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Sales Technique Article - Networking Sales

Sales experts estimate that the vast majority of new openings are never advertised or publicly announced, but sourced through word-of-mouth or networking. The likelihood of an opening not being advertised at all increases with the level of the client's corporate image. Yet, even with this knowledge, most sales executives fail to fully utilise networking for all it's worth.

Networking means developing a broad list of contacts -- people you've met through various social and business functions -- and using them to your advantage when you look for a new client. People in your network may be able to give you sales leads, offer you advice and information about a particular company or industry, and introduce you to others so that you can expand your network.

The best place to start developing your network is with your family, friends, and neighbours -- and with their family, friends, and neighbours, but don't stop there. Talk to co-workers, colleagues in your industry, and those you meet at industry gatherings, such as trade shows and conferences. Talk with former co-workers, bosses, and teachers.

The key to successful networking is deciding to put the energy needed to make it work. First, you need to get organized (for example, keeping a business card file or computer database). Second, you need to stay in contact (for example, through regular phone calls, email, and PR campaigns). Third, you need to set goals for yourself (such as 5 new contacts per week).

The Steps to Successful Networking

  1. Develop a firm grasp of lead search basics. A good place to start is to review the results from your first contact network and look to expand this to a second tier, then a third and continue until you get referrals back to your first tier. Then evaluate the results and look at periphery contacts. This will bring you in contact with outside businesses with interest in your core business indirectly, but not always, some are building and are looking a lot closer at your industry specialisation and may want to talk to you.
  2. Conduct a self-assessment. An honest review of your strengths and weaknesses is vital. A good place to start is with the main core element of your business and look at added value to none core enterprises. You should also make some decision relating to the types of sales leads you want and the types of companies and industries that interest you. Unsure? Examine your successes and failures, re-network back to the ones that failed and ask for advice, they may tell you a few home truths or nothing at all, but if you don't ask you won't get either.
  3. Prepare a strong presentation. If you don't already have a presentation, now is the time to develop one. You should ideally develop two types of presentations -- one in traditional high in content with a longer delivery and one in short, concise format. You can practise these presentations with friends and colleagues.
  4. Decide how to organize your network. This step is crucial to your success. If you have ongoing access to a computer, the best method is a database or spreadsheet where you can enter key information, such as names, titles, company names, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, email addresses, and dates of communication. Keeping an organised collection of business cards, where you can write notes and comments about your network, is another alternative.
  5. Communicate with your network. It is extremely important to stay in touch with your network, which you can easily do by phone, mail, or email. Don't be afraid to ask for their help. Most people like helping others, and you must communicate your current needs with your network in order for them to be able to help you.
  6. Initiate informational interviews. One of the best ways to gain more information about an occupation or industry -- and to build a network of contacts in that field -- is to talk with people who are currently working in the field. The purpose of the informational interview is to obtain information, not to get a lead.
  7. Follow up with your network. The key is keeping your network informed of your situation and thanking them for their efforts. Never take your network for granted.

This is a basic outline; from here you can develop your own network and networking skills. Remember: No Network = No business.


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