Do you ever get one of those “let me just quickly check my phone” moments?
Well, I know I do.
Sometimes I just want to scroll quickly through social media and see what’s new, but that ‘quick’ moment can turn into hours of screen time.
I’m not proud of it, but it’s the truth.
Our phones seem to be our life support machines.
We can’t go a single day without checking our notifications or watching something funny.
This compulsive use of electronic gadgets has an impact on our everyday work, habits and relationships.
Or should I say virtual relationships?
Have you noticed how people act differently online?
Our real-life interactions with strangers are performed politely.
Online, we seem to forget about our manners.
Online communication seems robotic, ill-mannered and inhumane.
Comment sections of everyday posts are one of the cruellest and busiest places to be.
Virtually people aren’t afraid to be judgmental.
They give their opinions away unsolicitedly.
Like candy bars.
In real life, I found people more reluctant to jump into an argument.
It’s not easy saying things to peoples’ faces.
Hiding behind a keyboard or a screen is much easier.
Things are no different when it comes to friendships.
It seems like we’ve forgotten how to indulge in a genuine conversation.
But we are the first to like, comment and share on strangers posts.
Our online friends seem more important than real friendships.
We treat people as numbers.
The same applies to business relationships.
When outreach professionals, sales executives reach out to cold prospects, they forget about the basics of human interactions.
Sometimes even common courtesy seems to be lacking in those types of conversations.
Some of them even go as far as treating other human beings as stats.
And if we start seeing people as numbers on a spreadsheet, there’s no coming back from there.
We are no longer humans.
Just moving screens and keyboards with an insatiable desire for higher ROIs.
We can go on like that forever, but what kind of life will we be living?
Are we going to be slaves to consumerism and keep adding prospects over prospects until we drop?!
What about quality?
Quality relations, meaningful contacts, valuable conversations, exciting engagements?
Fortunately, not all is lost.
Me, myself, and my team, are constantly trying to build business relationships that will last.
We try to break the never-ending vicious cycle of salesy behaviour which seems to have overtaken every aspect of the outreach world.
Wonder what this behaviour is like?
Well, put your reading glasses on because you are in for a treat.
What is digital outreach fever?
Over the years, we had plenty of clients complaining that no matter how many prospects they approached, only a few of them were willing to connect.
That’s a problem.
As the Internet takes its toll and makes everything reachable to everyone, people are becoming selective about how and when they interact with other people, let alone salespeople.
Even the act of calling someone on the phone instead of texting can strike many as audacious, and what’s even scarier is the fact that a lot of people prefer to interact with machines rather than with real people.
Do you see the problem here?
We have become a machine-led generation and we have lost all touch with the physical world.
But we have built a whole another one.
A digital one.
We are so overtaken by this digital outreach fever that all we see are likes, followers, shares, numbers, prospects, leads, ROIs.
It’s all blurry.
The business world is no different.
Business interactions are, too, shaken by the digital outreach fever.
As outreach specialists, we are no exception to this pandemic.
It’s a phenomenon so real that it would be plain foolish to deny it.
But what is so shaky about this digital fever?
Is it so powerful to shape human behaviour and turn people into robots?
Well, let ‘start dissecting this big chunk of meat bit by bit and see how we can chew it better.
Here is our definition of this phenomenon:
“Digital outreach fever is the atypical spammy behaviour of B2B salespeople that occurs when they prospect leads online, use outreach automation tools, treat people like a number, and entirely disregard etiquette and building business relationships”.
Don’t worry. We’ll dissect it layer by layer until we get to the core of it.
Atypical spammy behavior (of B2B salespeople)
Why do we call it atypical?
Because it’s not typical for people to behave in a spammy or salesy way all the time.
It’s not how we are built to communicate.
We were born to bond and build, to nurture and to cherish all our relations.
But somewhere along the way, we have lost our sense and gave into pitching because we thought that doing outreach was the same as spamming people.
We all have done that.
Did it bring us the results we wanted?
Did it get our numbers higher?
That’s why we call it atypical in the first place. It’s uncommon, weird and unnatural.
It’s quite funny because, in the physical world, B2B salespeople treat others in the completely opposite way.
We go (at least we used to go) to a physical business event, we shake people’s hands, we try to do some chit-chatting, we see whether there’s a connection, exchange business cards and then move on to the next one.
How many people can we actually talk to in this physical event?
But all these connections (though fewer) are all quality ones because we had the chance to see, first-hand if we clicked with that person.
If there’s something there, a future let’s call it.
And when these very same people go online they behave in a completely different way.
They start to spam their prospects, try to sell something right away, desperately clinging to their pitch.
And, of course, they just push people away.
They are no longer the nice, chatty, polite business executives that people thought they were when they met him at the event.
These people are desperate, needy and pushy.
And just like that, prospects head for the nearest exit.
Online lead prospecting
Cold prospecting is not about sending dozens of messages and hoping someone would accept to connect.
There is a whole process involved.
So, we start our outreach from the very beginning.
The first step is finding the right companies.
Obtain lists of companies from various sources.
That’s why it is super important to have a rich database with loads of valuable future prospects that we’ll keep updating on the regular.
Fortunately, we don’t have to do all this manually since it’s a tedious and time-consuming task.
You just gotta make sure that you’ve found the right prospects.
The ones that could be of real value to you.
Using automation tools to filter out companies can come in handy.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is maybe the leading tool for finding companies.
It’s very easy to operate, without having to sacrifice power or functionality. It allows you to maintain your contacts in a centralized address book and provides a comprehensive view of any communication you have with those people.
But here is the catch.
These tools can make a mistake, and they might filter out or in some irrelevant prospects.
But as Benjamin Franklin once said: ‘In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes… and a shared repository for client contact information being helpful for sales teams of all sizes, industries, and structures.”
Well, I must admit I might have taken some creative liberty with this quote — but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Prioritize your prospects based on their likelihood of becoming clients.
Or qualify whether they are relevant for you.
And collect the information you need in your database.
This leads us to our next step.
Find the right people.
You have qualified and enriched the companies, and now is time to find the people you need to approach within these companies.
LinkedIn Sales Navigator is still one of the best sources.
Side note – the smaller the companies, the less information will be online.
And last but not least: Find their contact information.
We encourage you to find the person’s LinkedIn profile, along with their business email.
Depending on your solution, you might want their other media platforms like Facebook or Instagram.
But remember- you want to find a direct business email for the most relevant person you can target, not a generic company email address.
Using outreach automation tools
You probably already know about all the amazing benefits of LinkedIn automation for lead generation.
Maybe you’ve already tried some of the tools, too.
They are of tremendous help for generating leads on autopilot.
You just need the right LinkedIn tool that will help you get there.
LinkedIn’s automation tools are tremendous time-savers as they enable you to automatically connect with your leads and send connection requests in bulk.
They automatically generate reports for your outreach campaigns. Meaning, you’ll be able to see at a glance how many of your leads responded, replied, and converted.
Using automation tools will enable you to experiment with different approaches and see what works best for each prospect.
They are also excellent when integrating with other lead generation tools, making it super easy to bring a truly omnichannel approach to your LinkedIn outreach efforts.
What they lack, though, is the human touch. I have pointed out the importance of crafting personalised messages when approaching people on LinkedIn or any other social platform.
People like to be heard, appreciated and cared for, and an automation tool can hardly do this. At least not entirely. You can personalise the messages as much as you please, but the tool can’t respond in your stead.
If you have implemented the ZZ framework and crafted conversation starters instead of sales pitches, you’ll be required to take a more personal approach and respond manually.
And the more personalized your messages are, the better the outreach results.
So as helpful as they may be for the many things I just mentioned, do not fall into the false comfort and easy escape they provide. Never forget that you (or your team) have to do the nurturing and the building-the-relationship –parts yourself.
Treating people like a number
What a phenomenon this is.
We can all agree that treating a person like a number lacks compassion or worse even, strips someone of their humanity.
Treating someone like a number is actually a term – it means treating someone as though they are anonymous and insignificant. Now you start to get why refer to it as a fever?
When you start behaving atypically online and when you start treating people like they were anonymous or insignificant – guess what? Outreach doesn’t work. It’s not intended to work that way, so it will fail you.
According to a Salesforce survey of over 6,000 participants, 84% of people said that “being treated like a person, not a number, is very important to winning their business.”
As outreach professionals, we rely on numbers and statistics all the time to add credibility, like outreach has the highest ROI. We have helped hundreds of clients. And so on.
But when we address individuals directly, numbers can, in fact, create a negative brand perception.
It’s not really flattering to be addressed as prospect number 7234 in a KPI sheet or put into a batch email campaign for a random service.
With that in mind, is there ever a time when treating an individual as a number can be a good idea?
And the fifth definition part is entirely disregarding etiquette.
Etiquette describes the requirement of behaviours according to society’s convention, or the customer code of polite behaviour among members of a particular professional group. Disregarding basic social or business etiquette means that when people get online they start behaving in a socially awkward and impolite way.
They can be the most well-mannered individuals in person, but completely different ones online.
As we mentioned earlier, they start spamming and being pushy right away, making their efforts to close more deals.
So trying to desperately fill the sales funnel will only lead to pushing people away.
Social conduct is a concept entirely disregarded, especially in the sales industry.
But disregarding basic manners and social norms of politeness is not entirely the sales executives’ fault.
It’s the whole sales industry that’s to blame.
The sales industry had struggled to fall in line with codes of conduct. This is mainly due to the high demands and pressure on sales professionals to reach their KPIs, often by any means necessary.
Unfortunately, this created a cloud of distrust from consumers and left the sales industry battling to rebuild its reputation.
Recently, sales professionals have noticed that building long, meaningful relationships with clients based on trust is by far more beneficial than just piling up irrelevant prospects and pithing everybody.
Transparency and trust have become the essence of consumer retention. The importance for the profession to be regulated and for individuals to follow a code of conduct is much needed. Especially online.
Therefore, we need to work on making individuals accountable for their digital actions and encouraging ethical online practices. This is how we beat digital outreach fever for good!
Disregarding building business relationships
Building a business relationship is the most important feature that every business person should do. What does this involve?
Well, it’s the act of communicating with people, and by communicating I think active communication, building a meaningful relationship and nurturing it.
Closing a client is not a struck of luck.
It’s a process.
A process that includes careful and strategical implementation of psychological and business tactics.
It’s a communicating network far more complicated than just writing a simple pitchy message.
It involves carefully optimizing your LinkedIn profile, targeting the ideal prospect, engaging with them, paying attention to details, listening to your prospects, not pitching in way too quickly, so that the sales call would be the last, logical part of the whole nurturing process.
Forget not that you need to really communicate with people to see if they actually have a problem or whether they do want a solution, and then see if you can help them.
This process takes some time. It’s never just drop and go. It’s more of a nurturing process that is a must when building a strong business relationship with your future client.
How to cure digital outreach fever?
Did you get the gist of what this global digital outreach fever is all about? Do you think you can do something to ease its symptoms?
Now you know how and why you caught it in the first place. But rest assured, just like any other fever it can be cured.
No one is immune to it, but it’s so much better when you are aware that you’ve been infected and that you can now consciously make some changes in your ways to make it go away.
At the end of the day, we are all human. Let us not forget that.
Whether approaching online or in real life, you should always behave and speak like a human being.
Don’t treat people like numbers, no matter if your goal is closing a sale or just networking.
You already know that spammy, automated messages have only a short term effect and we, as professionals should always strive for longevity and transparency when building our business relationships.
Let’s show interest not just numbers.
Let’s care more about the people themselves rather than just about the statistics and KPIs.
Sure we can use automation and the many benefits it brings to our outreach efforts, but let’s not forget the human factor.
It’s the journey not just the destination after all!
Dancho is a serial entrepreneur, founder & CEO of BizzBee Solutions, proud father of two boys, and a ‘kafana’ enthusiast. He’s also the author of Amazon’s bestseller, ‘Sweet Leads.’ Dancho believes in building relationships with people and is inspired by growth. His ‘ZZ framework’ and formula for growth have brought 500+ clients the results they sought.
Eager to learn more? Follow Dancho on LinkedIn and Facebook.