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Selling Microsoft

Smarter Salespeople Use Maps

All successful salespeople are socially well connected within their communities.

If you're a salesperson, you probably never want to "dial for dollars" or make a cold call again. This is for you. There, now I have your attention.

During a recent client sales meeting, we talked about the power of networking, the need to expand the influence of one's reach and effective ways to find new and better sales opportunities. One action was to assign each salesperson to at least one local networking or association event per month. If you aren't doing this now, make it part of your active sales-activity planning session.

Start Slow, Finish Strong
Now, I know my friend and fellow columnist Howard M. Cohen may suggest the title of this column contains an oxymoron. In fact, just as I was writing this, one of the salespeople from that client called me to discuss a breakfast event he attended and the connection he made. The person was in IT at a local law firm. He opened up about what was happening at his firm, who the players were and the challenges they were facing.

The salesperson causally listened. He didn't sell, but booked a lunch meeting in the next week to simply expand the relationship. That was a smooth move. After that lunch, the salesperson worked to better understand the situation, the relationships, political situations, budgets and business requirements. Then, he could begin to sell.

If you aren't connected in your marketplace, you have to change that. All successful salespeople are socially well connected within their communities. They've defined business relationships. After the sales discussion at my client's office, it led to the best new thought of the year: Create a map.

Map Your Network
We fleshed out the idea into the Acumen Power Network Map. After discussing the current sales environment, networking, ineffective cold calls, lack of experience and a great deal of interactive discussions, we created this approach that can immediately change your sales and marketing approach -- the Acumen Power Map.

Follow these six steps to creating your Acumen Power Network Map:

  1. Identify a "raving fan" of your current business. This would be someone who currently uses your services, will recommend your company and can tell a story to anyone about your high-quality support.

  2. Use every social media and business connection tool you can find to search that person's business relationships and personal involvements. Identify as much information as you can. The obvious places to start are Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Jigsaw and Facebook.

  3. Develop a map of all associations, boards, activities and interests with which the person is involved.

  4. List all individuals who are members of those associations, boards or activities that are associated or interconnected with your raving fan.

  5. Identify what organizations those individuals work for and determine if you wish to target those organizations that fit your company's ideal client profile. Do they fit your vertical focus? Do you have existing case studies that fit their needs? Have you sold similar organizations?

  6. Next, ask your "raving fan" to make a referral introduction to the targeted organizations and individuals you wish to meet, via an e-mail, phone call or even a mutual lunch meeting. Getting an introduction through a known source or a friendly relationship greatly increases your odds of achieving a new relationship and meeting.

This kind of smart work will help you target and sell more effectively, reduce your wasted telephone prospecting time, increase your odds to develop new account relationships, and open the doors to exceed your 2014 quotas. Do your homework and you can count your increased commissions.

More Analysis by Ken Thoreson:

About the Author

Ken Thoreson is managing director of the Acumen Management Group Ltd., a North American consulting organization focused on improving sales management functions within growing and transitional organizations. You can reach him at ken@acumenmgmt.com.

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