Yesterday I was called into a meeting by a global Sales VP, a team of his was going to buy some Linkedin training and they wanted to know what I thought.

The team that was going to buy the Linkedin training was for a single country. The country sales leader shared his screen and explained to me what he had been "sold" by this "social selling" company.

He was being sold a service where his salespeople were going to be taught how to send inmails to prospects, with a message ...

"Buy our product because we are great and we are a great price".

I don't know about you, but I delete all inmails.

Now it was great that the sales team were going to be taught on a one to one basis, but what they were being sold an "empty box", some would say "a pointless exercise".

I was told that this "Linkedin training company" supply their services to SAP, of course they do. We do as well. I think every company in the world does at some point.

What does sending inmails buy you?

First and foremost, LinkedIn always tell you to send inmails. Why? Because they make money from it. If I told you our social selling program does not require you to send inmails would that surprise you?

Let me tell you another story.

I was asked to meet the country leader of a very large hardware company to talk about social selling. Usual issues, dwinderling pipeline and losing too many deals.

In the meeting was the marketing manager. She kicked off the meeting and through a smile, she told me that she didn't need our help there was a global social selling team. I asked her, "how is it going?". She replied it was going "amazing".  Which surprised me as I could see the quarter closing figures on the country manager's white board and thought he must be close to being fired.

Always interested in hearing about successful social selling programs I said "that's amazing, why don't you tell us what you are doing?"

The marketing manager said "we take corporate brochures and we inmail them to people".

"Brilliant" I said, I turned to the country manager and said "when you get an inmail, what do you do?". He said, "I delete them".

I turned to the marketing manager and said, "when you get an inmail, what do you do?"

"I delete them" she said.  There was this sound of a penny dropping.

I then asked again "so how is your global social selling system going?"

In unison, the country manager and marketing manager said "SHIT!"

Sending inmails is not social selling

Please, please, please, understand that sending inmails over Linkedin is not social selling.

Sending connection requests and pitching is not social selling

Pitching to your contacts is not social selling

None of these actions are social selling, it's cold calling on a social network.

And to the people that tell you they are doing this ..... great, I'm sure you will get some response, but you will burn through your network and at some point LinkedIn will catch up with you and probably block you.

I know one software company that hire graduates and they get them to burn their way through their Linkedin profile. I actually think they see being blocked by LinkedIn as a right of passage. Being a graduate, who cares if you get blocked? You haven't spend years building your network, you get blocked and the next day you open another LinkedIn account.

How do we define social selling?

Using your presence and behaviour on Social Media to build influence,

make connections, grow relationships and trust, which leads to

conversation and commercial interaction.

It's not spamming on social.

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