Networking and Sales

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networkYour network used to be the people you knew, the people who referred you, the people you had some degree of trust with. Then there was the rest of the world – your customers, your prospects and the people who will or would buy from you. These are the people you “followed up” with.

Communicating with the people you know = networking

Communicating with the people you don’t know = selling

This is old school thinking.

If there is one thing that most sellers are genuinely poor at – it is following up. Most follow up opening statements go something like this:

“Hi, it’s Carson from Direct Contact calling – it’s been a few months since we last spoke so I thought I would give you a call today.”

This kind of follow up has absolutely no value for the buyer. It is simply asking/stating that “It has been at least 3 months since you bought something or last said no to me – are you ready to buy something now?” All this kind of salesy talk does is reinforce stigmas and frustrate buyers.

In the paradigm of Sales2.0, this kind of separation no longer exists. Effective sellers do not follow up with but network with their prospects and customers. Who exactly is in your network today? Everybody is. Your customers, your prospects, your friends, your contacts… etc… Sellers are connecting with business people daily – surely there are referral opportunities between prospects and customers in your pipeline right now.

So how do you do that exactly?

Give people something they value – information.

There are a couple of very easy ways to do this. RSS feeds are a great example.If you don’t know what an RSS feed is – click here – and then come back to this post.

Using RSS (or Google Alerts) to collect information to share with your market is an effective way of staying in touch and providing value at the same time. Include the article link in an email with a brief statement such as:

“I came across this and thought of you today – hope things are going well. Let me know if there is anything I can do for you and keep in touch.”

Pretty simple. To the point, No selling allowed.

Stop following up and start networking.

3 Social Media Tools for B2B Sales

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Here are 3 great social media tools for B2B sellers:

  1. Linkedin
  2. Brightkite
  3. RSS

Linkedin

Ok – no real need for a deep analysis here – Linkedin is a place you need to be if you are engaged in social networking for business. If you use nothing else – use this. Some tips for use:

  • Use your LI profile as your core – drive your network here
  • Get a good photo of yourself
  • Get some recommendations up there from both colleagues and clients
  • Connect with all your top prospects and current customers
  • Don’t “sell” through your profile

If you concentrate on building a powerful network (that means your contacts are active and that they know you), and focus on positioning yourself as someone who brings value to their network and who provides expertise in their field – buyers will seek you out. At the same time, you are always available and reaching out…

BrightKite

Brightkite allows you to “check in” or post your position on a map so your network (or Sales Manager!) will be able to see where you are at any given moment. If a contact can see that you are out on the road – they may reach out to you to leverage your proximity. If your network is using Brightkite, you will be able to see what they are up to as well on any given day which can allow you to meet up. All this is done via your handheld/mobile device. Brightkite increases and promotes your visibility, it helps people find you if they want/need to. Who knows who may be at the same baseball game, or conference, or stuck in traffic…

You can also benefit from using Brightkite with internal resources as well.

RSS

Nothing could be easier and bring more value to your network than RSS feeds. What is RSS? Click here to see a brief explanation of what RSS is and does.

Get yourself a Reader (I use Google) and start subscribing to feeds – things that your network will care about. Things like their industry or your industry, things about their company or your company, things that are important to you in your role. Beyond providing some great background and building your knowledge – you can share this info with your network. Don’t sell… provide something that your network will care about – give them something they can actually use.

You can further leverage your RSS feeds by using other tools like Twitter, Facebook or Delicious to promote and share info with your network. No matter what the platform is – keep finding interesting, informative and valuable information to push out.

In Closing…

In the world of Sales 2.0 there is no “Prospecting” or “Following Up” – it is simply networking. In the Sales 1.0 world there was your “network” – a group of people who gave you tips and referrals and there was your “prospects/customers” – the group of people you sold to and who bought from you. It doesn’t work like that anymore…

Now – there is just 1 network. Some are people who will buy from you, some never will. Some will refer you business, others will receive your referrals. Some are your friends and family. Some are on multiple platforms (like Facebook or Twitter). Some are colleagues and some are clients.