Friday, March 26, 2010

Sales-Networking is King

Sales-Networking is King

Before I entered the world of corporate finance, I was a more than pretty fair salesman (I made the million dollar round table). I learned outside sales the hard way-I started hauling around copiers in Oklahoma City in the back of a Chevy Chevette hatchback-yippee! I learned the basics of "prospecting," "cold calling,” "the demo” and "closing" the deal."

The sales game has changed however, salespeople no longer go business to business-I remember one time on a Friday there were 5 different sales guys (I was one) going up a skyscraper from different copier companies. Building security rounded us all up, and threw us out about 3:30-we all shook hands and went to a bar down the street to tell war stories. Frankly, that bit of networking was the most positive thing any of us did all day.

Networking gets you by the gate keepers who frankly are a waste of your time. So how do you find a decision maker, Try trade societies or clubs, sometimes large entities (like school systems or business incubators) hold vendor meetings (complete with food) and many are free. As a factoring broker, I met some of my best banking contacts at chamber of commerce meetings. My line was simple, send me who you don't want or can't work with (known in banking as "not bankable"). I will factor them, and in 18 months to 2 years, I send them back to you. When I speak with any client that you send me, I will only speak about your bank and your bank products. This was a promise I am proud to say, I always kept. After a while, the bankers I interacted with knew they could trust me. It worked both ways, when I found a client that I was ready to “graduate.” I always kept those bankers who gave me leads in mind if they had the right banking products.

That way my network grew and so did sales leads. It’s easier and far more effective to meet a friend (networking contact) or perspective new friend (from networking contacts -giving you a "warm introduction") than to be on the phone “prospecting.”

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