Most reps can’t imagine selling without LinkedIn at this point.
Researching and direct messaging decision-makers would have been unheard of a few decades ago. Now, “social selling” is a common way to prospect and build relationships and revenue.
When used correctly, LinkedIn helps fill your pipeline. However, bad LinkedIn etiquette has the opposite effect. Luckily, poor LinkedIn tactics stem from a lack of training, not bad salespeople. Selling on social is actually quite simple.
When selling on LinkedIn specifically, it can be just as important to understand what NOT to do as it is to understand what to do — that is, knowing which behaviors to avoid can save you (and your prospects) a whole lot of headaches.
Here are seven tips for how not to sell on LinkedIn:
1. Posting polls, every. single. day.
Yes, they drive engagement. There’s no denying that. LinkedIn decided their algorithm should favor polls, and since then, everybody is using them to boost reach and comments.
While polls work in the short term, people hate how much they clog up the feed. In fact, at this point, the posts complaining about polls are almost as prolific as the polls themselves.
If you have a question you’d truly like to ask, run a poll. But if you’re doing it because you’re out of ideas and want to drum up attention — do the right thing and pass.
2. Being overly vague
Overly vague, general, and impersonal outreach is the worst. While the sender might think they’re easing into the conversation or avoiding the pitfall of #7 (spoiler: pitch slapping), going too far in the opposite direction is bad, too.
Vague messages come across as confusing, leaving the person on the receiving end unsure how to respond or if it’s worth a response. This is a great way to get ghosted. When composing a LinkedIn message, make sure you have a specific (and personalized) conversation starter in mind.
If you can’t say something specific, don’t say anything at all.
3. Sending a canned, non-personalized message
In order to succeed, salespeople have to reach out to dozens and dozens of people on a regular basis, a process that can breed complacency, and force us to look for sales shortcuts to save time.
One of the places you don’t want to skimp, however, is messaging, as sending a canned, copy-and-pasted message will cost a lot more in outcomes than it saves you in time.
Rather than using a formulaic, pre-written note, take the time to personalize, whether it’s referencing a common interest, history, or a recent success. It might take you a few more minutes to put together, but the likelihood of a response is will go up significantly, making it absolutely worth it.
4. Cold-pitching in someone else’s comments
Whoever thought this was a good idea didn’t do much thinking.
While it can be tempting to chime in and talk about how great your products are, this is the conversational equivalent of pulling out a ring on the first date.
You wouldn’t do this in real life, and you most certainly shouldn’t do it online. That being said, getting involved in a conversation in an organic and value-providing way can be a great thing. Just make sure you don’t come off as someone engaging just to pitch, as most people can see it coming from a mile away, and will naturally tune you out.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule…
Well played, Scalera. Well played.
5. Making up emotionally-charged stories for engagement
Let’s be honest: a good portion of those feel-good and subtle-humble-brag stories we see on LinkedIn are simply not true. They’re great copy (see: broetry) designed to drive engagement, follows, and, theoretically, new business.
But the truth is always the way to go, so if you’re tempted to make up a tall tale in order to drive engagement, think twice. Not only do you run the risk of going down a path of ever-increasing embellishments, but you also risk the bad karma that comes from dishonesty.
At the end of the day, people will catch on. And there’s nothing worse than being seen as a person who lies for attention — even if you do go viral.
6. Checking someone’s profile over and over again without reaching out
If you’ve ever had this happen to you, you know just how disconcerting it feels.
While it’s understandable that someone might want to scope out your profile to find out whether you’re a potential prospect, doing it over and over again without sending a message or a connection request gets creepy, fast. This makes things uncomfortable when (and if) that connection request ever comes.
The next time you check someone’s profile, remember they can see it. And if you’re the type of person who is doing this over and over again, please stop — just go ahead and send that request already.
7. Pitching on the first message
Some people appreciate those who are direct, but there is always such a thing as being too direct, especially when it comes to selling on LinkedIn. Don’t be that person.
When somebody sends an initial message that contains a pitch, they’re also saying the following things: I’m impatient; I’m not interested in finding out anything about you; I just want to close a deal as fast as possible.
If you don’t care about the customer experience, you probably shouldn’t be in sales. But also, pitching someone right away simply doesn’t work. It won’t work over the phone, and it won’t on LinkedIn.
Sales is a process, and that process starts with building trust and finding out about your prospect situation and needs. You can’t skip multiple steps of the sales process and expect it work, whether you’re on a social platform or not.
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