Have You Insulted Your Customer’s Intelligence Today?

By Sander Biehn | Sep 1, 2015

Sander Biehn is founder and CEO of Thought Horizon, LLC. After a successful career in sales at AT&T, he founded his company in 2013 helping organizations to build, manage and succeed using social selling.

Have you encountered one of these natural language robo-callers yet? They sound like real people with just a tinge of something off in their voice. You think to yourself, could it be that they are not native English speakers? The surest way to find out is to stop answering the caller’s questions and ask a question or two back. It trips them up almost every time. After I learn that I am talking to a robot, it tears me up inside. I feel my intelligence has been insulted by a business that thinks it’s smarter than me.  Never mind the cost savings of finding leads using these methods, what is the price of being caught trying to fool your customers with automation?

Social media channels are crammed with these ploys.  It is impossible to know if you are being followed or receiving a direct message from a computer algorithm or a real person. I receive countless social messages pitching me an ebook and complimenting me on “my wonderful tweets” from suspect sources.

Note to anyone using these tactics: No one is fooled.

We all know you are running roughshod over us.  Just like the robo-callers, I like to ask questions back to see if I get a response. It’s amazing. For all the people who want to me to look at their webpage or products, these businesses will not respond to a simple question posed to them in social media.

This outlines a major mistake companies and sales people are making in social selling.  There is no substitute for authentic communication and there are no shortcuts.

So, what should a savvy business or social seller do? Here are some ideas to consider:

1) When spamming be clear you are spamming. No one is going to be fooled by your automated responses, so make sure you lay it out that you are marketing using broadcast methodologies. Send information with entertainment or professional value and skip the “Dear (insert name)” and “Signed, Joe Blow Marketing Manager” bit.  What would happen if you received a message telling you ‘this message is spam’?  It might be refreshing in a day and age where everyone is trying to game the system. Playing it straight could potentially win you some points with others.

2) Authentically connect with prospects using your employees. Sales teams have been around forever because people buy from other people. Why would it be any different on social? There is nothing wrong with finding prospects using the myriad of tools available to troll social profiles, but why not use real people to reach out to the leads?

3) Monitor and respond to other members of the human race.  It doesn’t matter if you are a person or brand, you need to be engaged if you want to have relevance. Simply spewing content might have some benefit, but it is exponentially better to interact frequently on social. After all, this is the promise of social media—efficient communication with the entire world. This requires a healthy dosage of listening, thinking and responding in real time. Sorry, there is no automation shortcut here.

4) Segment the social world. Using hashtags, groups and limiting who you connect with will give you an opportunity to filter the noise and have real conversations with prospects. It isn’t a matter of out-yelling everyone else on social media, it is about fine tuning your messages to prompt interest from your target market. Smaller is better if you wish to communicate and not just spam.

The world seems to have missed the incredible potential of social media and instead created a massive online billboard. But while the others are out looking for higher Klout scores or checking out “how you rank in profile views” on LinkedIn, there is a very real opportunity.  Wear your smaller, but more relevant, following as a badge of honor. Leave insulting customer’s intelligence for your competition.

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