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September 17, 2019

Hard selling inside of LinkedIn? Stop it, stop it, stop it!

I love LinkedIn… and I hate it!

It is, by far, the best platform for connecting, communicating and sharing information in the B2B environment. It is also abused far too often and by far too many people. Let me share with you a recent true story of how NOT to use LinkedIn.

A business owner in our industry recently invited me to connect on LinkedIn. I love it… I’m always looking to expand my network, especially within our industry. Even better, his firm was one I would consider a ‘target’ of mine… a potential client. Maybe he read some of my blog posts and wanted to get to get know me better! Whatever the reason, I was glad he reached out.

As a connection, he would now see my frequent social posts, read my articles and perhaps attend an upcoming webinar after seeing an announcement… terrific! But that’s not what happened.

Two days after we connected, I received a LinkedIn message from him. I got excited… maybe he wanted to learn more about what we did.

I was wrong!

His message was a direct, blatant sales pitch. It said (and I’m paraphrasing – but not by much) “Here are the services we offer… blah, blah, blah. Here are the countries we cover… blah, blah, blah (they are based in the Middle East). Send us an RFP.”

Seriously? We’ve never met or had a conversation. We’ve never swapped emails. Nor have I ever asked for anything from you. Bottom line: You have not earned the right to pitch me on your services (and the message itself was badly written, too). It was infuriating.

By the way, he made a second mistake – almost as egregious as the first. He tried to sell me something I simply don’t need and never buy. This happens all the time with cold emails… but with LinkedIn, there really isn’t any excuse for it to happen. If my new connection had spent just 2 minutes looking over my profile, he would have seen that I am not a buyer of his services. That sort of untargeted, random selling is simply unprofessional and reeks of desperation.

The lesson here is simple: Stop using LinkedIn for direct selling! [especially as the very first touch point!] Use it to connect and network, to build awareness, to share information, to position your firm, to build your personal reputation, to invite people to events and to promote gated content. There’s a ton you can do with it to ‘warm up’ potential buyers… then, when it’s time, get off of LinkedIn and get personal. Use their direct email, pick up the phone and go visit them.

There’s a ton you can do with #LinkedIn to ‘warm up’ potential buyers… then, when it’s time, get off of LinkedIn and get personal. Use their direct email, pick up the phone and go visit them. Click To Tweet

I get it. We all want to grow our businesses. We all have sales goals to hit. But shortcuts – like hard selling inside of LinkedIn – just don’t work. In fact, they actually have the opposite effect… they pi**-off potential clients so much that it polarizes them against you and your firm, making it virtually impossible to ever develop a solid buyer-seller relationship with them in the future.

LinkedIn can be a valuable tool for helping to grow your business… just be smart in how you use it.

Good luck and good selling.

And if you promise not to ‘sell me’ first thing, let’s connect on LinkedIn. You can find my profile at: linkedin.com/in/stevenphenke.

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