- Have the fundamental issues involved in sales networking and identifying effective sales leads changed in the emergent world of unprecedented levels of surveillance?
- Have the best employable processes changed in their nature?
Some have, yet some remain, and the new-fangled ones are a derivative.
- What’s different?
In terms of networking, however, executive managers often have poorly correlated positions in respect of the merits of networking and sales intelligence for their sales and service people. Many have positive views on the importance of networking and market intelligence inputs for their high achieving sales “hunters”, yet at the same time downplay their effectivenesss for their sales “farmers”. This false association not only manifests itself in the downgrading of the potential gains that social and commercial networking inputs can make for their "farmers", but it suggests that moving beyond purely traditional methods has limited scope to improve the productivity of their "hunters".
In our own way, we in freight management circles have, in quieter moments, often reflected upon the notion that the essential difference between the “professional visitor” and the “hard working farmer” could be a thing called luck. That luck invariably incorporated a professional visitor stumbling upon the warmer opportunities delivered by means of social and commercial networking during their sales calls. The above mentioned process may have been hit and miss, yet we might recognise that many of our middle market sales depended on opportunities surfacing in this fashion; even as we now wrestle with the question “can we afford to be out there like that in the middle market?”. And, if the answer is "we can't afford not to be", how do we increase returns given the limits of enhancing traditional sales craft?
So we have done with the grinding scenario, now how about the high performing sales people? Well some of us have learned, through experience, that many high performers’ performance is derived rather more from accessing network & intelligence quality on a timely basis than from sweating a daily grind. We easily associate the high performers superior ability to conduct a high performing sales campaign on a targeted prospect with moving in the right circles and luck in accessing occasional material commercial and social intelligence. In doing so, however, perhaps we are disavowing the non traditional process opportunities available to improve the intelligence the high performers are accessing?
In the new environment we might recognise that entering into a conversation without having explored the opportunities presented from the sales-social intelligence garnered from within the existing 3 circles of connectedness in our commercial or social life is something that can’t be left on the table.
How to do this mining in a manner that doesn’t create a bureaucratic monster? The answer is to decentralise the obvious, teach social networking intelligence and organisational security hazards to the sales and service people dealing with organic leads, and deploy higher quality research in preparation for tight bite sized campaigns with starts and ends for the middle market.
At Gilead, the supply of sales research, and in more recent times our sales research training programmes, is part of our core business.
As in the logistics sphere we have more to explore here in our blog on other days. Along the way we may touch upon the intelligence processes, the physicists – the fractals – the semantics – the network science.