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LinkedOUT. Lazy social selling could leave you sad and lonely

Tuesday, May 16, 2017 Back
I’m no dating expert, but I’m pretty sure that template messaging a bunch of people you’ve never met to ask if they want to go out for dinner is a sure-fire way to end up slumped in front of the TV with a meal for one.

Firstly, if this was your approach to finding a date the people you approached this way have no idea who you are or why they should be interested in getting to know you. Secondly, you will set off more than a few alarm bells. There’s no chance that this approach is going to lead to a long-lasting, meaningful connection and it’s unlikely that anyone will live happily ever after.

Of course, nobody is foolish enough to use templated communications in the dating world. So, why do so many people do it in the business world?

I’ve lost count of the number of times that I’ve connected with someone on LinkedIn, only to be hit with a mind-numbing generic sales pitch seconds later. This style of ‘selling’ is a bit like shooting fish in a vast ocean, and it’s no surprise that such an idle approach never yields good results.

Where’s the romance gone? Ok, ‘romance’ isn’t the right word but a little bit of effort would be nice. Have a conversation first, establish some common interests and challenges, and then you have the beginnings of a significant connection.

LinkedIn messaging is a brilliant tool when it’s used in the right way, but very few people know how to use it to their advantage.

Below is a message that landed in my inbox and stood out as everything that’s wrong with lazy LinkedIn pitching. The sender clearly hadn’t studied my website ‘quite extensively’ (as they claimed) or even at all. If that were the case, they would have quickly discovered that the core business of my company is lead generation. In fact, the words ‘lead generation’ are quite large on the homepage of our website. If they had looked at our website for three seconds, they’d realise that ‘finding and generating new clients’ is probably the least of my business worries.

Hi Richard,
Hope you’re well – you don’t know me, but I am in charge of business development efforts here at ******* and would love to set aside a few minutes with you this week.
I studied your company via your website quite extensively and I think our approach to finding and generating new clients might work for you. We'd like to confirm via a short consultative meeting which will give us enough information to come up with a proposal for a concrete marketing plan.

Wow, I felt so special after reading that. Of course, I didn’t take them up on their offer of ‘a short consultative meeting’. In fact, it would be a miracle if anyone took them up on their offer.

Too often, people rely on digital selling and online marketing to bring in leads, which means they have no idea how to prospect or how to open a conversation with a potential client.

Social sites like LinkedIn and Twitter allow you to send an automated message to a person as soon as you become connected. By sending the same bog-standard response to anyone and everyone, you aren’t being selective. You’re not tailoring your message, and you’re falling into the trap of thinking that online marketing can work for you 24/7 and that you don’t have to put in any effort.

LinkedIn messaging is a powerful and convenient way to connect with people – but it must be used in conjunction with other sales methods as a tool to facilitate a call or introduction.

Social media was designed as a space to be social – not sell – and many people have forgotten this. Instead of sending a faceless sales message to everyone, try using LinkedIn to selectively find prospects. You can use your connections to ask for an introduction to their network, and – wait for it – CALL them.

Find out what they do, let them ask questions about what you do and arrange to meet for a coffee and a more in-depth chat. Partnerships on LinkedIn work best when you give something before you ask for something. Offer a piece of knowledge from your area of expertise, or a solution to a problem. This way you’ll build trust and improve your chances of gaining new clients and referrals.

Of course, there will be heartbreak along the way as you put yourself out there. Wooing potential clients and customers can be hard work and there will be rejections. However, one thing I’ve learnt from being on the receiving end of relentless social selling is this: making a bit of effort to make a prospect feel special is the best way to stand out from a lazy LinkedIn crowd.

In fact, ‘make them feel special’ is a sound piece of advice for successful dating when you think about it. But make sure you don’t refer to a potential romantic partner as a ‘prospect’. You’ll be back home on your own well before you get the chance to organise a short consultative meeting and come up with a proposal for a concrete dating plan.

Reaching customers is easy. Getting the message across is harder than ever.
The easy way to reclaim your selling mojo
Is social selling killing the art of relationship selling?
Why doing the right thing, in sales, is always the right thing
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Disrupt Your Prospects - The value of early engagement in B2B marketing
10 alternative tactics for sales success


Richard Forrest
Managing Director

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