Lately, I feel like the Pied Piper of social media tooting my little netiquette horn as a reminder to offenders of what not to do online. Granted, it’s just my opinion, but heck, that’s why it’s my blog:). Given the discussions I’ve had with other colleagues, I am pretty sure I’m not the only one who asks “if you always plug yourself, what value are you really adding to the community discussion?”
I was prompted to ask the question after watching several people over the last few days add one LinkedIn status update after another that talked about how great they are. And lately, not a day goes by that I don’t receive some sort of network invitation that is a thinly disguised sales pitch that isn’t all that great anyway. What’s up with that?
Stop Pitching – Create Value!
If all you do is talk about you, you, you…no one will care and they will just tune you out. Frankly, that’s what gives sales a bad rap. It isn’t the profession though, it’s the people who can’t comprehend that it is the sharing of “relevant” information, making connections for others, touting the horns of your colleagues and adding value to the conversation is what ultimately benefits you.
Listen, I’m a business owner with products and services to sell, and I consult with companies about how to use social media effectively to augment their sales efforts. Obviously, I believe that social media tools like LinkedIn are a great way to increase visibility for what you have to offer. My point is that it is OK to mention your services, but that should not be the ONLY thing you talk about.
What about your brand?
This is all about perception – your brand. What message do you really think you are sending to prospective buyers when every post, group comment or newsletter you send out is all about you? I can’t think of a quicker way to turn people off. When it comes to sending LinkedIn invitations, please stop trying to sell me before you know a thing about me. Here is an example of an invitation I received over the weekend that illustrates what I’m saying. I’ve removed the names to protect the hapless.
On June 19, 2009 2:27 PM, XYZ Salespersonwrote:
I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn. I have worked with XYZ Colleague in the past & she recommended you to me as far as someone who would probably benefit from XYZ company’s industry intelligence. Please call me as soon as possible at …, so I can help you grow & be THE most consultative person you know!!
– Sales person
So let me get this right? You don’t know me from Eve, but you are sure that you can help me be THE most consultative person you know? Now I don’t know about you, but this is both rude and presumptuous. What does this person know about my consultative sales skills? I’m kinda wondering if she might want to get some training in this area herself, but that’s just me. This is exactly why people are annoyed by vendors and their arrogant, untrained sales people who assume that what they have to offer is just what everyone on the planet needs. Not to mention that this individual was lazy. What if she had done her homework and then crafted a message that told Barb what was in it for her? Then I would have been paying attention. The problem with these types of emails is that the opportunity to sell what you offer is probably blown. Forever.
I was feeling charitable, because it pains me to see sales people do such dumb things, so I responded with…
I am not including you in my network and have already passed along my feedback to XYZ Colleague. Your email is offensive in that you know nothing about me, yet assume you can make me a better consultant. Why would I call you? You have provided no value to me as a business owner at all. You may have a great product, but your sales approach and netiquette may lose you more sales than you gain.
To this person’s credit, they got the message loud and clear and responded with an email that apologized for their thoughtless words and asked for another chance. I haven’t decided if another chance is warranted or not, because at this point the product better be awfully damn compelling and something that I cannot purchase elsewhere.
As for the guy in one of my LinkedIn groups who complained about the arrogance of someone who wasn’t interested in his product and then kept justifying to everyone why he and his company were so great, I have two words for you…dumb ass.