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September 19, 2022

Really Bad Social Selling

For some reason, I’m a magnet for bad salespeople (or, at least, bad sales efforts). And it happened again this week… only this time, the offending sales rep violated two rules of social selling.

OK, quick backstory (all true)… I accepted a LinkedIn invitation from [let’s call him] Mike just last week. Mike is in our industry, fits the profile of a potential client for us and is also supplier to other potential clients… so a good person for me to be connected to. Also, Mike is a senior-level person at his company with responsibility for revenue growth. All in all, a really good connection. But then it went bad…

Sales Rule #1 Violated

When I accepted his invitation, I sent Mike a short note to say, “Thanks for reaching out to connect with me.” To which he responded (and I’m paraphrasing), “Nice to meet you, too, Steve… now here’s what I sell and can I send you our brochure?”

To quote John McEnroe, “You cannot be serious!”

Social selling is, first and foremost, ‘social.’ It’s about building relationships. He didn’t even try… he just jumped right to the pitch.

No. No. No.

One of the key tenets of B2B selling is that buyers won’t buy from you until they get to know you, then like you, then trust you. It’s a continuum that takes some time. And Mike never gave me a chance to get started down that road.

Come on Mike… you can do better.

Send some ‘warm up’ InMails. Share a resource or two. Engage with my social posts (and I post a lot!). Let me get used to seeing your name on my LinkedIn feed. Then maybe, just maybe, we can start the buyer-seller dance. But to pitch me right out of the gate… Mike, you blew it!

Sales Rule #2 Violated

So, even if Mike had followed all of the social selling ideas outlined above, it wouldn’t have mattered… because we don’t use (in any way) what he’s selling. And it’s not like I was just an email address on a long list… he was looking right at (but evidently not reading) my LinkedIn profile when he reached out to me. If he had taken two minutes to read it (or two more minutes to check out our website), he would’ve seen – pretty quickly – that we weren’t a candidate for his products and services.

Why don’t salespeople do their homework?

Mike, in his rush to sell me, also missed an opportunity. It turns out that many of my clients are also his potential clients… I could’ve been a connector or referral source for him – but now that’s gone, too. Oh well.


If Mike was a sales rep for his company, then I would say that his boss needs to do a better job of training his sales team. But since Mike IS the boss, I can only assume that the entire sales team follows this same ill-structured sales process. And that’s really unfortunate.

To have success with social selling there are two primary rules to follow:

  1. Be patient. Social selling is a top-of-the-funnel strategy, so use it to build relationships before jumping into seller mode.
  2. Do your homework. Make sure that the potential buyers you reach out to really are potential buyers – don’t waste their time or yours.

Social selling can be a powerful sales tool when used properly… it’s a shame that so many salespeople see it as a shortcut to a fast sale – only to find out that it’s not.

Good luck and good selling.

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