I hear it over and over, in fact I have even said it, your network is like having an extended sales team. While networking is an important part of your sales process, the prospecting part, it is not the sales process. The members of your network can not and do not close the deals for you. They can refer prospects to you so that you can close the sale, but with few exceptions, they are not the people who are going to close the deals for you.
Your network, when developed with some depth and educated can be the source of many things. They can support you when you need help, such as time share space with you, help you in your office, pick up your mail and generally lend a helping hand. They can share information and knowledge with you, information on your industry like new products and services, what is happening around the city, state or within a company. Your information network is very valuable, they may or may not ever pass you a referral but the information that they can give you is priceless. Then there is your referral network, this group is made up of referral sources, people in your contact sphere, people who sell to the same target market as you, and people who have been taught how to open a conversation on your behalf. Lastly, are your customers, they too can be a regular source of leads and referrals for you if you take the time to teach them how.
Each of these are great networks, but they are not your sales force. Once you are given a lead or a qualified referral it is up to you to be able to close the deal. Far to often people think that because they network they do not have to sell, wrong! Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes a referred prospect is often easier to close, but you have to be the one to close it. When I am working with my clients what I find out is they do not have a sales process in place, they have never been taught how to sell, and they have major fear of being called a sales person! Regardless of how many qualified referrals they get, they don’t close enough of them. All of this is silly, everything is being sold all the time, find a great sales coach and learn what you need to do with all of those referrals you are getting from your networking activities. The most valuable money I have ever spent I spent with my sales coach, after 12 weeks I had a 33% increase in my ability to turn a referral into a client.
The next time you hear someone say, being in this group is like having 50 sales people working for you, remember, with few exceptions, you have to close the deal. Your network is the marketing and prospecting arm of your sales process. Without qualified prospects in front of you consistently, you would have no one to sell to. Regardless of how good you are at the close if you don’t have prospects you are not going to sell anything.