As the old saying goes, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. According to many leading sales coaches, this adage is especially true when it comes to being successful at selling. You can do this by learning how to leverage personal contacts to improve sales numbers.
While many salespeople are hesitant about reaching out to their friends and family, there is little doubt personal networks can be a goldmine for professionals willing to make that first call.
It makes sense. People are far more likely to trust someone they know than some random salesperson they’ve never spoken to before. Because of this, you are more likely to make a sale if you have a personal connection to the person you’re pitching to.
Three out of four businesses say they prefer working with sales professionals who were recommended by somebody they know and trust. Additionally, research shows more than 90% of people are more likely to trust referrals from people they know.
Why You Should Leverage Your Connections to Improve Sales
There are many benefits to mining your personal connections. Learning to leverage personal contacts to improve sales can bring you more business and better customers. At the same time, you should feel more comfortable approaching them. One limiting belief that is common among salespeople is that they shouldn’t mix professional life with personal life. While in some cases this may be true, the fact is most people who know you also trust you and are willing to help you succeed.
It is also important to remember recommendations are a very effective way to grow your business and your personal connections can be very helpful in this area. Personally qualified referrals can help bridge otherwise uncrossable gaps to new prospects as, without that connection, you are a stranger to the prospect and they have no reason to trust you.
On the other hand, the person referring you can help turn that cold lead into a warm one and help you move through the process much faster than would have been possible otherwise.
This is also an inexpensive and efficient way to reach new prospects. With much of the usual ‘getting to know you’ process eliminated, you are able to move through to closing far more quickly than otherwise would have been possible.
Start With a Higher Level of Trust
This method of growing your clientele is becoming a mainstay piece of advice for many industry-leading sales trainers. In fact, most now believe that an introduction from a personal connection is the best way possible introduction to a new prospect with calling and emailing falling to a distant second and third place.
There is simply no easier way to get a conversation started than through a mutual connection. Once connected, the first step towards success is to make the process as easy as possible by explaining the value you have already provided to your common acquaintance and the value that you will be able to offer the new prospect.
Your mutual connection allows you to know more about the prospect before you reach out to them. For example, they can provide advice about the best way to contact the prospect. Even better, they may offer to make that first contact for you and help set up an initial meeting. A great tip is to provide your contact with an email draft that they can customize before sending it to the prospect.
How to Leverage Personal Contacts to Improve Sales
Even though there are multiple upsides to employing this type of prospecting, the many nuances involved often stop sales professionals from using it. Be sure to include this topic the next time you conduct training for your sales team.
Additionally, it is important to understand that personal networks don’t only come from existing clients, friends, and family. However, the closer your referral is to your prospect, the better. That person should be someone your prospect respects, trusts, and considers credible.
Before reaching out to your contact, make sure you have an appropriate product or service to pitch. Furthermore, always conduct yourself in a professional manner. No-one is going to want to make an introduction for you if you can’t be professional with them, no matter how well they know you.
Remember, your contact is taking on the responsibility of introducing you to one of their connections. This raises the stakes on both sides. Give your contact space to reach out and don’t pressure them with unnecessary calls.
Understand that it may take some time so be patient. Also, don’t forget to act professionally to avoid damaging your reputation or causing your contact to question your intent. Avoid reaching out to the prospect without running it by your mutual contact first. It’s a small courtesy that may end up saving both relationships.
Here are a few key tips gleaned from the teachings of top certified sales coaches:
- Avoid asking the same person for multiple introductions
- Explain clearly why you’re asking for the introduction
- Outline the value to the intended prospect
- Give your connection an easy way to decline your request
- Keep your connection informed about progress
- Don’t pressure your contacts
- Don’t forget to thank your contact
- Offer more referrals. The more you give, the more you get
Learning how to leverage your personal contacts to improve sales is not only doable, it is a key part of the success enjoyed by many leading sales professionals. If you’re still on the fence about approaching your friends and family for help, hopefully, this article has made you realize that you should ‘get over it.’ Who knows? You might even be doing them a favor!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Natasa Tomic is a journalist and content producer who specializes in writing about business and sales.