The Importance of Networking for B2B Sales
by Jo Shaer, on March 18, 2016
Many sales people rely on their website to generate the leads for them to call.
A potential customer arrives on the site via a Google search and either calls or emails them using the information on the website. Alternatively, the visitor may complete a contact form on the website.
All of these contacts result in the sales person speaking to the enquiror on the telephone to arrange a sales visit.
These enquiries are all warm leads who are contacting you because they are already interested in your product or service. They are in the 3% of your target market who are actively looking to buy.
Prospecting for customers who are not yet ready to buy
But what about the remaining 67%? Those people who need your products or services but don't know that you supply them or those who would buy your products or services if they actually knew that they needed them. That's where prospecting comes in.
Mention the word prospecting and most sales people immediately think of cold calling. Another activity that doesn't require them to step outside of the office unless they are leaving for a confirmed appointment.
However, restricting your sales and prospecting activities to the telephone means that you are relying solely on the strength of your vocal powers of persuasion and shutting body language and charisma completely out of the equation.
You are missing out on a massive opportunity. If you are good at sales, it tends to be because you are good at persuading people to buy. Being good at persuading people to buy tends to suggest that you are a personable individual to whom people will respond even more enthusiastically when face to face. So why limit your activities to the telephone?
Strategic Networking in the real world for B2B Sales
All sales people who are trying to sell to businesses should be physically networking in the real world - but networking with strategy. You have to attend those events where you know your target market is going to be, not pitch up at every opportunity for a free bacon sandwich!
So, first of all, you have to identify your ideal customer - your Buyer Persona.
Then you have to work out where they are likely to be hanging out in real time.
There are a plethora of local networking events across the country. Chamber of Commerce, local council briefings and other events, the BNI, 4Networking, local business breakfast groups, local lunch groups, Women In Business Network, etc.
Which ones will attract your ideal clients or even those people who could recommend you to your ideal clients? Choose wisely and spend your time productively - get to know people and arrange 121 meetings with a view to learning more about those individuals who could help you to promote your business in the future.
That's how I met the lovely Simon from TheFull.Works- at a local charity networking event held at The Hive last year. We had a chat at the event, exchanged cards and then met on Skype for a 121 to find out ways that we might work together. I learned about their eCommerce system with the focus on fulfilment and he learned about my Twitter training consultations and signed up one of his colleagues!
But it's not just recognised networking events, there are also lots of free local training courses that provide the potential to meet up with your target customer. Go and learn about the things that they want to learn about and use the opportunity to make contacts and build relationships.
Once you have some contacts, you can then use Twitter and LinkedIn to network online with those individuals, building relationships based on trust and your expertise.
Buyer Behaviour has changed - for B2B as well as B2C
It's a longer game than cold calling but a more rewarding and effective one... and it's another way that inbound marketing can direct the right people to visit your website and pick up the phone.
Buyer behaviour has changed and it's no longer just the people on the approved list who get the job. Procurement and sourcing is now being done via an internet search just as for any regular consumer.
If the purchasing manager of a target customer arrives on your website and remembers that s/he met that great guy/gal at a networking event, they are far more likely to take positive action and make contact with you!
Do you want a website that generates leads for your sales team to turn into customers? Click on the image below to find out how.