Are You Reaching or Connecting With Your Sales Prospects?

how not to sales prospect on linkedin

Have you ever received a LinkedIn Cold or Warm Message like the one above? You know, where someone makes a sales ask via LinkedIn’s Messaging system either as a first or second touch? Arggg. I hate those. Folks just don’t realize that you only get one chance to make a LinkedIn impression. But beyond that, it shows that so many of today’s sales teams still don’t understand the difference between Reaching and Connecting with sales prospects. More importantly, they don’t understand how the difference is costing them potential sales. So let’s dive into that today.

Reaching vs Connecting With Sales Prospects

When we’re delivering social sales training workshops for clients, we spend a lot of time teaching sales teams that social selling isn’t about selling via social media platforms. It’s about selling by being social – regardless of the platform (social, email, text, phone and in person). The first is great for reaching lots of people very quickly and at ridiculously low cost-per-person-reached number. The person who sent me the message above, who must be using his/her fancy pants software, has reached me five times in the last month. But he/she hasn’t connected with me even once. Which begs the question, what do you really get when you reach someone?

Nothing. Well maybe not nothing, but primarily nothing. You get to check a box in your CRM. You get to report that you reached someone. But if you reach them and they don’t respond, did you really reach them? Did you make an impression? Did you start moving them down the Propinquity Pathway? I’d argue no. Chances are you accomplished little to nothing and may have actually set your sales efforts back a step or two by annoying the person.

So now you’ve reached them but your no closer to selling them anything.

What if instead, you didn’t just reach them, but you connected with them? And no, I don’t mean connecting in the LinkedIn “Congrats. You’re now connected to [person name]” message you get every time you accept a connection request. Sure, technically speaking you’re connected to the person but not in any real or emotive manner.

No, when we talk about connection in our social selling at Converse Digital, we’re talking about actually making a real, memorable and hopefully lasting connection. To us, that is where you really set the stage not only for the current selling effort, but more importantly, future efforts too.

What’s The Most Important Part of The Sales Prospecting Process

I was reading an article recently about automating your LinkedIn outreach. I won’t name the author or company to protect them — yes it was that bad. Mainly because it was talking about social selling but framing the concept in traditional “it’s a numbers game” psychology.

As the largest social network, LinkedIn can become an intimidating place. By automating at least part of the process, many sales teams and leaders find that they have more time to spend on more important work.

So what’s the important work?

Well according to their article that is:

Instead of wasting time on cold emails or calls, using Linkedin automation tools means that your sales team will have more time to concentrate on actually selling. Your sales team will be spending their time chatting with people and building relationships instead of desperately trying to reach out to potential leads.

Hmmmm, well I guess if you think folks will respond to spammy automated messages that find me via my LinkedIn Messages box vs my email inbox… but seriously, are sales prospects really more willing to be cold called on one platform vs another? Me thinks not.

Quantity vs Quality in Sales Prospecting

If you approach your sales efforts from a failure mindset then yes it is only a numbers game. If you expect to fail more than you succeed with your sales prospecting, then yes, you have no option but to consider sales as a numbers game.

Here’s what I mean. If you need to gain 10 new clients a month, and your average conversion rate is 10%, then you expect to fail on 90% of your sales efforts. That means you’ll most likely have to fail 90 out of 100 times to get those 10 new customers. So you and your sales program must focus on quantity. You have no choice.

And, you certainly won’t be alone. Sales is one of only three jobs I can think of where you’re expected to fail more than you succeed — even the very best in the business are awesome because they fail less than their peers.

But what if you flip the script?

What if you focused not on reaching but connecting? What if you decided you’d reach out to fewer sales prospects, but you’d spend more time with social reconnaissance researching them prior to reaching out? Maybe you’d even find a social vs professional touch-point around which to craft your initial outreach.

The point is, most sales people are just trying to reach sales prospects. But if you can go one step further, actually try and connect with your sales prospect, you can afford to focus on quality vs quantity and still end up with those 10 new clients each month. It will just be less frustrating and a heck of a lot more fun because you’ll call on fewer prospects to get those new customers.

Turning Conversations Into Customers

In our opinion, that’s the name of the game in social selling. Be social. Create meaningful connections and conversations that put you, not your competitor, in the unique position of turning that conversation into a new customer.


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