The other day I had an email through from “Katie” who attempted to sell me her company’s Social Media services via LinkedIn.
I thought I’d share this experience with you as it serves as a useful example to dissect her approach, and examine the lessons you can learn from it, in order to improve your own sales approaches and increase your sales.
First of all, let’s take a look at Katie’s pitch:
If I could win you more clients through Social Media would you want to chat?
Now, selling over LinkedIn isn’t easy, but there are various sales lessons we can take from Katie’s approach here:
No 1 – Lack Of Research
Katie has clearly failed to do any research on me or my company whatsoever. If she had, she would have come across some interesting figures. Firstly, at the time of writing this article, she currently has 618 ‘likes’ for her company on Facebook. I have 2,802.
She has 8 testimonials on LinkedIn. I have 233.
She currently has 1,669 followers for her company on Twitter. I have 19,603.
Does anyone else see a problem with her trying to sell me Social Media services here?
Unless you’re making over 200 calls per day, if you’re going to make a sales approach via any means, make sure you do some research on your potential prospect first! This doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out affair – a quick look around their website or social media profiles will give you enough of an idea of your angle to go in with. Sales pitches with an angle are far more likely to get someone’s interest than a general approach.
No 2 – A Generic Approach
Here’s where Katie fails…she doesn’t personalise her message enough!
Katie then compounds her first mistake by making it a very generic approach. Now I don’t know about you, but it looks very much like a ‘cut and paste’ email to me, even though she’s put my name at the top.
My guess is that this same message has gone out to a number of people, and she’s just changing the name on each one. The problem is, that’s an obvious approach and it will cost her sales.
One of the keys of selling effectively over Social Media is to make your communication personal, not generic! Recipients don’t want to feel like they’re just a number, they want to be treated as individuals. If you fail to do this, your chances of selling via Social Media are very much limited.
And don’t forget, this message is coming from someone trying to sell Social Media services here, so she actually demonstrates her lack of knowledge and awareness of her supposed area of specialty in her sales approach! Not good.
No 3 – Closing Too Soon!
Let’s look at the sales situation here. This is a first approach – the first message I’d got from this person. There was no warm up of initial emails, messages or conversations of any kind.
There was no questioning prior to this email, no research, and nothing at all before the message ‘if we can do xyz for you, would you want to chat’.
In order to influence other people, you need as much rapport as possible. How much rapport did she have with me by coming straight out with that question in her first approach? None whatsoever.
No 4 – Over-Familiarity
Now this is something you have to watch over email and Social Media. Because there isn’t human communication like there is face-to-face or over the phone, it’s much more difficult to read emotions and understand meaning.
This is meant to be an introductory message, introducing me to her and her company, what they do, and trying to give me a professional opinion of them and their credibility.
And she puts a kiss on the end of her message.
While that might be suitable for her friends, or for people she knows really well, do you think it’s suitable for professional business communication here, particularly on a first approach message?
It might be something she just naturally does. At best it’s showing her naivety and lack of experience – exactly the opposite of what you want to do when you’re trying to persuade someone to buy from you!
No 5 – Compliment To Gain Rapport
Katie missed a huge trick here. One of the ways to gain fast rapport with someone is to sincerely compliment them on something that they’ve done that is impressive, or you find interesting.
As a salesperson, one of my favourite things to do while waiting in reception for meetings with prospects, was to read their company literature, awards and press cuttings while waiting for my prospect to arrive.
That usually gave me 3 or 4 things to ask about, or compliment the person on, let alone anything I got off the website. Which meant the start to my meetings were easy, and I had huge rapport when I started to talk about MY products and services – which gave me far more chance of winning the business.
Taking that same approach into the Social Media field, in this example the first thing Katie could have done was compliment me on the number of followers/fans/testimonials I have. From a sales persuasion point of view, that would have been an easy way to deal with the fact that she has far fewer numbers than me, and would have got rid of the major objection whilst raising rapport at the same time!
The crazy thing is, I was actually in the market to buy some Social Media support when Katie approached me. I already see the value in Social Media. I already get good business from it. How difficult would I have been to close at that moment? Not very!
Yet she failed to even gain any knowledge or understanding of that, and her sales opportunity was over, even before it really started.
So, in summary….
You can see that with all the areas that Katie has made mistakes in that have led to his ‘Sales Failure’. Think about them when you’re conducting your own new business sales efforts, whether that’s over the phone, face-to-face, or online. Then think about what you can do to improve them and of course, drop me a line here if you’re struggling! Good luck with your sales!