Which is most important for sales people today; is it What you know – or Who you know? Knowledge = Power has always been a critical maxim in the world of selling; but in which direction should sales people invest their efforts and energy towards more effective knowledge acquisition?
We use the ‘Networking Compass’ to ensure sales people build and maintain an appropriately balanced network to maximise the potentially insightful connections that need to be made for profitable business relationships:
Upwards and Downwards: some sales people find it much easier to build customer connections with ‘users’ and ‘technical’ people because they have a background in those sorts of roles themselves or only deal with those levels on a daily basis. As a consequence they neglect to build relationships with the decision makers; senior managers, purchasers/buyers – who may appear distant or intimidating – and then they wonder why they can’t get a decision made.
Forwards and Backwards: past contacts and historical relationships need just as much attention as newly-developed connections. Sometimes the new opportunities seem more exciting than the on-going ones which can get taken for granted. Focusing on future prospects and target customers is vital for sales activity but not at the cost of allowing old relationships to become stale and unproductive.
Outwards and Inwards: there are so many external network opportunities today both on-line (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook plus the specialist/technical groups and forums etc) and off-line (conferences, exhibitions, trade-fairs, professional/industry bodies etc) – that many sales people neglect their internal networking opportunities across their own organisation. This is where real service delivery happens. Building and maintaining the right connections within your own company; ensuring that internal customer (and supplier) relationships have been nurtured and developed with as much care and attention as is invested in external customer relationships. When was the last time you conducted an internal customer satisfaction survey – as compared with your external customers?
Improve your network equity and build more profitable connections with the ‘Networking Compass’