Thanks to Amazon, we’re used to personalized shopping experiences. I, for one, love the “recommended for you” selections. But how do Amazon and other ecommerce sites magically “know” which products would be most interesting to us? When we think about data collection and the other mechanics behind hyper-tailored recommendations, they can start to seem intrusive and maybe even creepy.
HubSpot’s Is Social Selling Creepy? survey asked buyers and consumers how they felt about a wide variety of social selling tactics. Survey takers made a “creepy” or “not creepy” judgment on social behavior such as receiving LinkedIn messages from a salesperson, reading a customized cold sales email, or getting a friend request from a rep. The research revealed that on the whole, buyers and consumers said social selling tactics were not creepy, although the split was closer to 60/40 to 100/0.
However, this verdict should be taken with a grain of salt considering a discrepancy between how buyers said they felt about social selling and how they actually felt.
Consider the following:
- 39% of buyers and consumers indicated that a LinkedIn request customized to them or their company would be creepy.
- 56% of respondents said that a LinkedIn message referring to a recent company event or leadership change would be creepy.
- 55% of survey takers responded that an email from a salesperson that referred to a tweet, comment, or discussion they recently posted on LinkedIn or Twitter would be creepy.
And now compare the above with these results:
- 65% of respondents agreed with the phrase “I would like cold sales pitches to be customized to me and my company as much as possible.”
- 64% agreed with the phrase “I like it when a salesperson does internet and social media research about me and my company before reaching out.”
So while the majority of respondents agreed that they would like cold outreach to be as customized to their company as possible, a significant portion — in some cases, the majority — found customization to be unsavory in specific situations.
To me, this signifies that buyers and consumers want salespeople to engage in social research before writing a cold email or leaving a voicemail. They just don’t want to hear about it. Just like thinking about Amazon’s recommendations too hard can make you feel uneasy, propsects don’t want to be made aware of the research salespeople do on them.
What should salespeople take away from this dissonance? While you should do your social selling research, you shouldn’t advertise the fact. For example, instead of sending an email that starts, “After looking at your LinkedIn profile, I noticed you were promoted. Congratulations!” a better opening might be “Congratulations on your recent promotion to director!” The prospect will likely respond more favorably to your research if they’re none the wiser that you’ve done it.
What do you think of this research? Let us know in the comments.