When used properly, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for generating leads for your company.
Sadly, most people totally screw this up.
What I’m about to show you has happened to me at least 100 times, and I have ignored the person who reached out to me every single time.
If you are making the LinkedIn mistake I’m about to show you, PLEASE STOP! People who use LinkedIn this way are annoying the heck out of people and I don’t want you to be one of them.
Here’s the first offender:
Where in this email does it show that this person knows anything about me? Nowhere that I can see.
I do however, see the words “I” and “We” used too many times. And, to make matters even more offensive, this nitwit has attempted to use a scarcity tactic by saying that he can only take 5 calls a week. Seriously?
Here’s the second offender:
This one is slightly less awful than the prior one. I actually read the entire email, mostly because of the subject line; which made me think (until I read the email) that they were looking for my help.
At no point in this person’s email have they asked me anything about myself or what I might be most interested in. Instead, all she has done is include a link to a video that I am supposed to watch. Really? I don’t know who you are and you expect me to take time out of my day to watch your stupid video without knowing why or what’s in it for me.
Yeah…gonna get right on that just as soon as I finished cutting my grass with a pair of scissors.
Here’s the final offender (I’ve saved the best for last):
Clearly this person doesn’t know a bloody thing about me or my business.
Do I need help with cold calling? Holy crap! I’ve written about how cold calling is dead; I’m a content marketer and I don’t make cold calls.
If she’d taken a few minutes to read even the about page of my blog, that would have been painfully obvious.
After her pathetic attempt at an opening paragraph, the usual thing happens. It’s all about them. “We do this…” and “We can help you with that…” etc…
I don’t care what the hell you do! Why should I? Clearly, you don’t care enough about me to take 60 seconds to learn more about me before you pooped in my inbox.
Ok, rant over.
We all make mistakes, it’s just that some are bigger than others.
When it comes to online mistakes on the social web, they are amplified. This is because the “one to one” communication is now “one to many”.
Jeff Bullas – JeffBullas.com
The Right Way to Connect with Others (Who Don’t Yet Know You)
Am I trying to say that you should never use LinkedIn to reach out to a stranger?
No. Definitely not.
What I am trying to say is that whenever you reach out to someone who doesn’t yet know you, if you make the first contact all about YOU, that will be the end of any chance you have of developing a relationship with that person.
The right way to connect with a stranger is to make it about THEM.
Wait. Go read that last sentence again.
It’s all about them….UNTIL, they become interested in YOU.
Only then can the conversation be about you and how you can help them.
Now that you get the concept, I want to show you an example of how to make it happen.
Cold Email Example
In this example, I’m going to assume that a stranger is reaching out to me because (ultimately) they want to sell me their stuff; which in this case, is software that will help me automate my content marketing efforts (pretty sneaky that I’m using content marketing software for my example, eh?).
——– start of email from Bob ——–
Subject: I loved your post about how content marketing changes everything!
I just finished reading your post title, “How Content Marketing Has Forever Changed How to Attract Clients and How You Can Take Advantage of This Shift” and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it! In fact, I thought it was so good that I’ve shared it on every social network that I use.
Got any other posts like this one?
——– end of email from Bob ——–
What do you think is going to happen when I see Bob’s email?
Am I likely to ignore it? Uh…hell no.
Bob has stroked my ego…so naturally, I immediately like Bob!
Not only do I like Bob, but I’m going to reply to him…plus, the next time Bob emails me, I’m going to read it.
When I reply to Bob, I’m likely going to tell him thanks for sharing my stuff, supply him with links to a few other articles, and tell him to keep in touch.
The next move is Bob’s to make.
What Should Bob Do Next?
With just a single email, Bob has proven that he’s not a jerk, and he’s gotten in my good book.
What Bob hasn’t done is try to sell me anything.
So, if I was Bob, here’ s what I’d do next. When I get Trent’s reply, I’m going to reply to that reply like this….
——– start of email from Bob ——–
Subject: Re: I loved your post about how content marketing changes everything!
Thanks for the links you sent me. I really enjoyed both posts….especially the part about…x, y, and z. Awesome stuff.
Now that I’ve spent some time on your blog, I can see that you are super passionate about marketing automation. I can also see that you pump out a LOT of content.
How the heck do you produce so much? Do you have a bunch of people helping you? Do you have some systems or automation that helps you to get so much done?
——– end of email from Bob ——–
See what Bob is doing? He’s not yet tried to sell me his software. Instead, he (smartly) is asking me questions about my business processes.
Why is he doing that? Well, the first reason is to build rapport with me. The second reason is because he’s probing for pain.
If Bob shows interest in me, I’m going to like him…and how do you treat people you like? Nicely!
Not only that, but when you like someone, you are going to be more honest with them.
Now that I like Bob and he’s showing interest in my business, he’s earning the right to direct the conversation where he wants/needs it to go if he’s to make a sale at some point.
When to Talk About Your Stuff
So, when should Bob start talking about how his products might help me?
Not before he’s figured out if I have a problem that his products can solve, that’s when!
Remember Bob’s last email to me? He asked me how I pump out so much content. He might also have asked me if I have clients that I produce content for, because if I did, I’d likely need his software even more. (sidebar: if you produce content for your clients, check out my software).
In my next reply to Bob, I would have told him what he wanted to know. I would have told him that it does indeed take a lot of work to produce this volume of content. I would have told him that I also do it for clients.
Knowing this about me, Bob now has a qualified lead for his software, and in his next reply, he could very easily ask me if I’d like to learn more about how his software might be able to help me out.
Or…even better, if Bob had a case study or article about his software, he’d send me that content first with a little note like:
“Hey Trent, given what we’ve been talking about, I have an article or two that I think you’d like to read. Mind if I send them to you?”
Damn, Bob is smart!
Rather than just send me his links, he’s asked for my permission first! (this is why we call it “permission marketing”)
Obviously, when I reply to Bob, I’m going to say yes…and in doing so, I kind of owe it to Bob to actually ready what he sends me.
Let’s Recap What We’ve Learned
- Never send someone a cold email that, more or less, says “Buy my stuff!” Doing so is a dick move. Don’t be a dick.
- Always make your first contact all about the other person because doing so will be well received and they will like you for it.
- Be sure and share their work and tell them you did so. They will like you even more.
- Engage in an actual conversation that is about them first until it’s time for it to be about you.
- ONLY make the conversation about you if they need what you sell (and you’ve done enough digging to have a very good idea this is likely the case).
- Ask their permission to send them information about your stuff before you send it. That way they are much more likely to pay attention to what you’ve sent them.
- After you send them information about your stuff, it is totally acceptable to follow up with them to ask their opinion of what they saw. If they had a good opinion, ask them to take another step.
Voila…B2B selling that feels good.
Why everyone doesn’t do this is beyond me.
Hey, thanks for the info. Now what?
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