Episode 87: 8 Mistakes Sales Pros are Making on LinkedIn
Our hosts Brynne Tillman and Bob Woods take us on another interesting ride into the world of social selling as they tackle eight common mistakes salespeople tend to make on LinkedIn.
Learn what engagement strategies you need to be doing instead of committing LinkedIn don’ts such as the “connect and pitch,” the “connect and forget,” the random acts of social, and many more.
Bob Woods 00:00
Welcome to Making Sales Social LIVE. I’m Bob Woods, the LinkedIn Sherpa and I am joined by the LinkedIn Whisperer, Brynne Tillman, who hopefully won’t have twisty tongue like I do this morning. How are you doing, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 00:11
Twisty tongue! I like that! (Bob: Yeah.) I am great, Bob. How are you?
Bob Woods 00:17
I am doing well.
Welcome to Making Sales Social Live! As we share LinkedIn and social selling training, strategies, and tips that will have an immediate impact on your business. Join Brynne Tillman, and me, Bob Woods, every week. Making Sales Social Live!
Bob Woods 00:37
We’ve got another one of those multi multi multi bullet point things to talk about today so we’re going to get right into it. We’re going to talk about the eight mistakes sales pros are making on LinkedIn. You may be making these mistakes or you may not be making these mistakes, if you’re not, great. If so, come along on a learning journey with us so you won’t make them again.
So the first one is going to be having a LinkedIn profile that is a self-centered resume. So with that, let me say that a vast majority of people use LinkedIn for career advancement and to get new jobs and things like that. For those people, resumes are fine, because that’s what they’re using it for. Our purpose as salespeople, though, is different. So our profiles need to be different, right, Brynne?
Brynne Tillman 01:30
Absolutely! And I think that this is a huge mistake that anyone who is responsible for business development, anyone who is customer-facing really should consider shifting their profile from a resume to a resource. Here’s the thing, man, this profile is our landing page. This is often their first impression of us and just because we are really good at sales, maybe we’ve made President’s Club three times in a row, we’re a great negotiator, that is not what interests our buyers, what interests our buyers is how we help them.
And so some folks get that and then they go in and make their profile a pitch deck. So it’s all about how we help our clients. My mission, my passion — they don’t care about that exactly either. What they care about is that you are a resource that can help them solve a problem. So we want to shift this profile from a resume to a resource. Ultimately, resonating with our buyers, creating curiosity so they want to read, then teaching them something new that gets them thinking a little differently about the way they’re doing things today. And it creates a compelling moment where they raise their hand and connect with you or accept your connection request, or even reach out to want to learn more. So if your profile is self-centered, it’s time to make a shift. Bob, your thoughts on that?
Bob Woods 03:12
Yeah, so obviously, because I’m the person who mainly does profiles at Social Sales Link so obviously, I agree with all that. The part that I like the best is about getting people to think differently about their situations because once they start thinking differently, their mind expands. They’re ready to hear about other possibilities, other directions that they can go in to solve the problem that they came to your landing page / profile that they want to learn about. So all of this kind of goes together in terms of getting people to want to know more about what you do, and not about the fact that you’re in President’s Club and blah, blah, blah, and all that stuff.
In fact, sometimes that stuff can be a turn-off because they’re gonna think of you only as a salesperson only. And even though you’re nothing like this, if you come across as that in your profile, then that may lead people to think that they’re the typical salesperson, which none of us are, but it’s what they think it’s not what we think, which is why we need to change from a resume to a resource when it comes to our profiles.
Brynne Tillman 04:24
Love that. So just a couple of comments for whom, it usually takes a few minutes.
Bob Woods 04:28
That has to do with the stream. We got started a couple of minutes late because both of us were having audio problems coming in, we apologize about that.
Brynne Tillman 04:35
“Amen. No one cares about you. They care about what you can do for them.” (Bob: That’s chef’s kiss.) One hundred percent! So what’s number two? Mistake.
Bob Woods 04:44
Number two is connecting and then immediately pitching someone and I can guarantee you that everyone who is listening to this right now, whether you’re live or whether you’re with us via podcast, has had this happen to them. You may get a note with a connection request, you may not, the note may seem all nice and gooey and everything else and you want to connect with them. And then you pitch with them and that immediately, you connect with them and then they immediately come back with a full-blown sales pitch. (Brynne: Ew.) Ew, ew, eyes roll, fingers go down the throat and it’s ruined. It’s just any relationship is basically kaput at that point.
Brynne Tillman 05:29
Yeah, you know, we wouldn’t do this in real life. So here’s the thing, the “connect and pitch” is a “bait and switch.” If you walked up to someone at a conference, handed them your business card shook their hand, and say, “Hey, we help people just like you do X, Y, and Z,” they roll their eyes and walk away. So why do we think we can do that on LinkedIn? We need to stop the pitch and start showing up as a resource, bring value, earn the right to get the conversation. We have all been victims of connect and pitch, don’t be the perpetrator.
Bob Woods 06:04
Exactly. Do unto others what you want done upon you or something like that. Y’all know what I mean by that. So I think that that one is pretty self-explanatory from there. Now we’re going to do a 180 (degrees). Connect and never even attempt to start a conversation. And I will say that in the early days of LinkedIn, everybody did this because back then LinkedIn was what I call a baseball card collecting platform.
You just went out there, everybody just wanted as many connections as possible because everybody’s connection showed up at that point a little more clearly than it does today. And it was just like collecting baseball cards because no one knew what to do with it, It was brand new. Guess what, we know what to do with it nowadays. We teach it all the time when it comes to salespeople. Start conversations, that’s just what I want to say (Brynne: Do not ignore.) Start conversations with your new connections. Yeah, exactly.
Brynne Tillman 06:56
Yeah, I love this. So “connect and forget” is practically a syndrome on LinkedIn, it’s to me, you say baseball cards. Connect and forget is like collecting business cards on an event. I walk around going, “Hi, I’m Brynne, I’ll take your card”. “Hi, I’m Brynne, I’ll take your card.” And then we stick the cards in our pockets and we do nothing with them. It’s a problem.
So what do we want to do to connect and engage, right? Ultimately, when you accept a connection request, make sure you’re sending a welcome message, maybe offering up some value or content that could make an impact. Ask permission to do so but that starts the conversation. Maybe you ask them a question, maybe you talk about content they engaged on or that they shared. Start a real conversation as if you were in person. Big deal.
If you’ve got thousands of connections that you’ve ignored, take inventory, export your connections into a spreadsheet. On the left-hand side, create a column that says client prospect referral partner and take inventory. Who in our list should we be talking to that we’ve been ignoring?
Once we do that, we can send a personal video that goes right into the inbox welcoming them or re-engaging them so it might be, “Hey, Bob, it’s been some time since we last connected, I want to touch base, see what you’re up to. I really loved the content you shared on X, Y, & Z.” You know, who else are you following? I mean, just normal conversations. Ask for their vote on a poll, right? Really fabulous ways to engage all these people we’ve been ignoring.
Bob Woods 08:47
The next one is going to be… and this actually goes back to the poll thing, which I love that one that flows. The next mistake that we’re going to talk about is not having a process when it comes to sharing and engaging when it comes to content and things like that. And you’re just doing nothing, what we would call performing random acts of social. Which is not good because if you do stuff randomly, how are you going to get any results if you just doing stuff randomly?
I mean, it should be kind of obvious. Some people might think, “Oh my god, it takes so much time to do.” You know something, it really doesn’t take a lot of time to do. And if you’re going to start sales conversations based on what you’re doing there. You shouldn’t even think of it like “Oh my god, this is gonna take so much time” You should be thinking of it as this is an opportunity. I need to take advantage of this.
Brynne Tillman 09:41
Yeah, so let’s talk about really putting a process, really converting from random acts of social to purposeful acts of social. Now, of course, there’s lots of sharing content but engaging can be just as valuable. We need to take a look at what we’re doing. Are we engaging on the content of our prospects, of our buyers? Are we engaging in the comments and with the commenters of people that we want to start conversations with?
Content is the conversation. You know, we go in, and we look at, let’s say, an influencer post. And you know, I take a look at content that an influencer is practically a magnet to my buyers, and they’ve got 80 comments, we can go in and socialize with them. So turn it from, “I’m just going to show up and sometimes I’ll comment, and sometimes I’ll like, and sometimes I’ll share.” to really putting a little plan around not just sharing content but engaging with the right people, converting them into connections, and ultimately conversations.
Bob Woods 10:56
So just a bit of social proof of that, I was on a Clubhouse — this is going like several months ago, Clubhouse chat room with a gal who just started on LinkedIn, she said she didn’t really have a profile put together or anything like that. But one of the first things that she did was that she went in and made comments on other people’s posts. So this wasn’t even her post but other people’s posts, but she did it in such a way that she was able to overcome the profile thing and she actually got a couple of clients from that. That’s how powerful this can be. And that’s proof for you right now that even commenting which a lot of people like, you know, commenting can work.
Brynne Tillman 11:34
Side note on this. So we have this wonderful comment from our friend, Yvonne, who says, “Preach it.” But you know, one of the things that she does is she engages from the company page, which I think is so interesting, right? So she goes into, as the company and starts to build thought leadership, not as the individual because the individual is doing that. She’ll go in as the company and start to build a following. Sure, they’re creating content and sharing content but she’s engaging with the right people, which I think is great.
(Reads next comment) “Engaging with someone pre-connection vastly improves your connection acceptance.” 100%. (Bob: Preach it.) Steven Farber, “I found an inbound lead from a comment I left on someone else’s post. It works, thoughtful engagement.”
Bob Woods 12:27
Thoughtful engagement, that’s a really, really good way to put it.
Brynne Tillman 12:31
It’s purposeful. It’s not just a random act.
Bob Woods 12:34
It’s purposeful. It goes way beyond the typical, you know, “Great post,” “Nice article,” and all that stuff, or even just clicking on like, or thoughtful, or whatever those icons are that quite frankly, I don’t even know about because I never use them because I’m always commenting and I’m always leaving thoughtful, insightful comments that will hopefully extend a conversation, start a new conversation so I can eventually get sales conversations started offline.
Our next one is, as kind of a subset of this, “post and ghost.” So this is when you post something, people may start engaging but guess what you don’t, you don’t follow up, you don’t show up to your own party, you’re leaving your engagers, high and dry. And I think that we all, especially based on the conversation we just had, we all see why that’s wrong but you really have to engage with people in a thoughtful way.
Keep bringing your thought leadership to those comments, so that you can prove that you’re the expert that you know that you are. And again, at that point, hopefully, get some conversation started. Hopefully, people will be intrigued by you and want to click through to your profile, whereas we just discussed, your profile is set up in a very thoughtful and engaging way. It’s a resource and they’ll either want to reach out to you or you can reach out to them and they’ll know who you are.
Brynne Tillman 14:01
So post and ghost. This is something that really to me is you spend all this time creating content or curating content and putting your thoughts around it. You put out there and then you never show up and engage back. So some people will comment and then you’ll like and comment on that and that’s great. So you haven’t ghosted them but almost guarantee that if you had seven likes, you’re not engaging with them. They liked it. I know it’s not easy to go in. You can’t comment on their like but these are people that have shown interest in the topic that you have shared, which in many cases are people that might turn out to be prospects.
So post and ghost goes beyond just you know, “I am not engaging with anyone.” It’s often “I’m not engaging with all the people that are engaging.” So make sure you look at all the people that are reacting to your post. Reach back out to them with a quick little note, “Thanks so much for reacting, for celebrating, for thumbs-uping my content. I have an additional piece on X, Y, and Z that I think you might find even more valuable. If you’re interested, let me know I’m happy to send it to you.” And that can be in a connection request or just, you know, in a message if you’re already connected.
There are so many opportunities inside of those seven or eight or 10 reactions that we are missing. Make sure we’re engaging with everyone. So Tracy Bedwell, “Give to get. Put out helpful content to your audience, and it comes back to you in time.” So it’s interesting that you give to get my — and I’m sure it’s the same kind of concept — I give to give. I’m not looking for anything in return. I’m gonna detach from what that prospect is worth to us and attach to what we are worth to them. I’m not looking for anything in return, if I get a comment and I get a like, I’m gonna engage but it’s really important, from our perspective, “Give to give”, I think that’s really important.
Bob Woods 16:13
And then Lauren says, “She’s definitely found that commenting on posts can bring in new individuals and that’s exactly right because when you post and things like that, their networks start to see things more.“ So these are second-degrees and third-degrees that you don’t even know exist. That’s another reason why you never want to post and ghost. Exactly, exactly.
So the next one, again, has to do with content but it’s a little bit of a different take. A lot of people make this mistake, you share topics that you as a salesperson want to talk about, the content is not necessarily what your prospects want to read about, quite frankly, need to know, because you are bringing value to any conversation that you have but if it’s just stuff about that you want to talk about, they’re not going to care, you need to share the types of things that they want to consume.
Brynne Tillman 17:08
Oh my gosh, 100%. So one of the biggest mistakes that salespeople make is they share content that they are interested in, not necessarily the content their buyer wants to consume, which creates an attraction for more people like you, your competitors start to engage, not your buyers.
So there’s a lot of social listening, what is it that my buyers care about? What are the challenges that they’re facing that I can provide insights to? We had a client, who, financial services, wasn’t sharing anything and then decided, “Okay, I’m going to share.” Without much thought, little random acts and he found MarketWatch and there was lots of great content on MarketWatch that he loved so he shared it. And he came back and said, “I got lots of engagement. I’m so excited.” I said, “Great. Let’s take a look at who’s engaging” and they were all financial advisors, not prospects, competitors, because he was sharing the content he cared about. We had to look at what kind of content do his buyers, the CEOs of companies, partners in law firms, the people that he wanted to engage, what did they care about? And by the way, very little was around financial services. So it is really important to make sure that the content that we are providing is content that our buyers want to consume. Teddy Burriss, one of my faves, “Give your target audience content, what they want, need, seek.” Seeking is a great word. What are they searching for? I love that!
Bob Woods 18:49
Yeah, I thought that was a great word too. So because where we’re running a little longer than we normally do. We’re gonna go through these last two really quick.
(Brynne: No, not quick. Let’s do it!)
Okay, cold calling on LinkedIn showing up as the spammer everyone deletes. And what we’re specifically talking about here is the person who cold calls before even connecting or connects, or sends a cold call type note in their note to connect.
Brynne Tillman 19:19
So cold calling on LinkedIn is really, really broken. Why is cold calling on LinkedIn broken? It is like walking up to someone at a networking meeting, handing them the card, and pitching. This is a networking opportunity. These are people that didn’t raise their hand that said, “Hey, I want to learn about how you can help me.” We have to earn the right to get there.
So cold calling on LinkedIn. Number one, build a list on LinkedIn of people I want to connect with and I hit connect, connect, connect, no message. There are a lot of LinkedIn teachers out there that say that’s a great way to go. I say never send a connection request without a message.
So number two, maybe I send a message that sounds like I’m networking and then we’ll go back to that “connect and pitch,” as soon as they connect, I pitch. But here’s the thing, we even have to earn the right to get that connection request. Just because you asked doesn’t mean you deserve that connection. So we need to bring value to the conversation before we even send that connect request. We need to get on their radar so we need to visit their profile and if your profile settings are open, they get alerted and follow them first. That’s like making eye contact across the room.
Then we go to look at the content, we engage on their content, we comment thoughtfully, then when we connect. It’s “Hey, Bob really loved the content that you shared on X, Y, and Z. I’d love to connect and follow your future posts.” Great, now we connect. Now once Bob accepts that connection request, if I pitch, I’m done. I became a spammer but if I say “Hey, again, I really love the topic on X, Y, and Z. Recently, I listened to a podcast on the same topic by A, B, & C. If you’re interested, let me know I’ll send that to you.” Notice we are going to have a conversation back and forth around the topic that I already know Bob cares about.
It will lead to a sale when the time is right, it will lead to Bob eventually looking at my profile and when that’s positioned right, he’s going to know exactly what it is that we do. And if there’s interest, he’ll reach out, he’ll raise his hand. Is it that I will never actually ask for the call from this person? Not until I’ve had four or five back and forth. So let’s say I reach out, we connect, nothing. Create a poll, ask for their vote, ask for their comment on an industry post that you put out there. Get them engaged before we jump on a call.
(Reads a comment) Paul: “Isn’t that what networking is? Meeting people to connect with a future business in mind?” Yeah, and you know what, it may never be business with them. Maybe they engage on my posts that someone in their network sees and that becomes business. Maybe someone in their network asks about it suddenly, like, “You know what I see all these posts from this person, if you’re looking for A, B, & C, you should reach out to them.” We need to detach from what they’re worth to us and attach to what we are worth to them and then the business will come when the time is right.
Bob Woods 22:37
So our last one is going to be, never leverage their existing connections for referrals. You have all these connections now. You haven’t been baseball card collecting, you’ve been engaging, you’ve been building relationships. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some sales from these people as well. Even if you haven’t, you have these people in your network, ask them for referrals.
Brynne Tillman 22:59
A hundred percent. I love this conversation. The reason I fell in love with LinkedIn for sales is because of this one feature, which is the ability to search and filter your connection’s connections and identify who your clients know, your referral partners know or your general network knows that you want to meet and leverage your relationships to either get introductions or permission to name-drop.
So I see Bob is connected to 12 people I’d love to get in front of. Bob is my happy client. “Hey, Bob, I’m so glad we’ve been able to help you do X, Y. and Z. I noticed you’re connected to quite a few people that I’m going to be reaching out to in the next couple of days but before I do, I’m wondering, can I run these names by you and get your insights?” We jump on a 10-minute call. There are four people in the list that are hot and he goes “Oh my gosh, I can make introductions to them.”
And there are five other people he knows but not extremely well, but he goes “You know what, based on what I know and experience you’ve done, I think you could help them too.” Fabulous! When I reach out, I go, “Yvonne, Bob Woods and I were chatting the other day, your name came up in our conversation and he thought I should reach out to introduce myself. I’ve been working with Bob for two years around X, Y, and Z and I’m happy to share insights around that topic. Let’s connect and set up a time to call.”
She accepts. “Yvonne, thanks so much for your connection requests. I’d love to jump on a call to provide insights around X, Y, & Z and answer any questions you may have. Bob Woods thought that I might be able to bring value.” You jump on a call, and it’s a value-based call. You can close for a sales call, but do not bait and pitch. Do not bait and switch this call. Make sure if you’re offering insights, you’re going to provide real value and insights and you can close for sales call if it makes sense.
Bob Woods 24:49
So we’re going to wrap up with a quick question from a LinkedIn user. Sorry, it’s not showing up who you are on our side. “InMail enables us to send messages without connecting first or will this still be better if they accept our connection request first?”
So Inmail is getting to be an interesting animal because it kind of got overused during the pandemic. And I forget what the acceptance rates are — (Brynne: 8%.) eight percent. I mean, that right there should show you that InMail is just not really effective anymore for reaching out to people.
Brynne Tillman 25:22
Okay. So yes, and. Inmail has its place, for sure. There are companies that are spending a lot of money on Sales Navigator licenses and Inmail is part of that. And there are definitely areas where we might use InMail, particularly if we sent a connection request and they did not respond or maybe we’re reaching out to someone that — and I’ve done this, I sent a connection request and forgot a note, or I hit something on my phone. I’ll send an InMail that actually says “I accidentally sent the connection request without a note. I really want to tell you a little bit about why I wanted to connect based on the content you were sharing” or whatever that is.
So there are times to use InMail but to Bob’s point, very few people are accepting it. And I’ll tell you why I think that’s the case. When you receive an InMail. It says “No, I’m not interested,” “Yes, I am interested.” And it feels like spam. So the way the InMail comes across is unfortunate. I wish it came across like a typical LinkedIn message with maybe a little thing on the bottom that says this is an InMail but if it could look like a regular message, it actually could be quite effective, in my opinion.
Bob Woods 26:39
Very good. So on that note, we are going to wrap things up. Thanks again for joining us on Making Sales Social Live. If you’re with us live on LinkedIn right now, we do this every week. So keep an eye out for our live sessions. If you’re joining us on our podcast, and you’re not subscribing or following us already, smash that button and we do two shows weekly, this one and our Making Sales Social Interview series, where we talk with leaders and experts in sales, marketing, business, and many more areas that’s only available through our podcast, which you can find more info on that on socialsocialsaleslink.com/podcast again, socialsaleslink.com/podcast. Also, be sure to drop a like and rating for our podcasts.
So when you’re out and about make sure that you’re making your sales — (Brynne: Social!) Exactly. Thanks, everybody. Have a great day. Bye-bye. (Brynne: Bye, guys.)
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