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Coaching Moment: Grow a Network Within Your Portfolio

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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A study done by Sales Benchmark Index found that sellers are 4.2 times more likely to activate an account based on a referral or an introduction.

This might seem like common knowledge to you but perhaps the execution of this is lost in the world of digital sales.  But, given that you likely recognize this, it’s time to get this fully activated for all of your sellers.  Remember that the strength of your network tends to fuel your ability to create new opportunities within a portfolio.

In the 20th century, so many sellers guarded their “Rolodex” as their valued relationships. In the 2020s, your social network on platforms like LinkedIn is no different, but now much more transparent and visual. The depth of your social network allows you to conduct deeper research, and allow you to engage more people that can help you in your portfolio, at the right time.

What you’re trying to help your sellers understand is that the more they are connected to their ideal customer profile, the higher the probability that those relationships will provide you value immediately or in the long-term.

In subsequent videos, we’re going to talk about a process called Social Surrounding.  This emphasizes the importance of research, not being single-threaded and having a large footprint in every customer.  One simply can’t afford to hang on to one or a few relationships in an account as a seller.  It’s too dangerous and correlates directly to higher churn.

Fundamentally, your sellers need to understand that for every customer account, every day, they focus a few minutes to grow their relationships.  If they do this, they will dramatically improve their odds of having more conversations with customer stakeholders.

The best way to showcase the importance of networking is to be able to draw relationship maps of existing successful customers.

As an example, work with your customer success team and your marketing team to capture examples of customers that became a customer in large part due to a relationship map to another successful customer.  To take this idea one level further, can you find examples of customer accounts that expanded with you because one contact introduced you to someone else in that organization?

Draw a visual map between two companies, or two departments in the same company, and how relationships created the opportunity.

Finally, led by example.  As a sales leader, are you growing your footprint and network with people that can you help you drive impact?

Here is a 4-Step process to Coaching towards the right actions and behaviors:

Step 1: Preparation

In advance of the 1-on-1, ask a seller to isolate the key champions, influencers, and decision makers that they have connected and followed in the last week within their portfolio.

Ask them to share a screenshot of their social network, isolating those people.

Having the seller prepare this in advance will emphasize the importance of this action as a daily habit.  You should also stress the importance of being multithreaded in their portfolio accounts.

To make this simple, ask the seller to prepare a list of their ‘Top 5’ accounts and ask them to prepare their social network around those accounts.

Step 2: Decision-Making Framework

The first ‘Inflection Point’ will be a binary option – have they completed this process for their Top 5 accounts or not.

If completed, but you are testing their decision-making process:

1. What specific research did you do on these 5 accounts to isolate all stakeholders in these accounts?
2. How specifically did you decide to connect with these stakeholders in a valuable way?

Look to educate and remind sellers that LinkedIn connections help foster conversations and drive to more touchpoint possibilities.

Step 3: Eureka Moment

Your coaching process here is to sell the critical importance of growing a social network within their portfolio.  Accomplish this with an empirical story that clearly demonstrates that we have won accounts because we have mapped relationships, shared content to those relationships, and referred to those relationships, etc. – but it ALL STARTS with making the social connection.

Reminder, you don’t want to tell them that networking is important. You want to be able to demonstrate this through stories that make a connection between social networks and opportunity.  Retrace their decision-making tree by asking questions like this:

• How do we find key stakeholders in an account?
• How can you interact with that contact repeatedly with value?
• How do we think through the act of connecting with someone professionally?

Step 4: Action

To identify a green flag, you want to see the habit that your seller is growing their social network by one, three, five connections within their portfolio – every single day.

What’s a red flag here? The seller does not understand the correlation between social networking and opportunities, or has not yet made this part of their daily and weekly cadence.

Each week, spot check their key accounts for growth in their social network.  Create a habit to make these social networking questions part of our Decision-Making Framework until this becomes natural for the seller.

A habit starts with one account at a time, and their ability to recognize the importance of extending their social network around that one account.

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