"How is this helpful?"
I'm reading that phrase a lot on LinkedIn these days - that comment shows up in my feed almost as much as MS Paint marked-up pics of wolf packs and "single sentence as a paragraph" updates with 1000s of likes.
Not really, but you get the point.
I think it's because some people perceive me as too negative sometimes in my posts and updates and comments (#understatement) ...but honestly, this past summer, I don't think I was alone....
It may have been the summer heat getting to everyone (of course I'm talking about the North Western Hemisphere - where 'Merica is - if you're elsewhere, please insert your own seasonal weather pattern) but there were a lot of people being "negative."
Either that or what I perceive as people being "brutally honest" was just being CALLED negative by a lot of people.
So what, pray tell, did these denizens of negativity do?
Well they posted the following on LinkedIn:
- examples of poor SDR emails
- examples of sad professional emails from Salespeople that conform to the grammar conventions that may have been established by two American teenagers late-night texting each about which one of the Twenty One Pilots is hotter, Josh or Tyler. (It's Tyler, btw.)
- example job offer emails from recruiters for jobs that literally have only three or four alpha-numeric characters in common with the job title you currently have. (sorry, recruiters - but we're ALL thinking it. Chin up guys, you'll find that Director of Nursing!)
- Other examples of poor outbound prospecting - like InMails and IMs and texts.
I posted my share of this icky outreach - and invariably some people start calling out the post for being "too negative."
That it's wasn't "helpful."
That LinkedIn should be positive and full of hope and rainbows and unicorns!
Ok - I get it. We all need a little sunshine and rainbows in our lives.
But to quote the late 20th/early 21st century philosopher Robert Balboa...
"the world ain't all sunshine and rainbows."
Recently I was paid a huge compliment by someone on LinkedIn:
At least I took it as such.
You see - I've been in business, man and boy, 30 years.
I was a CIO buyer and an Enterprise Sales Rep selling to CIOs. I've sold million dollar software and sold used copy machines. I've been a first line sales manager and a VP of Sales. I've busted quota over and over and have also come up short when it mattered. I scored a lot of touchdowns, but dropped the ball on the one yard line more than my share of times.
And this one thing I can tell you: people never go broke telling (or selling) you what you want to hear.
Sure they wrap it in a burrito of "positivity" but it's a burrito full of sugar!
Currently we in B2B sales want to hear that "its not us...it's not the way we do things...it's THEM" or "its just something we have push through...we need to think positive and put our noses to the grindstone" or my favorite "things may change, but the basics still apply!"
This form of telling us what we want to hear usually takes the form of sugary, feel good "advice" on the "five ways you can max out your pipeline with breathing exercises" or "how you can meet smash your quota by thinking good thoughts about your cat."
Ugh, yes...there's that negativity again.
I understand the thought behind positive feelings and positive thinking - really I do.
But telling someone to be "persistent" when they're beating their head against a wall isn't "being positive." It's assisted professional-suicide. (oof, how's that for negative?)
In Bremerton, Washington, in 1948 President Harry Truman delivered a speech attacking the Republicans. During the speech a supporter yelled out "Give 'em Hell, Harry!". Truman replied, "I don't give them Hell. I just tell the truth about them and they think it's Hell." Henceforce and forever, Truman was known as "Give 'em Hell Harry."
Now, I am not SOOOO grandious that I put my self in the same category of a former US President...but, can just calling something out as "ridiculous" earn one the moniker of "negative?"
Here's the thing - all my "negative examples above" have to do with OUTBOUND B2B prospecting.
So as long as we're being negative, let's get this out in the open - outbound B2B sales prospecting, a lot of it, is really, really, really bad. I'm not blaming anyone, I'm just stating a fact.
It's ridiculous - at least to me - for us to call it anything else BUT bad. And telling people to "stick with it" or "try harder" or "Hustle More" is equally bad.
We all have email and most if not ALL of our INBOXES are FULL of bad outreach.
The problem is....so are a lot of our OUTBOXES.
And phone people - you're not off the hook. I LITERALLY have 15 calls from the same number over the past two days - no VM, no message - just calls and hang-ups. Note to that caller, when I plug your number into my google machine, I can see your company name and everything. #whynovoicemessage
And the reason I'm not picking up the phone? Well, I've made that mistake before - the last time I answered an unknown number it was some guy trying to sell me a "guaranteed lead" cold call list. Because, everyone knows I'm in love with cold calling....
So I said "Am I on the list you're trying to sell me?"
He said "I don't understand why that matters..."
Click. Buzzz. "Um hello? Hello?" /end scene
I think many of us sales professionals - especially those in the trenches right now selling STUFF and THINGS - are starving for some radical change when it comes to B2B sales strategy and tactices.
And historically, great change has never come because people were nice about it.
So let's take the example what many of us saw over the summer - sales people posting BAD COLD outreach emails from SDRs and salespeople.
Many sales gurus "tsk tsked" that practice - saying it wasn't helpful.
That it was mean.
But here's the question?
Did it cause any of us to look at OUR OWN email outreach and make changes?
Brutal Honesty Alert - after the first few examples came up in MY feed...I went through my email templates and started slashing and burning.
I used this single sentence as a combed through every one of my templates - "Would I want this EMAIL posted as an example on LinkedIn?"
And whenever the answer to that question was "NO", into the dustbin did that email go...to be sent outbound....Nevermore.
And something amazing happened....it made my OUTREACH better.
And I didn't have to pay $19.95 at Amazon for some sales book to make it better!
I got it for FREE!
Now, this is not a call out for people to be mean to each other...there's enough of that on Facebook.
This is a call out for a little brutal honestly. And if some people call it negative - so be it.
So to answer the question I posed at the beginning - "How is this helpful?"
Well - I can personally attest that the bad outbound email examples on LinkedIn over the summer made me send better and more effective emails. It made me see my own outreach through other's eyes in a way.
What do you think? And please...be as negative as you wish... :)