I was talking with one of the members of our sales team this week about networking. She's doing a really good job, and her career is advancing quickly. She was at an event where the topic was in-person networking events versus networking on LinkedIn.
The presenters were stating that face-to-face networking is where people should spend their time, and our employee said she does both. She uses LinkedIn to set up additional meetings and make connections prior to events, which rings true with me.
At the end of the day, business professionals are measured by revenue. How much they add, how much they save, or how much their work adds to a company, so others can produce revenue. Depending on your industry and company, it really doesn't matter how. Do all your work in-person. Network 24/7. Make cold calls. Use email marketing. Buy lists. The question is: did you close business? Did you add new clients? Did you grow revenue?
So many people want to tell others in different industries how to "sell." SaaS is different than financial services. Commerce is different than insurance. Manufacturing is different than professional services. There are common areas, no doubt; however, if you've never pounded the pavement and phones, or surpassed quota by 150 percent, you don't really know. And one great year may make you money, but a sales strategy for the masses is based on consistent winning, year after year.
I know a lot of sales people who landed one huge client, made a lot of money, turned it into a leadership job and fail time after time, having a new job every 12-24 months. Great sales people are great over years. They're not a one-hit wonder.
I have met some of the best "networkers" who can't turn their database (Rolodex for the old timers) into revenue. I've met those with 50,000 LinkedIn contacts who have a new job every two years, and they have the same title, so don't tell me they left for a better opportunity. It's because they spend too much time networking and not enough time closing business.
When you're interviewing sales leaders, don't get taken in because of the one huge client. Like I mentioned earlier, landing one client or even two doesn't make you a great sales leader. How many second-string quarterbacks have had three good games, get a huge contract and then are terrible? The list is too long.
When hiring a sales leader and they talk about their network, stop the conversation. Talk about their revenue. How many of their meetings have turned into revenue? How long do their clients stay with them?
The most important question is, what is your sales process? If they say they use their network, realize that everyone has a network. That isn't a process; that's knowing people. Process is the how, not the who.
Don't let the interview end until a sales leader can tell you how they develop business. If they can't, no matter how big the client is, you're the second record label over-paying for a one-hit wonder.
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