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by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes

Adam Gray my co-founder from Digital Leadership Associates and I had a customer say this to us the other day, the conversation went like this.

Adam: So how are you using LinkedIn?

Customer:  Well not very well, we have sent 200 inmails on LinkedIn and got nowhere.

I think many people forget that an InMail is the LinkedIn equivalent of a cold call.

A “cold call” being a metaphor for every interruptive connection that people can make over telephone, email or social media to pitch their product or service.

Talking about pitching products, it reminds me once that I stopped at a motorway service station and a guy stop me as i walked over to get a coffee, he said “mister, it’s you lucky day.  I’m on the way back from a watch conference and I need to get rid of the stock.  The prices are so cheap you would be able to afford two.  Maybe one for yourself and one for the wife or girlfriend?”

I made my excuses and ran to the forecourt to get a coffee.

Inmails are a strange phenomenon as they are so hyped by LinkedIn as a miracle cure.  I know when people have pitched them to me as a great idea that the reply rate is down below the 20% level.  That means something like an 80% rejection rate.

Anybody that knows us here at Digital Leadership Associates we pride ourselves on being a social only company.  We make no cold reach, no cold calls, no cold emails and we send no inmails.  Why?  Because if you are doing modern selling right you shouldn’t  have to.

So What is Modern Selling?

There are a couple of fundamentals that we need to look at:

  1. If you pitch to people over inmail, you have a high chance they will ignore you.  We will come back to this.
  2. We have to assume that everybody is checking us out on social, if you send an inmail, the person you send it to, will look at your profile. If you look like a spammer, somebody that will do a sales pitch, you will be ignored.  You need to think personal brand.
  3. If you are going to reach out to me using an inmail, you are not in control of creating trust or rapport. At least with a cold call, you can change the conversation on the fly.
  4. People are on-line researching for good and services, now regardless of if they are 35%, 57% or 85% of the way through the buying process, if you are not influencing them, engaging with them or making sure they find you, your competition is. In other words, you are losing deals without even knowing you are.
  5. People hate being pitched at, or put another way, being sold to. Certainly in the UK and Europe we feel embarrassed and in fact rebel against it.  If you are pitched to, the culture here is to say no, just because you can.  Probably why cold calling in Europe and the UK have pretty much died out.

So What Should you Do?

  1. Stop Pitching – Get into content. This blog is a great example, I’m not telling you how great we are at Digital Leadership Associates, I’m using content and hopefully you will understand through this blog, we know what we are talking about.
  2. Get a Personnel Brand – Book out half a day in your calendar and invest in yourself and sit down and sort your LinkedIn profile.
  3. Share content. This one seems strange to us “kick down doors” new business salespeople.  But based on the fact nobody likes having their door kick in anymore, we need to make sure that people, when they are doing research, come to us.  One of the ways of doing that is sharing content.  It’s interesting that at the same company that send 200 in mails and got nowhere their Marketing Director can site examples of getting orders from sharing content.  Don’t forget, often people don’t know what it is you do and sell, a nice blog might clarify that.
  4. Build a Network – This is a bunch of contacts, we all have enough friends, so what do I mean by a network? People you can call up and say “let’s have a coffee” and they will have a coffee with you or better still.
  5. Get a referral. You want to get in-front of somebody?  You don’t need to call them, or inmail them, use referrals.  Here at DLA we organised a dinner, here in London of 25 CMOs.  This was all done through network, social and referrals.  No cold calls, inmails or cold emails.

If you would like us to talk to you about how you can turn the tide…we would love to hear from you.

People who read this also read:

How to use Social Media to Become more Relevant for the My Network, Customer and Contacts.

How to use Social Media to Become more Relevant for the My Network, Customer and Contacts.

Spamming, Cold Calling and Annoying Ads – Know Your Rights!


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