What Sales Professionals Can Learn From Online Dating Profiles

Sales professionals can apply several practices from online dating to boost the odds of connecting with buyers. This post shows you how.

August 8, 2017

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Online dating is now one of the most popular methods for meeting potential romantic partners. It’s also a phenomenon that mirrors modern selling in more ways than one.

How can we apply basic principles of online dating to the professional world of social selling? What are the best strategies for getting someone to “swipe right” on you?

As Aziz Ansari and Eric Klinenberg say in their new book, Modern Romance, “Single people today have more romantic options than at any point in human history. With technology, our abilities to connect with and sort through these options are staggering.”

In much the say way, your prospects have access to more research and solutions than ever before. This access puts them in charge. Engaging with a sales rep happens on their terms, in their time frame. That’s why your online profile needs to work double time at all times.

Write a Headline with Impact

With a social dating profile, you have only a few seconds to “sell” yourself to strangers. Research has found that online dating profiles with headlines written in simple language get higher ratings. It seems people respond better to easily understood headline messages. They also find someone more likeable as a result. At the same time, that headline should give pause to would-be romantic interests. Those headlines that accomplish that goal get more lookers to spend more time looking at the profile.

With that in mind, write a descriptive headline for your LinkedIn profile using words that resonate with prospects and customers. The goal is to convey your value in a simple, concise way, and entice viewers to browse the rest of your profile.

Let Them into Your Soul

They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. While it may sound cliché, there’s more to it than meets the eye, so to speak. According to data from OKCupid and Match.com, 88% of the highest-rated dating profiles feature the person looking directly at the camera. Fifty-four percent also show the person giving a big, genuine smile. Yes, you want your LinkedIn profile to come off as professional, but also ask yourself: Do I come across as trustworthy, friendly, and approachable?

Don’t Be an Egomaniac

No one likes someone who is all about themself. As the dating research found, likeability trumps achievements. That said, it can be tough keeping the focus off yourself when developing your profile. It may help to keep in mind this formula for the perfect online dating profile: focus 70% on what you are like and 30% on what you want.

Here’s how to translate this to your professional profile: spend 70% of available real estate to describe how you’ve used your skills and experience to help customers to date. Use the remaining 30% to explain how you help future buyers.

Whenever possible, show, don’t tell. In the online dating world, a cleverly written profile conveys a sense of humor better than someone saying “I am really funny.” In sales, uploading helpful presentations to your LinkedIn profile tells potential customers “I’m helpful” without you having to say it.

Be Yourself

We’ve all heard horror stories about people who finally met someone they connected with online only to feel like they were duped. Those dates rarely end on a high note. And with good reason. Even if two people are highly compatible, it’s hard to move forward with a connection when one person feels the other has already been dishonest.

Don’t make the same mistake by trying to “fool” a prospect into connecting. Instead of pretending to know something or having accomplished something, showcase your true expertise and accomplishments. If you feel like your profile is sparse in certain areas, commit yourself to becoming an expert on a niche topic that is relevant to your sales prospects.

Remember: your ultimate goal is to meet in person. You want the prospect to have a strong sense of who you are by the time that magic moment occurs.

Get By With a Little Help from Your Friends

We all know how much first impressions count. It’s why we’ve shared best practices for developing your LinkedIn profile. But you don’t need to go it alone. According to Pew Research, many online daters enlist the help of friends in creating or reviewing their profile. Take this advice to heart by asking a trusted colleague or even client to weigh in on your profile. Ask if they feel it accurately captures the best of you and solicit their suggestions for fine-tuning it until you’ve got a profile that encourages connections.

Improve the Odds of Meeting

While online interactions give you and would-be buyers a terrific way to engage, you know you are more likely to convert a prospect into a buyer by meeting face to face. Take a page from the online dating playbook to boost the chances of moving that online connection to the real world.

First, be patient. Come across as overly eager, and you’ll likely turn off whoever it is you’re interacting with.

Once a “date” is secured, dating experts recommend chatting about topics that both of you enjoy. They recommend preparing for dates beforehand using the knowledge gleaned from the other person’s dating profile, also investigating what your date does not like.

In your initial outreach, make the message as personal as possible so the recipient knows you’ve spent time getting to know them. Comment positively about something you noticed in the buyer’s profile or in a blog post written by that person. But don’t overdo it. It turns out people question other people’s motives when the flattery comes on too strong and hard. At the same time, ask an open-ended question that encourages a response.

Once you hear back from a prospect, don’t keep that person waiting. They’ve indicated an interest in engaging, so keep the momentum going. When fitting, share something personal (within reason, of course) as this encourages more transparency. When two people share personal information, they tend to feel a closer connection.

As the research says, “These [activities] may be time-consuming, but there do not appear to be shortcuts in successfully converting electronic contact with innumerable potential dates into a face-to-face encounter with one.”

Sound familiar?

For more tips on building strong buyer relationships, download LinkedIn's Definitive Guide to Smarter Social Engagement.