Sales can be considered with a simple math equation: the more contacts you have, the more sales you can achieve. This is obviously an oversimplification as your salesperson has to be able to talk with people about the product, stick with the deal until it closes, and have a host of other skills at his or her disposal. However, it remains that, unless they have contacts, there is no way they can make a sale.
This very simple equation leads us to a strategy that we have seen work time and time again in a variety of businesses. That is: Get your sales team out and networking.
There are networking groups across the nation. These groups often have meetings both online and in person. By connecting your sales team with networking groups, you are providing them with direct contacts, taking advantage of lead generation systems that are already in place, and helping them to reach more indirect contacts through their newfound business associates.
Why the Emphasis on Networking?
Lead generation can be one of the most difficult things for anyone – from a business owner to a salesperson – to do. There are many tactics for lead generation, including:
- Cold calls to purchased lists
- Marketing campaigns that incentivize newsletter sign ups
- Social media marketing
- Direct mail
- Special events and promotions
- PR events and news stories
- Corporate literature
- and much, much more
You can probably think of at least ten more lead generation techniques off the top of your head right now. However, no one can deny that the best and easiest sales are closed when another person has already endorsed you and your skills to the potential customer. That’s the kind of word-of-mouth lead generation you can get from networking.
Additionally, many networking groups allow members – and occasionally non-members – to speak at their events or their meetings. This is an easy way for your salesperson to become a recognized authority in your company’s field.
So, not only do networking groups often work hard to generate leads for each other, but they also provide the most valuable type of recommendation – that obtained through word-of-mouth. Finally, the business owners within the networking group can make heartfelt recommendations because they know your salesperson really is an authority in your company’s field.
Just like anything else, there is a right way to leverage networking and a wrong way to do so. Here are simple networking basics that any salesperson can follow to develop an effective group of like-minded business people who will provide him or her with leads:
- Go to meetings with the intention of building relationships. Networking meetings are often about you generating leads for others as much as they are about others generating leads for you.
- Have your “elevator pitch” ready in advance. Usually, you will have to introduce yourself at each meeting. If you are going to the same meeting every week and it generally has the same members involved, change your introduction every week. Often, you can throw in a tip, tell a quick story, or make an observation about advances in your area of expertise during the ten or twenty-second introduction.
- Get there early or stay a little late afterward We know, some of these meetings start very early in the morning – but it pays to have some time to mingle. Often, networking meetings follow a structure during which it’s hard to connect personally with other members. Spending fifteen minutes before or after the meeting to shake some hands and talk to a few people will go far in understanding how you can help those around you – and how they can help you.
- Don’t just collect cards. Many networking meetings involve passing cards from one person to the next so that every attendee gets the card of every other attendee. Instead of putting them in a binder or sticking the cards in your desk drawer, look through them after the meeting and ask yourself: “Who in this stack of cards do I really need to get to know?” You may have potential customers within the stack – or you may have found several people who could refer business to you and vice versa.
- Set up one-on-one meetings with your priority contacts. Shoot an email over to those you met at the networking event, or give them a call and invite them out for coffee. Getting to know each other better and understanding what you can both do for one another will only strengthen your likelihood of creating a fantastic client or an excellent lead generation partner.
The beauty of networking is that it isn’t a one-way street or a one-time deal. By becoming part of one or multiple networking groups, your salesperson can set up lead generation systems that will continue to provide him or her with qualified leads for years to come.
Are you looking for assistance with lead generation, sales coaching, or closing techniques? The Business Success Consulting Group provides sales consulting for any business size. Contact us today and get a free evaluation of your sales process.