Why your sales team needs training in networking skills

Over the last few years I have worked with a lot of sales people and sales teams throughout the UK and Europe.
Very often, the sales people are excellent, generating their own leads and closing sales, but equally as often they suck at networking.
If your sales team are making sales, but you know they could be converting far more of their networking leads, I hope this article is useful to you.
The truth is that the skills needed to succeed at networking, and the skills needed to succeed in sales, are similar but subtly different. And it often comes down to one key understanding.
When your salespeople make an appointment to see a prospect, that person knows they’re a prospect. The meeting has been set up on the basis that your representative is going to see them in the hope that they will ultimately choose to purchase products or services from you.
When your salespeople attend a networking event, the other business owners there didn’t turn up to be your prospects, they turned up in the hope that people in the room might be their products or services, so success in networking needs a different approach.
The real opportunity, if you’re taking the time to read this, is that networking events remain a largely untapped resource for professional salespeople from any industry or profession. So many people get it wrong, that the minority who get it right have got the opportunity to absolutely clear up.
If sales teams treat networking as the start of the conversation they will have much more success. What that means in practice, is that you are far earlier in the process than salespeople allow for. The other people at networking events need to be qualified and warmed up, before moving in to even ask them for a sales meeting.
If this is handled correctly, a sales professional has the opportunity to gain not only new customers directly from the networking events, but the potential for huge numbers of referrals. A networking contact treated badly at first will always avoided the sales person whom they felt, was too pushy. A networking contact who has been treated properly, will be a source of regular referrals and recommendations.
The time invested will result in multiple loyal customers, not just the one, and that is where the real opportunity lies.

“I implemented one more thing from the Retreat and it has resulted in a new client which gives me a positive ROI within 6 days”
Claire McTernan – Employee to Business Owner

“within two months I went from an average of one client per month from networking, to five clients”
Samantha Rollins, Trinity Accountants