Anti-Social Linkedin Lead Generation?

Anti-Social Linkedin Lead Generation?

 A crazed man thumps a message into his keyboard “STOP PRETENDING YOU ARE A HUMAN!”     

This man is working his way through multiple LinkedIn messages that pretend to come from a human being but are, in reality, part of an automated outreach sequence.   

Sound familiar?  

Yet thousands of companies are choosing to be anti-social in their lead generation.  

When I speak to CEO’s, CRO’s and VP sales about the ROI on automated Linkedin lead generation, they talk of fantastic ROI and one the best ways to reach new prospects at scale.  

So if this approach may work for the company.  But does it work for the individual sales rep? 

Do not get me wrong, cold prospecting sits at the heart of most successful sales strategies. Many Sales Reps (myself included) started their careers spending their days dialing away to cold prospects hoping to find the diamond in the rough.  

What I am trying to get my head around is how automated cold prospecting, that is designed to look as if it is sent to an individual from another individual but in reality part of an automation, delivers the results the seller is looking for.  

As a potential customer am I more likely to engage with a person who has just adding me to an automation?   

Does my perception of that company go up or down when I figure out, they are not really interested in knowing me at all?   

The irony that seems to be lost on those using high volume automated prospecting on social media, is that social media is meant to be a place to build relationships. Yet their approach is actually anti-social and may be doing them more harm than good.  

The paradox I see is that most sales professionals will openly say that they do not want to cold call using the phone, fearing being seen as pushy or bothering clients.      

Yet many sales professionals seem happy to burn the reputation they have worked hard to build up on social media by spamming their new connections with an automated sequence.   (unless they are using BURNER Linkedin profiles – more on that another time)  

Just in case you start thinking I am anti-technology in sales,  I LOVE sales technology, BUT only when used to enhance the buyer’s experience as well as improving overall sales productivity.  

The challenge that many businesses face is how to use technology to enhance the sales process by blending existing human interactions with digitised services.   

Gartner’s  Q1 edition of The Chief Sales Officer highlights that B2B buyers are increasingly wanting a “sales rep free” buying experience. They predict that by 2025 80% of B2B sales interactions will take place through digital channels as buyers increasingly seek out seller-free sales experiences (currently at 33%).  

So, if you want to invest in technology to drive sales, think about how you can digitise your sales process to make it seller free….it is where the future is at.  

 So, if you want to invest in technology to drive sales, think about how you can digitise your sales process to make it seller free….it is where the future is at.  

And IF YOU MUST use automated prospecting funnels think about trying these things:  

1: Highlight that it is an automation…..  they will work it out anyway.  By saying upfront what the process is, then the pressure is on you to make them feel like they want to engage with a human.   

2: Plan your content that aims to add value & learn more about them vs trying to write every email like you wrote it. ( i.e, Hi Alex, one last message before I do not email you again…)  

3: Blend automation with humanity – taking the extra time to send some personalised messages as part of a cycle will allow you to add information that cannot be scraped from a LinkedIn profile and make you look more human.   


At this point you might be thinking I am just a grump traditionalist.   

But you would be wrong, because ultimately I love meeting individuals that are skilled at sales.  So I do offer those that put me in an automated sequence a chance to prove their worth.  

How?  I throw them an objection and see how they respond.

After the third message I reply with something like this “I do not engage with automated message sequences on social media as I feel they are anti-social and defeat the objective of “social”.  But if you want to engage human to human then feel free to message me back?”

Sadly only only 1 in 5 respond, however when they do I have met some great people, seen some great products and even bought one or two.

I call this game HUNT the HUMAN….. may be you can play it too!!

Let me know how it goes


How Recruitment Agencies Can Build a Business Development Culture

How Recruitment Agencies Can Build a Business Development Culture

Can Recruitment Agencies create a culture where everyone wants to contribute to Business Development?   

The answer is YES they can. 

However it for many agencies it will require a significant change in how they approach helping their customers needs and also how they treat their staff.

The video below is a shortened version of the presentation I gave to Recruitment Agency Leaders at the Recruitment Agency Expo recently.


How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation that Rocks

How to create a Pecha Kucha presentation that rocks.

Public speaking fills so many people with dread. Sometimes, even standing up to present to your own team is an uncomfortable experience, let alone a Ted Talk or a stand-up routine. However, despite the fear, people still sign up, again and again, to share ideas, encourage others and speak on topics they’re passionate about in front of a crowd of strangers.

On the 20th June 2018, The Inspire Recruitment series kicks off, a collaboration between myself and Louise Triance of UK Recruiter, giving individuals the chance to speak and share their inspirational ideas to improve the recruitment industry. Since confirming the speaker line-up, I’ve had numerous conversations helping the speakers prepare their ideas and talks and knowing that so many others have asked me these questions, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt.

Of course, there are loads of different presentation formats and ways to communicate your ideas, but the most common is the Pecha Kucha format. A simple layout that asks the speaker to present against a backdrop of twenty slides, each changing every twenty seconds. You’ll have experienced this heaps of times, for example, the popular Ignite series have a similar format, as well as Disrupt HR. Our goal is to use this presentation style to build a community of recruiters who want to improve themselves, and the industry, encouraging less experienced speakers to stand up and share their ideas. The stage isn’t just for experienced speakers.

1: Start at the End

When you only have a limited time frame to entertain and inform, you need to think about the talk from the audience’s perspective. Before I plan any talk, I ask myself these three questions: 

  • what do I want the audience to think/feel/know?
  • how will this benefit the audience in life?
  • what stories can I tell that bring my idea to life?

The clearer you are about what benefit you’re bringing, i.e. make them feel less alone, discover new ways of doing things or hacks to get things done quicker, than the easier it will be to create a compelling presentation. In short, you have to know what you’re giving.

2: Have a Structure

Traditional presentations spend up to four minutes setting the scene, but with Pecha Kucha you need to shake a leg and get to it. A clear structure will keep you on track, and guide your audience, helping them engage with you more effectively. Below is a template that I use when planning my talks. I tend to have 3 main points of 5 slides or 4 Points of 4 slides in my talks (even 5 points of 3 slides if you have a lot to say quickly!!!). A sample outline for when you have 4 talking points would be.


  • Slides 1-2     – Introduction –
  • Slide 3-6      – Key Point 1
  • Slide 7-10    – Key Point 2
  • Slide 11-14 – Key Point 3
  • Slide 15-18  – Key Point 4
  • Slide 19-20  – Summary & Takeaway

3: Plan the Talking Points

So many speakers make the mistake of planning the slides before they know what they want to say. Your slides should support your words, not the other way around. A. good way to plan your talk is grab a wad of sticky notes, then follow these steps:

  1. Write all your ideas of things you want to say on individual sticky notes.  Don’t worry about the 20-slide limit right now, just get all your ideas out on the table.
  2. Rearrange the sticky notes into the sections you outlined in the previous section.
  3. Consolidate and refine the points so you have the right number of talking points per section. Remember every talking point has to earn its place.   A common mistake is to try and include too many points.
  4. Using a piece of paper (A4 size), create a grid with 20 boxes on them.  Write your final points in each box

4: Write and Design

This sounds daunting and scary because people often wonder if they’ll have enough to say, however, trust me, the challenge is always cutting out words. The BBC works on the basis that a news presenter talks at a speed of three words per minute, which means, you only have 45 words per slide, which is 900 words for the whole presentation, and that’s practically nothing.

 If you do feel like you have more to say than can be covered on one slide, you can always talk for longer and use two of your slides. I have sometimes cheated and used the same slide twice, but that is slightly against the spirit of this presentation style.

A few things to remember:

  • don’t forget to include stories or real-life anecdotes and this makes your presentation relevant and engaging to your audience
  • the slides are only there to support you, not list everything you’re already saying
  • images are more important on slides than words. Sites like Unsplash and Picsabay offer free high-quality photographs
  • if you do need to add words, use big fonts and restrict the number of words to no more than a handful

5. Never Stop Practicing

You might have the best slides in the world, but if your words don’t come out right, the effort is for all for nothing. The better you know the words, the more comfortable you will be with them and it will allow you to speed up or slow down if you’re running ahead or behind.

Start by creating a set of flashcards that have the picture of the slide and the matching words. Memories the order of the slides and the key points. Lastly, practice the presentation again and again. Each time you practice, challenge yourself to say as much as you can without looking at the slides. It won’t be long before you have it nailed and ready to handle any nerves you might experience on the big night.

Remember This Though……

You should now be ready to present your talk to the masses.  However, remember that presenting should be fun, so try and enjoy it. If your intent is focused on inspiring the audience, then 99% of them will want you to succeed. Just by standing on the stage you will immediately have gained their respect for having the guts to stand up in front of a crowd and share something you care about.


If you are interested in attending the Inspire Recruitment event on the 20th June in London you can get a ticket here

My Pecha Kucha Style Talks

If you want to want more Pecha Kucha style presentations check-out Ignite Cardiff who has a fantastic selection of videos to watch

3 Ways To Improve Business Development Collaboration

3 Ways To Improve Business Development Collaboration

Business development collaboration is key to combatting the BD paradox.

Our last post, the business development paradox, provoked a lot of agreement. “Yes Alex – good point” was the consensus reaction. From a neutral point of view, it makes no sense to have the toughest part of business development, fall on the least experienced members of your business.

But if you’re reading this you probably work in recruitment. You’ve got skin in the game. You probably have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. You may fear the consequences of telling your top billers they need to change. Perhaps you recognise things aren’t right, but you feel powerless to do anything about it. You can’t just turn the classic recruitment business model on it’s head over night can you?…can you? That’s another question entirely, for another blog.

Who’s to say the market couldn’t be disrupted?

But there are some less disruptive steps you can take, to create a healthier business development culture. A culture that benefits your whole company, not just certain individuals. You might not turn things round overnight, but you won’t alienate your biggest billers either.

We need to move towards a culture of Business development collaboration

1. Incentivise Collaboration

Talking about business development collaboration isn’t enough. You need to recognise and reward the consultants who actively promote other people in the business. You could formalise it by running quarterly competitions. You could just put more effort into recognising people in team meetings. If you praise people who go out of their way to help team mates and talk about it regularly, things will start to change.

2. All for one and one for all

Encourage knowledge sharing. Pair up your top billers and less experienced team members during core business development hours. Encourage them to share the tricks of the trade and their market knowledge. Move towards a culture where senior consultants are expected to support the rookies’ development. You can do this through formal objectives. However, it’s better if you can persuade them it’s in their interests too. It will lighten the load of billing managers and it will help identify senior consultants who are ready to step up to a leadership role.

3. Use it or lose it

Are your top billers creating a culture of fear? Experienced consultants will often ring-fence their best clients and intimidate others from calling them. They may be making tens of thousands a quarter from these clients, cherry picking the clients they want to work with, but what are they leaving on the table? How many thousands could your other consultants to pick up? If you suspect that opportunities are being missed, you need to call them out on it. You can give them a choice:

  1. Maximise the available billings with the client
  2. Introduce your colleagues when opportunities arise, or..
  3. Risk losing that client.

If the relationship between your company and the client, relies on just one consultant, you’re always at risk of that consultant leaving and taking the client with them. When you have several consultants working with the same client, you spread your risk and reduce the power of any individual consultant.

Culture change is never easy.

It takes time and inevitably upsets people along the way. If you do decide to try and change things, you need to plot a clear strategy out at the start and work hard to keep everyone engaged along the way. One of the reasons it’s hard, is because we all react differently to change. Some will feel threatened, others will see opportunity. Regular open conversations are key to understanding where people’s heads are at. Give them the chance to express themselves and contribute regularly.

Balancing Learning With Performance

Balancing Learning With Performance

When it comes to developing your people, finding a formula for success that delivers on the learning needs of the individual, as well as the performance needs of the company can be tricky. After recently attending the 20 year reunion from my summer job selling books...

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Balancing Learning With Performance

Balancing Learning With Performance

When it comes to developing your people, finding a formula for success that delivers on the learning needs of the individual, as well as the performance needs of the company can be tricky.

After recently attending the 20 year reunion from my summer job selling books in the US, I feel that I am a little closer to understanding what that formula is.

In my second year of university I signed up to travel to America and sell educational books door to door. The promise was a simple one, get yourself out to Nashville, Tennessee. We will train you, give you a sales territory, then it’s up to you to knock on doors and sell some books.

The financials worked out like this; pay out £800 up front to get there, buy your samples, order books and pay for all your own travel and living costs. You earn 35% of everything you sell. You might be forgiven for thinking this deal sounds a bit one sided, and truth be told I probably felt the same for most of my three summers selling books. However, the company made a promise that they claimed balanced the books. They claimed they would help me learn how to sell, build relationships, run a business, set goals, motivate myself, motivate others and take responsibility for my own success.

I still remember one of the senior leaders, Dan Moore, in sales school saying

“you are unlikely to learn more about selling, relationships and being successful over the next 20 years of your career.” 

Bold claims indeed. However, at our 20 year reunion I concluded he was probably right and that they had made good on their promise. I still use what I learned selling books 20 years ago every day; setting goals, building relationships, serving your customers needs equally to your own and much more. 

If you’d been a fly on the wall at the reunion, you would have heard many stories like mine from a lot of very successful people. Founders of companies like OVO Energy, SBR consulting, Nine Dots; successful executives including a Director at Uefa, several Finance Directors, half a dozen Directors of P&G and Unilever and too many Sales Directors to count and these are just the ones I keep in touch with. 

Why is this relevant to you?

If you promise training or personal development as part of your hiring strategy, or as a part of your total reward, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How much of your training is focussed on specific job tasks vs transferable long term skills?
  • How much time do you spend teaching people how to manage their own performance by helping them learn how to set goals, manage their attitude and build relationships vs telling them what to do?
  • How do you help them link personal / life goals to what they can get out of work? 
  • How do you help them learn life skills that will significantly contribute to long term success & well being i.e Management of finances & savings?
  • How would your last 10 hires rate you on your delivery of the development promises you made?

This may sound hard, but other firms manage it and many more aspire to it. This means the most talented employees in the market expect more. If you want to hire the best you have to offer more and deliver on your promises.

Balancing Learning With Performance

Balancing Learning With Performance

When it comes to developing your people, finding a formula for success that delivers on the learning needs of the individual, as well as the performance needs of the company can be tricky. After recently attending the 20 year reunion from my summer job selling books...

Five Ways I Try To Improve My Time Management Skills

I need to improve my time management skills. Who doesn't? My life as a business owner revolves around three things: Selling more. Leading a team to sell more and.. Delivering training to consultants and leaders to help them sell more. Every day there are two things...