There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t get a LinkedIn message about some service or another, and the sender of the most probably automated direct message ends their sales pitch with something like:
“I know you’re busy, but would you have time to hop on a call for a quick 15-minute chat?”
Sometimes the language in that message varies. The more direct:
“When would be a good time for a 15-minute chat?”
Often these messages are for either services that my company and I already provide or that we seldom need, if ever. Some are entirely unrelated. If I have a little time, I play with the sender a little to see if this is an automated message or one that is actually tailored to me.
“Would you like help publishing your book and getting it in front of our thousands of followers and connections?”
Me: “Did you look at my profile or even Google my name before sending that message?”
Loooonngggg pause (probably while the sender actually looked at my profile): “Of course we did. We’re just reaching out to connect with fellow professionals who do the same things we do.”
Of course. Clearly, I misread the first message. Of course, you knew I was an author who has been published several times and self-published, and who also happens to own a publishing company. You were talking about maybe my next book?
The Gem Problem
The problem is that in this huge turd-pile of outreach, there are some gems. An SEO company with a unique approach outreached me through LinkedIn, and although their content was similar to other outreach, it stood out enough for me to accept their phone consultation.
The thing is the consultation itself was well-done, business-like, and to the point. It was also quite impressive, and I am still working with them.
There are good companies and good people who are doing this kind of crap outreach, and they have good things to offer. It’s just so hard to tell the good ones from the bad that I am sure my snarky responses have turned some of them off for sure.
But if you are following the same crap tactics as your competition, outreaching busy people, and asking for fifteen minutes of their time, is it any wonder you are being ignored? It’s like cold-calling only on social media. It’s awful. You probably get it too, if you are an actual human with a LinkedIn account. How do you feel when you get that kind of cold outreach?
The Shiny Looking Turds
I’ll use another example from my inbox, since I have literally dozens, and most of them are bad. I was contacted by a gal from “So and So” book marketing and offered the above mentioned fifteen-minute call. The premise: their company would help me double my book sales or more.
Unlikely, but I thought I would give them a chance to make their pitch. And what a pitch it was!
They offered to get me more LinkedIn followers so I could sell more copies of my non-fiction book, Writing as a Business. They have over 1,000 LinkedIn connections, so they told me. I have over 4,000 and growing.
But I could forgive that. Maybe they have really engaged audiences and they would skyrocket me to stardom. But since this is where they started, I had my doubts. Red flag number two: the press release for my book. Which has been out for months. This was sure to work, right?
They offered to get me more email subscribers. Again, my numbers were higher than theirs. No matter. Nothing wrong with a new audience. I’d wait to hear the price for this pitch, but things did not look promising. I felt like I’d probably already wasted 12 of my promised 15-minute call.
But wait. There’s more. The company rep offered me other things I either already do as a professional author or things that essentially have no value. And the call went on, and on, and on. A full 23 minutes in, I ask what turns out to be the $5,000 question.
That’s right. Packages start at $5,000. Of course, if I needed someone to do all those things for me, it might add up to that.
But with the sales of the average fiction title, it would take a long time to get into positive ROI territory. A quick glance at the few books they’d promoted apparently long ago showed toilet-level Amazon rankings.
I politely declined and moved on, despite the continual pleas for me to “book today for significant discounts.”
Turns out that was nearly 30 minutes wasted on a 15-minute phone call. That’s if you don’t count the 10 to 15 minutes I bitched to my wife about the time the company had wasted. No, let’s count that. A call and time wasted of nearly three times the promised outreach.
I’m going to chalk that one up to merely misguided marketing, although I think it borders on the next category, at least on the fringe of it.
The Outright Scams
From pyramid schemes to multi-level marketing, from affiliate scams to crap web design or SEO promises designed to take your money, there are scammers out there. They get fifteen minutes of your time, and if they get your credit card digits and subscription permissions, good luck getting them to stop charging you and contacting you.
Others will offer you scam jobs. Some of these can land you in jail or at least in Federal hot water. Still more sophisticated scams will take you down crypto and stock-buying scams that will quite literally ding your wallet in ways you couldn’t imagine.
I Know You’re Busy…
First, no you don’t. You have no idea how busy my days or weeks are, so you can retire this phrase, but I would bet if you are a legitimate entrepreneur, you have some idea how busy I am, and frankly nearly everyone you are outreaching.
Outreaching with automated messages because you “don’t have time” to do it manually. Let me ask you a simple question: if you don’t have time for proper, personal outreach, what makes you think the person you are reaching out to has time for a “quick fifteen-minute chat”?
I know. You don’t have time because you are busy with all the fifteen-minute chats you’re having with the people responding to your outreach. I’m probably wrong, and you close on most of them.
But I kinda doubt it.
You don’t know I’m busy. If you did, you’d send me a lot more concise information in your outreach that might entice me to respond, because I could decide ahead of time if your product or service is worth my time. Or yours. Who wants to pitch a cold prospect who turns out not to need your product or service at all, or worse, who is your competition, and therefore picking the gems if there are any, from your outreach?
So what do you do? Please for the love of all that is holy, change your outreach thought process.
Changing Your Outreach Thought Process
Look, I could go on at this for days because I get so sick and tired of sorting through poor outreach. Honestly, I should probably apologize to some of you reading this, as you likely sent me an outreach that I ignored.
Or maybe you should apologize to me. If so, I accept. Please don’t send me another outreach to say you’re sorry. I don’t have time to jump on a fifteen-minute call to talk about it.
I won’t go on, though. Instead, I’ll send you off to read another article by Rand Fishkin formerly of Moz and now of SparkToro. He does a great job of outlining outreach tips you won’t find anywhere else:
- Get a warm intro.
- Have a genuine interaction with your outreach target first.
- Almost never start your outreach with an email.
- Genuinely network on social media.
- Do things that will make you friends and some enemies.
This outreach is slower. It takes time. Conversion rates are ridiculously higher. So are referral rates. And you make real, genuine friends along the way. Real connections. It’s great. And a side note: if you make some enemies, that’s okay. Just make sure it’s because you’re sticking to facts and principles that matter, not because you are being a jerk.
Of course, scroll down in the article. There are some hacks there. You have to automate some processes, and you can’t be all things to all people. You also can’t be everywhere at once. But you can do your best.
I know reading this article took you time. I know checking out Rand’s article will take time too, and it might lead you down a more genuine outreach rabbit hole. I hope so.
Because I know you’re busy, but… it’s way past time to improve your outreach and stop with the offer of the fifteen-minute call. If I took every one of those I was offered, I wouldn’t have time to run my business, and I would be even busier.
Take time to improve this one area of your business, and you’ll be reaping the dividends in no time. Maybe even fifteen minutes or less.
Previously Published on Unbound Northwest