Mon, 15 June 2020
How to Network Your Way into Value
Building your network is an important step in being a success in sales. With a good network, you’re able to network your value. Curt Tueffert is the Vice President of sales development for a large industrial distributor in Houston, Texas. The company was founded in 1908 is now a multinational publicly traded company with over 200 outside sales. Curt’s job is to manage a small group responsible for developing sales training, sales leadership, and vision casting for the rest of the team.
Curt is also a sales instructor at the University of Houston, an author of two books, and travels across the United States trying to coach people in getting better at sales. He teaches that sales is a work in progress and no two sales are the same. Each sale needs to be approached with curiosity to discover what is needed to build relationships.
Defining networking and value
Curt points out that networking isn’t about the people you know, it’s about the people who know you. You can know 10 people but it’s more important to have 100 people who know you and see you as a source and resource of value. Customers and prospects are the ones who define your value in sales. You expand your network by constant communication and the cadence in which you release information they feel is valuable. This is especially true at this time where we have new rules of engagement in 2020. Now that you have time, this is a great opportunity to enhance and increase your network.
Network your way into value
Curt shares three ways you can network your way into value:
These elements affect your ability to influence other people using the research you’ve uncovered, and how you barter your information in exchange for information they can provide in turn. This is what networking is all about.
The organization chart
Let’s look at a company that has multiple branches of influence. When you build your organizational chart, you may start with one person but you need to know who is above them and below them, who their peers are, and the chain of command. Ideally, you want to know who is two levels up, two levels across, and two levels deep. Why so much effort? Let’s use “Greg” as an example. Greg is the person you talk to in the organization and he’s in purchasing, maintenance or the engineer. In the entire organization, you only know Greg, not his peers, the people they report to, or who their leaders are. In the event of lay-off or acquisition where Greg gets replaced, without an organizational chart, that account is lost to you. You need to know who else you can talk to.
Salespeople tend to move through the path of least resistance, going to the nicest people or those who accept the gifts. There’s got to be a deeper knowledge of the accounts you’re working with. If you don’t know all the other players, you’ll be cut out of the loop if the organizational chart changes. However, if you have taken the time to know Greg, you know that Greg’s boss is Lisa and Lisa’s boss is David. The fact that David knows you will allow you to present your value proposition up your organization chart, across your organization chart, and down your organizational chart. When your number one contact gets promoted up or out of the company, continue to update that network.
It is detrimental for a salesperson to not have an organization chart for his top 10 accounts since these accounts typically represent 90% of your W2. If you lose one of your accounts, you may decrease your W2 by 42%, all because you didn’t take the time to do the heavy lifting on the front end.
Building the connection
Building the connection then and now is different. Your job as a salesperson is to become a detective through social media and to build those relationships in person. If you want to network for value, you’ve got to really know the interests of the people in your organizational chart. When you offer value, you don’t have to track people down. People will come looking for you.
It’s not about the people you know but the people who know you
You can add value by connecting the people who know you to one another. This is beckoning to your network. What makes people run is illustrated in the book called Appreciation Marketing: How to Achieve Greatness Through Gratitude written by Tommy Hyatt and Curtis Lewsey talks about networking. The book uses the illustration of seven creatures, one of which is the vulture who just perches waiting to suck the life out of people at a social networking event. Another is the narcissist who is only waiting to tell people what they do. Both of these sellers make it all about them.
Spend time on social media platforms such as LinkedIn learning about the people in your circles. Be curious about them and collect information that can show you how to add value through their interests. Once you’ve built that relationship then you’ve earned an opportunity to send them unsolicited email or handwritten cards.
When you start adding value to the people who know you, it offers more direct access to the people higher in your organization chart. As a salesperson, it’s your job to add customized value to each person in that chart.
The influence quotient speaks to your ability to influence the people you talk to about the products and services you sell. Regardless of the education you have or the length of experience, when you have a giant network of people who know you, call, email, and contact you for advice or consultation, you know you have a high influence quotient.
If you are a sales leader, you can develop that skill by asking open-ended questions in order to learn about the customers. As you become more educated about their buying philosophies, ideologies, and techniques, the more you can assert your influence by the time you’re ready to share information about your products and services.
For the new salesperson
If you’re a new graduate or new in sales, know it takes time to build your influence, but time doesn’t have to hold you back. You can still ask a lot of questions and give yourself a great head start.
Treat your job as a profession. Sales is hard but just know this is still a people business. It changes all the time so consistently look for ways to perfect your craft by being curious: About your business, your customer, and how you can solve problems for others.
No two sales are never the same so you just have to keep discovering the process. #SalesProcess
“How to Network Your Way into Value” episode resources
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