Dear vendor, can we snuggle a bit, maybe buy me some flowers before you try to go for second base?
— Gregg Tilston ✈ (@greggtilston) October 4, 2014
Yes, I tweeted that after the Nth time a vendor connected with me on LinkedIn and immediately sent me a pitch mail. Don’t I deserve a snuggle? Am I not worth some flowers, a flower? My point is connecting on Social and immediately pitching is not Social Selling. No matter how you spin it, it’s not Social Selling.
I’ve had this conversation with friends and they say ‘just don’t accept the invite to connect’. That’s easier said than done. Unfortunately, actually fortunately, I’m honoured to speak at conferences all over and I am never really sure whether or not I’ve met the person before (obvious connection invites aside).
Fast forward a few months and I’m with Nathan Easom enjoying a beverage in NYC and the topic of connecting on LinkedIn came up. Nathan mentioned his frustration with prospective customers accepting an invite on LinkedIn and then immediately ignoring when he reached out. I realized ‘I’m that prospective customer’. Let me be clear, Nathan is one of the many vendors who I respect because he gets Social Selling. We’ve met up many times and, though we’d like to do business some day, we may never do business together. That said I will always give Nathan my time to learn about what’s new on his end and he’s always there to help me when I need industry news and data. How did we get here? Because over the last few years Nathan and I have engaged on Social about work related topics, family and personal updates, conference information, sports (granted, like most, it’s usually him busting me on the Leafs), and many other conversations.
Another person who is amazing at Social Selling is John Affourtit. He gets it. He engages his prospective customers without pitching or being creepy. Because of my relationship to a certain platform, there’s a pretty good chance John and I will never do business together. We both know this, yet to this day if I need data for a presentation or project, John is one of the first to set me up and conversely I will recommend, in a heartbeat, his platform to anyone who asks me which solutions they should look at.
For the record, I spent years in business development. I get the pressures of cold calling and having to close business. The funny part is that I was never really that good at the hard close. I probably would have sucked working at the big X. My style was more relationship selling which I believe is why I was successful in Government sales.
– message me a (tagged) link to your CEO talking about the future of X on LinkedIn (great opportunity to gauge my immediate interest or intent),
– join in a Twitter thread regarding a topic discussed from the last conference I attended,
– check out my Web site to see how open I am with my social circles – we might even share tips on Instagram about amazing restaurants in Sydney,
– and once we’ve built rapport, let’s bust each others’ chops about our favourite sports team (being one who bleeds Leafs blue, this one’s a freebie).
As my peeps in Australia say ‘easy’, as in ‘it’s too bloody simple’.
So please dear vendor, give me a hug first. Hugs are free, hugs go along way; hugs can help you move up the bases.