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Gridlock on the highway

The Internet has been referred to as “The Information Superhighway” – or at least it was in the old days. There I go showing my age again!

The problem with highways is that they inevitably lead to gridlock. That’s the subtext to a question I received today from reader Alexander L. He asks:

I finally had the time to go through and complete your 10X Sales Outreach course. I have a question concerning the “best” medium for reaching out to prospects. How do you choose between reaching out via email, or via LinkedIn?

Thanks for writing in, Alexander!

Let’s start with a simple premise: contact your clients in the way that works best for them. Some people live on LinkedIn, others prefer email, and still others might respond to snail mail. It depends on your market.

For example, I’ve seen my clients have little success on LinkedIn when targeting construction and IT. The reasons are quite different: construction is a comparatively low-tech industry, while IT seems quite skeptical of sales and marketing messages in all forms. Different reasons, same result.

I’ve also seen the viability and usefulness of LinkedIn plummet quite a bit in the last year. As more people talk about what a great prospecting channel it is, all LinkedIn users have become inundated with more and more content and messages, and few of them are useful. All of this is to say that, increasingly, less people will be paying attention to LinkedIn over time.

Perhaps I can best summarize my advice about what’s “best” between the two by contrasting a simple usage statistic: an average LinkedIn user spends 17 minutes a month on the platform, while the average worker spends 2,688 minutes a month on email.

People are spending 158x more time in email v. LinkedIn. It’s quite the difference indeed!

For my money, email still looks like the better way to establish contact of the two channels. Of course there are plenty of other considerations, too, and LinkedIn remains one of the best places to find prospects, even if it may not be the best way to contact them.

I’ve spoken to several friends who run prospecting services, and universally I hear them saying it’s getting a lot harder to get a stranger’s attention. The two things they’re doing to increase their chances: personalization so your recipient knows you’ve spent time to get to know them a bit and customize your outreach; and multi-channel contact attempts, so you give people a chance to respond in a way that’s best for them.

The Internet has made outreach and prospecting wildly inexpensive and accessible for all of us, but it creates plenty of gridlock, too.

No matter what you believe about the arguments I’ve made here, some outreach is better than no outreach. That I guarantee.