If you’re in the business of acquiring business, then it’s important to leverage your most valuable asset: your connections. As with everything, who you know matters more than anything else, and that’s true at every step of the sales process, from building a prospect list all the way to signing a contract.
Whether you’re the most innovative start-up founder or savviest financial manager, here are three primary ways your connections can help you find and win big deals:
1. Identifying the Right Prospect
How do you know who to focus your sales efforts on? Identifying the best prospects is crucial for both small and large companies. Finding the right decision maker in the right company in the right industry can devour a massive amount of time if done inefficiently.
Your web of first-degree and extended professional contacts are the most powerful tool in uncovering ideal prospects. Trace that web of connections to discover companies and people you didn’t know existed, and more importantly, who knows whom. From there you’ll have a narrowed list of viable prospects you have an “in” with.
2. Getting an Introduction
Once you’ve identified who your prospects are, your connections will get you a metaphorical foot in the door. The value of being recommended by someone your prospect trusts cannot be overstated. In fact, you are over 4x more likely to get an appointment if you have a personal connection with a buyer (SalesBenchmark Index). And from a prospect’s perspective, 73% of executives prefer to work with sales professionals referred by someone they know (IDC). The warm introductions your connections provide establish a level of familiarity right off the bat and greatly increase your chances of booking meetings.
3. Winning Deals
Quite simply, the prospects, leads, and customers you get from personal connections are much higher quality than from any other source. As reported by OpenView Labs, referral leads convert 30% better than leads generated from other marketing channels and referred customers have a 16% higher lifetime value. The effort you and your connections put in to identify prospects and make introductions won’t go to waste – it pays off for everyone. There is an increased level of trust and value that leads to both salespeople and customers getting what they want.
In business, leveraging your connections is all in a day’s work. Throughout your career, you’ll build strong relationships that originate from a mutual connection and help others do the same. The natural cycle of reciprocity creates a network of professionals who continually help each other expand their networks.