Any market that a sales professional pursues will be competitive. Often what happens in order to either to outmatch or outflank the competition, a salesperson will use a new tactic or a new angle in order to win the attention of new prospects. Additionally, there are no shortage of books and information products that teach “breakthrough” methods and strategies to build a massive pipeline of clients…and that, without cold calling, of course. It causes good men and women to work more on adding to their technique than on talking to decision makers.
However, there are some extraordinary sales people who never seem to struggle with getting people into their sales funnel. Even more unnerving, they make it look easy in that they are not using a particular script or technique. If you watch these folks carefully, you will notice that they indeed don’t do a considerable amount of cold calling. The calls come to them through their personal network.
“Ah ha”, you say…”that’s the secret: networking”. And you consider going to more ‘networking’ events and talking to more people with whom to share your business card. Or depending on what your niche is, you may consider joining a formal networking group or your local Chamber of Commerce. However, every salesperson knows that kind of networking requires a considerable amount of time and financial resources to start and maintain the relationships that matter.
So how can sales professionals build their network, yet remain efficient with their time and resources? The answer won’t lie in the name or brand of the network, it instead lies in the members or components of their personal network. If a sales person works with the chamber, a formal networking group or networking event, the goal will be the same: seek to work with those who influence their target customer. In most cases, the influence network of decision makers consists of some combination of attorney, accountant or insurance professional. Salespersons can be efficient in their networking with an influence network.
The first question then that comes to mind is: why would an attorney want to help me? What can I say to them to give me access to their client base? What is my conversation with them to be, if I truly only want them for their contacts? The answer is an easy one, even though executing it is neither easy nor fast. In his audio book, Networking with Millionaires, Dr. Thomas Stanley states that extraordinary sales professionals recognize that everyone in business:
1.) Wants to have the best suppliers
2.) Wants more customers
3.) Wants to get the best value for their purchases
When a sales professional is listening to prospects, they should be looking for ways to help them address their most pressing issue. As they reveal their pressing need, do you have someone in your network that can supply them more efficiently? Do you have anyone that needs their services? Do you have any one in your network that can give them a better value in something that they want to buy personally?
Of course, you are getting nothing in return with the exception of the fact that someone who has a considerable amount of influence with your target customer group recognizes you. If you are willing to go first in the giving process, you will have gained an audience and a valuable member to your personal network. Of course, this does not automatically mean that you will have sales and prospects pouring through your door. But you will be building a deep rooted personal network that knows you, will be willing to return your phone calls and is likely ready for you when you ask for a favor.
But don’t be surprised if they don’t ask you first what they can do for you.