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How Salespeople Can Expand Their Income

I recently presented a webcast to a number of people on the topic of how to partner or work with other organizations that are non-competitive but sell to your existing market. I call these "business ecosystem partners." It is a tactic that executives can use to leverage expertise, resources and ability to grow their businesses.

During the program, I stated that if successfully implemented, the partnering program would bring in the equal of one salesperson's revenue/quota per year without the cost of hiring another salesperson. If you would like additional information on this topic send me an e-mail at [email protected].

While that program was aimed at executives, I like to address in this blog what salespeople need to do to leverage themselves. As a sales manager, you must not only educate your team on this, but monitor your team's actual activity. Salespeople must find ways to leverage themselves as well and the good news is it won't cost selling time. Here are a few ideas and I would encourage all the readers to contribute their thoughts.

  • Create a spreadsheet listing all of the "circles of influence" within your market and assign someone to connect with each person on a regular basis.  These people are individuals that can influence decisions; they differ based on your product/service but could include commercial bankers, architects, CPAs and consultants. If you want a sample Excel spreadsheet to help you track these individuals, send me an e-mail.

  • Develop your list of five to 10 networking sources. These may be local associations, networking groups or social events where potential networking contacts may attend. Rule of thumb: Every salesperson should attend at least one networking group event per month.

  • If you have individual salespeople that you are networking with, be in touch every month. Out of sight is out of mind. Send them interesting sales ideas you have picked up via e-mail (hint: this blog), send them a sales book, and work to find a lead for them. It must be a win-win situation. Arrange a lunch or breakfast meeting. Invite them to your office to see your solutions and meet your team.

  • Make it both ways -- another way to say this is, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." If you want to have your phone calls returned, return phone calls. If you want help with your sales career, you must be willing to help others. When I started my business, I tried to make two networking calls a week. While my objectives have changed, I still return the phone calls.

  • As a salesperson or sales manager you will need to track activity. Networking is a lot like flossing your teeth -- for it to do you any good, you have to do it regularly. Include networking activity as a metric. If you pay attention to certain actions, your salespeople will also.

  • Can you use the referral's name? Yesterday, I was meeting with a meeting planner and provided her two sources. During the conversation I suggested she should use my name. If your networking source does not offer that, ask! You need to be totally clear as to their relationship and how to use the referral.

  • Find the right people. Look for active, energetic and creative people that are hungry to build their business. Are they already active? How would you judge their existing market relationships? What is their profile within your market? Obviously, LinkedIn is a great tool to find the individuals you wish to work with.

Building a network of relationships is a lifetime objective. Make it part of your sales business plan if you are fighting for leads and trying to increase your pipeline.

Eighteen months ago, I reached out to someone who had crossed my radar. I placed a call, shared some thoughts and explored a few ideas. What has it led to? Four consulting agreements with major vendors, a variety of industry-speaking opportunities and increased market awareness! We have actually done all of this together -- both have added value and expertise to our new mutual clients. And we have had fun doing it.

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Posted by Ken Thoreson on March 06, 2013