The argument over cold calling vs. social selling has been raging for a few years in the sales community. Whatever your position is on the issue, it’s undeniable that millions of salespeople use social media to prospect and sell. And currently, LinkedIn is the definitive social-selling platform.
As anyone with any decision making power at their company knows, our inboxes are constantly flooded with connection requests and pitches for products, services, and everything in between.
But so many of these attempts at social selling are awful. Oftentimes, they kill a potential deal on the first message. This can be attributed to poor training, a lack of understanding of online social etiquette, or just plain sloppiness.
In any case, if you’re planning on being a sales professional who uses LinkedIn to sell, make sure you’re not a hack.
Don’t immediately launch into a pitch
It’s incredibly annoying when someone connects with you and minutes later sends you a pitch for their product. Not only does doing this make it clear that you’re entirely uninterested in getting to know anything about me or in building a relationship, it’s also just plain rude.
Imagine for minute, doing this in real life. You walk up to someone, shake their hand, and then immediately launch into your sales pitch. Unless you’re selling a cure for aging, it won’t work. If it wouldn’t work in real life, why do you expect it to work online?
Instead, take the time to reach out and get to know me. Ask me some questions or find some of my work or projects that I’ve been associated with and reference those. Buy me a drink before trying to kiss me.
Do your research or you’ll appear to be a hack salesperson on LinkedIn
Another idiotic and completely avoidable mistake is to not spend a few minutes research before reaching out. You won’t believe how many messages from salespeople have inaccurate or outdated information in them.
Why would you be trying to sell me solutions for an automotive website when I haven’t worked for an automotive company in years? Why do you assume that I make technical decisions for my company when I’m in sales and marketing?
Check out my profile and do some online research before reaching. And more importantly, when you reach out, ask questions. People love talking about themselves, and if you’re honest and transparent in your line of questioning, you can’t go wrong.
Custom tailor your message
Sending out a canned, copy and paste message to everyone you connect with is a total hack move. With digital marketing well out of its infancy, any savvy LinkedIn user knows that you just sent the same message to the other 500 people you connected with this week.
If you want to stand out and differentiate yourself, then you need to do something different. And (this could be just me), it’s even worse when the messages try too hard to be playful or quirky.
Again, do your research and come up with something creative. Tell me why you’re interested in me before you tell me why I should be interested in you. Most people’s eyes glaze over when we get a mass message in our inbox.
Stop being so vague
Everyone who gets LinkedIn sales messages knows about the ones that are so vague that you can’t tell whether you’re being pitched a SAAS product, or being recruited to join some sort of a cult. These messages talk about how the sender “Can help transform your synergistic goals into measurable and actionable insights, through transformative social interactions.” In many cases, the person sending the message probably doesn’t know what they’re talking about themselves.
Instead of sending messages that require a linguistics professor to decipher, be clear about what you do and what you’re asking for. The recipient will appreciate your clarity, instead of automatically deleting it because it doesn’t make any sense.
Surprisingly, social-sellers tend to be pretty awful at following up. (Clearly they aren’t using a AI-Powered CRM, like Spiro, to keep them on top of all their deals.) Sure, some people get annoyed when they’re receiving multiple messages, but you really do have to appreciate how busy almost everyone in business is these days.
I’ve definitely received messages from people whose products or services I would have been interested in if they had just circled back and checked in with me a few days or weeks later. I hadn’t had a chance to respond and they forgot all about me, and their commission check.
Don’t feel bad about bothering people, it’s kind of your job. Many people aren’t avoiding or ignoring you, they’re just waiting for the right nudge to motivate them to respond. So either use LinkedIn like a professional salesperson does, or be a hack.