Sunday, December 04, 2016
The ABCs of Sales - N is for Networking
All opportunities come from people. To reach your full potential you need a group of peers to help you connect the dots, as no individual can ever be aware of everything that is happening in their business community. The most successful sales professionals are often great at creating long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with clients, prospects, referral sources and even competitors.
Networking is not about just getting leads or other personal gains. As mentioned above you have to cultivate long-term and mutually beneficial relationships, which means real networking means helping others reach their highest potential. Average performers justify they are too busy with their own jobs to think about ways to assist others, but the most successful know that a rising tide raises all boats.
You cannot sell most products or services by hiding behind social media. All things being equal, people do business with those they know, like, and trust. It used to be that getting to know someone was long process and along the way came "like" and "trust" (or not). But over the past decade the ease of discovering basic information via the internet has mistakenly made it seem like people all "know" each other. But really they just know "about" them. It is harder to get to like and trust without some personal interactions, and this is where being engaged with other is they key.
Networking should not be seen as an action you take when you need something, but instead it must be a part of your lifestyle. Those who make networking a second-tier priority will have second-tier results. To realize the benefits from networking one has to have a long-term focus. Finding ways to help others achieve their goals will come back many times over a career.
It is important to remember that networking is NOT sales. But sales efforts without the human connection will often come up short. Do not confuse networking activities with sales activities, but remember that a transaction without any long-term meaning is simply a transaction. When we do business with another person it can be a foundation for future opportunities. However if the purpose is simply to get the sale, and there is not investment in the person, we should not be surprised when our client's referrals and future business go to our competition.
Some argue that they do not have time to invest in a relationship with everyone they meet. I believe we must choose people every time. This does not mean everyone becomes your best friend, but if you honor every person many will return the favor. Most people you encounter have very interesting parts to their lives beyond signing your contract. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Be curious. You will not have an ongoing "love connection" with everybody, but if you are open to it, you will create some powerful business friendships along the way.
Every time you are in a sales situation remind yourself that the person on the other side of the transaction is a person... .and all people have a life beyond the product or service being discussed. Make it a point to find out about their life. If you are interested in them they will become interested in you.
Networking is the creation of long-term and mutually-beneficial relationships between two or more people where everyone involved gains more from the connections than they would without the connections. It is that simple.
Have A Great Day