A lot of us know what to do, but we don’t do it. And that’s a little dumb.

As far back as 2015, a study highlighted a head-scratching fact: that while over 40% of businesses understood that leading with an “unrecognised need” was a better way to lead a sales conversation that a list of features and benefits, less than 14% of them actually did this.

They knew what worked better, but did the less effective thing anyway.


Well, it’s hardly surprising.

We all know that eating cleaner food without all the processed sugars and carbohydrates is better for us, but it hasn’t stopped the increasing numbers of fast-food places from opening… and the only reason they open is because we keep buying it!

But what exactly is this whole “unrecognised need” thing anyway?

This guy got a hard “no” from me straight away – but it was still a great approach.

This is a templated sales message copied and pasted that I am assuming this guy then replaced two items in: the name and the company.

As I know what he’s selling in his bio line, I know straight away what this guy is gunning for. Even if he says that isn’t what he’s gunning for.

But there’s nothing wrong with any of that.

What’s missing is context.

There is no reason why he would need to connect with me or contact me apart from trying to sell me his services. There is absolutely no indication in my profile that I am in need of what he is about to try and sell me.

And this makes me feel icky. And that’s on me.

But if my first encounter with someone gives me the ick – then it’s unlikely to go anywhere good.

And that ick comes from the fact that I can see every bit of insincerity in his approach – including his light-hearted but defensive posture when I immediately called him out.

But stick with me for a second – this will feel like criticism, but it’s not. I actually really like this guy’s approach – which is why I’m sharing him and his service with you.

Back to where my head was at, I immediately reacted in a way that thought, “if he actually wanted to start conversations and learn a bit more about what others are working on he would he tried to continue the conversation… and ask me about what I’m working on.”

But he didn’t.

Or so my over-analytic head was thinking.

To be fair, he knows as well as I do, that the only reason why he contacted me was to sell me a service. And I was probably one of at least 20-30 of these connection requests that he sent out today to complete strangers on LinkedIn.

And while there’s nothing wrong with that in the slightest, this approach is now so obvious to me, that I see straight through it. Because I get about twenty of these a week.

But, to give him credit, even though his approach seemed inauthentic and insincere to me, I can see where he was going.

And this is why I haven’t blocked him.

In fact, I am going to keep him around on my connections in case I do one day need a virtual assistant service.


Because he was trying to build some rapport and then find out what my “unrecognised need” was.

And I respect that.

This wasn’t a cold message – it was a discovery message.

There is a big difference between these two things.

Despite me seeing an inauthentic approach that smashed into my natural scepticism and zero tolerance for sales pitches, the guy was actually looking to have a conversation with me so he could watch for signs of what my “unrecognised need” was.

Unrecognised Need is a concept in sales that revolves around holding conversations with prospects who don’t know that they need your product or service yet.

The idea is that you explore what someone needs that they haven’t yet identified themselves. And then you articulate that need back to them, while you match a product or service to them.

I reckon Dustin was doing exactly that.

He started off with a piece of relatable empathy for me being a busy guy (because everyone thinks they are busy) in an attempt to fast-track rapport.

He mentioned my name and one of the places I work in an attempt to show that he has taken time to read my profile.

My marketing head knows that all of that stuff is so easily achieved with automated outreach tools. A tool like this can scan my public profile, strip out things like me name, location, university and most recent job or contract. And then finally slip that info into a message template using something like Linked Helper.

This kind of outreach would probably work better on someone who isn’t a marketer themselves – and knows all these sales and engagement tricks. But I’m not going to make him out to be a bad guy – he’s not.

He did a smart thing.

This whole process is designed for him to get an idea of how busy you actually are, find out what work you’re doing that’s making you busy, and then over the course of three of four chat messages he would suggest that he has a solution to your busy-ness – a virtual assistant service, of course! In my case, this discovery process fell flat after the first attempt to build rapport, because I can tend to be a bit of dick when I’m being sold-to. But for anyone else, it’s a great opener and a great process to try.

All because you’re just asking general questions to get an idea of how you can help someone.

So, the dude is actually pretty damned clever.

He has a service that can really help people out when they’re busy and overwhelmed. And he has a pretty decent approach to connecting that service with people who need it.

  1. Find successful and busy people on LinkedIn
  2. Start building a rapport with them through an opening message that is generic enough to suit anyone, but has enough in there to be perfectly relevant to his target customer.
  3. Win a client through doing this again and again.

It’s a great approach – and I actually think that it’s something you could do too – as long as you’re not trying to sell that thing to me.

After all I’ve got 25 years of experience and exposure to this stuff, so I know when I’m being sold to in the first message.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try selling anything to me.

I have no self-discipline when it comes to money.

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