We’re not selling shovels

by | Oct 29, 2020

Last I checked, I did not see anyone selling shovels on LinkedIn. Why not? Don’t shovels have just as much right to be sold as a $20,000 re-vamp-your-company’s-entire-marketing-strategy package?

The answer is, yes, shovels get sold as much (actually lots more) as a $20,000 headhunting “Get exactly the right person in the right seat” campaign.

Most of us do not plunk down $20K just because someone else says, “You should do this… it’s a really good deal…. take my word for it.”

We would like a little more information and… oh, yes, perhaps get to know the person selling/delivering the package a bit more.

Why are people on LinkedIn still sending messages like these?  

The following is taken from a recent PM to me on my LinkedIn account – I changed her name and left company blank since this was an actual PM on LinkedIn.

“Hi [Prospect’s name – Mark – in this case]

My name is Josie and I am the director of ***** for *****.

Let’s connect. I look forward to seeing how we can add value to each other.”

So the sentiment is right.   “Let’s connect and learn more about each other and each other’s business.”

The problem:  there is nothing in the original communication that indicates anything personal to me or my company.

If she had said, “I would love to hear more about your Company Climate Inventory,” for example, I would have known she had looked at my LinkedIn profile or our website and found our primary service.

That alone would have gotten her foot in the door and have me, at least, somewhat interested in connecting.

Against some better judgment, I decided to respond, mostly to see what would happen.

“Hi Josie, yes, let’s have a conversation and discover if we have some synergies.”

Josie’s response

“Hi [Prospect’s Name], (Mark)

I hope all is well with you. 

My name is Josie Carter, I am partnering with ******** – We are hosting an exclusive virtual Client Attraction Bootcamp on ******** for Coaches, Consultants and Expert Business Owners ready to nail their Online Lead Generation and gain consistent clients online now.”  (Four paragraphs later… a sales pitch and link to pay my $1000 NOW! so I can get the extra bonuses before it’s too late.)

This whole PM interaction happened between 12:23pm and 12:31pm on the same day. And after I did not respond to what essentially turned out to be an ad, there were crickets.

This response of hers was essentially automated or cut and pasted all the way through.  And in case you did not notice, the second message was phrased as if it was a cold/new introduction, even though I had just responded to her first message.

My real problem with this communication is the feigned interest in actually connecting and possibly developing a relationship.  I have had many great connections with people from LinkedIn and gotten business and/or great referral sources from those connections.  And most of these connections started with something like, “Let’s get to know each other better.”

Josie is not going to get many sales from this approach, and I have put her and her company on my Do Not Engage list.

Here are two key red flags that you have a troller in friendly clothing.

  • Terms like “Your Company” instead of “Smith and Jones LLC” (if no personal or company references in message, do not engage!)
  • “I’d like to get to know you and your company better.” Followed immediately by something like, At Mid Atlantic Services we do etc etc for our customers.  (There should be no discussion about their company until contact has been made and a relationship developed.)

And final note…. trust your intuition.  If it does not feel, right it probably isn’t.


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