Posts Tagged ‘LinkedIn invitations’

Lazy Salespeople and LinkedIn

A colleague, David Brock, made an update posting on LinkedIn  sharing his frustration about people using company profiles wanting to connect with him. Then if he did accept, the next action would be a sales pitch. Beyond being a violation of LinkedIn policy, this action demonstrated how many lazy salespeople still exist. (Note:  Only a person not a company can send a LinkedIn invitation.)

Lazy Salespeople and LinkedIn Invitations

Then there are those template LinkedIn invitations from people.  I have been tracking mine recently and in the last week all 20 plus invitations used the general, template invitation. Not one person took the time to personalize the LinkedIn invitation. Several did send me a sales pitch after the invitation was accepted and I immediately disconnected from them.

Imagine how refreshing it would be to actually receive a personalized LinkedIn invitation.  The invite would educate you, the recipient, as to what prompted the invite.  Then you don’t have to rack your brains or do your research to figure out who in the heck this person is or how in the heck do I know him or her.

LinkedIn Coaching Tip Courtesy of Viveka von Rosen:  If you are using the mobile app, there are 3 little dots on the top right and by clicking on these dots you can see the option to personalize the invitation.

LinkedIn Messages and Sales Pitches

How about those LinkedIn email messages and their sales pitches? Many if not most of these LinkedIn members never truly read the profile of the person they are pitching.  Again, their desire to pitch demonstrates their laziness.

LinkedIn is an excellent social media platform to locate sales leads and then to begin to build a relationship.  Making a sales pitch right out of the gate is beyond ridiculous. This sales strategy and tactic will not increase sales.

LinkedIn Profiles and Lazy Salespeople

Possibly the most obvious laziness is in LinkedIn profiles. Beyond having a headline that looks like all the other headlines for a particular industry, the summary is usually a regurgitation of the person’s resume. Many even lack a professional photography.  The attitude is throw up anything and it will stick while the reality is throw up anything and it will probably suck.

If your goal is to increase sales, then revisit your LinkedIn profile and your marketing strategy. Yes LinkedIn can increase sales and quickly demonstrate to others if you are one of those lazy salespeople.

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True Sales Leaders Take a Moment to Be Personal

What with all the impersonal marketing and social media outreach by those who believe they are sales leaders?  If people buy from people they know and trust, doesn’t it make sense to be somewhat personal in your marketing, prospecting and general business behaviors?

Of course, this doesn’t mean invading someone else’s privacy, but a little personalization goes a long way to start building that trusting relationship.

A Tale of Three LinkedIn Invitations

What does it take to be personal through LinkedIn invitations?  Not much.

Here are two recent examples of sales leaders who made not only made their LinkedIn invitations personal, but gave me the reason for their wanting to connect with me.

Example #1 Hi Leanne! – We both contributed to the June edition of the Worldwide Coaching Magazine. I would be honored to be part of your network! Best regards from Quebec City!

Example #2Hi Leanne, We share several connections and groups. I would like to add you as a connection. Best

After reading these two LinkedIn Invitations, how do they compare with the pre-formatted, impersonal one offered by LinkedIn?

Hi Leanne, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network

If you are like me, there is no comparison. Now some will say LinkedIn mobile platforms do not allow for personalization.  My response is make a note of the person’s name and wait until you get to a desk top.

Your first contact with an almost complete stranger should be as positive as possible.  Again, you want to begin to build trust.  True sales leaders understand the importance of that first contact, the second contact all the way up to the 12th and beyond contact.

Being personal goes beyond LinkedIn invitations or other social media channels.  Picking up the phone just to reconnect with someone or sending a handwritten note card all reaffirm that you are in that group of sales leaders who truly care.  President Teddy Roosevelt said it best:

“No one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

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The Spraying and Praying of Social Selling

As part of my overall social selling efforts, I regularly ask those who wish to connect with me on LinkedIn what prompted their LinkedIn invitations.  A more recent response was the following:

social-selling

“I just thought that it would boost my business so that’s why I joined hope you having a great day thank you.”

This struggling entrepreneur (yes I am presuming he or she is struggling) is engaged in the all too common spray and pray marketing behaviors.  In this particular instance, spray my name all over LinkedIn and it will increase sales.

How wrong. how sad and what a waste of resources!

Social selling is misnamed because what it really is, is social marketing.  Marketing is attracting attention and beginning to build relationships. Yet because people continue to call it social selling, some folks like this struggling entrepreneur believe it is selling.

Each day thousands of independent sales professionals believe if they spray their names all over the social media landscape, they hope (pray) to increase sales. They fail to understand the first rule of buying:

People buy from people they know and trust.

How this translates within the social selling world is through engagement. Salespeople must engage with potential sales leads, centers of influence, etc. to demonstrate their knowledge and their trustworthiness.

What would have been a better response by this LinkedIn member is something like:

“I enjoyed your recent posting (update, etc.) and possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.”

“I am looking to expand my LinkedIn presence. Possibly we can schedule a quick chat to better understand our respective businesses.  Does (insert date and time) work for you?  If not, let me know some better times.”

The social media landscape can expand one’s market presence provided that individual understands this basic concept:

Marketing is not selling!

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What’s So Wrong with this LinkedIn Invitation?

LinkedIn is a great social media site to increase business contacts and when done well will increase sales. Yet there is a correct way to write a LinkedIn invitation to connect and so many wrong ways to write a LinkedIn invite.

LinkedIn-invitationThis morning I received this invite (I have deleted any specifics to ensure the sender’s anonymity):

Please accept my connect request. I will then scan and send you a VIP $200 **** Savings Card. Activate and it comes with 110% lowest cost guarantee on ***** and all other ***** needs as an intro to a new ***** search engine. It can become a huge fund-raiser.

Beyond not having this specific need, I am not into any fund raising activities.  After reading this poorly pitched sales pitch, I thought “what a dolt!”

This LinkedIn invitation lacked being authentic outside of the obvious sales pitch. I wonder what LinkedIn training she had that even suggested this was an appropriate message to send with the invitation?

Personalizing the standard, boring invite of “Hi (insert your name) I’d like to join your LinkedIn network,” makes good relationship building sense. However using that same invite as an obvious sales pitch stinks to high heavens.

People buy from people they know and trust.  I may not know you, but I can check out what shared connections we have as well as your profile.  Sometimes I will accept LinkedIn invitations from people I personally do not know. However, I do have a process to ensure the invitation was authentic and not just an attempt to expand the other person’s database.

When will people recognize that marketing even social marketing is not selling?  Marketing is all about attracting positive attention.  LinkedIn invitations such as the one I just shared do not in any way meet that first desired end result of marketing.

With all the emphasis on social selling, I believe it is time to redirect those efforts to social marketing because unless people buy you and your company, they will never even consider your social selling solution as exemplified by this great example of what not to do with a LinkedIn invitation.

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LinkedIn Invitation Is Not a Sales Pitch

If I could count all the LinkedIn invitations that I accepted and then received a sales pitch within 48-72 hours I would be incredibly wealthy. And what is worse there is more than enough free information in how to successfully use LinkedIn without pissing off potential clients, customers or centers of influence.

sales-pitchI don’t know what makes me madder, accepting a LinkedIn invitation when my “gut” tells me this is going to end up as a sales pitch and receive one or when one comes out of the clear blue sky from someone who I thought would know better.

Sure small businesses want to increase sales.

I want to increase sales for my executive coaching and talent management firm.

Who doesn’t want to increase sales?

Yet, there is a right way and a wrong way to increase sales through LinkedIn. And there is no gray area when it comes to how to use LinkedIn as a marketing channel.

Today I received another “sales pitch.” This person believed because I accepted his invitation, I was open to him “barfing” his sales pitch all over his LinkedIn email. Sales Coaching Tip:  Read People Buy You from Jeb Blount to learn what he calls this type of sales behavior.

Give me a fricking break!

In years gone by I was probably nicer, but now I word my responses differently because maybe, just may be, it will keep this clueless salesperson or marketing person from barfing on another unsuspected LinkedIn connection.  I won’t bore you with the email, but I will share my response.

(Name withheld to protect the guilty). Thank you.  My recommendation in the future is do not consider an LinkedIn acceptance permission to market your services. I sent you an email on 8/30 thanking you for the outreach and asking what prompted the invitation.You did not respond.

 Yet you can send me a pitch email?

 “Sales is the transference of feelings” (Zig Ziglar). And people buy from people they know and trust.

As to the transferred feelings right now, they are negative; not a good sign. Also, I do not know you and now I do not trust you. I will be removing you from my connections.

Leanne Hoagland-Smith

Now some may think this response is harsh and uncalled for.  My belief until these clueless and rude folks are taught a lesson they will continue being engaged in these less than desirable marketing and sales behaviors.  The person receiving this email may also considered me to be unprofessional to even the “B”word.

I have no control over his thoughts and do not worry about what he thinks.

The good news is I can share his poor LinkedIn email marketing with my clients as a teachable moment.

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LinkedIn Invitations Require Discernment

You open up your computer and there are several LinkedIn invitations sitting in your LinkedIn inbox. A cursory glance and they seem Okay, so you quickly accept. Then you receive an email from one attempting to sell you something or waiting you to share their webinar with your contacts.  Of course, the person never acknowledged your acceptance.

LinkedIn-invitationsPossibly our culture of accepting  invitations is part of the reason many professionals accept those LinkedIn invitations without any great discernment because they do not want to believe they are making negative judgements or hurting the feelings of another person.  Then again, maybe the LinkedIn member wants to get to the now magic 500 connections?

Whatever the reason, if time is not invested in researching the professional sending the invitation, this could be a recipe for disaster.

When I receive an invitation (on average one a day), I research the person respective to the following criteria:

  1. Company and industry
  2. Shared LinkedIn connections
  3. Shared LinkedIn groups or interests
  4. LinkedIn summary
  5. Recommendations

Then I ask myself these questions:

  • Is this someone with whom I want to be connected such as my ideal customer profile?
  • Will this person add value to me?
  • Is this a possible future sales lead?
  • Is this a possible strategic partner?
  • Is this person just looking at my contacts to benefit himself or herself?

If I decide to accept, I immediately send an internal LinkedIn message asking what prompted the LinkedIn invitation.  How he or she responds to this message is something I monitor and further helps with my ongoing discernment of this professional individual.

When I first joined LinkedIn, I was not a discerning as I am today.  Now, just because I know someone professionally, does not mean I will accept his or her invitation.  After all, my LinkedIn contacts are my Rolodex and not everyone should have access to those professional contacts.

Additionally, I have no problem disconnecting from someone if I believe all he or she is after is spamming me with buy this or attend that or have some “great investment” or partnership.  My thought process is if I am spammed, this person will probably spam my second degree connections if she or he connects with them.

LinkedIn is about relationships that are mutually beneficial. This is not the place for one way business to business networking or just building up 500, 1000 or more connections.

So when you decide not to accept those LinkedIn invitations sitting in your inbox, do not feel bad. LinkedIn is a professional networking group and networking should be mutually beneficial to both parties. If the other person gets upset, that is his or her problem and not yours.

 

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Not All LinkedIn Invitations Are Equal

Time strapped business to business (B2B) small business owners and sales professionals continually look for less time draining solutions as they prospect for new sales leads. In these efforts, many use social media sites geared to other B2B professionals.

LinkedIn-invitationsSending LinkedIn invitations is one way to expand one’s prospecting list and even more importantly to build influence locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.  Additionally, accepting those invitations may also increase one’s potential business growth and professional influence.

Yesterday during a presentation for a local chamber of commerce, I was asked by Barbara Gulden, an American Family Insurance agent, “Do you accept all LinkedIn invitations?”

My response was “No, because not all LinkedIn invitations are equal.”

Discriminating and discerning LinkedIn members recognize they must invest some time to review those incoming LinkedIn invitations. To accept any and all may be disastrous for business growth.

Each small business owner and sales professional should establish some guidelines for accepting their LinkedIn invitations. Possibly some of these suggested criteria may help you separate your invites.

Professional Picture

Several years ago I conducted a survey among LinkedIn member respective to accepting invites from other LinkedIn members who did not have a professional picture. There overwhelming majority (90.4%) said “No.” Having a picture was one of their criterion for acceptance.

Profile

Reading the profile of the other person may shed some light of whether this person is a good connection. Personally, summaries that begin with “I” or are just regurgitation of the resume, are usually a quick, “No Thanks.” My ideal customer profile includes forward thinking and boring LinkedIn summaries are not forward thinking.

Network

If the inviting member has allowed his or her network to be open to others, you may learn about who is connected to this individual especially shared first degree LinkedIn connections. If you personally know the first degree connections, then this may help you in your decision as to where accept or reject the LinkedIn invitation sitting in your mailbox.

Activity

Is this person activity? What groups does she or he belong to? Is the activity just a stream of sales pitches?

Actual Invite

How the actual invite is worded is another criterion. Some use the automatic invite as generated by LinkedIn. For me this may raise a red flag especially if it is “Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.”

Now with many LinkedIn members using the mobile app, there is an inability to change these “canned” messages. This means one must refer to other criteria.

Exceptions

Just as in the American grammar, there are always exceptions.  Possibly the LinkedIn member does not have a picture and yet may be a good sales lead. What one can do is to accept the invite, then direct message that person for a telephone visit or face to face meeting. If the person does not respond, then it may make sense to disconnect from him or her.

Again these criteria are a beginning and further ones can be added to your own decision making process as you sort through those LinkedIn invitations. .

For me, LinkedIn has been an incredible prospecting and influencing building tool.  And as in any business tool, how you use it will determine your results including increase sales, greater influence and sustainable business growth.

 

 

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Hmm, In Sales Are You Walking the Talk?

Each day I “work” my LinkedIn social media profile by visiting the profiles of others, accepting invitations, issuing invitations, posting to my update and engaging in group discussions. Many of my LinkedIn first degree connections are involved in a variety of industries and are in sales or executive leadership capacities as:

sales-walk-the-talk

  • Sales coaches
  • Business coaches
  • Consultants
  • Trainers
  • Managers
  • Vice Presidents
  • Chief Executive Officers

Several recent profile headlines caught my interest. As I read the profile summaries I noticed a strong emphasis these individuals placed on people as well as their own values. So I scanned down and look to see how many formal recommendations (not to be confused with LinkedIn endorsements) they had received and more importantly had given.

To my surprise there seemed to be a big disconnect between LinkedIn recommendations received and LinkedIn recommendations given. This discrepancy peaked my interest so I randomly selected 10 LinkedIn  first degree connections with 500+ connections who engaged in some sales or leadership capacity where they personally interact with others and have the ability to make recommendations.

The results are as follows:

Recommendations Received Recommendations Given
33 10
43 32
0 0
6 2
1 0
9 13
2 1
1 4
6 1
12 22

Out of the 10 individuals, three (3) individuals gave more LinkedIn recommendations than they had received. Two individuals had not given out any recommendations. Please note this is a very small sampling.  Yet my sense is this is probably reflective of the general membership and human nature.

In the business world be it the Fortune 100 or small businesses of under 20 employees, we as professional salespeople and forward thinking leaders are supposed to walk the talk. If we share that business and especially sales are about people and values (business ethics), should not our own behaviors reflect those beliefs? How can we expect people to believe us when we have failed to take the time to do what we suggest others should do?

Now some skeptics might say, I don’t know my LinkedIn first degree connections. My response would be “Why not?”

“Are you just accumulating connections as potential sales leads?”

In 2012, I made a goal to write two recommendations a month.  Also I do not automatically give quid pro quo LinkedIn recommendations.

By setting this goal, to date I have given 80 and received 34.  The ones I have received have been 100% unsolicited. Of those I have given only two people asked for them.  For 2014, my goal is to give one LinkedIn recommendation per month as I continued to interact with others as clients or strategic alliances. Sales Coaching Tip: Setting goals to consistently demonstrate our business ethics helps to not get so wrapped up in sales and business.

The old expression of “it is better to give than to receive” is still very true in big and small businesses. When we invest the time to give of ourselves, we receive far more than when we are expecting to be the recipients of someone else’s efforts.

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What Are Your Marketing KPIs for LinkedIn?

If LinkedIn is marketing and it is, then there should be some Key Performance Indicators of KPIs that you monitor and measure on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. During the last several years I have built my own marketing KPIs for LinkedIn that now include eight (8) metrics. These KPIs have evolved as LinkedIn continues to update its platform with new information.

marketing-KPIs#1 – On my LinkedIn home page, I record how many times my LinkedIn profile has been viewed in the last 3 or 7 days. This number is on the right side of my home page below the fold.

#2 – The second marketing KPI is the number of connections. This statistic is also on my home page and below how many times my LinkedIn profile has been viewed. By monitoring this number I can quickly see the increases from day to day as well as the decreases. Sometimes due to LinkedIn updating, this number does vary, but usually returns to a more stable one.

#3 – Search appearances is my third KPI and can be accessed by clicking on “how many times” my LinkedIn profile has been viewed. This is a 90 day trending number.

#4 – How many times have I appeared in LinkedIn searches is next.

#5 – LinkedIn provides a  weekly percentage of change of the weekly searches as per a graphic chart. Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Usually the marketing KPIs of 3,4 and 5 as just noted may be copied and pasted as they often are repeated for several days in a row.

#6 – Next is total new views. How many of those views from the first LinkedIn marketing KPI are new within the last 24 hours?  Sales Training Coaching Tip:  Here you have the opportunity to see who is “checking you out.” If the person is a first degree connection, you can use this as an opportunity to reconnect. If the viewer is a second degree connection and someone you want to connect with, now is the time to send that tailored LinkedIn invitation.

Additionally within this KPI, I note if the person is geographically local, national or international. My reason for this is to observe my own influence within this social media site.

#7 – In reviewing who viewed my LinkedIn profile in the last 24 hours (see KPI #6), I then note how many are first degree, second degree, third degree connections or a LinkedIn member who chooses to remain anonymous. In some case the individual may allow his or her company to be viewed. This allows me an opportunity to learn if that company is local, national or international.

#8 – This final marketing KPI  is the number of LinkedIn invitations I have received. This metric has been interesting to observe as well as reminds me about those outstanding LinkedIn invitations. Sales Training Tip – This number works with my second KPI and allows me to better explain any fluctuations.

Now all of these marketing KPIs for LinkedIn may seem overwhelming. However, these all can be monitored and noted using an Excel spreadsheet in less than 5 minutes.  Now taking action such as outreaching to those who viewed my profile, accepting invitations, etc. does take additional time, but let us not confuse monitoring and measuring with other marketing actions.

LinkedIn marketing KPIs are now an essential part of my overall daily marketing KPIs.

As the old expression goes,”if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it” and this is especially true for marketing in today’s social media world.

P.S. If you leave a comment, I will directly email you a LinkedIn profile sheet that I employ with my executive coaching clients. This master sheet has been quite beneficial especially for those who wish to take their LinkedIn profile to that next level.

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