Last week I posted a status update on LinkedIn regarding a tactic widely used by sales people, consultants and others in which I happen to disagree with. We've all received a connection request from someone (usually a stranger) and within one minute of clicking "Accept" we receive a sales pitch from someone telling us why we should use their product or service via InMail. Rarely if ever, does the pitch take into account or mention what my company does, demonstrates an understanding of my buyer persona or aligns their offering with my known work challenges. So, last week, after receiving my 1000th sales pitch via LinkedIn, I took to the business networking platform to share my frustration and ask for feedback and thoughts on the above approach. I never expected the post to receive the amount of attention it did. Here are my take aways from the 70k views, 150+ likes and 70+ comments.
Takeaway - People don't read. Here is what I actually posted.
Takeaway - People don't read. Here is what I actually posted: "Accepted your LinkedIn connection request. Two minutes later you InMail me a sales pitch describing your company, what you provide and what you want. I'm not a fan of this approach.What are your thoughts on this?
Here is a quick list of some the responses I received:
My Advice: When contributing to a LinkedIn discussion focus on the topic and question(s) raised. In this specific case, I would offer my opinion on the above mentioned approach and then provide an alternative to the messaging used by the sales rep. The goal should be to contribute while also helping others.
Takeaway - Sales managers & leaders are doing a poor job training their sales reps. The content within the InMails themselves are a reflection of the poor training and lack of guidance so many sales reps receive these days. Companies spend so much time and effort on recruiting and hiring top talent only to waste it by not properly training them. Whenever I get emails from SDR's and AE's, I know right away if they were trained or not trained. Proper sales training must include a learning track which covers the basics of writing highly effective prospecting emails. So many of you are sending product dump messages on the very first email before even knowing if there is an addressable need for the prospect! I am challenging all sales managers and sales trainers to take a hard look at their current new hire on-boarding program. If you don't have at least 3 hours of time allocated to teaching effective business development strategies, then you should consider incorporating it.
My Advice: When writing a cold email to a prospect, here is an example of the framework I would use.
For brand new SDR's out of college. Focus on building an audience first. There will time for selling later. See below.
My name is Ryan, a recent graduate of [insert university]. This is also my first sales job and my role requires me to generate potential business opportunities for the company. That's not what this email is about, at least not yet. I've learned that in order to earn someone's business, you need to first understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the person whose time you're trying to earn. From what my company has taught me, CFO's such as yourself love using my company's services because we can dramatically reduce your infrastructure spend while also reducing risk's associated with cyber attacks. I know there will be a time and place for us to speak in the future, but for now I was hoping to receive the privilege of connecting with you on LinkedIn. There is no doubt that I can learn a lot from you. Thanks for your time, John.
If you're someone who has been in the game for a while, you can swap out the opening line with something more appropriate. The point here is to deliver a message that demonstrates you are a professional who took their time and skillfully wrote an email to connect with another professional.
Well folks that's all for now. Just some observations, experiences and feedback on how to pitch on LinkedIn vs. how to not pitch on LinkedIn. Here is a link to the original conversation from LinkedIn - click here.
Ryan Lallier is a proven sales leader and builder of high velocity sales machines.