Exploit your hidden assets for sales success

Published on the 05/05/2016 | Written by Manish Goel

Leveraging your corporate networks can boost your warm sales leads by 40 percent, says TrustSphere CEO, Manish Goel…

Cold calling is dead. Today, product information is easily and readily available online, as are product reviews and opinions. Customers themselves are in greater control of the sales process than ever before. They are often engaging with your brand before you even know it and in many cases you will never even know who they are. In this context, cold calling is of little use. Trust becomes increasingly important; trust in a brand, in influencers and relationships. People are influenced by those who they know and trust. While cold calling has less than a 2 percent success rate for securing a meeting, referrals, or warm introductions, have a success rate of 40 percent. Referrals, recommendations and relationships are the three ‘Rs’ that modern sales teams must master. But how do you ask to be referred to a client or prospect if you don’t yet know that a relationship exists.

Sales teams commonly use social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn to find common connections for warm introductions but they often overlook one of the most valuable sources of referrals – their own colleagues. This is because finding the right colleagues in itself is a significant challenge.

Challenges of keeping track of relationships
According to research by Prof. Robin Dunbar, based at Oxford University’s department of experimental psychology, the average person can only effectively maintain around 150 meaningful relationships at any one time. This is essentially a hard wired limitation of the human brain. Dunbar defines a relationship as one where you fully understand the context and interconnectivity of that person and where they fit into the social network. Today, however, technology is being used to extend this number by helping people to keep better track of business and personal relationships.

What complicates the matter is that people have a tendency to mistake connections for relationships. We talk about how many Facebook friends we have, or judge a person’s influence by how many connections they have on LinkedIn. However a connection is not always a relationship.  You may have met a connection just once and accepted their invitation to connect online but a relationship stems from several interactions over time. Thus a relationship is much more valuable than a mere connection.

The power of collective wisdom
Currently organisations under-use one of their most valuable assets – their collective social network, which, when leveraged correctly can be exponentially powerful. TrustSphere’s research shows that the average employee has around 130 relationships. In a 1,000 employee company the collective reach for the group would be tens of thousands of unique relationships. Even in a company of 10 the extended reach of the combined network is nothing to sniff at. Providing sales teams and others in the organisation with the ability to navigate this collective network can be very powerful, particularly in the new sales paradigm.

According to research by the Aberdeen Group, sales teams can achieve their sales quota 54 percent more often by using analytics. Having efficient access to the collective network is an important first step towards a more effective and efficient sales process.

So how do you enable sales teams to leverage the collective network of the company’s entire network? The right processes need to be put in place, complemented with the right technology. For example, ‘best path’ recommendations embedded in phone or CRM systems can help by showing who has the best connection with that prospect or contact.

Data analytics will play a critical role for organisations in maintaining their competitive advantage in an increasingly competitive and technologically connected business environment. Early adopting organisations are already reaping significant rewards in the area of sales and customer engagement by tapping into this corporate asset.

writer_Manish GoelABOUT MANISH GOEL//

Manish Goel is CEO at relationship analytics company TrustSphere. TrustSphere leverages social network analytics and advanced data analysis to improve the sales performance of its customers.

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