I must admit to laughing and nodding when I noted the title of a recent Hubspot blog post (I suspect you can find their hugely successful website without me but here you go anyway – www.hubspot.com). They post a raft of great stuff.
Back to the ‘story’, the blog in question was entitled ‘Is social selling creepy?’ Beyond amusing me, it resonated quite clearly. And not because I’m a creep…..
Where is the line? Where does research and prep or networking stop and creepiness start?
LinkedIn is a great place for business networking, so surely researching a prospect or someone you are meeting is OK….. right? Or connecting to someone you think you could help? Or enjoying and sharing their post or blog? (NOTE – the last one is definitely fine – you should do that – maybe even now).
However, the recent Hubspot buyer survey suggests that some of these may be overstepping the mark!
The Hubspot report highlighted some very interesting findings so I decided to explore some of them, specifically related to LinkedIn.
Requests to connect
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a salesperson requested to connect with you on LinkedIn with a generic message? ANSWER: Y – 64%, N – 36%
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a salesperson requested to connect with you on LinkedIn with a message customized to your or your company? ANSWER: Y – 40%, N – 60%
My answer – If you don’t know them or their company, I agree. If you do know them, who cares? Yes, I always prefer someone to have personalised an email or request but let’s not get too precious. It’s probably lazy but not creepy!
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy to receive a LinkedIn message from a salesperson with whom you have no connections in common? ANSWER: Y – 73%, N – 27%
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy to receive a LinkedIn message from a salesperson with whom you do have connections in common? ANSWER: Y – 35%, N – 65%
My answer - As the article raises, it is interesting what a difference a common connection makes. My first thought was that clearly buyers don’t have a strong network of recruiters in their area! I don’t fault them for it but IT sales recruiters will regularly make contact with people without shared connections. Far more important for me is: why are you being contacted? Is there any value in the message? Is it about helping you or them poorly trying to punt their wares?
If you get the dull ‘buy 5 widgets for £5 for a limited time’, that’s useless. If someone is doing things in the right way, I’m fine with that – even if it’s not something I want or need at that time.
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if you received a LinkedIn message from a salesperson that referenced a recent event or leadership change at your company? ANSWER: Y – 56%, N – 44%
My answer – Back to context again. Is it ‘I see you made a nice cake for the charity bake off, I enjoyed watching you make it through the fence’ then that is creepy. But, if there is publicly available company information and a synergy in the message that was either politely asking for help and information or offering some, is that weird? I say no, unless the offer of help goes back to the charity cake sale.
Articles, blogs, discussions
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if you received a LinkedIn message from a salesperson that referenced an article you posted or blog you wrote? ANSWER: Y – 46%, N – 54%
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a salesperson you didn't know commented on an article, discussion, or comment you posted on LinkedIn? ANSWER: Y – 48%, N – 52%
My answer – Nearly half said yes – really? If it’s related to the post or blog, get a grip. Surely, you wanted people to read it and for it to resonate. No? OK, it’s just me and my delicate ego then.
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a salesperson liked an article, discussion, or comment you posted on LinkedIn? ANSWER: Y – 28%, N – 72%
My answer – So, let me get this right? Like your article just don’t contact you or comment!? Why are you posting then? You want the ability to post but don’t want feedback or to discuss or debate on a topic. I thought I had issues.
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a LinkedIn connection introduced you to a salesperson they knew on LinkedIn? ANSWER: Y – 35%, N – 65%
My answer – Dear precious sensitive buyer, 35% of you need to watch some psychological thrillers or spend more time around clowns or magicians, they are creepy. This is not. If a connection introduces you to someone pointlessly, that is annoying but probably unlikely. More likely, they know or think you need support or guidance in an area.
So based on those 9 responses, it appears buyers want your attention but only on very specific terms. Oh well, nevermind, they’ll get over it.
Joking aside, social selling and business networking are about being social more than selling. It’s a platform for people to see your value, to develop a potential business relationship and for people to know a little more about you and how you like to do business. The selling is Phase 2 if you have delivered in Phase 1.
Realistically, you know if you’re trying to help people and grow your credibility. You also know if you’re spamming people, wasting their time or being sleazy.
Here’s a revolutionary thought – don’t be weird! LinkedIn and other places, particularly LI groups, suffer because people are focused on themselves first and polluting the pond with their dross. We will all have more interesting conversations, make better connections and get more business if everyone just acts a little cooler.
In reality, I don’t actually think true social selling is creepy albeit some practitioners may be!
Do you think that researching people and their business is weird? It shouldn’t be, it should be a standard piece of preparation ahead of a meeting or a call. You do need to then deliver that extra value or understanding in that meeting or call but let’s give people a chance.
And here is the kicker, it seems our buyers and consumers are a little undecided. How do we account for these extra questions?
QUESTION - Would you find it creepy if a salesperson looked at your LinkedIn profile before sending a cold email or making a cold call? ANSWER: Y – 34%, N – 66%
QUESTION - True or False: I like it when a salesperson does internet and social media research about me and my company before reaching out to me. ANSWER: Y – 64%, N – 36%
QUESTION - True or False: I would like cold sales pitches to be customized to me and my company as much as possible. ANSWER: Y – 65%, N – 35%
My answer – So………… Errrrrrrrrr……… I can look at you on LinkedIn? It is OK to research you? I should customise my pitch? That is a relief. This isn’t a trap is it?
Irrespective of those extra gems of information, that isn’t a free pass for web based weirdos!
Why not look at your own behaviour on social channels and think about what is working or not working for you!?
If you naturally swing closer to the creep end of the spectrum, try this for size:
- Actively participate in groups – ask & answer questions, help people
- Share / like / comment on great content (I’m not one for negative comments but despite this post, I’m not the LinkedIn police so fill your boots if you’re so inclined)
- Share you own content
- Be genuine
- Spam, excessively promote etc
- Confuse this with Facebook – Maybe it’s just me but I don’t want to do a word search or an equation while I’m here. Quotes and uplifting statements are borderline.
- Look at profiles just because someone is attractive. And then do it again the next day. And on the weekend.
I’m aware that I’ve generalised and possibly been mean to the 273 American buyers and consumers, and creeps but this is, at least partly, in jest. Ironically, it’s Brits that are supposed to be uptight!
Don’t take it too serious and smile!
I love you…. Oh jeez, is that too weird? Am I coming on too strong?
See you next time!
(As always, please share / comment / like – it’ll be your good deed for the day)
I'm Pete Grosse, I run Team 144, which is a small business and startup consultancy.
We are passionate about harnessing creativity to generate positive (and authentic) business growth. We help businesses utilise sales, marketing, social and video to improve the quantity and quality of customer interactions.
If you are wanting to generate more leads, avoid being creepy on social channels, get your business or brand to standout authentically, I can help. Contact me via my website (team144.co.uk), via twitter (@petegrosse) or on LinkedIn (https://uk.linkedin.com/in/petergrosse).
But if you’re just plain creepy, I can’t guarantee that I have the antidote for that.
This post is based on research from the following:
Is Social Selling creepy? Buyers & Consumers Define the Normal / Stalker Divide
Emma Snider, Staff Writer, HubSpot Sales blog, @emmajs24
Original blog link:
The Hubspot study was completed from Q4 ’14 – Q1 ’15 and involved 273 B2B buyers and B2C consumers, across industries and from the US.