“Salespeople can have a vast product knowledge, they can be very consultative and their field efficiency can be productive, yet if the management does not provide the right technology and support, its efforts might be in vain”
In sales, the web of contacts are vital. A vast portfolio of contacts can yield a substantial conversion rate. However, it depends on the way that the network of contacts are configured, used and updated. Salespeople with a broad understanding of sales processes and knowledge in data configuration could easily overshadow competitors, and undoubtedly, improve their sales framework.
Each phase of the selling process has to be handled differently. Therefore, it is key when the salespeople manage to implement their abilities and skills within each stage in a unique way. For instance, the database of potential clients has nothing in common with the upselling prospects, thereby the sales process (Pre-sale and Post-sale) has to be properly understood in order to maximize results. Nevertheless, only a few managers and fewer salespeople know how to control their networks accurately.
To understand better the management of networks, it can be broken down in two actions: Information Management and Communication with Contacts. Sometimes, each action may demand more time than the other. In fact, it could be time-consuming, yet when the sales process is evolving and reaching its final stage (Closing Deal), the working flow runs in automatic mode.
Social networks embrace direct and indirect contacts and frequently, mistakenly, managers only consider important the direct contacts in their web when actually, indirect contacts are who generously will provide the majority of significant information. Besides, networks that have a dense web of contact not always pay back positive outcomes, every so often sparse networks are more helpful. Also, it is essential to bear in mind that maintaining relationships can be costly, and in many cases, some of them share the same contacts, so redundant connections should be discarded . Though, each type of network is suited to different functions:
- Sparse networks for Information Management.
- Dense networks for Communication Purposes.
How can we prove it? On the one hand, let’s imagine that you are searching for a unique information, and you try to contact two friends (Former Colleagues): Paul and John which they are also friends. It is more likely that they will provide you the same information, as they may be sharing the same web of contacts, hence it would be better to cut ties with one of them (Sparse networks). But on the other hand, let’s picture that your company is launching a new product or service within your marketplace and you want to get some positive feedback. Paul and John would be the ideal contacts as they may spread and share similar feedback. The more friends you have, the more the word-of-mouth will be diffused (Dense networks).
Generally, salespeople create their own web of contacts and build relationships with current clients, leads, colleagues and other actors in the marketplace (managers, agents,engineers, etc). Thereby, networks can be divided in four groups with the purpose of taking full advantage of the web of contacts: Marketplace Network, Internal Network, Potential Network and Clients Network (Past and Current). In doing so, salespeople would be empowered to pinpoint which network would be the most suitable to use during any stage of the selling process, maximizing effectiveness and reducing unnecessary time and effort.
Evidently, we can notice that some of the networks can be used for different functions and fit, as a subcategory, within Dense or Sparse networks. The selection of the appropriate network for each stage of the selling process would ease the stress of finding the right contact and improve your selling strategy. For instance, JD sports is one of the biggest sport retail shops in the UK. Therefore, they need to be up-to-date with the latest releases in trainers, sports apparel and accessories of the big brands in order to have a competitive advantage. Also, customers keep their brand loyalty when a company supply them with the latest products, so salespeople have the ongoing task to identify the upcoming trends in the market before the end of a product cycle. Therefore, the best approach to thwart the competitor efforts is to resort to a marketplace network where contacts such as former engineers and product developers could supply with significant information the salespeople. Direct contacts can provide several indirect references where one of them may be the source to find out the new trends. The advantage of sparse networks is that can connect the salespeople to indirect contacts and broader information can be gather than using dense networks.
As we have observed, as the sale progresses, each network can be leveraged and employed effectively. And in each stage, each network complement one another with the finality to outplay competitors and structure the sales framework more efficiently.