Matt Rolnick joined Clubhouse in January out of curiosity. He figured he’d pop into a few rooms, see what all the chatter around this audio-only app was about, and that would be it.
But then his sales radar pinged.
“I remember seeing other people in the room and being like, ‘Boy, these are people I’d love to connect with.’”
Sitting in a room full of company executives and managers sharing marketing tips, he realized how rare that is for a salesperson. These were high-up executives who might not take his cold calls or emails, but here he was rubbing digital shoulders with them. Just by being in that room, he now had a reason to reach out to them on LinkedIn.
“I remember seeing other people in the room and being like, ‘Boy, these are people I’d love to connect with,’” said Rolnick, VP of sales for the virtual event platform Yaymaker. “Here’s an opportunity to have a conversation and build a rapport, and it’s a much more likely chance that they’d be open to talking business.”
That’s right, Clubhouse isn’t just a place to learn about NFTs (although Rolnick has some room recommendations for that too) — it can be a sales resource. Rolnick has since closed several deals thanks to relationships he first formed through the app. It’s quickly become a staple in his social selling strategy.
The concentration of business leaders on the app and the way in which Clubhouse is designed to foster more intimate interactions make it a great place to build relationships and create value. And where other social media platforms have become saturated with content, Clubhouse is still uncharted territory.
Still, it can be hard to know where to start. There’s a lot of noise on the app and an etiquette to speaking up and sharing content. If you happen to get your hands on an invitation, here are three tips for integrating Clubhouse into your social selling strategy:
3 Quick Clubhouse Tips for Sales Reps
- Use your first week to find industry-relevant rooms and listen to the discussions. Speak up when you can add value to the conversation or have a question.
- Use a shared experience with a prospect on Clubhouse to enhance your outreach. Mention something you learned from listening to them to initiate a connection.
- Become a moderator to build more organic connections. Join a moderator training room to learn the ropes and then co-moderate a room to build a following.
Find Rooms Related to Your Industry and Listen
Rolnick isn’t new to the social sales game. He was an early adopter of LinkedIn and has since amassed more than 12,000 followers. It’s a staple of his sales strategy, and it has helped him close at least two dozen clients in the last four months, he said.
While he doesn’t see Clubhouse overtaking LinkedIn as the dominant social sales platform, it is a powerful tool for creating opportunities to connect.
“You’ve got a group of thought leaders in an area that you’re interested in, everyone is learning and sharing from each other,” he explained.
The key is to approach the app the same way you approach LinkedIn — following people you admire and finding rooms focused on your industry and interests. For him, that meant dropping into rooms like Virtual Insanity, which focuses on his industry. But he’s also had a lot of success dropping into rooms covering LinkedIn strategy and sales strategy.
Don’t worry about the size of the room, either. While large rooms can introduce you to 200 or 300 people in your field, smaller rooms can be a great way to have more intimate interactions, Rolnick said.
From there, he suggests spending the first week just listening. This allows you to build out your network of connections on the app and see what content is resonating most with your buyers. But you can also pick up insights that help you in your own work.
Rolnick has taken strategies for building social media memories during a virtual event back to his leadership team to improve Yaymaker’s product.
“I’d use the first week for research, just listen in,” Rolnick said. “You can also see everybody in the room and look at their backgrounds. In a way, it’s like going to a conference or convention.”
The next step is to speak up on the app. The principles of engagement on Clubhouse are similar to other forms of social media: If you’re seeking to learn or add value to the conversation, share it. If it’s promotional, keep it to yourself.
But there’s an etiquette on Clubhouse that’s different.
“You can’t force being a thought leader, it’s got to be natural.”
For starters, wait until the moderator has called on you to speak, Rolnick said. Once it’s your turn, brevity is key. Introduce yourself clearly and get straight to your comment or question. When you’re finished, say “I am done.” Those flourishes keep the conversation moving and make it more accessible to people reading the subtitles, Rolnick said.
The first time Rolnick spoke up in the virtual event room, he explained why it’s important to ask companies on the front end what kind of vibe they want to create for their event. The comment enhanced the conversation and elicited flickering microphone symbols from the moderators — Clubhouse for clapping. Rolnick also frequently dishes advice in rooms about social selling on LinkedIn.
Those activities can pay dividends down the line. If your comment helps someone do their job better or shows you want to learn from them, they’ll be more likely to connect with you and start a business conversation, Rolnick said.
“If there’s anything you have a passion for that’s business-related, and you can get the word out, more people are going to connect with you on it,” Rolnick said. “But you can’t force being a thought leader, it’s got to be natural.”
Follow on Clubhouse, Connect on LinkedIn
The next step is to take the conversation off Clubhouse.
Rolnick has built several business relationships that got their start on Clubhouse. He compares the experience to attending a conference seminar. It’s not the right place to talk business, but people are willing to network.
Whenever he’s in an industry-relevant room, he’ll scan the guest list for people he’d like to connect with and follow them on Clubhouse first. This is where it helps to have a detailed profile so the person knows who you are and what you do.
“If you can remember something that they said that you liked, I think people appreciate that.”
Rolnick also suggests following moderators who have a strong following among your ideal prospects. That way you can ensure you’re in the same rooms as the people with whom you’d like to connect.
Rolnick will then send a message on LinkedIn to the prospect within an hour after the event ends. Like all outreach, the more personal the message is, the better.
It helps to either reference something the person shared in the meeting that you found useful or try to learn more from them, he said. In one meeting, a prospect shared their preference for using the video-captioning tool Zubtitle. Rolnick decided to adopt the software and used that topic to kick off his outreach.
“If you can remember something that they said that you liked, I think people appreciate that,” he said.
With any outreach, there has to be a reason why you want to connect with someone and why you want to do it now — beyond trying to sell them something. Clubhouse provides that reason, Rolnick said. He estimates that about 60 to 70 percent of people have responded to his Clubhouse-related connection requests, compared to under half for his other outreach.
“People on Clubhouse have a positive affinity toward it,” Rolnick said. “If you mention you just heard them on Clubhouse, and it’s within an hour since you heard them, it’s very timely. There’s that extra familiarity and commonality that helps increase the chances of them saying yes.”
Become a Moderator
While participating in rooms can spark a few organic connections, the best way to reach the most people is to become a moderator, Rolnick said.
It can be an intimidating process, but there are ways to make the transition from guest to host. Rolnick recommends listening to other moderators to hear how they orchestrate a discussion and then attending one of the many rooms dedicated to training moderators.
“The moderator will put you on stage and guide you and share their best practices,” Rolnick said. “The best way to be a Clubhouse moderator is to go on Clubhouse, join one of the rooms and start practicing.”
Once you go through training, the best way to get a following is to ask another moderator if you can partner with them for a discussion, he said.
“You’ll have a much bigger audience if you’re up on stage and you’re seen as a moderator or thought leader,” Rolnick said.
In one experience, Rolnick and a colleague of his, Managing Director of Operations Davina Vargas, co-moderated a panel discussion with the singer Montell Jordan (famous for the song “This Is How We Do It”). To help draw in a larger audience, they partnered with the host from Virtual Insanity and additional moderators.
“You’ll have a much bigger audience if you’re up on stage and you’re seen as a moderator or thought leader.”
The event was a success, drawing in about 200 attendees. While Rolnick wasn’t promoting Yaymaker, a woman from another company reached out to Vargas afterward to thank her for the discussion. She then went on to purchase a virtual cooking class for her company, Rolnick said.
“It was very organic,” Rolnick said. “We weren’t promoting business. But when you get in front of an audience of 200 people, they can see your background, they can see your profession and they can understand a little bit more about your personality.”
While Clubhouse might be a new app, it’s already a natural fit for building sales relationships.
“In today’s day and age, social selling is more important and relationships are more important,” Rolnick said. “I look at Clubhouse as a way of building more strategic relationships.”