This Social Selling Mistake You’re Making is Killing Your Sales Chances

In the years that I have been in sales and sales training, I have seen many methods of connecting and engaging with prospects – some good, some bad.

Social selling is a powerful tool in a salesperson’s toolbox – if used properly.

What I’ve found, and am seeing it way too much on LinkedIn is when someone asks to connect with me and then immediately pitches me with some templated response. I know it really bugs me, and I’ve seen and heard enough to let me know it turns professionals off.

If you are doing this, it is killing your chances of a sale. Your message gets deleted and most likely you have turned that prospects off to any future engagement. That type of prospecting makes a person feel just like a number, another pitch until someone finally says yes. Nowadays we have seen an increase in sponsorship pitches in our inbox too.

I’ve counted 5 LinkedIn messages this morning that do this. I’m not sure how sales pros think this type of approach will work on other sales professionals. It’s maddening.

Please stop doing this.

I get it, I really do. Even though prospecting has been made easier because of digital communication, salespeople still feel the pressure to perform. So the numbers need to be there. Unfortunately this causes many salespeople to turn into inbox spammers.

I want you to stop and think to yourself: “Do I like getting these types of pitches?”

I’m willing to bet the answer is no.

So let me make myself clear: I’m a direct person and I am fine with being pitched early, just don’t make it some impersonal, templated approach.

I believe there is such a thing as a thoughtfully direct approach. It means you’ve done some work to make the pitch meaningful and relevant to the prospect.

You want to craft messaging that connects with your potential client, and you want to engage with them first.

Because you have built a targeted list of prospective clients, you have an idea of what their common needs and pain points are. It gives you a good foundation of how to approach them.

It used to be that cold calling was the direct approach – calling without info. The thoughtfully direct approach gives you the benefit of profiling an individual and personalizing how you may help. Its direct and respects their time.

The thoughtfully direct approach means you are doing the work of a professional salesperson.

There are many ways to profile a potential prospect on LinkedIn in order to make a direct approach when you try to connect:

  • See where they are posting
  • Engage on that post
  • Engage with them on that post – ask a thoughtful question
  • Send an invite referencing the post or interaction.

Your invite needs to be short because LinkedIn limits you amount of text, so use the interaction as a means to connect.

Once they connect, is when you can use the profiling you have done on them to craft a thoughtfully direct pitch. Make is personalized, and let them know you did your homework. It will be respected.

Likewise, when you are fortunate enough to get an invite from a prospect in your target market, the key is to accept and then thoughtfully respond.

Even here, I see sales pros get so excited that someone wanted to connect with them that they cant help themselves and have to immediately pitch without giving thought to the correct approach.

If you can speak to a common industry pain point that the prospect may be experiencing, you show you have an understanding of their industry and you can approach in a more confident, direct way.

It used to be, after accepting an invite I would take a less direct approach:

“Hi _____, thanks for the invitation to connect, I really appreciate it. If I may ask, was it because you read one of my posts or saw one of my sales training modules? Or maybe it was a mutual connection?”

This is a softer approach, courteous and begs a response, which will let you know the approach you can take. In my case, I can ask them what they liked about my post (starts a dialogue), ask about the training (perhaps they are interested in some of my other trainings) or it gives me an idea of which of my mutual connections is drawing prospects to me (opens up a common dialogue).

But with a thoughtfully direct approach, say a sales manager sent me a connection request. I would look up his/her profile and see what type of company they work for and what type of sales team they manage. Maybe they manage an inside sales team. I could send a message to them indicating that I run sales training and certifications for inside sales teams, offering a playbook of best practices to help that manager train up their new salespeople. 

I have what they may need. Direct, thoughtful and respectful. 

Everything is meant to start a conversation. And isn’t that the key? To start some sort of communication, offer value and open the door to a relationship. That can be done with a personalized, direct approach.

You can be direct and professional. Ask me how.

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