Commentary

Salespeople: Mind Your Manners -- And Maybe Use LinkedIn

Over the years, I’ve routinely returned to a topic that always sparks interest.  Sometimes that interest gets some readers mad at me, while other times it gets me some happy emails and comments in the section below. 

The topic is, of course, salespeople and the tactics they use to reach out and garner my attention. 

In the “olden” days, hearkening back to the mid-2000s and a pre-pandemic world, I would comment on the way some sales folks would “talk first, think second, listen third.” 

That rubbed some people the wrong way, and rightfully so.  There are many excellent salespeople in the digital media industry.  Those strategic stars were being brought down by a large mass of lazy sales teams who played the numbers game, focusing on the number of calls they could make and trying to get someone to respond in hopes of hooking a deal. 

Coming out of the depths of the pandemic, I see this tactic still employed far too often. On any given day, I receive between 16-20 unsolicited emails and calls.  Many get caught in the spam filter by my company, while some actually make their way through. 

They’re almost all of the same standard fare.  They begin with witty things like, “I know you’re busy, so I will get to the point,” or “I left you a voicemail and wanted to follow up with an email.”  If you knew I was busy, they why are you spamming me?   I know you did not leave me a voicemail because I only have a cellphone, and there are no messages there. 

Among my favorites are the ones that read, “Please check one of the boxes below for why you have not responded yet, and I will happily leave you alone,” or some combination of humor and trickery to get me to respond.  I’m wary of even clicking the “unsubscribe” button because I know that these folks will simply use my move to confirm my email is live.  These tactics are not ethical and are also irritating and rude.  These are salespeople with bad manners.

All that being said, I realize that salespeople have been forced to operate in an unusual way the last 18 months.  They had to create relationships out of thin air, without meeting people in person or saying  “hello” at an event.  They were forced to find ways to break through the clutter of a COVID-stricken world and reach me while I’m at home, in a button-up shirt with shorts and flip-flops, sitting on Zoom calls all day long. 

Selling is based on relationships, and you build relationships through interaction.  How does a salesperson do that in today’s world?  Well, LinkedIn seems to be a pretty good platform.

LinkedIn appears to have mastered the art of the “good manners” request for a sales conversation.  I use it to reach out to new faces, and people use it to reach out to me.  I found LinkedIn to be more valuable during and after the pandemic than prior to March 2020. 

I still get spammed on LinkedIn, but there are fewer spams than in my email inbox.  You are limited to how many outreaches you can do, so I know I’m more than a name in a list of thousands.  Some people still try to sell me their wares, but that’s to be expected when I am in a public-facing position. 

I have responded to more sales outreaches there than on any other channel.  I find the sales outreaches on LinkedIn to have better manners, get to the point, but be rooted in more intelligence.  It’s not spam as much as targeted outreach. 

“LinkedIn must have paid him to that say that” --  at least one of you probably thinks that.  They didn’t. Not one person at LinkedIn has any idea I’m writing this.  I just felt it was worth pointing out something that seems to work.  I spend enough time pointing out what doesn’t work, so why not take a positive spin this week?

Of course, I know this will probably result in more people pinging me on LinkedIn starting this week, so maybe I should have kept my mouth shut.  After all, I’ve heard that saying nothing is sometimes the best example of good manners.

4 comments about "Salespeople: Mind Your Manners -- And Maybe Use LinkedIn".
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  1. Tony Dailey from NRS, May 12, 2021 at 4:11 p.m.

    Recognizing that groups are stresses and shortstaffed due to Covid related issues, this is really more of the same.This is the era of the unacknowledged email and unanswered/unreturned phone call. I refuse to think my well crafted, personalized, solutions based intro emails are 'spam'. Also while I find that many do like to connect on Linked In, many of those same refuse to engage in meaningful discourse va the platform.  Hope springs eternal that a 1 minute reply has not gone by the wayside.

  2. Jim Schaffer from Self, May 13, 2021 at 9:47 a.m.

    Cory,  I sympathize with your sentiments but don't agree. 99% of all sales calls have ALWAYS been unsolicited. In the old days (sorry, I am talking about the 70's and 80's), decision-makers answered their phones or had "admins" who answered them. It was the salesperson's job to get permission to set up a discussion about their service or product. It was part of the decision-maker's job to stay abreast of what was going on in "the industry." 

    Fast-forward to the present (and this was happening for years before Covid hit), no-one answers their phones and 99% of people don't reply to unsolicited emails. I, for one, find LinkedIn a completey ineffective way to make sales connections. I also get requests to Link In, which I am happy to accept, but it annoys me to no end when I am hit with a sales pitch within 2-24 hours.

    So, echoing Tony's sentiment above, a one-minute (actually ten second) reply such as "thanks for getting in touch---not a fit right now" would be a good way to look at things. When I get them, I thank the person for a reply and then leave them alone.

    I have relationships of 20 years or more from people who originally responded to one of my emails. I would not judge the medium, or the salespeople. Everyone is just trying to be happy and take care of their loved ones, including you.

    All the best! 
    Jim

  3. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, May 13, 2021 at 10:12 a.m.

    If you're getting 15-20 unsolicited emails every day, you're likely getting automated/bot emails and the company is playing a numbers game. I get them all the time and it's easy to tell which ones are real and which ones are bots.  Anything the spam filter misses, I just mark it as spam and delete it vs. unsubscribing.

    Emails where people actually give some thought to their solicitation gets a meeting or phone call or a polite "While your product/service is interesting, we do not have a need for it as we handle that service in-house."

    I'm old school enough where I would actually walk into agencies and ask to meet with the president not having an appointment.  Almost every time, at the least, I would get a secondary contact who would speak to me.  At best, a few times I actually got to sit down with the president of the agency.  Now, third-party security meets you when you walk in so forget getting to a receptionist, nobody picks up a phone, receptionists are automated when you call, and emails are easily ignored.

    This "personalable" business we are in that relies heavily on communication has become very "impersonal."

  4. Leslie Laredo from The Laredo Group, May 16, 2021 at 11:45 a.m.

    LinkedIn allows the sales conversation to start differently if used correctly. Key components for starting and building relationships are trust, curiosity, and empathy. These are some of the attributes that great sellers bring to in-person networking and meetings. LinkedIn profiles give sellers the information and context to initiate a conversation demonstrating these qualities and if done well will result in responses that start a nurturing process and puts high octane fuel in the sales process.     

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