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10 Ways You’re Turning Off Prospects Online

10ways you're turning offAre you struggling to connect with your prospects online in a meaningful way?

Do you find that you are spending time online without adding anything to your bottom line?

If your social selling strategy isn’t converting to sales, it’s probably time to analyze the situation to find out why. Your social selling strategy will take off like a lead balloon unless you uncover the barriers between you and the sale, correct them and move forward. The problem is, even if you do this, there can still be things you are doing online that turn off potential prospects.

I’ve helped hundreds of businesses build an online presence that gives them credibility while also instilling confidence in prospects that they have the solution to their problem. What I’ve found is that most people shoot themselves in the foot before the race has even begun by doing something small that turns off prospects without even realizing it.

Last week I discussed a few social selling best practices for sales teams but this week I want to discuss the things that will prevent you from even having a conversation with a potential prospect.

Here’s my list of 10 ways you could be seriously failing at your social media strategy:

1. Adding LinkedIn Contacts To Your Email List Without Asking

This is the mother of all no no’s. Just because someone has accepted your request to connect on LinkedIn does not mean that you have their permission to send your weekly newsletter. This isn’t only a violation of LinkedIn’s terms of service, it’s against the law and really pisses people off.

Building an email list is extremely important but adding people that haven’t opted-in will be counter productive to your overall goal.

2. You Don’t Personalize Anything

Social selling is all about building relationships with people. If you aren’t personalizing anything, you’ve already failed at that mission. You never want to give the impression that you are sending them a script, even if you are. If you do decide to use message scripts for reaching out to people, have lots of “fill in the blank” areas that force you to personalize them.

Here are a few things that should always be personalized (but rarely are):

  • LinkedIn connection requests
  • Thanking people for sharing content on Twitter using their name (not just @username)
  • Messaging new LinkedIn connections after they accept your invitation

3. You Don’t Follow Up On Comments

Don’t forget that anybody commenting on your Facebook page or tweeting at you is public and visible to anyone. Whether it’s positive, negative or neutral, you want prospects to see you respond to customers.

That said, seeing a single negative comment with no reply on a Facebook business page can be a major turn off to prospects. Don’t let a negative comment hold you back from addressing something – consider it an opportunity for new and existing customers to see how you handle conflict.

4. You Say You’re An Expert But Show No Evidence

Anybody can setup a profile on a social media site and proclaim they are an expert at anything but you’ll only get results once you can prove it. Nobody wants to be the guinea pig for someone that just decided to get into an industry with no experience. It’s up to you to provide enough convincing evidence to prospects that you are indeed an expert on your topic.

Here are a few ways to show evidence of your expertise:

  • Get testimonials from happy clients and showcase them on your website
  • Ask for LinkedIn recommendations & endorsements from clients and colleagues that can speak to your credibility
  • Make sure you pass the Google test
  • Provide free, helpful content that is valuable to your ideal prospects to show you are a subject matter expert

5. Your Content Serves You More Than Your Audience

Content marketing is an extraordinary waste of time if you confuse it with pitching your services. These are two completely separate things. Content is one step in the social selling process and a very important one that cannot be overlooked.

Example of content that won’t go far:

“The Accountant You Should Use This Tax Season”

Example of content that stands a chance:

“7 Tax Claims That Are Likely To Trigger An Audit”

Create content that:

  • Has value
  • Serves a purpose
  • Positions you as a knowledgeable expert
  • Compels the reader enough to take action (i.e. Subscribe to email list, contact for more info or follow via social media)

6. Asking People You Don’t Know To “Like” You, Recommend You, Etc.

Anyone that does this must realize it is one of the most destructive activities you can do on social media that will harm your credibility. This is even more disturbing when it’s done by people parading around as marketing experts while giving their brand a reputation of desperation.

Whether it’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social network out there, you should never, EVER ask people for social actions around your brand.

7. You Don’t Specialize

If you are a jack of all trades, you are a master of none. Did you know that McDonald’s tried to sell pizza once? Even though they were actually pretty good, it was a massive failure for them. If someone wants pizza, they will go somewhere that specializes in making pizza, not McDonald’s.

Trust me, I’ve been tempted in the past to offer web design and graphic design services to clients because it’s convenient for them and I actually refer a ton of business in those areas. The reason I don’t do that is because it distorts who I am as an expert. Yes, I can project manage just about anything to get done because I’ve been a business owner for over 15 years but I only promote what I specialize in because that is my core business.

8. You Turned Them Off At Hello

The funny thing about prospecting is you never know who will actually turn into a lead. If you aren’t responding to every tweet, message and email with an equal amount of enthusiasm, you could be turning off someone who’s next message was going to be asking you about your services.

9. No Profile Photo or A Bad Profile Photo

I know you’re really proud of that big fish you caught up on the lake last summer but using the trophy picture as your profile shot is not okay. You look silly showing up in the LinkedIn search results next to a bunch of people wearing suits in professionally taken photographs with a fish in your hands.

I feel like it’s crazy that I have to still bring this up in 2014 but I’ve literally seen three people this week alone holding fish in their profile pictures. That’s okay on your personal Facebook profile but not on LinkedIn. I’m not sure if it’s worse to not have any photo at all, but don’t do that either!

10. Poorly Optimizing Posts

I’m not going to talk about character limits or ramble off stats about whether videos or pictures perform better, my rule here is going to be a bit more simple. Your social media posts should be optimized enough for each network so that they look like the content your prospects are used to interacting with.

This doesn’t mean you should necessarily copy what competitors are doing since they might not be getting great results. You’ll have to do some experimenting and consider exactly what your ideal client is using each individual social network for.

Here is some further recommended reading on social media post optimization:

What Turns You Off?

When it comes to social media and social selling, you’ll often never know if you’ve turned someone off because they will simply be unresponsive. This is why it’s so important to have a well-optimized presence before aggressively pursuing potential leads.

I’m interested to hear what really turns you off from doing business with people or companies online. Let me know in the comments below.

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