One of the most important things any sales representative can do is build relationships. Over the normal course of business, most sales reps will gravitate toward one or two key contacts at a business. However, relying on a sole person for a major business line may not be enough. After all, people leave companies, get new jobs, or get fired. When that happens, you may find yourself without a contact at a major account and thus may find a business at risk.
Building an appropriate sales network means adhering to basic sales planning techniques. Part of these relationship tactics means you have to build more than deep relationships with a few people at an account: You have to create wide relationships, too.
Consider the current state of employee turnover within a business:
- Seventy percent of all turnover in the United States is voluntary, meaning a key contact may get a new job and leave. This number doubled from 2011–2021.
- As many as two in three employees plan to quit in 2023.
- Only 32 percent of workers believe they are being paid fairly. This perceived pay disparity is one of the key reasons many employees are considering leaving their current job.
This reality can create major challenges for your relationship with a customer and harm account growth. When you lose a key contact or relationship, you lose years of history and trust at a company, potentially forcing you out. Furthermore, a customer may hire a replacement to ” shake things up” or “do things their way.” If this is the case, they may rebid your contracts or services, making you lower prices or lose an account.
From a sales planning perspective, the key question is: How can you diversify your connections within a company? How can you grow a sales network across an entire business, not just one department within that business?
There are multiple perspectives to consider. First, you need to develop relationships at different hierarchies. Having a key contact in a purchasing department isn’t enough: You will want to build contacts across multiple levels of a business. Doing this can inform you about key changes, projects, or opportunities. It can also help you build new relationships if your main contact leaves.
Additionally, you have to develop relationships across different departments. This can help backfill your years of work with a business if you lose a key contact. Doing so will allow you to find alternative sources of account growth. Finally, these relationships may give you access to key decision-makers at a business, thus providing you with additional growth opportunities.
The benefits of developing such a diverse network can be significant. It can lead to:
- Improved access to information.
- Additional relationships that may allow you to find white space and cross-sell or upsell certain goods or services.
- Backup points of contact that can expand your sales network if your primary point of contact leaves the organization.
Building strong relationships requires research, intelligence, and consistent effort. Some specific strategies for building these relationships can include:
- Offering value by providing resources, useful insights, and relevant support. You should customize this information to the specific needs of the contact.
- Regularly communicating with multiple contacts to stay in touch and follow up on requests.
- Personalizing all contacts by adjusting your communication to match the individual’s personality, business position, preferences, and needs.
- Attending events, conferences, and galas. Doing so will allow you to network, grow your contacts, and enhance existing relationships.
- Utilizing social media platforms to network, stay in touch, and track what is happening in your contacts’ lives.
Building a strong sales network is about more than just completing a single sale. When done right, a wide network of contacts will grow business in a way that will lead to long-term business success. Potential benefits of a strong network include:
- A robust reputation as a leader in your field and a reputable sales representative who can handle the needs of other customers.
- Additional referrals and sales.
- Business growth within an organization, even if it is across contacts.
- Resilient business relationships that can survive layoffs or other business changes.
These benefits don’t just mean more money from one customer: They provide a pathway to enhance your entire business line.
Having multiple contacts at a company will build stronger relationships. It may also lead to additional information and ensure the long-term success of your relationships with a customer. By adapting these strategies, you will position your business to be successful in the long term.
At Next Quarter, we provide a robust AI-based account planning tool within Salesforce. This integration ensures you can map relationships, develop relationship intelligence, and achieve account growth. These tools can create an AI-guided path and enhance sales planning efforts.
Ready to take the next steps? Reach out to our sales team to learn more about how we can help you grow a wider business network and expand your entire business operations.