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09 October 2013 Posted by 

Successful selling hinges on the power of networks

By Stephen Pead
WELCOME to my column on selling and sales techniques - it’s a great privilege to join the team at WSBA. 
What I’d like to achieve is to help sales people and sales managers to be more effective at what they do, so each month I’ll focus on one aspect of the skills you’ll need to take you to the top of the tree. 
 
As a professional salesperson you need to take time out and remind yourself that choosing this career is a daily task.
 
As a matter of fact, let me encourage you to make this first entry on your "to do" list: "I am a successful sales professional, and I will learn something today that will make me even more professional tomorrow."
 
Finding new clients or customers is often the first topic that most sales people want help with, whether they have been selling for five minutes or five years. To do this effectively you have choices. 
 
First choice is to go and pick up the phone or go door knocking to do some good old fashioned cold calling - it’s a raw number game with a poor hit rate of around 5% for getting an initial appointment.
 
Cold calling tends to be generally abusive to both parties and is hard work!
 
Your other choice is what I call “warm” calling - contacting or following up prospects who you already know.
 
A great way to set up those “warm” calls is via networking. It’s my opinion that networking forms a vital and mandatory part of any prospecting activity because you get to go where your current customers and prospects are likely to go.
 
Remember that your prospects are people with lives just like us, they play sport, help charities, participate in community groups, attend church, help at their kid’s school etc.; so why not connect with them there?
 
Here are my six easy ways to find new clients (or customers):
 
1. Join a community group such as Lions, Apex, Rotary, the list is huge. Really participate. It’s a great way to meet like-minded people while helping the community.
 
2. Check out trade shows that are specific to your business or market. These events are a terrific way to connect and become well known in a business environment.
 
3. Business referral groups are another way to actively network. These groups help members to find new prospects. Google the subject and you’ll find several here in western Sydney.
 
4. Attend local chamber of commerce after hours business networking events. At these events you’ll find any number of buyers and sellers. The more of these you attend the better you become known.
 
5. Get involved with a sports group or gym. It’s amazing what conversations take place on the sidelines or as you swap a piece of apparatus. Maybe the conversation will be about what you sell!
 
6. Consider any of the education groups such as Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie. You get to learn something new AND cross paths with other people who are just like you.
 
All six of these networking ideas combined with your normal prospecting activities are just about guaranteed to help find new leads and you get to enjoy the process too.
 
Networking looks simple but there are some important practices:
 
- Plan to meet new people.
- Look for “door openers” as well as decision makers.
- Establish the relationship first, do business later.
- Have a short “personal commercial” or elevator pitch ready.
- Gain interest, by being interesting.
- Use reciprocity by offering an idea or solution with no strings attached.
- Have the best quality business cards that you can afford.
 
Let me know how these ideas work for you. I’d also like to hear what topics are of interest in future columns.
 
Stephen Pead has significant experience in sales, sales management and general management. His company Sales Solutions specialises in providing training and coaching for salespeople and sales managers. Visit: www.yoursalessolutions.com.au 


Nicole Baines

Nicole Baines runs All My Admin, a business that provides support services to Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) for its online activities. Call (02) 9894 8682 for assistance.


 

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Website: www.allmyadmin.com.au
Western Sydney Business Access (WSBA) covers the business and community issues of the Greater Western Sydney region of Australia. WSBA is the popular media source for connecting with the pulse of the region and tapping into it's vast opportunities and networks.