Trojan posting on Linkedin

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The Trojan Post: Why the New Cold Calling on LinkedIn Needs a Rethink

We’ve all been there, right? We attend that networking event, that conference or spend weeks and months planning for that expo only for it to happen to us within minutes of being in the room.

Worst still, we find ourselves doing it within minutes of being in the room. Within seconds of speaking to a complete stranger. What am I talking about I hear you ask?!

Of course, I’m talking about the behaviours of the over-pushy, overzealous, overconfident salesperson that I know you definitely aren’t because you’re taking the time to read this article. The behaviour I refer to being the immediate jump to the solutions on offer from the company, the pushing of the brochure, the catch all of ‘for all your needs‘, even though in reality there is no understanding of the recipients’ needs, issues or concerns. 

But what really frustrates me is how this known taboo of the real world is burning like wildfire through the social media world, running the risk of turning social selling behaviour and potential into the next cold call, business card pushing, hard selling physical behaviour we all know is outdated, misplaced and certainly not in keeping with how the modern buyer likes to buy.

The discomfort is palpable. In the real world, we recognise this behaviour as a faux pas that can tarnish reputations and alienate potential connections. Yet, this practice finds its digital counterpart on LinkedIn every day through what I call the “Trojan Post.”

Just like at a networking event, the initial interaction should be about making a genuine connection, not a hard sell. Unfortunately, the digital landscape of LinkedIn has made it too easy to forget these social norms, encouraging some to approach new connections with the same impersonality as the very worst cold calling that buyers actively ignore. In the past, B2B sales often involved getting a list and dialling number after number, playing a numbers game that, while sometimes effective, contributed to a negative stigma around sales professionals. Today, the “Trojan Post” is the new cold calling. It’s quick, it’s impersonal, and it’s frustratingly common.

Why Does Trojan Posting Happen?

This approach often stems from the high-pressure environment of sales quotas where immediacy is prized over relationship-building. However, just as in-person, relationships built on trust and mutual benefit are far more likely to yield enduring business ties and real results.

What Can Be Done to encourage better behaviours?

By reflecting on the universal principles of respectful networking that apply both offline and online, we can start to shift the paradigm. Education on ethical engagement, redefining success metrics, and encouraging genuine interactions over pitches are just a few ways we can make LinkedIn a more valuable platform for everyone involved.

The Trojan Post - The Modern Cold Call?

The evolution of sales tactics from the physical to the digital realm has not only changed how we interact but also how some utilise platforms like LinkedIn for direct sales. This shift is epitomised by what I’ve termed the “Trojan Post,” a method that mirrors the old-school technique of cold calling. Let’s examine how these two strategies are surprisingly similar in their approach and the challenges they present.

Immediate Sales Pressure: Just as cold calling involves reaching out to a list of prospects and immediately pushing a product or service, the “Trojan Post” operates on a similar principle. A LinkedIn connection—often just accepted—quickly receives a sales pitch, bypassing any form of genuine relationship-building. This immediate pressure is akin to receiving a sales call from an unknown number; it’s unexpected and often unwelcome.

Playing the Numbers Game: Cold calling traditionally works on a numbers and volume basis—the more calls made, the more likely you are to make a sale. Similarly, the “Trojan Post” relies on connecting with as many people as possible and immediately pitching to every new connection, hoping that the sheer volume will yield some positive responses. This approach can lead to a dilution of quality in connections and may harm the professional’s reputation on the platform.

Lack of Personalisation: Cold calls are notorious for their lack of personal touch. Callers seldom have more than basic information about the person they are contacting, which often leads to generic pitches. The “Trojan Post” mimics this by failing to tailor the conversation to the individual’s interests or needs, instead offering a one-size-fits-all pitch that is rarely effective.

Potential for Negative Brand Impact: Just as repeated cold calls can lead to frustration and a negative perception of a brand, so too can unsolicited sales pitches on LinkedIn lead to negative impressions about a person or their company. This can deter potential genuine connections and damage long-term networking opportunities.

While both tactics aim for high outreach and immediate results, they often overlook the importance of relationship-building, which is crucial in any business environment, be it digital or physical. In the next sections, we will explore how shifting from a transaction-focused approach to a relationship-cantered strategy can benefit both sales professionals and their prospects on LinkedIn.

How to Avoid the Bear Trap of Trojan Posting

Escaping the bear trap of “Trojan Posting” involves adopting a more sophisticated, relationship-first approach to social selling. I want to offer some practical strategies for harnessing social platforms effectively, emphasising their potential to outperform traditional methods when used correctly.

Focus on Building Relationships: The cornerstone of successful social selling is the relationship, not the immediate sale. According to LinkedIn, 77% of buyers are more likely to purchase from a company whose CEO uses social media to define their leadership style. Start with engaging in genuine conversations, understanding the potential needs of the new connection, and providing value without an immediate pitch.

Provide Value Before You Ask for Anything: Offering valuable content or insightful comments on prospects’ posts can position you as a thought leader and build credibility. This approach fosters a deeper connection that goes beyond transactional interactions.

Leverage Insights for Personalisation: Utilise the data and insights available on platforms like LinkedIn to tailor your approach to each prospect. Personalised messages that refer to specific details about the individual’s professional challenges or interests can increase response rates significantly. Data shows that personalised emails deliver six times higher transaction rates (Source: Campaign Monitor).

Read more about the importance of personalisation in B2B sales.

Practice Patient Follow-Up: Instead of pressing for a sale immediately after a connection is made, provide ongoing value through regular, non-invasive content that aligns with your prospect’s interests and industry. HubSpot reports that 80% of sales require five follow-up calls after the meeting, yet nearly 44% of sales reps give up after just one follow-up.

Engage Rather Than Sell: Treat social platforms as communities for engagement, not just sales channels. Participate in discussions, share relevant content, and congratulate connections on their achievements. This kind of engagement can create a positive reputation and naturally lead to sales opportunities.

Monitor and Adjust Your Strategy: Constantly analyse the effectiveness of your engagement strategies. Tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator provide analytics that can help you understand what works and what doesn’t, allowing you to refine your approach continuously. (Though please don’t see the tool as the silver bullet! No need to invest yet until you appreciate the value the platform can give you once used correctly).

By considering these guidelines, sales professionals can avoid the pitfalls of “Trojan Posting” and instead use social platforms as powerful tools to build meaningful professional relationships.

These platforms, when used correctly, can be even more effective than traditional sales methods, providing a richer, more rewarding experience that is conducive to long-term success.

Standing Out in a Digitally Reluctant Market: The Advantage of Social Selling

In markets where digital adoption is low among sales professionals, embracing social selling and avoiding the pitfalls of “Trojan Posting” can significantly differentiate you from your peers. This differentiation is not just about being different; it’s about being more effective and building a sustainable sales pipeline. Here are some expected outcomes of incorporating sophisticated social selling techniques:

Increased Conversion Rates: By focusing on building relationships and providing value before pushing for a sale, sales professionals can see higher conversion rates compared to traditional cold calling or hard-selling techniques. Studies have shown that social selling leaders are 44% more likely to reach their quotas.

Enhanced Trust and Credibility: In a low digital adoption market, taking the time to engage with prospects authentically can build a strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness. According to LinkedIn, 92% of buyers engage if the professional is a known industry thought leader. By consistently sharing insightful content and engaging in meaningful conversations, you establish yourself as an expert in your field.

Greater Visibility and Reach: Utilising social platforms allows you to reach a broader audience more efficiently. While your peers are limited by the number of phone calls they can make in a day, a well-crafted post or article can reach hundreds or even thousands of potential customers instantaneously.

Long-Term Relationship Building: Social selling fosters longer-term relationships compared to the transactional nature of traditional methods. These relationships can lead to repeat business and referrals, which are invaluable in sales. A survey by CSO Insights highlighted that 31% of B2B professionals said that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients.

Cost-Effectiveness: Digital tools and social selling are more cost-effective compared to traditional sales methods. They reduce the need for extensive travel and allow sales professionals to filter and prioritise leads more effectively.

Faster Sales Cycles: By engaging prospects early in their decision-making process through social platforms, you can significantly shorten the sales cycle. Social selling enables real-time engagement and quicker response times to customer inquiries, helping to accelerate the decision process.

In a market where digital savviness is not the norm, adopting these strategies not only sets you apart but also positions you as a forward-thinking leader in your field. By moving away from “Trojan Posting” and embracing genuine social selling, you’re not just selling differently; you’re selling smarter.

Further reading to support the digital shift in B2B buying and selling.

We believe upskilling and adapting to the digital shift in B2B sales can be a huge advantage to the modern sales professional. Find more about our thoughts on this topic and how you can find your digital edge in B2B sales and how, in a competitive market place, you can really stand out using digital platforms and social selling as a valid part of the sales toolkit.

Perhaps the concept of using social media as a part of your sales toolkit is new to you and there may be some hesitancy in embracing the platforms. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in this! We shared some insight from the training room in to what stops sales professionals using social media and offered some solutions to help you get started. Check it out!

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