How to Sell Yourself Short (and tick off potential customers)

by Lori Ruff on April 13, 2011 · 6 comments

in Networking

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Note: The Name of “My Connection” has been changed to protect the innnocent.  And, he is innocent. So many people just don’t understand how to interact with other professionals in a space without a human face in front of them… I thought I’d share this dialog to help those who are interested in learning more. 

Another note: “My Connection” is currently living in the UK, but he wasn’t born there and English is not his native language.

I’d love comments on how you might have responded in a way that is humane, polite, and educational for “Your Connection.”

The Actual Skype Chat: How NOT to approach a prospective customer

[12:23:09 AM] My Connection: Hello

[12:41:30 AM] My Connection: r u there?

[12:42:06 AM] Lori Ruff: yep – just responding to all the birthday wishes on my facebook profile!

[12:42:14 AM] Lori Ruff: and working… :)

[12:42:37 AM] My Connection: ok

[12:42:48 AM] My Connection: how are you Lori?

[12:53:50 AM] Lori Ruff: very good.  just working late to try to catch up on some things.

[12:54:09 AM] My Connection: ok

[12:54:17 AM] Lori Ruff: hope you’re well too

[12:54:29 AM] My Connection: yes

[12:54:47 AM] My Connection: Lori I am a Business Development Manager

[12:54:53 AM] Lori Ruff: for whom?

[12:54:53 AM] My Connection: We are a company

[12:55:05 AM] My Connection: UK

[12:55:10 AM] Lori Ruff: which company?

[12:55:25 AM] My Connection: SEO,SMO and Web Development Company

[12:55:33 AM] Lori Ruff: cool.

[12:55:35 AM] My Connection: Besed on UK

[12:55:38 AM] My Connection: :)

[12:55:43 AM] Lori Ruff: what’s your company?  are you on linkedin?

[12:55:47 AM] Lori Ruff: how can I help you?

[12:56:12 AM] My Connection:

[12:56:16 AM] My Connection: my company name

[12:56:21 AM] My Connection: please visit

[12:56:29 AM] Lori Ruff: for what reason?

[12:56:47 AM] My Connection: Lori I need your small help

[12:57:03 AM] Lori Ruff: ok – how can I help you?

[12:57:33 AM] My Connection: Lori I need some project from your end

[12:57:39 AM] My Connection: any project

[12:58:46 AM] Lori Ruff: what do you mean you need a project from my end?

[12:58:57 AM] My Connection: yes friend

[12:59:11 AM] Lori Ruff: yes what?  I’m not sure I understand your question or request

[1:00:32 AM] My Connection: means I need some any web development related project or SEO, SMO project from you

[1:01:26 AM] My Connection: You understand Lori?

[1:02:30 AM] Lori Ruff: oh. I do, yes.  Why would I hire you?  I don’t know you and you’ve given me nothing to “go on” with regards to what you do or offer.  I know SEO is search engine optimization and SMO? Social media marketing?

[1:03:02 AM] Lori Ruff: I don’t hire people for this important work that I have never had contact with or from whom I have no basis of knowing your talent.

[1:03:45 AM] Lori Ruff: I’m on some very tight deadlines right now so asking me to go look at your site without telling me why or “what’s in it for me, your potential client” isn’t going to work.

[1:03:59 AM] Lori Ruff: Not just for me, but for most people you communicate with.

[1:04:07 AM] Lori Ruff: does that make sense to you?

[1:04:31 AM] Lori Ruff: I’m not trying to be difficult, just honest. Most people wouldn’t talk this long without knowing why.

[1:04:45 AM] My Connection: Look..Lori We are a separate team in SEO and SMO

[1:05:05 AM] Lori Ruff: just because you tell me you offer those broad services doesn’t tell me how you can help me.

[1:05:50 AM] Lori Ruff: There must be a story about how you’ve helped someone like me.  And do you even know what I need?  You can’t just say “I do SEO” and expect me to understand your industry and why it’s important to me

[1:06:23 AM] My Connection: Look look…Our all client based in USA, Uk, Canada and Spain

[1:07:28 AM] Lori Ruff: so?  That doesn’t tell me why I should spend time talking to you if we can’t communicate.  You don’t seem to have any idea about who I am or what my needs are.  You’re just trying to sell me your services because you need the money, not because of what problem I have that you can solve for me.

[1:08:04 AM] Lori Ruff: I don’t have the income to be charitable.  I only have limited resources and time and money. Why should I spend time teaching you how to communicate with potential clients?

[1:08:58 AM] Lori Ruff: I’m willing to if there is a payback for me. But my family comes first and right now, I don’t have enough time to spend with them.  Spending time with someone I don’t know who doesn’t understand what I need is not my idea of a fair exchange.

[1:09:06 AM] My Connection: If you need some reference from our client so I will provide you our client contact details

[1:10:11 AM] Lori Ruff: I’m not trying to be mean, just realistic. Read what I’ve written so far and listen to what I am saying. I am not spending my time – of which I have VERY little to go look at your site to learn what you do, or to talk to your clients to find out for myself what you can do for me.

[1:10:48 AM] Lori Ruff: You must tell me what you can do for me or don’t even start the conversation. I dont have time and for all the people who never answer your first question, the same is true for them.  You need a new approach.

[1:12:57 AM] Lori Ruff: When you’re ready to try again, please send me a note or Skype me.  Otherwise… I’m sorry but I have to get back to work. It’s already after 2:10 in the morning here and I haven’t been to bed yet.  That should give you a clue as to the value I’ve just given you tonight without even knowing who you are or expecting to ever hear back from you again.  Provide value. Find out what’s important to people. Then when you reach out to them, you’ll have somewhere to start a real conversation that might lead to work.

[1:13:30 AM] Lori Ruff: I wish you the best.  Read this conversation again and listen to what I’m telling you. It’s critical for any success you might go after.

[1:13:36 AM] Lori Ruff: good night for now.

***End of Conversation***

Again, I’d love comments on how you might have responded in a way that is humane, polite, and educational for “Your Connection.”

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Author: Lori Ruff (177 Posts)

Lori Ruff, The LinkedIn Diva, is a speaker, consultant, author and radio host in the LinkedIn and social media world. One of LinkedIn's Most Connected Women, she has influenced tens of thousands of people during her 15+ year speaking and training career. Twice named Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, wouldn't you like to meet The Diva too?

  • David McDonough

    Hi Lori,
    Kind of funny that my Skype connection from “India” connected with me this morning and said Hi, How are you?, then said “I am in need of some SEO, SMO project from you”

    I thought, Wow, what a spammer. They probably have numerous Skype accounts with lots of aliases and spend all day soliciting traffic.

    I have seen a huge increase of this type of activity on Twitter lately as well. You will see 15 different accounts all with the exact same tweets..

    My reaction because I was writing an article at the time was to mark my Skype as “Busy”.

    Awesome Post Lori,

    Your friend,
    David McDonough
    Eagan, MN

  • Michael

    Thanks for the post. Honestly I probably wouldn’t have responded at all. This is considered “spammy” in social media. I just read a great article about spambots and how to engage. You should check it out

    I think you had some great pointers in trying to “educate” the individual, but he will eventually weed himself out of the industry if he continues to make posts and conversations like the one you provided.

    Thanks again,


  • Scott Scribner


    Thanks for the chuckle- I want to point out that what I see is a SERVANT HEART! You are awesome! You spent more time than I would have and you gave great advise-

    Scott Scribner

  • KevinCu


    Would you walk up to a potential spouse and say, “”Let’s get married!” No, you’d court the other person by getting to know them. Too often sales people are the same way, not realizing that “Buy, buy buy!!” is not the same thing as “I’m ready to buy.” It’s all about the relationship, not about the sale. Great job Lori, that’s why you’re a good friend.

  • Pingback: Tips from the LinkedIn Rockstars: Top Ten Annoying Behaviors of People on LinkedIn- Number 8 « Linked Intelligence()

  • Pingback: Tips from The LinkedIn Rockstars: Top Ten Annoying Behaviors of People on LinkedIn- Number 8 - Linked Intelligence()

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