Are There Different Sales Rules for LinkedIn Selling?

LinkedIn is undeniably one of the best social media business networking platforms. There are several businesses that have built an entire business model on how to leverage the network to increase lead engagement, but what they don’t teach is sales common sense that applies both off and on-line. Let’s take a look at the true story of the experienced sales professional that sold himself right out of a highly coveted appointment he earned through LinkedIn:

Like most good sales people, this individual had created a top 25 list of businesses he believed were ideal for the services he was selling. He determined LinkedIn would be one of his most effective mediums to engaging these businesses, and he started implementing his plan using a highly disciplined approach to establishing connections to help him achieve his goal. Within a couple of weeks, he successfully engaged the CEO of one of these businesses. He was stunned, delighted, and excited. This CEO had accepted his invitation to schedule time to discuss his business and the sales person’s services, responding “Let’s get something on our calendars for the following week.” It was brief and to the point. What wasn’t brief, nor to the point, was the sales person’s reaction. He spent the next several hours trying to determine the best way to respond. Surprised? So were many others. The sales person reached out to peers, supervisors, and colleagues, to determine the best way to respond to this unexpected CEO’s response – most responded the same way – be equally brief and schedule the appointment. Unfortunately, this salesman second guessed the guidance and replied to the CEO’s message with a very long message that outlined a well thought out explanation selling the benefits of his company, and then concluded by asking what dates would work for the CEO? The CEOs response – no response. Several more attempts were made from the sales person – why would the CEO ask to schedule a meeting and then not respond? Let’s succinctly consider the sales rules that were broken:

The goal to schedule an appointment was achieved – the long-winded response cancelled out the affirmative request – schedule a meeting for next week.

  1. A yes to an appointment isn’t permission to begin selling your product or service
  2. A reply which is contrary to the request, translates to “you’re not listening”

A long-written narrative regarding the value of your product/service risked the recipient opting out with no opportunity to understand or address the objection(s).

  1. Written value and benefit narratives presume a one-size-fits all approach to selling
  2. Adding salt to wound, the sales person’s self-inflicted decision to write a long message most likely precluded the CEO from reading far enough to see the request for dates

The danger of social media – it’s a medium based on written engagement, not oral. The most successful LinkedIn networkers follow and apply basic best practices to selling, regardless of the environment. A “yes” in sales is translation for “you’re done selling”. There isn’t a new set of rules because it’s a social media platform.

Could this person benefit from sales coaching? The answer using this example may seem obvious, but keep in mind that he was experienced, which suggests he’s had some success – this opportunity wasn’t his first rodeo. However, he was so excited by the affirmative response it paralyzed his judgement. Subsequently, he lost the opportunity to pick up a highly coveted client, and a critical, pre-identified component to achieving his sales objective. He was smart to reach out to peers, but he opted not to listen despite a full chorus resonating the same guidance.

Even the most experienced of sales people can benefit from the objectivity of a good coach – including, the value of drilling down to the core lessons learned or perhaps forgotten. The best candidates for hiring a business coach are your successful business owners and sales people. They have the drive to achieve more, but know that with a business coach, they can do so quicker than trying on their own. Want to learn more about the value of sales coaching? Let’s schedule time to connect – Jack Belford, Certified Business Performance Coach


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