We all get them - daily connection requests that, upon acceptance, immediately jump into a sales pitch. I spoke my opinion about this annoyance on Stu Heinecke's podcast "How to Get a Meeting with Anyone" in 2018, but for those who haven't yet listened, here's the Cliff Notes version: I think it's smarmy.
Recently, however, I received a connection request that followed two profile views - both partners and President/VP of a couple of companies. The request came with a message: "Hi Nicole, I came across your profile and noticed you are seeking opportunities to help companies. Would like to discuss some possible options with you. Thanks." Curious, I decided to accept the connection request and replied with a cheerful "Hey! Thanks so much for connecting! I'd love to chat - when is a good time for you? Talk soon, Nicole"
I have worked with consulting agencies and venture firms before on several projects. My background experience and focus give me a different perspective, and my startup experience has been beneficial for firms that doesn't specialize in them. I didn't think this connection was unusual and was very excited to hear what they were offering.
Immediately, I received a brief description of the opportunity - they have consulting firm. I have a consulting firm. They are looking to license their infrastructure that they've built over the past 11 years. When can we chat? I was mildly curious and definitely interested in hearing more about why they thought this would be a good match for me.
Over the next day, they sent a few documents about their structure, pricing, and offerings. It wasn't the right fit for my company, so I cordially replied that to him. He responded with something unexpected: "Sorry to feel it would not be the right fit. I actually disagree with that..."
Here's where the "pitch" and "sales tactics" fell apart: not once during this entire back and forth did they ask me a single question about my company, my staff, my challenges, my experience - nothing. Then, when I declined to move forward, I was wrong.
It's 2019 - time to stop condescending sales tactics. They don't work, and in fact further reinforced my decision that this company was not a good match. If you want to get someone's attention in a positive way, ask them questions. And follow up questions. Gauge the relationship before you try to make a sale. If, after those conversations, the other party feels like it's a poor fit, it is okay to ask them why they feel that way. This is the best way to overcome sales objections. It's not, however, okay to tell them that you disagree or that they are wrong, or anything close to that.
Asking "why" is the most powerful tool you can use to understand your customer. Anytime you discredit their feelings or make them feel like you value their wallet more than their needs, you will lose.