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Follow these 3 rules to avoid alienating potential clients

There’s a right and a wrong way to use LinkedIn. One common mistake sales professionals make is to treat it like a sales tool, but the truth is, no one likes to be sold to.

Think of it this way: if you attend a live networking event, you don’t walk into the room, throw a bunch of business cards on the table and walk out. It’s impersonal and, honestly, quite rude. 

This is the same thing as “selling” on LinkedIn. Remember, no one cares about what you know until they know how much you care. And you can’t determine if what you have to offer will be well received until you know more about a prospective client.

So here are some rules to follow that won’t leave people feeling like you’re just pushing your product or service at them.

1. Use the “permission” connection method when reaching out

This simply means tweaking your wording when you send a connection request. Instead of using the default “I’d like to add you to my LinkedIn network,” customize your message. Provide some context for why you’d like to connect, and ask permission to do so.

For example: “Hi [name], I’m looking to expand my network of sales leaders in the Vancouver area. Would you be open to connecting on LinkedIn? --Trevor”

2. Refer to the challenges your prospects face in their role or business

People react best when they see that you care about what their challenges are, so ask questions around these areas. Most professionals are on LinkedIn for network building, career advancement and skill development. If you can find out their biggest hurdles to accomplishing these goals, you have more insight into how you can present your product or service in a non-salesy way.

You can ask a simple question like, “Many of my clients in your industry say that A is their biggest frustration. Do you find the same thing is true for you? Or is there something else that keeps you up at night?” Think of what you would like to be asked that might take your business a step forward, address an item on your to-do list or allow you to sleep better at night.

3. Offer value for free to build the relationship

This can be in the form of providing information, training, et cetera. If you have expertise you can offer for free in a training video or discovery call, or you came across some valuable information such as a white paper, offer that. The person you reach out to will appreciate that you’ve taken some time to address their needs.

Remember, 64 per cent of buyers report that they appreciate hearing from a salesperson who provides knowledge and insight.

So don’t shy away from messaging your new connections. Approach your interactions on LinkedIn the same way you would in person; and remember the rule, “Treat others the same way you would like to be treated.” 

Before you send that message to a prospect, ask yourself if you would be offended or annoyed by it. If the answer is yes, focus on how you can add value first.

This article is the fifth in a series about how sales and marketing professionals can leverage LinkedIn to turn cold leads into warm prospects and more clients for their business. For Part 4, click here.

Trevor Turnbull is CEO of Vancouver-based Linked Into Leads and founder of the 30 Day Sales Machine online training and support system and the LinkedIn Accelerator Program. For more information on how you can leverage LinkedIn for your business, click here.