Social selling mistakes can be deadly to your sales efforts.

When it comes to talking about what I do, one of my biggest problems is having the tendency to “data dump,” or give way too much information about my company and its services. What’s more, I do it way too soon… often, before the people to whom I’m speaking are even qualified as prospects.

I’m getting much better at not data dumping, but I still have to actively put the mental brakes on my brain (and mouth).

Besides annoying others from an over-abundant love for what I do, my eager-beaver attitude can have a very unintended side-effect: It stymies conversation. This hurts me because I don’t have as much of an opportunity to find out about the other person’s wants or needs. I’d view those times when I don’t put on the brakes as mistakes.

There are many times when people make social selling mistakes in a similar way. They talk way too much about themselves and don’t focus nearly enough on the needs of the person who is, say, reading their LinkedIn profile or status updates, or their Twitter feed.

I see people who want to be great at social selling, but instead are spinning their wheels, wasting precious time and burning through prospects. Even worse, they don’t know why their efforts aren’t working!

Why You’re Making Social Selling Mistakes

Most likely, your social selling isn’t working because they haven’t given their prospects any reason to care about them.

Here are the three major social selling mistakes many sales professionals make:

1. A boring (or even repelling) LinkedIn headline. Besides your name, one of the most prominent items of your LinkedIn profile a prospect sees is your headline. If your headline doesn’t speak to their needs, they probably won’t bother reading anything else in your profile, and you’ve lost a “suspect” (potential prospect).

An oft-quoted statistic is that you have three seconds to “sell” someone in reading through your profile. If your headline promotes only you and not what you can do for clients, you’ve lost the battle in less than three seconds.

For those of us who sell for a living, a prospect can actually be repelled from reading further than a Headline. Let’s face it; most people hate to be sold to. Yet if you say you’re a SalespersonAccount Manager or Business Development Professional in your Headline, that prospect will be afraid that you’ll only sell to them.

Instead of promoting yourself or re-hashing your corporate title, treat your headline as a great opportunity to let your prospects know the value you will bring them. Make them want to contact you because you’ll be a great help to them with your product/service.

2. A self-focused summary. With the advent of the new LinkedIn, the thinking around summary strategy hasn’t changed; namely, to keep it focused on the needs of the prospects you’re trying to attract. (As we like to say here at PeopleLinx, transform it from a “resume” to a “resource.”) But some of the mechanics have.

You’ll notice that to see all of the summary, the reader needs to click on “See more.” Now, you need to give them a reason to click on that link. I recommend that your first line features a call to action that attracts your reader and gets them to want to open up your summary. A good example of that is LEARN NEW LINKEDIN STRATEGIES.

The other elements of the summary remain the same:

  1. Connect with your reader through the challenges they are facing.
  2. Add value by providing useful information about their job, industry, etc. that they can implement without having to call you. In other words, provide purely educational content.
  3. Spell out how you help anyone who is convinced to reach out to you after reading your profile.

3. A splash of “cold calling” water. If you’ve ever been unexpectedly pushed into a cold pool, you know it’s not a good feeling. And you probably had a decidedly negative feeling towards the person/people doing the cold deed.

In social selling prospecting, sending cold messages telling, for example, about how you help people like them, is a bit like that cold water feeling. It’s unexpected, can be unpleasant, and doesn’t exactly promote warm feelings towards the sender. It’s definitely not the way to start or build relationships.

Here is a better way to engage: Find out what matters to your prospect(s). Look at content they or others in their industry share. Look at the Influencers they follow and posts they like. Then, find an article related to what they care about and send that to them with a little note:

As an entrepreneur in the [THEIR] industry, I thought this article [LINK HERE] would be of interest. I would love to hear your feedback and if you found it helpful.

If they reply, you can start a relationship on a much warmer note.

A Commonality

There’s a common thread that runs through all of these points: You need to look at your prospects’ problems through their eyes, not yours. They don’t care about your passions or how long you’ve been in your business. They only want to solve their problem(s).

Present yourself as their problem solver, or their “go-to” gal or guy in their area, and you’ve got a great shot at securing their business. Don’t make the three big social selling mistakes.

An earlier version of this article originally appeared at LinkedIn.