Sellers masquerading as buyers

I love connecting with people in conversation, getting to know them in a meaningful way. About a year ago I got (what I thought was) a brilliant idea to add a link to my calendar on my LinkedIn profile. No one used it – until this week.

Someone I didn’t know appeared on my calendar. I’m thinking, who is this and how did they get my calendar link? (I totally forgot I’d set it up until writing this just now.)

As someone signs up for a time there is a field where they can explain what they want to discuss. He explained how he loves what I do and wanted to chat to see if there were mutual synergies. It was enough to convince me to show up for the call with some expectation of connecting with another interesting person.

This strategy to schedule a 15 minute chat to get to know each other has become a common practice among LinkedIn users. He included a link to his company website. I thought, let’s see where this goes, yet something was still unsettled in my spirit. I decided I’d ask, “Is this a sales call or a get to know each other call?” before getting too far into the meeting.

Sure enough, I was right <heavy sigh>. The fellow started by saying, “You do realize this is a sales call, right?” I admitted that I suspected as much. Because I’d done my research on ‘his’ company, I was able to quickly say that I’m not a good candidate for their products. At that point he explained the whole charade to me. The company combs through LinkedIn contacts to find likely prospects and set up appointments. They then hire consultants through Upwork (the guy on the call) to show up for the appointment and do the first lead screening. This guy was perturbed (with the company that hired him) that he’d been given a bad lead (me) because he only gets paid if he sets up demos. It was obvious that wasn’t going to happen. He couldn’t end our call fast enough, and rightly so.

Here are three lessons we can take away from this real-life sales scenario:

  1. Know your ideal prospect: If you’re going to use a service to generate leads, make sure you have provided them with a detailed description of what your ideal prospect looks like. If not, you’ll waste time and resources chasing leads than never should have been classified as such.
  2. Be honest: When contacting prospects for the first time (cold calling) be honest. I was grateful that this salesman started the conversation calling it exactly what it was – a sales call. That allowed us both to save time. It also established my respect for him as a sales professional. If you’re looking for someone to hire for cold calling, I’d actually recommend him!
  3. People buy for their reasons: The sooner you qualify someone to do business with you the better it is for all parties. This man’s honesty made it comfortable for me to say I wasn’t a good fit for him. Pretending to want to be my friend would have only prolonged the inevitable outcome of “no sale.”

P.S. I removed my calendar link from my LinkedIn profile, so if you’re curious to learn how cold calling could play a valuable role in your sales activities, get in touch with me.