How to ruin a sales process by sending one single message on LinkedIn?
Over the past year I’ve been receiving an increasing influx of connection requests on LinkedIn that include a “personal” message along the lines of:
➡ “My name is X, I see that we are both interested in subject Y, I specialize in the field of Z. Would love to connect and explore the possibility of collaborating with you. Here is my phone number and email <Contact Info>”.
➡ “Hi Tomer, I am X from company Y and we are holding a conference on the subject of Z and here is the link to register for the event…”
➡ “I am X from company Y and we have developed a unique method for doing Z. Let’s connect so I can tell you more…”
➡ “I’m X from company Y, we specialize in Z, here’s an example <link to video>. Would love to connect and chat about it…”
So what’s going on here?
In fact, these users are taking advantage of the option to add a personal note when sending a connection request on LinkedIn, to spread a promotional or advertising message or simply, try to “hunt” me down to sell something to me.
Adding a personal note to a connection request is definitely recommended and qualifies as a best practice if it is indeed merely a connection request…
A little background…
On LinkedIn, you can send a personal note to another user via LinkedIn Messaging, in one of the following ways:
1. If the other user (recipient) is a first-degree connection.
2. If the sender of the message and the recipient are members of the same LinkedIn Group.
3. If the sender of the message has one of LinkedIn’s Premium accounts. In this case the message is called InMail and there is a monthly cap for such messages, depending on the type of account.
4. If the recipient of the message has one of LinkedIn’s Premium accounts, they set up their account as “Open Profile” and it is available to receive any message from any LinkedIn user.
As you can see, LinkedIn limits our ability to send messages to any user in order to reduce the amount of spam and harassment and to maintain a professional and effective platform.
So why do they do this?
Users who choose to add a promotional message when sending a connection request do so for 3 reasons:
1. To save the cost of purchasing a premium account
2. To avoid the monthly InMails cap
3. To not have to rely on the recipient’s actions (accepting connection request or opening profile to see the messages)
This is similar to the Cold Calls approach known in the sales world, that is, reaching out (via telephone or online) to potential customers even though they haven’t previously expressed interest in contacting the seller or buying their products.
In fact, it’s an abuse of LinkedIn’s connection request system for commercial purposes.
What do I think about it?
1. I can’t remember a single message I ever received through this method that met a specific need I had as CMO (that is, as a potential customer of the sender).
2. The Spray & Pray approach, that is, sending a huge amount of promotional connection requests in the hope that 2–3% of them will be converted into sales opportunities, is a short-term opportunistic approach. In fact, it is the exact opposite of the Social Selling approach, which is all about developing meaningful and long-term relationships with potential customers. Furthermore, sending promotional connection requests hurts the brand and the customer’s sentiment towards it and the resulting damage is long-term.
3. Speaking of Section 1, I can’t recall ever accepting a single connection request of this kind… Rather, I actually blocked some of the senders. They lost me as a potential customer, not only in my current role but also in future ones. To be honest, maybe I should actually thank them for saving me time and allowing me to filter them in advance… By the way, another approach taken by opportunistic salespeople is even more annoying: sending an innocent connection request immediately followed by a personal promotional message… My response in such situations is usually the same:
I just remove the connection.
And what does LinkedIn think about this?
Very simple. This approach is against LinkedIn’s official policy:
“Do not use our invitation feature to send promotional messages to people you do not know or to otherwise spam people.”
Would you like to risk getting your account suspended or shut down following a report from one of the recipients? I don’t think so…
I appreciate business creativity and some of the best salespeople I’ve worked with were particularly brilliant and creative. But the approach I described in this post causes far more harm than good, not only for the salesperson but also for their business or employer.
Focus on forming real and professional contacts with your customers and prospective customers instead of taking shortcuts that lead to a dead-end.