I engaged heavily in direct sales for the better part of a year in 2015. I was successful, building a good income through product sales. Recruiting, however, wasn’t my forte.
I couldn’t bring myself to try to sell to someone who didn’t want what I was selling.
Products were a different beast — I generated interest through Facebook posts or one-on-one conversations and responded to inquiries. With recruiting, I felt pressure to reach out to as many people as I could and pitch that the business could generate massive amounts of revenue.
The problem, though, was that I knew the truth: the only way it would generate “massive amounts of revenue” was if the person was good at sales. I saw an opportunity to use standard business marketing practices to bring in warm leads, but I saw a much greater advantage to focusing on my own business rather than someone else’s.
My suspicions were confirmed when my LinkedIn consultancy took off and I left direct sales in the dust.
Whose Needs Matter More?
My point here is that I’m not the person who will try to talk anyone into something they don’t need. That’s not my style and it shouldn’t be yours.
Instead, I look for people who want what I’m selling. When I sense even the slightest bit of interest, I’m as good as you’re going to get.
So, you may ask, how do you determine whether a person has interest?
This is where I think a lot of people miss the mark. Instead of putting time into determining whether a lead has a desire for the product or service they’re selling, they jump right into the ask.
This is both off-putting and ineffective, even for those who do have a genuine interest.
Here’s the thing:
When you jump right into asking someone to buy from you without getting to know them first, you’re essentially telling them that it’s your needs that matter, not theirs.
To gauge whether a person has interest in what you’re selling, you must first engage in a mutually-beneficial relationship. The person you’re engaging with must believe that you have his or her best interest at heart, or you will fall as flat as a pancake.
The Mutual Benefit
Needing to establish a mutually-beneficial relationship doesn’t mean the cold reach-out is dead — quite the opposite, in fact. You’re reading the words of someone who loves cold reach-outs (you can learn all about how I conduct them here).
What is important to remember is that a cold reach-out is rarely done to actually make a sale. Typically it’s done to spark interest.
The key is to be patient — desperate isn’t a good look and your prospect will be able to sniff it out a mile away. Be willing to build relationships and let them flourish. If someone is interested, they’ll be interested … give it time.
What does it look like to kick off a budding online relationship? It can look different with each prospect. Take a look at these three scenarios, each of which has a different objective:
- Connecting on LinkedIn
- Scheduling a call
- Making the ask
Scenario 1: Connecting on LinkedIn
You develop the personal brands of current and former professional athletes. You are engaging on LinkedIn and find John, a former professional football player who now has his own consulting agency. You would love to work with John, but have never spoken to him and don’t want to put him off.
To kick off the relationship (no pun intended), you send a connection request that includes a (very) simple note:
- “Hey John. I work with professional athletes on their personal brands. Seeing as you’re a former NFL player, I would love to connect with you here on LinkedIn!”
John accepts your connection request and you add him to your list of leads on Sales Navigator. Then you continue pushing out original content geared toward professional athletes, sometimes sending John your articles via private message and asking him to share to his network.
One of two things will happen from here: either John will reach out to learn more about your business or you will eventually reach out to gauge interest and schedule a call.
Scenario 2: Scheduling A Call
You’ve seen Sally, the owner of project management company, on LinkedIn. You aren’t connected, but are in a LinkedIn group together. Your hope is that she needs someone to manage her social media.
A cold reach-out may read like this:
- “Hey Sally, I saw we’re in the same social media group together. I’d love to connect here on LinkedIn and maybe schedule a call to learn more about one another’s businesses. Are you available this week?”
If Sally is interested in a call, you chat about one another’s businesses. If she truly is in the market for social media help, you mentioning that you manage social media for small businesses is likely to spark her interest.
If it doesn’t, you can mention that you would love any referrals she can give, and then you feel good that you’ve added someone to your growing network.
Scenario 3: The Ask
Yes, sometimes you make the ask right away. In this scenario, you specialize in working with business coaches who are also public speakers. You produce original content on their behalf, manage their social media, and generate leads for speaking gigs.
You’re perusing LinkedIn and come across Laura’s profile. Laura is a business coach and public speaker who hasn’t published an original article in six months. She has, however, shared videos of herself speaking at a few live business events and she’s good at what she does.
A cold reach-out might read like this:
- “Hi Laura! I am a marketing specialist who works specifically with business coaches and public speakers. I came across your profile and am really impressed by what you do — you have a lot of great information and are a fantastic public speaker. I would love the opportunity to speak with you over the phone about what I might be able to do for you. I help my clients with original content as well as lead generation for speaking events. If you’re interested, I’d love it if we could connect here on LinkedIn and then schedule a call for this week!”
This reach-out makes the ask right away, but it’s personal and mutually-beneficial. By asking in this way, you are acknowledging a specific need Laura might have. If she doesn’t have that need, she’ll say so (and you should respectfully end the conversation and not badger her). If she does, she’ll be pretty darn excited you reached out.
Enjoying the Chase
I’m a self-professed lover of lead generation. The art of scouting out potential leads, learning all I can about them, and reaching out as I deem appropriate is something I enjoy doing for myself and my clients.