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Networking is critical in sales, helping salespeople identify potential customers and create sales-ready solutions for them. But sometimes, even using all the right tactics and strategies, you could still need help connecting with your prospects or convincing them to sign on the dotted line.
For salespeople, networking is an essential component of their job; it’s the foundation for finding new customers and building relationships with existing ones. Without networking, many salespeople would be out of work, but networking can also be complex–especially if you are new in the field.
If you’ve found yourself facing this problem lately, read on to learn some practical networking tips that will help you connect with your prospects, establish trust, and successfully close the deal.
What is sales networking?
Networking is the process of meeting and interacting with others to develop professional connections. It is about finding new opportunities, building relationships, and making new contacts. Networking isn’t just about collecting business cards or catching up with old friends at an event-it’s about developing a solid professional network to support you in the future.
As such, it’s essential to pay attention to how your initial contact behaves during these initial moments of interaction; if they’re looking around the room distractedly instead of engaging with you, they may not be interested in expanding their social circle. If they seem interested but aren’t providing much information about themselves, you’ll need to take control of the conversation by asking them questions like, “What do you do?”
Why is sales networking important?
Sales networks are a great way to create stronger relationships with people who have the power to buy your product. Using various strategies and tactics, you can increase your chances of contacting potential buyers and increase the likelihood that they will want to work with you. The best part is that most people enjoy talking about themselves, so they’ll be happy to answer any questions you might have about their needs or what they’re looking for in a solution.
Sales networking is also crucial because it allows professionals to make initial contacts which may lead to client contacts. Professional networks help build stronger relationships between two professionals, which leads to the exchange of information that may lead to joint ventures, referrals, new business opportunities and a whole lot more. In addition, through professional networks, you will learn more about company culture and may get insights into how clients operate, which would help you better understand your customers’ perspectives when selling them solutions.
Networking provides an excellent chance to meet other professionals in different fields who could offer advice and insight on ways your company could expand its customer base. Some experts say the key to success at networking events is simply showing up, as many successful connections happen randomly. One suggestion is to arrive early at an event, shake hands and introduce yourself when there’s no line, then mingle after introductions are made around the room.
Networking events provide a valuable opportunity for prospects to interact with existing clients and partners, enabling one-on-one discussions that highlight the value proposition offered by your company.
Sales networking tips
Join peer group events
Networking events are one of the best ways to meet new people and build relationships. Join a peer group event where you can get to know other business owners who can give you advice and support. As you network with them, create a list of potential clients to approach in your search for customers. You can use social media to make initial contact, then call or email these contacts with your list of potential solutions when they’re ready. If interested, continue building on this relationship by inviting them out for coffee or lunch and ask about their interests so that you can provide more tailored advice as needed.
Make contact with attendees before the event. Send an introductory message through LinkedIn or Facebook ahead of time. Attendees will appreciate the gesture, and it’ll help break the ice once you finally meet face-to-face.
Remember to ask questions; be inquisitive during conversations at a networking event. Lean on what makes each person tick, but don’t forget to keep asking questions yourself too. Follow up with connections. A week after attending an event is typically enough time to reach out again if there’s someone from whom you’d like to hear back professionally.
Find super-connectors and help them out
Every salesperson knows they need to network with potential clients in order to close deals. But what do you do when you’ve exhausted your list of connections and still don’t have a sale? The answer is simple: Find super-connectors; they know everyone and can help you get in front of the right people. Super-connectors can introduce you to their contacts. Once you meet them, it’s essential to follow up and say thank you.
For instance, if you want to meet someone who will be in town on business but isn’t sure where they’re staying yet, ask the hotel concierge what hotels are hosting conferences or large events that week. They’ll be able to point out where these people are most likely staying.
Super-connectors should also be rewarded for their efforts. When thanking them with a gift, make sure to send a handwritten thank-you card or basket of goodies. Keep track of which ones help you so you can return the favour later!
Ask for referrals and introductions
Networking events can be a great way to build relationships with potential clients, but keeping things professional is always important. Introducing yourself to new people at these events can be challenging, but one way to make introductions easier is by asking someone you know to introduce you. This introduction will give the person you’re meeting more context about your role and help them feel more comfortable with your presence.
Start by asking for referrals and introductions from your professional networks. This will help you build stronger relationships with potential clients. Reach out to people in your network and ask them if they know anyone who could use your services. Ask them for referrals and introductions, and remember that introductions can often be more effective than cold calls.
Remember that maintaining those conections is a large part of building stronger relationships with prospective clients. It’s not enough to meet someone once or twice; you should regularly follow up and maintain contact, so they remember who you are when they need your services in the future. It also never hurts to offer valuable advice or insights that might help them get ahead in their work or career.
Turn to LinkedIn and build your brand
LinkedIn allows you to meet like-minded individuals with similar interests to you. Your professional network is valuable, so get out of there and start meeting people. Find networking events that will help you make contact with potential clients. This can be done through LinkedIn groups or professional organizations in your city. Establishing these initial contacts will lead to stronger relationships, which can lead to the development of client contacts that will hopefully turn into more business deals in the future.
Follow these steps to build your brand on LinkedIn so you can start networking with prospects right away:
- Connect with people you already know, including coworkers and friends.
- Establish a professional presence by creating a profile that includes your work experience, education and area of expertise.
- Expand your reach by adding a link to other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter, where you have an active account.
- Consider joining groups related to what you sell or the industry you work in; this will allow you access to the group’s posts and members who may be potential prospects.
- Join discussion boards related to what you sell or where your company works- this will allow potential prospects access to the discussion board’s content and members who may be potential prospects.
Build your prospect dream 100 list and get on their radar
An excellent place to start is by building your prospect dream 100 list and getting on their radar. The prospect dream 100 list is the next best thing to knowing the name of your ideal customer. With this list, you can identify and connect with prospects who could be interested in your product. This involves networking with people who have connections to these people so that they will introduce you or recommend you to their friends.
Two necessary steps:
- Take time to research the individual beforehand (just a quick Google search) so that you can understand their background and offer value in some way.
- Offer them an insightful connection with someone they might not know but who would make sense based on their discussion. Make it clear how they could benefit from knowing each other.
To get on a prospect’s radar, follow them on social media and other digital channels, attend conferences or networking events they might speak at or sponsor, read blogs they write for their industry, subscribe to their newsletters if possible, etc. When it comes time for a deal-closing meeting, your relationship will already be solidified because you’ve been paying attention throughout the process.
Join private online communities / Dark social
Private online communities are a great way to connect with other professionals in your field, find new business opportunities and stay updated on industry trends. Join professional networks like LinkedIn, Twitter or Google + and connect with people you know.
Joining a professional pirate network is a great way to network with people with similar jobs and interests. This will help you meet new people, learn about the latest trends in your industry, and find out what other companies are doing right. You must only join one or two in the beginning so that it doesn’t overwhelm your schedule. In addition, make an effort to connect with others, even if you don’t know someone well. Remember to be genuine and friendly.
Alternatively, attend networking events to meet new contacts in person. Attend seminars and webinars from time to time if you have the opportunity to do so, as this can be a good way of building relationships. With these types of connections, it is vital to keep in touch regularly and nurture stronger relationships.
Follow Up With People You Meet
As soon as you get home from an event, take the time to send a follow-up email. Don’t wait for a week to pass. You might be surprised how many people will respond if you don’t wait too long. Don’t make sales on these emails; keep them short and informative- this is just your way of saying you were interested in your conversation. Include your contact information at the end and save your sales pitch for when they’re ready to buy. If you follow up with a call, be present and attentive, even during those long uncomfortable pauses. You must show that you’re engaged with what’s being said by nodding or adding a sentence or two in agreement here and there.
Effective networking can differentiate between a salesperson closing deals or coming up short. To close more deals, it’s crucial that you find the right people and build relationships with them. You must attend industry events, visit prospective companies in person, and network online with potential partners/ customers using social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter.
The last thing to remember is that some of your best prospects are those who have never heard of your company before. So, when making connections, don’t forget to leave a remarkable impression. Success in any business involves finding the right people and building long-term relationships with them. If you’re not doing these things effectively, you will find yourself spending all your time trying to get new customers rather than existing ones, which results in no growth!
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