Don't act like a charging bull in selling to me

Are You a Charging Bull in Selling to Your Prospects?

When will some people learn that connecting on a social media network doesn’t mean that their connections want to buy from them? So they should stop acting like a charging bull ready for the kill.

I usually ignore texts and direct messages that try to sell me something two seconds after I’ve followed someone on Twitter or accepted an invitation to connect on LinkedIn.

But it rankled me when a recent new connection on Twitter tried to pitch his business.

Hey, Who!

What first grated on my nerves was the text that began, “Hey!” Is that how you address someone you don’t even know? Even, “Hey, Jeannette” would be more polite.

This is his first message, and I think you’ll be able to guess why I was taken aback by his hubris:

Super excited to have you here as a follower.
I want to make sure we’re getting the most out of this connection, so from my end, I’ve put together a few helpful resources that I think you’ll find valuable…
— First, I recently wrote a blog post titled Ask Questions and Start to Convert on Twitter.* It’s a very innovative article about using Direct Messages to market on Twitter. Here’s the link (URL).
— Second, awhile back I wrote a blog post titled Ask Questions to Convert on Twitter.* It’s more for beginners but it’s also a great post. Here’s the link (URL). Let me know what you think!
— Lastly, if you have any specific questions you’d like to ask me about the resources mentioned above, or just feel like saying hello and getting to know each other better, just REPLY below. I’m always open to learn more about people’s goals & helping others. Let me know what you think!
— Bill

* titles altered to protect the guilty

I read his post and his most important piece of advice is to ask questions to uncover people’s needs. Well, he does get to asking me a question at the end of his message. But at the beginning it was all about him and how great his posts are.

Note my highlighting very innovative and great post. Hey, I think that as your reader I should make that judgment.

Following Up in “Sequences”

Another piece of advice to Twitter users is to use “sequences,” a series of scheduled messages. Sure enough, two days later, I received another direct message with the real reason he wanted to connect with me.

Have you had a chance to look at the resources I sent you? If you could share any feedback with me I’d greatly appreciate it! I also wanted to add that I recently developed a cool product that converts your followers into traffic. It’s called (Name of product) and I’m really excited to share it with you today…Here’s the link: URL. Let me know how it goes!
— Bill

The use of “share” is just a euphemism for “sell it” to you today. Why does he assume that I should read all his resources and then study up on his product and give him feedback? I can think of better ways to use my time.

What He Could Have Said

This caper began when I received an email message that I had a new follower on Twitter – Bill (not his real name). As is my custom, I visited his Twitter page to learn if he was posting useful information in his Twitter stream. I also visited his website.

I had a positive impression, so I innocently followed him back. That’s when the messages started.

His advice is to ask questions when you’re trying to soften someone up on the way to an eventual sale. How about asking me if I need or even want the “resources” he sent to me?

He could have written, “Hello, Jeannette. Thanks for following me on Twitter. I’m getting a lot out of the content you’re posting in your Twitter stream. I recently wrote a post about how to market on Twitter. I’m pleased with the positive responses it’s gotten and thought you might find it helpful. Would you like me to send you a link to the post?”

That teaser would have piqued my interest. I would be much more likely to respond “yes.” Now he is starting to build a relationship, the first step in the sales process.

I don’t react well to hard selling and immediately get my dukes up to fend off unwanted advances. I didn’t respond to Bill and felt it wasn’t impolite of me not to. His interest in getting to know me seemed insincere when all he wanted to do was make a sale.

Etiquette Still Matters

Etiquette still matters in the Wild West of social media. If you were introduced to someone at a networking event it’s unlikely you’d immediately say, “Hey! I’ve written a very innovative article and a great post about selling on Twitter. I’m going to send it to you and I’d like your feedback.”

You wouldn’t say that in a face-to-face meeting, so don’t do it under the cover of social media.

You asked for my feedback, Bill. That’s it.

Leave a Reply


  1. Jeannette, I love your bull – you do know how to make an entrance LOL

    I’m with you as to aggressive people and if I get a message similar to that I immediately unfollow them. Actually this one takes the cake, I haven’t come across one quite like this – as you so rightly pointed out – like a charging bull – all it does is make you want to jump out of the way.

    Thanks for sharing this – I’ll keep my eyes open.

    • Lenie — It makes you wonder when, ironically, he’s touting himself as an expert on how to use direct messaging on Twitter!!

  2. I completely agree, aggressive over-familiarity is not the way to start any relationship*. There’s a mutual respect that’s lacking when the approach is too casual too soon. This kind of conversational shorthand is earned over time when trust is given a chance to develop (*and just how successful is a first date when the conversation begins with “Hey! Look how great I am!”)

    • Paul — I think the current focus on networking events has made people more aggressive in their approach. We’re all here to make connections, right? But there is a right way and a wrong way and “it’s all about me” is the wrong way.

  3. I do indeed hate the “thanks for following and now I want to sell you something” Twitter message. Most of these guys followed me first and I only followed them as a courtesy. If their profile had shown that they were just out to sell me something I didn’t want I wouldn’t have followed them to begin with. I was under the mistaken assumption that they might post something of interest.

    • Ken — I don’t automatically follow someone who follows me but in this case I thought he had some interesting tweets so I followed him back — to my regret.

  4. Wow! Makes me feel kinda wimpish. 🙂 I must confess I never open direct messages and I have gotten into the habit of being very picky about who I welcome as a connection. Facebook is still a haven for men trying to use it as a dating service, and the last two connections I approved on LinkedIn sent me pitches within the first 24 hours. So, apparently there’s a LOT of bull out there. Thanks for this valuable reminder that etiquette still exists – at least for some of us.

    • Marquita — ouch, for you. I, too, have gotten pitches from LinkedIn connections. I ignore those, too.

  5. Great post, Jeannette! I am by no means a charging bull when it comes to prospects. When I started my organizing business, I realized that if I was too forceful, the prospect would get scared. My prospects already have a preconceived notion that I will judge them which I never do. I am there to help. The result was they were more willing to take actions sooner and they appreciated it. Thanks for sharing.

    • Sabrina — it’s good that you’re sensitive to potential negative reactions from your prospects. I’m sure you handle each connection with care.

    • Sabrina — It’s good that you’re sensitive to the potential negative reactions of your prospects. I’m sure you handle each one with great care knowing that.

  6. Jeannette, I’m also sick and tired of Linkedin connections that try to sell me something, put me on their mailing list or, maybe the worst, sent a message to an abundance of people, including me, offering them something. I remove those connections.

    Got a message from some Indian, I think that’s where he comes from, living in a Swedish town that wrote: “Don’t remove me from your contacts again, I want to see you when you are in Gothenburg”. His profile doesn’t really paint a picture of who he is and what he does. Have a feeling he’s a conman of some kind. Or an illegal immigrant. Something’s definitely wrong there.

    Etiguette is a word that is not in the dictionary of most members of social media. Sadly the same thing applies to people you run into on the streets of Sweden. They have no idea of how to behave and frankly, behave like bulls in china shops. So I’m not sure the people you write about know how they should behave. Don’t forget that you and I are used to move in high circles and learnt at home about etiquette and how you behave. It’s only a small fraction of humanity that are in our category. You can’t buy lineage…

    • Catarina — agree about people trying to sell you something. Very nervy — and a little scary — of that man to order you not to remove him from your contacts. Hope he doesn’t contact you again.

  7. This is a timely post as I am gearing up to contact authors via Twitter. It’s such a fine line to walk, but the reminder to phrase things along the lines of what I can do for the author as opposed to how great I am is well taken.

  8. Hi Jeannette, oh how I so so agree with you on the hard sell and lack of etiquette. Nothing more annoying than people who try to pass themselves off as interested in getting to know you, but start in with an immediate sales pitch. While your softened up version I would have accepted much better than what he did, I still would have been turned off by the subtle but immediate sales pitch. Too soon I think.

    • Susan — you’ve got to star building a relationship before going in for the sell. How could he possibly know what I need?

  9. I dislike agressive advertising. I find it intrusive. I am signed to twitter and on accepting to follow some people, a long blurb pops up about the service/product they offer. It is too much too soon. I treat it as spam and ignore.

    You are correct in stating that someone would not present themselves to you this way face-to-face. It is no more acceptable due to being over social media.

    • Phoenicia — I feel it’s OK to ignore unwanted sales pitches. They are a form of spam, even if the sender is a legitimate business person.

  10. Hi Jeannette. Great post. I just ignore the crazy DM’s I get on Twitter after following someone. Almost all of them are in your face sales pitches and I find them annoying. There is indeed a fine line between connecting on social media and making a sales call, but far too many people cross over it far too easily.

    • Doreen — It’s easy to cross the line when you’re on social media — it provides cover for rudeness.

  11. Hi Jeannette. I agree with you. It isn’t an isolated incident either. In a lot of cases people use automated direct messages that appear instantly once you follow someone, and it seems like all they want to do is sell their stuff without understanding any needs you may have first. It goes against everything we have learned about marketing online and certainly isn’t social. I just ignore and delete them.