As social media has evolved, so have the ways that people are selling. From Facebook to Twitter, to LinkedIn, to whatever comes next, we all have to be on the lookout now for when social media conversations turn salesy and every conversation is suspect.

David:                   Hi and welcome to the podcast. Today co-host Chris Templeton and I will be discussing the idea that as more and more poor quality sales-people turn to social media, nearly every conversation we have becomes suspect. Welcome Chris.

Chris:                     Hi David. You know it is a growing trend, isn’t it? You post a question or a comment on social media. People essentially start spamming you as a result with pitches for their products, that sort of thing. Where do you draw the line between helpful content and a blatant sales pitch if you’re on the delivery end of that type of thing?

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David:                   Yeah, it's a great question because as salespeople and as business owners, we know that we want to have conversations online that could potentially lead to a sale but we don't want to do it in a way that is just us being obviously self-promotional. So there is a fine line there, and I've really noticed this recently over the course of the past really month or two. Particularly even in the past few weeks I've become more and more aware of it. And as I have, I've just noticed it everywhere. It's like that thing where you buy a certain type and color of car and then all of a sudden you keep seeing that.

I've been seeing this on social media all over the place lately. Someone will post a comment and in fact, a situation I had recently was I had asked a question on social media. I asked if people got their leads primarily online or offline and I had some people who came in and they said, “I get most of my leads online,” I got some people who said, “I get most of my leads offline.” And then I had somebody who just posted an ad for their place because they help get people leads online. So essentially they hijack the thread and they're sort of spamming people with a response. And I thought, it's so foolish and shortsighted to do that because if they had actually responded and said something like, "Well, you know, we used to get them online, but now we get them offline and we've developed a few strategies that have helped us to do that." Then they could at least start planting seeds without being obvious about - here's my link, go click and buy from me. And I think that's where people are getting a little more skeptical.

Chris:                     One of the things that I always noticed, I was in web development for many years and the thing that I loved in web development was people that had bad web developers that would come to me, because of the bar was so low that really exceeding expectations was so easy. And I think that this is exactly the same thing where you've got somebody who doesn't have the presence of mind to say, hey, how can I help somebody to understand or have a different perspective on the question that's being asked? Like you asked and talk about solutions that work without it being a pitch and still make it clear that that's what you do, but it's more informational. And I think that this just creates this great platform to exceed people's expectations. But that's a great way to knock people's expectations about you down to pretty much the basement, don't you think?

David:                   Yeah. And so much of it is just about being a decent human, you know, it seems so simple. It's like that book, Everything I Need to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten or something that was out had a long, long time ago. But that idea just sort of be nice to people, treat people well. It's all such basic stuff, but it's basic for a reason... because it's important. And I had a situation recently on LinkedIn where when somebody new would connect with me, I'd send them a greeting message and I would just basically say, “Hey, great connecting with you on LinkedIn. If there's anybody in my network that you'd like to meet, please be sure to let me know, I'd be happy to arrange an introduction.” because I figured, okay, that's just sort of offering something that's nice and helpful. And there was this one guy who replied back and he's like, “Well, why would you do that?” And I'm like, “Well, because if we're connected on LinkedIn, if there's somebody that you'd like to meet, if I know them, I'd be happy to arrange an introduction for you.” And he's like, “Well, how do you make money doing that?” I'm like, “Well, I wouldn't necessarily make money by introducing you to someone, but if it's helpful to you, this is supposed to be social networking. So this is an opportunity to network. That's why I figured I would do this.” I'm like, “You don't have to. If there's nobody in my connections you want to meet, that's fine. I don't have to introduce you, but I'm putting it out there, making that available.”  So very skeptical, very skeptical. And so he finally came back and he came up with somebody that he wanted to meet. So, he gave me the name of the person that he wanted to meet, and I said, “Okay, fine. I'll arrange an introduction.” So I sent a message through LinkedIn to the person that I was connecting with and letting him know that this other person I was connecting with wanting to meet him and gave him the information, said, if you do want to connect, by all means, please feel free to do so. And so, then this guy who I had now referred to, this other person I'm connected with, sends me this message saying, “Oh okay, thanks.” And then he gave me a list of seven other people in my list that he wanted me to connect him with.

Chris:                     Wow.

David:                   And I replied back, and I said, “I'm sorry, I can't actually spend my entire day connecting you with people. And if there's somebody who I connect with new, I'm happy to connect them with one person, but I can't spend sort of the rest of my day or the rest of my life connecting you up with people. Let's see how it goes with the first one and we can go from there.” And the guy wrote back, and he said, “Okay.  So, there it is.”

Chris:                     That was his response?  “So, there it is”?

David:                   “So, there it is.” So it's like, okay, there's the catch. The catch is that you're only going to introduce me to one of the people who's on your list.

Chris:                     Wow.

David:                   Now here's somebody who didn't make any attempt at all. I don’t even think he said thanks for the referral to the first person, but it's like he saw, okay, hey, here's this idiot who's willing to introduce me to as many people as I want. I guess that's what he thought. Although I didn't say that, but it's like he went in with this idea of you know, that there was some sort of catch or whatever, and he ended up creating his own scenario. He ended up creating his own result because a result of his behavior it’s like, do I want to connect him with anyone else ever again? No, probably not.

Chris:                     I certainly hope not, no.

David:                   And I almost feel bad for the person that I connected them with, although hopefully that person realized that this person might not be worth connecting with. But so this whole idea of conversations being suspect, it goes a number of different ways. One is that there are some people were just suspicious of everything, even when they shouldn't be.

Chris:                     Right.

David:                   And then there are other people who sort of fall down the rabbit hole where somebody starts engaging them and then the next thing you know they're buying stuff that they didn't mean to buy. So, there's definitely a balance here.

Chris:                     But congratulations, by the way - when we connected on Facebook, I saw that and it blew me away. Here's a whole different approach David.  It was like, wow, this guy wants to help me and it's so easy to fall into these default thoughts about how can I get on LinkedIn and make the most business, and it's the kind of thing when I see that kind of response like you had, Hey, let me know if there's anybody in my network that I can connect you with. It goes to exactly what I was saying earlier. It totally changes the perspective that I have of you because you’re thinking in a way that serves others and that's how you end up serving yourself, isn't it?

David:                   Yes. And the other thing that it does is it lets you know what people are made of; because you'll be sending something like that out. You're making this offer, “Hey, if there's somebody I can connect you with, let me know.” And some people reply back, and they'll say, “Oh hey, thanks. Can't think of anybody off hand. But I really appreciate the offer. If there's anybody I can connect you with, please let me know as well.” And nine times out of 10 there's not and I'm not looking to be connected with somebody else, but at least at that point we've had a friendly exchange and we can take it from there. The other thing is you find guys like this guy who is just paranoid and so you recognize, okay, this is not the type of contact that I would like to maintain long term, but it allows you to start to establish those real relationships, which we've talked about in previous podcasts.  When you think in terms of networking, can we establish a real relationship with a real person? Something else that I've been really focused on recently with social media is connecting with people who I really enjoy connecting with, who are fun, who love business, who want to grow their businesses, who want to grow their sales. Of course, they're the people that I can help, which is why I want to interact with them, and so what I've started doing recently is when I invite someone to connect on LinkedIn, I say that right up front. So, in the message that I send out and I'll say something like, “Hey, I see we've got some mutual connections, or I saw of some of the things that you posted and I found it interesting. I'm looking to connect with business people who are smart and focused and interested in growing their business. If that sounds like you, then I hope you'll accept my connection request. If not, feel free to disregard or delete. Thanks a lot.” And that's it. And so then the people who ignore it, what I can do is few weeks later I can rescind the invitation and I'll focus on finding some people who actually are interested in that and then who respond to that. So what it allows you to do then is to build the type of audience you want to have. The ideal type of prospect that I wanted to attract, right? That's what I put in the message.

Chris:                     Somebody who's engaged and excited and you know, you contrast this to the guy in the first story who's looking for why you're not authentic and probably thinks that the best thing you can do is have 3000 contacts in his network. And I almost get nervous about somebody who's got 3000 contacts in there. It’s like, you know that many people? I'm not so sure, but taking it and turning it on its head and making these kinds of approaches that you're talking about to people, it makes you more memorable. It makes them more interested and they can tell your substance right out the gate.

David:                   Yeah. You know, you raised a great point. It's something I'm going to have to examine because I've had my LinkedIn account for a long time and there were a period of years where I really didn't do much of anything with it, but I had people who would request a connection with me and I would just say yes and so I've got a lot of connections on LinkedIn, many of whom I don't know. I probably need to go through and do some extensive housecleaning in that regard and it's going to be very easy to do because there are so few people who really post interesting stuff consistently, who sort of meet the criteria that I'm looking for in a business connection. I mean the types of people who listen to this podcast, if you've been listening to this podcast for any length of time, if you get value from it; be sure to connect with me on LinkedIn because chances are what I'm saying will resonate with you and that'll be a good fit. If not, then you wouldn't be hearing this so no point in talking to you, but know, just sort of looking at that and saying, "What's the ideal criteria and how can I connect with more people like that and sort of jettison the rest".

Chris:                     And I think the other thing that's worth looking at is, is there some kind of an easy outreach that I can do to each person, see if I get a response? And then if I don't say, “Hey, it's okay. Best of luck to you.”?

David:                   Right. Yeah. And you don't even have to say that because if they ignore the invitation, you can just withdraw the invitation and you're done.

Chris:                     Yeah, exactly. So, let's talk about what our listeners can do to communicate more authentically and prevent everything that they say from coming across as blatant self-promotion.

5 Steps to Approach Leads on Social Media, Without Coming Across as Too Salesy

  1. Approach Online Leads Authentically... the same way you would in real life.
  2. Recognize They're People. They're not just names on a list.
  3. Pursue Relationships You Want. Be selective about who you approach.
  4. Offer to Help, without immediately requiring something in return.
  5. Be Honest about who you can help and who you can't. It's not about trying to sell everyone.

David:                   All right, well, yeah, communicating more authentically is really easy enough. It's a matter of taking that approach. If you start with approaching your social media connections the same way that you would approach someone when you're meeting them in real life. Understanding that these are not just names on a list, these are not just words on a screen. These are human beings who have desires and goals and friends and family and relationships and all that sort of thing and looking at it and saying, okay, based on what I've seen from this person on their profile, is this the type of person that I would like to be connected with? Is this the type of person that I can learn something from or who could potentially learn something from me? And if so, then pursue those relationships. So, identifying the people that you want have in your network and the people that you don't want to have in your network, and then it's okay to just say no.  If there's somebody who reaches out to you, wants to connect on social media, if you don't see that there's a good fit; you're not required to accept those requests.  So, you can potentially be a lot more finicky than you already are being. When it comes to selecting who you're connected with on social media and that's advice that I need to follow better myself as a result of your comment on this podcast, Chris, I'm definitely going to do I need to go back and do a little bit of trimming.

Chris:                     Well I think she can all do it and we all have good reasons for doing it. When it first came out it was exciting. It was a lot of people saw it as hey this can be a real big supplement to my business and then I haven't done anything with it and guess what 80% of the people haven't either. And so I think it makes a ton of sense and you know it also when you knock up the quality of the people that feel like a fit and I mean not in terms of who they are, but feel like a fit for me. Man, I'm in a way better place and more likely to make it something that is worth my time to spend on generating new business.

David:                   Absolutely. And getting beyond this then, I mean obviously we start out from a place of authenticity and we're just actually trying to establish real relationships with people. If we look at that as the first step, then that's going to be very helpful.

The next thing we want to do is to say, “Okay, how can I actually, honestly just help someone with social media? How can I provide them with some information that will be useful?” This podcast, as an example, one of the things that I do on LinkedIn and on Facebook now is that I post a link to this podcast in my profile.  So that if they find this information helpful, they can go there, they can click on it, they can listen to what we're talking about; or they can read a transcript of what we've said and they can get a benefit from it. So if you're doing that as well, if your second step is to actually provide them with helpful, useful information that will benefit them, then not only are you being authentic in your communication, but you're also being helpful and useful, which is going to make you much more credible; so you're going to be far less likely to have people suspect you have ulterior motives if you're providing them with good, solid, useful content. And then if you want to avoid coming across as blatant self-promotion, then don't do that. Right? Don't engage in conversation for the sole purpose of trying to sell something.

If you approach them from the standpoint of being able to help and being able to engage with people who you could potentially benefit, then that's going to be a winner every day. And if you can't, if you find yourself in a situation where you've connected with somebody and you know that you really can't be of help to them, then say that. Just say, “You know what? It doesn't sound like I can help you. Yeah, we're welcome to remain connected, but I don't think I can help with what you're doing.", because that also is very helpful. If you're in a position where you know somebody socially, you've met them socially, you also know what they do for business and you can't buy from them. It doesn't mean you can't be friends. It doesn't mean you can't interact, but it's just nice for everybody to know where we stand.

Chris:                     You know I don't think there's anything better than saying to somebody, “Hey, you know what? I'm not a fit, but let me see if I can get you pointed to the right person” or “I'd love to be a resource to you but isn't a good fit for me. Let me see if I can find somebody who is.” That kind of thing just goes so far, doesn't it?

David:                   It does. And we have those conversations in our office every single week. I was going to say every single day, but it's probably not. But I know we have multiple conversations like that every single week where we talk to somebody, they're trying to accomplish something in their business and we find out what they're looking to do and if we can't help them, we say, “Okay, well that's not really our area of influence. Here's who I would recommend you contact or here's what I would recommend you do, but you know, we're not the guys for that.” and it's simply authentic communication. The better you do at that and the more people are going to like you, even if they're not going to be doing business with you.

Chris:                     Yup. By the way, don't forget to go to where you can set up a meeting with the team over there and find out what they can do to help you strategize a great 2020.  There is a lot to cover there and yet when it comes right down to it, it comes down to authenticity, doesn't it? And serving others.

David:                   Absolutely.

Chris:                     Very nice. Hey David, what's coming up in our next podcast?

David:                   Okay. Next time, Chris, we'll be talking about and asking the question: Are most of your leads coming from online or offline?

Chris:                     All right, I love it. Thank you, David. Excellent podcast. Looking forward to the next one. Everybody take care!

David:                   Talk to you soon! Thanks Chris.

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