Recently I was talking with a member who made it clear they don’t waste time interacting with people who can’t buy their product. I found this to be an awfully short-sighted approach to meeting and interacting with other professionals.
Connecting to people you consider unimportant business prospects today could be a benefit to you in the future.
Networking is the foundation for successful sales, career advancement and business development. It is a required activity, regardless of a person’s stage of career or which product or service they are currently selling. If you’re questioning its relevance to conducting business today, may I remind you of the recent success of “social networking”.
A person’s network is something that is accumulated over time and, once built, can be tapped into to strengthen relationships or taken with them to their next place of business or as they advance in their career.
Failing to recognize the power of a strong network is detrimental to a person’s long-term success.
This discussion led me to reflect on the early years in developing my sales career. So, maybe it’s just time to get back to basics. It goes something like this:
Networking – You meet someone,
Suspecting – You think they may want your service,
Prospecting – They explain they are looking for what you provide,
Selling – You explain your features and benefits,
Closing – And they sign on the dotted line.
Of course, most of the time, that’s not how it goes. Sometimes, people are a part of your “network” for years before they qualify as a prospect and there are some people who will never buy from you, but having them in your network can enrich you in other ways. I can tell you I have many people that I regularly see, yet have never conducted business with them …but I sure have referred them on to others!
Potential customers who approach you and self-identify as a qualified prospect are few and far between. It’s been my experience that those who do usually do so because they have heard of you and your product or service through someone in your network.
This brings us full circle, back to the importance of having a strong network. Every successful business person knows that sitting around waiting for these easy sales is a fruitless endeavor. Sales success is a process that starts with meeting and connecting with other people.
If you want to find more suspects and prospects who can lead to closed sales, focus your networking efforts in areas where you are most likely to meet your target market.
Without a strong network, you can’t expect to become a rainmaker. The skill of bringing in numerous qualified prospects, which leads to sales meetings, which leads to high close ratios has to start from the foundation of a strong network. Otherwise, what do you have to draw from?
So my best advice for you is to please don’t attend a networking function with the expectation of making a quick sale, rather view it as an opportunity to build lasting relationships that will lead to numerous meaningful outcomes.