Why a networking strategy is important for generating sales
While business networking is one of the most efficient ways of generating sales, it requires proper planning to realise success. Networking also offers an excellent opportunity to enhance your relationships with existing contacts and share useful information about your markets. This article serves as a guide on how to make business networking an integral part of your sales and marketing strategy.
While most businesses have an established business or marketing plan, less than 20% have a networking strategy. Did you know that over 80% of business typically comes from sources such as word-of-mouth recommendations and direct networking? Therefore, if you are operating a tight marketing budget, and most of your business is derived from these sources, it is essential to have a networking strategy.
Proper online & offline networking helps to generate inquiries, enhance relationships, and provide important information. However, many businesses tend to focus on networking only when a certain need arises, which makes it far less effective than it should be. See here for new york small business network.
Step One – Understand your reasons for networking:
Consider the questions below and then rank them in order of priority.
Are you networking to…
– expand your knowledge of the market, industry, or variables that affect customer buying decisions?
– get new contacts and business?
– retain and deepen existing contacts?
– align yourself as an expert?
– build a team of experts?
– increase career prospects – get promoted or become employed in another company?
– get support, for example, a trade body, mentor, or sponsor?
– enhance relationships with colleagues and give your team motivation?
Step Two: Identify your KPSs
All the people you meet can benefit your network in one way or the other. Any time you meet someone interesting, consider adding them as a contact. Based on your goals, you can determine how many contacts you need to meet to realize your networking goals. For instance, in case you are looking to get new business, contacts and introduced, this is what your monthly action plan can be like:
- Get 50 clients – request for referrals and introductions
- Identify 20 prospective clients – create better connections by monitoring the content they post online and attending the same events they attend
- Join a membership organization and aim to meet at least five potential clients
- Connect with at least five members of the organization’s sales staff
- Raise the number of introduced to 10 through online and offline networking
- Make at least 15 contacts.
- At most, make 75 contacts.
- In case you are looking to expand your knowledge of the market, industry, or variables that affect customer buying decisions, your monthly action plan will look something like this:
- Request 10 important clients to provide feedback on the latest product/service offer
- Request 10 important clients to offer suggestions on how to improve existing products/services
- Talk to 5 current suppliers.
- Discuss new products with five potential suppliers
- Do some research on 5 of your competitors, in terms of marketing strategies, pricing, customer base.
- Make at least 15 contacts.
Step Three: Identify Contacts
Create a list of existing clients that you can ask to make referrals
Come up with a list of introducers – these can include suppliers, accountants, employees, non-executive directors.
Come up with a list of members & networking organizations that you can become a member of
Create a list of what you want from your preferred memberships/networking organizations, for example, feedback on the latest products/services
Come up with a list of names, job titles, and companies that you’d like to create and build a relationship with and find out what events they are attending. You can also recommend to them events that you feel they might find helpful that you can also attend.
So there you have it, how to create a basic networking strategy to help you realize your goals.