“A network is only as helpful as the people within it.” - John Hall.
Can you recall your school days?
You may be seated in a lively classroom alongside 30 other students. You shared not only the classroom but also teaching sessions, playground moments, cultural events, and more.
But the question is were all of them your friends? Probably not!
In such an environment, it's natural to create a network by connecting and forming soft relationships. However, when it comes down to it, your true friend circle is often curated by those individuals who genuinely bring positive value to your life.
Now why am I mentioning this?
Because sales networking follows a similar pattern but with a professional twist. During the ongoing procedure of building an effective networking for sales, your go-to source channel for generating leads could be anything from referrals to social media.
Later on, your strategy for building sales engagement will determine which are the actually beneficial connections within your network. By this, you can strategically suppress the engagement with fruitless connections from the list and turn your success into a higher profit percentage while prioritizing the most reliable ones.
So, brace yourself to dive into the article, where you'll have an explanation of each of the questions that you may have in your head related to sales networking.
Sales networking is your gateway to generating hot leads while applying various techniques, from connecting with referrals and collaborating with competitors to leveraging social media channels and more.
And if you really want to get a successful sales network, remember the mantra:
‘Don't forget who you know, but also pay attention to those who know you.’
The initial step in sales networking is simple: Either meet new people who have the potential to drive sales and generate revenue in your business or find those existing consumers who can introduce you to the next potential ones. Either way, you will be successful in accomplishing goals if you’ll sensibly handle them with your amazing actionable sales pitches.
Now, if you ask me how sales networking is beneficial for your business, my single sentenced answer would be the simplest:
‘Your sales network can be your net worth for your business.’
Why? The more sales connections you have in your list, the more opportunities you gain for generating revenue with ultimate net profits while driving your business towards a new height.
How? Look below!
Knowledge isn't restricted by any boundaries of age or time. While you're on the way to building a sales network, sharing different ideas and points of view drives you to step into another person's shoes.
This can be incredibly beneficial, especially when you gain the opportunity to learn and avoid some common pitfalls that they have experienced.
Growth in sales, in a way, depends on applying your intelligence to sales engagement. When you meet people, talk to them, understand their persona, and approach them with a tailored solution, it will gradually increase your self-confidence.
The more connections you have in your sales networking list, the more opportunities you gain for generating revenue with ultimate net profits while driving your business towards a new height.
Building a sales network must be strategic. And before jotting down your smart methods for building a sales network, you should follow certain points. Here are the major factors that should capture your attention in formulating sales networking:
Have you decided whom you want to connect with?
Before directly engaging yourself in building a sales network, you should identify your target audience based on your niche. Because those individuals are most likely to desire purchasing your products or services. Don't leave it to luck, and avoid networking randomly to prevent wasting your time and energy.
For example, you can observe the transformation of Old Spice, an American male grooming brand. In 2010, The brand aimed to revamp its product while specifically targeting the younger generation.
However, their brand was initially made for older sections only. But with the need of the hour, they assessed market trends and shifted their focus on targeting teens to 34 years old.
This shows that your target market should be pinpointed. Because according to the taste of your target people, you will build content for sales engagement be it for social media or sales pitches while building a significant sales network.
What’s your preference for channels to stay in touch with your target audience?
Well, before exploring various mediums to reach individuals, you may ask yourself certain questions:
Do you have any common connections to smoothen your initial interaction?
Do you both belong to any common places, such as any groups or social media platforms?
For example, if you intend to approach higher-ranking executives, such as CEOs or COOs, your chosen medium can be LinkedIn over email because there is a higher possibility for you to get a response on the LinkedIn platform.
This comparison is worthwhile because data shows LinkedIn Inmail messages can bring you a response rate of around 10-25%, while for email, it is around 1-10%. In this case, you can utilize LinkedIn for your customer engagement to increase sales.
“The key is in not spending time, but in investing it.” – Stephen R. Covey.
Opportunity doesn’t work after reaching every sales connection and spending a lot of time with them. Instead, I can say there is always a 'Perfect opportunity' to invest your time to reach your potential connections and have a meaningful discussion.
Well, it's not always about a specific date or minute when I talk about timing in sales; instead, if your target individuals are in the best frame of mind to hear from you, seize that moment immediately to initiate a sales-enabled network.
If the aforementioned steps are overwhelming for you, you may say, ‘I don't know where to start,’ and that's completely fine.
Then, arrange follow-up appointments with your clients, either right away or later on. But to ensure you don't miss any crucial points and to maintain a smooth conversation flow, always research the client's last sales history.
To make your choices smarter, you can streamline your follow-up efforts with a sales CRM like Zixflow. With Zixflow, you can establish a medium for follow-up reminders, whether it be a call or email.
You can input details about your leads and prospects, and you can also set due dates and times in automated mode. Moreover, you can set up follow-up meetings in seconds with the Zixflow meeting scheduler.
This will definitely turn your gain into saving time, avoiding conflicts with your sales networking professionals, and syncing effective communication to provide you with fruitful results.
Because now, it's your time to say goodbye to manual processes and embrace a scalable and sustainable automated practice.
To put your sales networking efforts in the right place, you need to ensure mitigating the risks of easy-to-avoid blunders and determining result-driven paths. That's why I'm presenting a checklist of do's and don'ts:
Don't be quiet; instead, initiate a conversation with interesting sales qualifying questions. Asking broad questions may sound useful to dig deeper into your customers' intent, but having a smart strategy is an even better choice for you.
Ask your potential sales leads about their business and where they are, how they got to know about the sales networking events, what their biggest challenges are facing in the business, what extraordinary service they are looking for, or how you may help them encounter their challenges.
Don't interrupt, rush, or dominate the ongoing conversation; instead, listen more than you speak to show respect toward your valuable sales connections. If you're pitching for 20% of the meeting time, allow your connections to talk for around 80% of the time. This is called the 80-20 rule of active listening.
Listening actively will provide you insights into leads’ pain points, choices, and preferences. The more you listen, the stronger the understanding you build with them, and gain more opportunities to overcome various objections in sales.
“As much as I love speakers, they always want to promote themselves. Don’t be that guy.” - Tom Abott.
Let's suppose you're attending an in-person sales event, and if you're there with a mindset of only taking rather than giving, then you need to reconsider your approach.
Of course, as a sales professional, your ultimate goal is closing the deal, but at the same time, closing the deal on the spot should not be mandatory.
Don't forget that sales networking is always a two-way street where your priority of building a relationship over celebrating deal closures will demonstrate your genuineness and help you break the ice.
“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”- Albert Einstein.
Let’s suppose you’re a sales professional of yard maintenance service. And you start with ‘50% of homes don’t consider maintenance services’- Sound boring or not?
Rather your pitch can be the same as this:
‘Hey, this is Jolly, from XYZ company, here for your yard maintenance service. Surprisingly, 50% of homes don’t consider maintenance services resulting in thousands paid to the homeowner association. But you can escape this issue smoothly with our expertise.'
All-in-all for building an effective sales network, your sales pitching words should be sweet, simple, concise, easy-to-understand, and with a personalized touch. This requirement is mandatory to appeal to an emotion in your consumers’ hearts and instantly create a wow moment while impressing your sales prospects.
To understand more, look at the video of 10-year-old Cassidy who absolutely owned her killer sales pitch to the Sharks in U.S. Shark Tank.
If you've had meetings and conversations over any sales network channels, such as events, social media, or anything else, don't forget to send reminders.
Why is it important? Well, to stay on top of your target people's minds, follow-up is mandatory. They may have a ton of priorities in their busy schedules, and you may get lost among them. So, the sooner you reconnect with them, the better your chances. But remember, to add value to the reminder messages, avoid writing 'I'm just checking in.'
For instance, Refinery 29, an American multinational digital brand, hosts an event that consists of 29 individual rooms for its attendees to provide a seamless experience blended with style, culture, and technology. Amongst the 29, there is a room that the creators of Refinery 29 provide its audience to make them experience a range of soothing tones after hitting different punching bags.
Now, think, if it's their selling strategy and if they forget to engage with its audience after the event, it will eventually take the brand away from its customers. From here, you may understand that to keep things remarkable and memorable, prioritizing follow-ups should always be there in your list especially when you intend to showcase care and value and to know what’s in your audience’s minds.
“When your goals are clear, you will come up with exactly the right answer at exactly the right time.” - Brian Tracy.
Building an effective sales network equals having patience, which will reap rewards in the long run. But to simplify your way, take a look at these 11 ways to build your sales networks and foster relationships for enhancing possibilities of success in sales 👇
According to statistics from Invespcro, referral leads can win over other sales networking channels by 30% and with a 16% higher lifetime value. And these sales leads cost you little to nothing for acquisition in the first place - a win-win for you.
Always try to avoid meeting with a dozen people either. Why? Because your warm referrals are more noteworthy compared to your cold emails or cold calls.
And you can turn those leads into your lifelong loyal consumers with the help of your existing customers. Because we all know, we love to adhere to suggestions from our nearest ones rather than going with a novice. Furthermore, approach your existing customers who send you referrals, with incentives such as discounts or gift coupons to boost their interest in more referrals.
For example, instead of directly asking your existing leads, ‘Will you introduce me to your connections?’, properly ask them, as mentioned below:
‘Hi (Client name),
We are glad that we could be of help to you with (XYZ product or service) and have successfully achieved (XYZ results). Now, we're looking to grow our business through referrals from our happy clients. We've noticed that you're connected to (X number of people) on LinkedIn who could be an excellent fit for our business.
Could you please suggest some referrals for us? So, we can identify them to create a shortlist based on your perception. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated. And we would love to hear from you.
To eliminate the task of building a sales network from scratch, take a look at your existing network of professionals from different types of sales. But before connecting with them, clarify your objective:
What are you looking to achieve?
Is it to increase referrals, share leads, co-sell complementary products, or simply build a strong relationship?
For example, D2D Pro, a Nigerian solar light business, partnered with Innovectives, which already had its own large-scale network of sales professionals. Now, after collaborating, 60 smart sales agents have enhanced D2D Pro's profit margins by selling solar lights alongside their wider range of products.
Furthermore, to initiate engaging conversations with sales pros, you can share industry news, insights, and endorse their skills on LinkedIn. Additionally, you can offer exclusive deals such as access to your products or services, provide sales training sessions or workshops to enhance their sales skills, and further strengthen loyalty within your business.
Make an agenda: Invest your crucial time in attending in-person sales networking events quarterly or on a monthly basis. However, you must avoid being overly salesy or boring while trying to build relationships for selling. Instead, choose to make your presence informative and memorable, and put in the effort to stand out in a crowded room.
If you're going for an in-person meeting, always maintain a positive attitude and overcome nervousness to appear professional. Try to focus on the core question:
Why are you there?
What's your ultimate agenda to achieve?
Ensure you have your business cards on hand so that your target people do not face any obstacles when trying to connect with you. However, simultaneously, shift your focus towards engaging in meaningful conversations rather than just collecting business cards from others.
As per stats from Statista, while 3.8 billion users are actively using the internet, over 2.4 billion people are present on social media. And who knows, there may be someone who could become your future sales networking lead.
To attract people for sales networking on social media, create buzz with engaging content. Never forget that content is your king on social media but to put value you need to prioritize quality over quantity. Well, it's even better for you to craft different types of engaging content based on various social channels.
For example, your target audience is the young new generation but your social media content says it's for grandpa. Ouch! Sounds weird? Well, to fix your brand image for building a worthwhile sales network and to increase sales through social media, your sales-engaging content should be perfect in every inch be it image, CTA, or script.
To create interactive posts on social media, share real-life stories about work-life integration, challenges, and achievements. You can post tips about your products and services to showcase their exclusivity and directly share screenshots of customer testimonials, case studies, and consumer feedback.
Moreover, to initiate interaction with your target audience, keep an eye on their latest social media posts. Identify opportunities where your sales expertise can add value and provide top-notch solutions instantly.
For example, you can observe how Starbucks employs the tactic of showcasing customer feedback to naturally establish brand credibility. This well-curated strategy seamlessly captures its audience's attention, driving them to engage within its network while accelerating the sales process.
Presenting an online webinar or workshop can be your sales networking channel.
Why? When your online event attendees interact with each other, they will share their ideas and enjoy it more. During the webinar, you can offer live polling to allow participants to voice their opinions and facilitate the discussion, thereby enhancing engagement.
So, after the session, your attendees are most likely to register and attend your next webinar. Not only that, but your audience will be more aware of your brand and its message, which will help drive their purchasing intention.
But that's not the end of it. Announce lucrative freebies for attendees who stay until the end. Most importantly, never forget to send them your sales page to provide comprehensive details of what it offers to your attendees with a CTA (Call To Action) button and create a sense of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) to trigger sales psychology.
For instance, to understand the approach, let's take an example from one of the well-known beauty retail umbrellas, Sephora, where multiple beauty brands host live webinars on a regular basis just like Fable & Mane. Although these events aren't free, Sephora's loyal customers register their seats by spending their loyalty points.
Now, before you start thinking about how it is possible, let me tell you that these programs are organized as an open platform for discussion that potentially provides value. Also, the attendees receive gifts as a token of appreciation which are mailed to them right after the events. This means the post-event engagement tactics by Sephora foster the relationship while establishing the bridge of sales networking.
Have you ever had to cancel an online event with short notice? Probably, yes!
Well, you can't overlook the value of retargeting your audience, who might have been potential attendees of your canceled event. The truth is, you may have missed them already.
But don't worry. You can reconnect with them and make another attempt to establish a sales network and build emotional intelligence to increase sales by delivering refreshed sales-engaging content in various ways.
When it comes to repurposing content, video content could be your first choice. However, do not underestimate the significance of well-designed infographics, or a white paper containing well-researched facts and figures. Also, you can turn your old blog pieces into an informative and engaging podcast.
To create a well-established sales network, finding a good connection is as important as building rapport with your prospects or leads. But to win over rapport-building, don’t get too comfortable, too fast, or crack lame jokes over phone calls.
Like a smart sales rep, give them undivided attention, take important notes of their concerns, and let them speak without interruptions. And finally, recite your summary of keynotes and convey that their satisfaction is as much important to you as it means to them.
Remember, your target prospect is coming to you for solutions. And if you’re successful in brushing off their concerns with a precise solution, you’ll push them one step closer to feeling worthy which turns your game of networking into sales.
For example, in the SaaS business, new leads may find themselves struggling with the new product. As you know, learning the features of new software is not as easy as snapping your fingers. They may be looking for an immediate solution.
And here is your catch to help them right away while also building rapport in sales. They’ll surely remember your proactive response and be eager to remain in your network.
“Instead of just going head-to-head as foaming-at-the-mouth competitors, think of ways you can partner.” - Josh Linkner.
What if I say collaborating with your competitors is trendy nowadays for creating a win-win sales networking environment? Surprised?
For your understanding, consider this example: According to Harvard Business Review, General Motors from the U.S. and Toyota from Japan, the two most prominent automotive manufacturing companies collaboratively work together to assemble automobile equipment. Siemens from Germany and Philips from the Netherlands together work to develop semiconductor chips.
This is an example of willing collaboration between competitors for manufacturing, the same concept goes for sales networking collaboration with your competitors.
In general terms, you may call this competitor's collaboration, a joint venture, outsourcing agreement, or any other words. But the motto is one and that is to facilitate a top-notch business experience.
Also building these kinds of effective networks means you can accelerate sales for your business and drive revenue while reducing independent costs such as inventory, maintenance, and legal expenses.
If you're connecting with a prospect and they say no to your product or service, what's your perception on that? Perhaps you assume it's an absolute 'No' forever.
But what if I told you that sometimes that 'No' actually means 'Not right now'?
Don't be too predictable. When you reach out to various individuals in search of sales opportunities, some of them become your loyal customers while others are not. However, that doesn't mean they can never be.
Why? Because with time your target audience's needs, priorities, goals, and challenges can change.
To build your network for driving sales, it's essential to revisit and reconnect with your closed and lost sales leads. Include this approach in one of your best sales engagement practices. You might not be able to convince them to purchase your offerings in just a few attempts. Yet, your persistent approach with exclusive deals could eventually persuade them to give it a try.
Do you overlook the importance of sending a follow-up email?
If so, it's time to change your perspective.
Why? A sales representative from your efficient sales team may put all their effort into sending a great initial email as the first step in networking for sales, but the sales follow-up email often becomes nothing more than a box-ticking exercise.
The follow-up email serves as a daily reminder to your prospects or leads about your sales-related conversations, and it should be a crucial component in your sales strategy for generating revenue from new businesses. However, it's essential to maintain a straightforward and transparent approach.
To automate your follow-up process, utilize the email marketing tool Zixflow. With Zixflow you can set your cost-effective email campaigns while accessing data of your buyers’ journey to your sales history. There you can autogenerate, rewrite, or summarize the content with a built-in AI writer by giving certain instructions and sending the content with captivating customized email templates.
Moreover, you can efficiently manage your opt-ins, unsubscribe, and blocked contacts, so that you can invest your crucial time with your loyal consumers while sending them automated customized email messages.
For example, if you want to prevent your email from ending up in the recipient's spam folder, make replying a one-click task for them with this type of message:
‘Hi (Client name),
I’m emailing you again because I haven’t heard back from you till now. Although I want to draw your attention to ensure I’m not bothering you.
Press 1: If you’re busy but still have an interest in our (XYZ product or service).
Press 2: If you need some more time get back to me.
Press 3: If you’d like me to leave this connection.
Enjoy your day.
“Without a streamlined sales process, the only thing you can predict is unpredictability.” - J Barrows.
If you've followed the aforementioned process, you're on your way to the sales networking journey.
But if you're looking to simplify the nurturing of your hard-earned business relationships, who should you turn to?
The easiest and most exciting way to maintain simplicity and effectiveness in your interactions with sales connections is through modern high-tech sales productivity tools. When it comes to streamlining your contact management and effectively nurturing them at the right time at the right place, Zixflow can be your best fit.
Now you may ask, ‘Why should I rely on Zixflow?’ To answer that question, take a look below:
Whether you’re an entrepreneur, a small startup, or a large enterprise, you can't achieve your desired revenue without a strong sales network. In that case, knowing how to build an effective sales network with these eleven different methods isn’t always spontaneous. You should be willing to proactively explore more and modify your sales strategy according to the needs of the hour.
Furthermore, to stay in the dynamic and competitive sales market, you have to nurture your customer relationships in every aspect, from generating leads to retargeting and retaining them efficiently.
So, once you embrace your transformative sales potential with Zixflow, you will experience your sales efficiency shining, which will eventually turn your table to achieve the desired ROI.
Don’t wait. Give Zixflow a free try now!