I get a Linkedin message notification.
I check the message. It’s a sales offer.
Why? Apparently, I’d “suddenly crossed their mind.” 🙄
You may think you’ve heard this story before, but some of the details are different and there’s a different ending.
You see, the sales offer is from someone that I’ve at least spoken to. It’s not cold…maybe just cool. That alone is somewhat refreshing.
The offer wasn’t completely untargeted. That is also refreshing. Infinitely better than getting the “I see you’re also in the lawn care business.” (I’m not)
The thing was. it just was not something I need (Lead Gen for people who specifically do what I do).
I kindly reply “No thanks. I appreciate the offer but I’m fully booked right now.”
I closed my browser window and got up to go make myself a smoothie.
I’m not mad
I know what you might be thinking but no, I’m not about to drag this person for kindly reaching out with a relevant offer. We all need to make our rent or mortgage and I don’t fault anyone for selling, especially if they’re doing it in a targeted way and at least having the patience to not start selling during the first interaction.
There is one part here that didn’t sit right.
After I finished my smoothie…
When I arrived back at my desk, I got a Linkedin Message notification. It was a follow-up message.
The follow-up was routine enough except it included a lead generation resource they’d created (as a thank you gift for the reply). I was told that it would “help me big time in my business.”
Strategically, I get it. Sending along the free resource creates the possibility that I look at it, maybe sign up for the email list, and maybe reconsider whether or not I really need what they have. Who primarily benefits from that?
Maybe they wanted to provide me with something of value and think they’re being generous. Great, but I literally just said that it’s not something I need. I expressly said no thank you, and yet the follow-up completely ignored what I said.
Now my gut tells me, this is not a personalized message but probably a VA who was told to follow up on any no with a free resource. If not that, then it tells me that this person probably doesn’t care what I had to say, just that they either get a lead or find another person to send a resource to.
It’s a numbers game.
The Mysterious Art of Listening
Everything about the scenario I described was completely kosher with me, until I was ignored. I’m not offended, I’m not outraged…I just feel as though the interaction was one-way. It was about them filling their own pipeline, not treating me as a unique individual or long term prospect.
Here’s why that matters…
If I found myself looking for help with Lead Generation in the near future, I am far less likely to go back to the person who pushed themselves on me after ignoring what I had to say. If someone can’t be bothered to listen to me as a prospect, what hope do I have that they’ll listen to me as a client?
Today’s sales secret is brought to you by Captain Obvious.
When people talk…listen to what they say. Ideally, let them know that you heard them.
That’s it. That’s the whole secret.
What if the follow-up had been:
“Jeff, it’s great to hear that you are booked especially during this whole COVID situation. I would love to hear how you’ve been able to do that, if you’re willing to share. In any event, please keep me in mind if you run into trouble in the future or are looking to expand. Talk to you soon.”
One of the two responses validates me, acknowledges me, and keeps the door open for the future, understanding that there is no need in the present.
The other is what makes people feel icky about sales in the first place. It’s the “don’t take no for an answer” approach to sales. It’s about metrics over people. It’s about closing even when keeping things open is the smarter play.
You can make things better
The story above is nothing in the scheme of things. Who cares? Move on. Right?
While I agree that this interaction is barely a blip on the radar and certainly not an egregious misstep, I can’t help but look at it under a microscope because despite being something so small, it is a representation of something more significant.
Every day, every decision we make is part of an enormous web of interactions taking place simultaneously all around the world. The aggregate effect of this is what defines our culture. Our culture is not created over any period of time, but rather the sum and average of countless individual interactions and events. Once those behaviors, interactions, and events become commonplace, then something becomes the norm.
The norm, is our culture. The culture is what we come to expect, accept and what appears normal.
Here’s the thing though…
- Do any of you actually like the cold Linkedin messages?
- Do any of you like being ignored and having a salesperson continually push?
- Do any of you like being treated like an unimportant data point in a game of numbers?
Too many things have become expected, accepted, and normalized despite our negative association toward it. We have a tendency to normalize things we see over and over, no matter how we feel about it.
If 3 fewer people sent cold Linkedin outreach messages each day—of which 99.9% are deleted and griped about online anyway—at some point, the practice would disappear, and we’d all be better off.
- We’d be better off if all leaders cared about their team members.
- We’d all be better off if everyone was a little more empathetic and understanding in life and in business.
- We’d all be better off if more of us had a sense of purpose in what we do everyday.
If every person who read this made a commitment to listen to what people said and eschewed any strategy that ignores what people say, we’d all be better off, both in business and in our personal relationships.
We likely won’t fix all of these problems at once, but if we do one thing better each day, we can change the culture.
We can literally change the world…one interaction at a time.
Also published on Medium.