lot and teach about. But it used to be that networking was only in it was it was a contact sport, you can only network when you were physical with somebody or you know, maybe send them a letter, maybe an email when we first got the beginnings of the digital world. 


But now really using all of the avenues and the channels that we have to communicate has been such an important tool. I think even just personally me being able to write books and I started a publishing company so I don’t have to get a traditional publisher to permit me to publish a book I can come to the market on my own or even the idea of using tools like LinkedIn or podcasting, I’ve run a podcast for the past few years. 


The fact that I can put my message in front of 1000s. And 1000s of people with very few barriers to entry is just massively powerful. And I really try to leverage that as much as possible as I possibly can. I would say the other thing, kind of concurrent with those different channels is really, I’ve done a pretty good job, I think I can always do better for sure.


But of being really clear about who I am and what my message is. I think that because there are all these channels, people are, you know, we’re a little overwhelmed and overloaded with messages from our network, whether that’s digitally or in the offline world. And so, I’ve consistently audited myself just to go, Who am I really being clear with what I am, who I am, what I stand for, how I help, who I help,  And that’s a process that is not static, it’s a dynamic thing that I’ve continually re revisited over the last 15 years.


Kenny Soto 6:11  

Considering the fact that our audience is mainly comprised of marketers, some of them are salespeople as well, I will get back and follow up on your books because I definitely want to learn more about that as well. But my next question would be, can you describe some of the services you provide your clients? How do you help them overall?


David Fisher 6:34  

Sure. So just as a little bit of a tangent, I do think that we’re seeing the idea of marketing and selling really come together in a way that it never has before. So I often joke that I will sometimes teach marketers how to sell and sellers how to market, right? Because it is so closely aligned these days, and or at least it should be if it’s done, right? As far as what I do, I work with a lot of organizations right now, that want to make sure that their team goes everywhere from their sales team, their customer service, or any customer facing team all the way up to their leadership.


And executives are really putting forth a unified and aligned message on social media platforms, especially LinkedIn. So I do a lot of consulting on how to create socially ready messaging, which is taking a lot of that marketing to speak, that’s on the website, and making it human. 


And also then just teaching everybody from, again, the sales team, to the leadership and executive team to really everybody in the organization, how to really advocate for themselves and their organizations, on these social platforms.


And then I also do a lot of work with entrepreneurs. solopreneurs, where we were talking about a moment ago, basically, service professionals, anybody who has to put out a brand message that is also kind of a personal brand, right? And there’s some strategy involves some tactics, also a little bit of psychology, right? We’re where we really accept what our personal brand is. 


But I really think you can develop these skills of outreach of networking of relationship building, if you’re intentional about them, and so, you know, whether that’s through coaching, I said, the books online course that we have a really helping people kind of develop themselves as professionals so they can show up the right way. So that’s, those are that’s kind of the broad swatch swath. I always get that word wrong. That’s a broad spectrum of what I do.


Kenny Soto 8:35  

I think it’s swath, but I could be wrong.


David Fisher 8:37  

I think you’re right about that sound. That sounds good.


Kenny Soto 8:40  

Let’s go sounds about right. So we’ll use swaths. Next question you’ve written and I can be wrong here. So please correct me with just about nine books so far.


David Fisher 8:50  

Yeah, we’re at 10. Actually.


Kenny Soto 8:54  

So I’ve got a problem, I’ve got a problem. That’s a great problem to have. And I’m assuming that you are going to write more in the future.


David Fisher 9:02  

I’ve already got 11 and 12 setups, that’s fine. I’m ready to go.


Kenny Soto 9:05  

So my question here is, and this is gonna be like from abroad, you know, professional development kind of standpoint, How has being a published author positively affected your career?


David Fisher 9:19  

It’s a great question. So I’m going to talk about two things that I think it’s done. One is on an external basis, and one is on an internal basis. Externally, it does provide some credibility. There are a lot of people who want to share their opinion. 


This is definitely where social media has come into play. And so everybody thinks that their opinion is valuable. And not that I want to dismiss anybody’s opinion but there is something to earning it as you would say, right to having some expertise and putting some time and thought into it. 


And the biggest thing I see is that people recognize that if you’ve put the time and effort in, and I write out every day, so I put a lot of time into the books I put out there a lot of thought people recognize and recognize that I have really not only put the time and energy in but the thought into what I’m writing about. And because of that, you definitely do get a bit more attention, right? Or at least a bit more credibility when you’re in conversations. 


It’s one thing to say, Hey, I’m an expert on LinkedIn, it’s another thing to say, you know, I’ve got my book Networking in the 21st century on LinkedIn, which is now in its third edition. That’s the external thing, I think, the internal thing that writing has done, and this definitely with the books, but I would say that you don’t even have to write a book to do this.


But when you write, you have to actually engage with the ideas that you have. And that has been such a powerful thing for me, I often joke that I write books to figure out what the book is about. I wrote a book a few years ago, called hyper connected selling, where I was really trying to figure out for me how the digital selling world was impacting sales, because again, I come from a very old school type of sales, that direct sales model, and its very different now.


And, and it was kind of by the time I got to the end of that book that I kind of had identified this concept I call the sales Sherpa where you’re a guide and a leader for the people that you work with. But it took me writing the books. And so those are the two things that I think writing has really provided for me, in my career, again, that external credibility, but also then an internal opportunity to really get clear with my thinking.


Kenny Soto 11:50  

Are there any tips that you would recommend people to leverage when it comes to marketing a book? And 2021?


David Fisher 11:58  

Oh, my gosh. Yeah, they keep putting it out there?


Kenny Soto 12:06  

For it answers.


David Fisher 12:07  

Yeah, you know, there’s the multiplicity of channels has now made it seem like there are all these different things you can do to market a book because there are so many different ways to market a book, actually, the tangible advice I would give to somebody if they’re going to market a book is to start marketing their book, years before it comes out.


And what I mean by that is, build relationships with people in your network, who, you know, talk to other authors, talk to people in the publishing industry. You know, build, build the friendships and the relationships that you’re going to need well before you need them, there’s a great Irish saying that the best time to fix the roof is when the sun is shining. 


And in the same way, one of the things I’ve gotten very lucky in, through all of the books I’ve written is that I’ve got great relationships I’ve, I’ve got, not only my technical team, you know, my editors, and my designers who I trust, and can reach out to and say, Hey, this is what I need, can you help, and they do. 


But also, I’ve been a lot of podcasts, I’ve got friends who’ve run some very run some very successful podcasts, you know, that go to my, my target audience, I’d love to get this book out to and I can call up and say, Hey, can I come on the show and talk about my new book. And they’re like, you know, our schedule is full, but we’ll find a time for you that you don’t get that just out of the blue, you get that because you’re providing value, and again, building relationships and staying connected over the years. 


So I guess, besides just keep putting out their advice, it’s think of your career, think of any time you’re going to market a product or service as just one part of a much longer journey. Because when you do that, you’re always going to be invested in helping your network and helping people be successful. And when you do that, when you need help, it’s a lot easier to pick up the phone and ask for that favor.


Kenny Soto 14:10  

That’s amazing advice along the lines of LinkedIn because this has been mentioned already. But I want to dive in deeper. What are some big mistakes professionals are making when they are marketing a service product or themselves on the platform?


David Fisher 14:25  

Yeah, that’s a really good question. So the biggest mistake that I think professionals make on LinkedIn is that they often will think of LinkedIn as just a marketing channel for their product or service. And I really don’t think that LinkedIn is for most people, and again, there are 700 million people on LinkedIn. So there’s not a one size fits all answer here. 


But can you imagine going to, let’s say, a networking event, or a conference, or any kind of offline event, and the OH Only thing that you talk about is your product or service, you would be kind of ostracized very quickly in the same way that you wouldn’t want to talk to that person who’s like, Oh, they’re just going to come and try to sell me something.


LinkedIn very specifically, is really about the relationships that we are building. And I’ve used that word a number of times already. And I think that it’s that important. It’s definitely sharing what you do and shares how you help and share what you’re working on on a professional basis. 


But also know that you’re connecting with other people, I always tell clients I work with when somebody’s coming to your LinkedIn profile, they’re not on your company website, if they want to find out about your company about your products and services, that’s where they go. They’re on your profile, they’re engaged with your content because they want to engage with you as a person, and your perspective and your insights, which are often in relation to your products and services. And so that’s, again, we don’t want to ignore that. 


So it has to be a much fuller experience than just hey, let me tell you about our product. Let me tell you about our product. Let me tell you about our product, Hey, can I sell you our product? Let me tell you about our product. That is I think one of the biggest mistakes I see. And conversely, then the people that do it really well, definitely, you know, hey, people know that I’m writing a book  I’ve been telling about the new books I have, and, and all the things that I’m working on. 


But I’m also talking about the insights or perspectives I should say that I have on what’s happening in selling what’s happening in marketing, podcasting, you know, business ownership, I talked to I said, in work with a lot of entrepreneurs and solopreneurs. So there’s a lot often that I’m like, Hey, let me tell you about this thing that I’ve done in my business that’s helped, or hey, here’s the struggle that I’ve gone through, and maybe some of the ways I’ve worked through it, that I find it is an effective way of actually starting a conversation. 


And by the way, when you have that conversation, and there is a place or a way that you can help someone, then that then the ask is so much easier. Hey, you want me to help you with that? Versus Hey, can I sell you my service? So that’s kind of what I would say is like an overview of things that are going wrong, and also what’s going right on LinkedIn.


Kenny Soto 17:20  

So similarly, as like you were going to frame a sales conversation, it’s pretty much the same thing on LinkedIn, where you’re framing the content that you’re distributing, in a way that isn’t transactional, or sales at least all the time, you know, there are certain instances where you can post, hey, there’s a 20% off sale this month for any new customers for my agency as an example. 


And that’s a completely appropriate thing to do. But you have to mix in those kinds of posts on LinkedIn, with videos just like free ways to help your prospective clients and your leads, not always selling to them. Correct.


David Fisher 17:55  

I love that. And you said something to think so importantly there. It’s not about the transaction, right? And you can 100% share a product or a service pitch, every once in a while I say once you’ve earned the right to do that. 


Heck, if you look at what I post on LinkedIn, for example, every once in a while I’ll be I’ll say something such as, Hey, by the way, if you’re a leader in an organization, you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to have, as a speaker for your kickoff conference, or you know, your sales meeting or your annual marketing meeting. 


Hey, that’s what I do. I’m a speaker, come talk to me. And that’s absolutely fine. Because you want people to know what you do, as every good web designer will tell you, you have to have a call to action there sometimes. But again, it’s kind of, as you said, you just sprinkle it in, it’s got to be part of a longer and larger conversation than just that transaction.


Kenny Soto 19:02  

On the topic of public speaking, how have public speaking events changed over the past two years for you?


David Fisher 19:11  

Completely? Yeah, what are the pandemic and COVID and social distancing done for my speaking? Wow, that’s, that’s a…


Kenny Soto 19:23  

A loaded question. If it was one,


David Fisher 19:26  

Yeah, we got a couple of hours. You know, the biggest thing that I think it has done, I mean, in all seriousness, we’re still evolving. Obviously, we are having this conversation during the pandemic still, and it’s still, unfortunately, really affecting parts of the country and parts of the world. I think what it’s done for me, and I had always had a digital component to the work I do.


I mean, I did speak, you know, around the US and around the world, but a lot of it was was web based. Um, and what that what? What happened was that accelerated. And so now, I do a lot of my speaking and working with clients from the comfort of my home office, I miss being in front of audiences, I miss that energy, I play in a band for a long time. 


So I’ve got a bit of a performer streak in me. And that’s definitely missing. But I think what’s going to happen is we’re definitely going to eventually get back to it to in person events and to speaking in front of audiences. But I do think that a lot of organizations, events, and professionals have gotten comfortable with the fact that there are things that can be done digitally, you know, in a web course, or a webinar, or whatever you want to call it, that that can be really powerful, right, it’s great to be able to get a bunch of people together in a room to work on something, but that takes a lot of time. It’s, uh, can be very expensive. 


And there’s definitely going to be events where that is the case. But there’s also a lot of events and I think even moving forward once, you know, knock on wood, we’re past the Coronavirus emergency, we’re still going to be doing webinars. So it’s really opened up people’s minds to what can be done digitally. And I think we’re gonna see a much broader spectrum of how we engage with each other. Because of that,


Kenny Soto 21:22  

Three more questions. You mentioned earlier in the episode that you help people become sales Sherpas. And you touched on that topic a little bit, can you dive deeper into what is a sales Sherpa?


David Fisher 21:37  

So a sales Sherpa is a professional, a salesperson, who is really positioned as a, as a guide as a go to resource as a trusted expert within their niche within their area of expertise. And the distinction I make here is that in the olden days, you know, 20 years ago, Tales was very much about kind of trying to get past the gatekeepers and really trying to be much more transactional and trying to sell to people whether or not they were ready to buy, and what I think has happened because of the internet because of the easy access to information in sales. 


And I think this, you know, definitely has a key parallel with marketing as well. It’s really about being ready for a buyer when they’re on their buyer’s journey. Being ready for the buyer to have a question or do need help or be ready to move forward. And for the salesperson, I call him the sales Sherpa to be positioned as the guy so if you are if any of your listeners have ever watched the show How I Met Your Mother force, right, so Barney Stinson is one of the characters there and even if you haven’t watched it you don’t think you’ll still get the example. 


But Barney was very well known for having a guy for everything right for to buy a suit to buying a ticket to getting a limo, you always say oh, I’ve got a guy for that. Well, I think to be a sales Sherpa, you want to be the guy or the gal that the prospects and clients that you work with go to when they’re sitting around having a meeting, they’re like, Hey, we really need x, somebody goes, Hey, I know the person for that. 


And a lot of that really comes down to using a lot of the things we talked about earlier, the personal branding tools, whether that’s on social or offline, the networking, the relationship building, sharing content, sharing information to gain position yourself in the minds of the people that you want to serve, so that you are the easy person to reach out to when they’re ready to move forward. That’s what a sales job is. So instead of pushing yourself on people, you’re actually pulling them towards you.


Kenny Soto 23:56  

Pulling over pushing. Yep, definitely, something to remember. Next question, what are some soft or hard skills that you have leveraged throughout your entire career?


David Fisher 24:10  

I love a question, and I think that one of the things that are very underestimated is the soft skill conversation. I think hard skills are valuable. And there I mean this depends on your industry and your position but definitely learning kind of the some of the basics of programming or I taught myself WordPress, even though I’m not a designer by any chance because I knew I wanted to make websites and didn’t want to have to rely on anybody. 


Another good hard skill, I would say is learning how to write well. That is a skill. It’s not just something you Oh, well I do it a lot. I’m good at it. But really learning how to write is good. So those are the hard skills. The soft skills, though I think are what are going to really be the differentiator for professionals moving into the next 10 or 20 years of technology He’s gonna get better at doing a lot of the hard skill jobs. 


But yeah, at least for now, computers can’t be humans. Empathy is a soft skill, we all have an empathetic response. But it can be refined, it can be developed through intention, and really learn how to be empathetic, and understand where other people are coming from. 


I mean, that helps. You know, personally, it helps within a professional basis, going into meetings, going at working with clients, working with team members, such a valuable tool to be able to go, Oh, I get where they’re coming from that and then you can really define your response, or at least it helps mold your response a little bit. 


I think the idea of problem solving, and just learning how to bring in different pieces of information, and using those different pieces of information to clearly define what the problem is. And then what are some possible steps for what some are some possible solutions towards that, I think are really valuable. 


And this is a soft skill that it’s hard to define. But let me just say it’s a kind of amiability or likability, there is something to just being easy to get along with. And that doesn’t mean being fake or superficial or pretending to be something that you’re not.


But it is just understanding that collaboration, and the way that we work with other people do have a pretty big impact on our success. So I think, you know, looking at what are some of the ways that I can be easier to work with or more comfortable to be around. Again, don’t it’s not about being fake or being something that you’re not, but the easier it is to work with you, the more people are going to want to work with you. So those are some of the skills that I think are gonna be so critical moving forward.


Kenny Soto 26:57  

As we progress to the last episode, last question, excuse me of this episode, I just want to quickly tell the readers or excuse me, listeners, that you may want to consider researching this topic called disagreeing and committing so you can disagree with your team members sometimes, and sometimes you will. You have to figure out how you can disagree on a topic, but also agree to commit to action, even if the plan isn’t what you thought it would be when you started thinking about it with your team members.


David Fisher 27:33  

Love that.


Kenny Soto 27:35  

So powerful. Now,


David Fisher 27:36  

you’re absolutely right.


Kenny Soto 27:37  

My last question is hypothetical because time machines don’t exist. But if you had access to one, and you can go back in time, 10 years into the past, knowing everything you know, right now, how would you accelerate the speed of your career?


David Fisher 27:54  

Wow, that’s a really good question. And the reason why I say I, we’re recording this, I just turned 45. So my life journey has been very much on my mind, and my grandson’s birthday, hey, I made it around the Sun one more time, that’s a big win. If anything, I feel very comfortable about a lot of the decisions I’ve made, some of which have gone completely wrong. Not all of my decisions have become successes. 


But I think the one thing that I probably would have done more of, to accelerate my career is actually reaching out to people that I didn’t know, but wanted to people that I saw, who were successful in what they were doing, or people who I had heard good things about and really just reaching out and saying you can call this networking, or instead of about looking for mentors is really saying, Hey, I, I want to bring you into my sphere of influence. 


Now, I wouldn’t say that that’s an email you should send. But 10 years ago, I was I’m much better at now realizing, hey, there’s just great people and the more great people I surround myself with, and that I get a chance to know and then get a chance to collaborate with. Another tangible thing I would have suggested to myself 10 years ago is to come up with collaborative ideas and say, hey, you know, do you want to collaborate on this article? Do you want to collaborate on this piece of podcast? Yeah. 100%. 


I mean, one of the things that I started I mean, I started my podcast about five years ago, I probably would have started earlier just knowing it’s half of it’s just getting to have great conversations with people that I probably would have accelerated because I have noticed that the quality of the people around me does. It has an impact. 


I guess the one other thing I would suggest that, to me is not only to bring those people around me, inherently, that for me is giving first right finding ways to help them find ways to connect them or, you know, support them. But then asking for help, I do think that we often do not ask for very specific help. Whether that’s, hey, I’ve got this question or got this idea, can you be my podcast would be one. But I often am really surprised at how rarely, people ask for help. At the same time, most of us really like helping other people. 


And I can definitely say in the last, let’s say, three or four years, there are some very specific instances where I’ve just asked, I’ll just give an example. You know, I wanted to build the sales pipeline in my business, and I’m, you know, a sales expert, I should, should know how to do all this. But hey, we all need help. And I reached out to a friend of mine, who’s a very successful sales professionals like, Hey, can you help me, I need some, I need some accountability. 


I used some coaching. And he was like, Hey, let’s talk every week, we’ll talk for half an hour. And he’s had such a huge impact on my business. But I mean, how generous is out of him, right? And I’m not saying that everybody’s gonna all of a sudden just give you all their time and attention. But if you can go to people with some very specific needs, or like say, Hey, can you help me with x? You got to do most of the work, meaning, you know, you can’t just say, Hey, can you fix everything for me? But you’d be surprised how many people are willing to help if you do reach out, so I was told that they may have 10 years ago started asking for more help faster.


Kenny Soto 31:53  

That’s great advice if I’ve ever heard it. And thank you so much for sharing that. If anyone wanted to say hello, where can they find you online?


David Fisher 32:02  

The best place is LinkedIn. am divish I am, DFI sh and of course, find me at our online home. David JP


Kenny Soto 32:15  

Amazing. You’ve just listened to another episode of the people of digital marketing with Kenny Soto and the guest, David JP Fisher. Thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thank you. And as always, I hope everyone has a great week. 




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