So, You Know How to Network…But Do You Know How to Sell?

Sell is not a four-letter word. OK, it is a four letter word, but you know what I mean. …It’s not a “bad” word.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across businesspeople over the years who are fantastic networkers, but they think that just because they know how to network, they don’t need to know how to sell. They think that people will like them, and then their products or services will sell themselves. This kind of mentality is unfortunate because people who think this way may be leaving business on the table.

Anybody who’s experienced and successful in referral marketing will tell you that sales skills are needed in every part of the referral marketing process–not just in closing the sale with the prospect.

From the very beginning, you must sell yourself to your potential referral source. A referral is not a guaranteed sale; it’s the opportunity to do business with someone to whom you’ve been recommended. You still have to close the deal. You have to make it clear that you know how to sell, and that you can and will provide the products or services you’re expected to provide. If you can’t make that first “sale,” your potential referral source won’t become your referral provider.

Beyond selling yourself to the referral source, you have to sell yourself to the prospect to get that first appointment. Then, once you’ve made the appointment, you have to persuade the prospect to buy your product or service. This is the part that usually comes to mind when you hear the word “sell.” However, in referral marketing, closing the deal with your prospect is neither the beginning nor the end of the selling process. The sales process is all about keeping an ongoing relationship with the client or customer. This is something that the best referral marketers know and understand.

4 thoughts on “So, You Know How to Network…But Do You Know How to Sell?

  1. We have been members of BNI for eight years and do 90% of our real estate business by referral. We agree completely with developing relationships to sell. In fact, we have joined because it gives us a very good way to keep in touch with hand-written notes we order on the Internet. As a BNI strategic partner they are very good. Here is a statisic that makes the point — 80% of sales happen between the fifth and 12th contact with a client. It is absolutely about relationships.

    Doug and Joyce Morgan
    Wenatchee, WA

  2. Wow, I agree 100%. It is the exact process I use.
    We are the best educated networkers in the world.
    We teach our members who we are, what we do, and what we want. …
    But how do we teach the non-educated community who have said “YES” to your services or produce?

    I have developed an education process to teach my clients
    (who own electrical standby generators) how to refer me. The key to this is that they don’t know their doing it.

    currently, CenterLine is at a tier 7 ref (after 5 years in BNI).

    Here is something BNI has done for me that was never mentioned at any EC spot, director presentation, director training, etc.

    Went to visit a home owner who wanted to purchase a Onan Generator, she told me “my neighbor gave me your name” I explained that I had never installed a generator on the street but I would be happy to quote. She was adamant that it was her neighbor that referred me. She made me drive by the house. Again, I said “ I’m sorry, but I did NOT install that generator.” It was not the type I install. She asked “you are Carl Lewandowski of CenterLine Design aren’t you” I replied “Yes I am”.
    We went back to her home, completed the quote that day and left her house with signed contract in hand.” The “exposed element” is that the generator had been my ask in BNI for approx 30 weeks!

    Bottom Line is that I was referred by someone who never had exposure to me or my company.

    She new my name and company.

    BNI is the only marketing plan and exposure I use.
    The branding of generator installation in WNY has become CenterLine Design. Nice!

    I have over a 90% closing ratio using this method. The sales info in this blog is priceless!

    Carl Lewandowski
    BNI Director, Team WNY

  3. having worked in a high pressure sales environment for 5+ years, “sell” is a 4 letter word to me. it invokes visions of pushing people into a product/service that isn’t right for them and may cause major headaches in the future.

    i prefer to present potential clients with all their options and help them make an informed decision for their business. this helps build a strong relationship with clients.

    i’m happy to “leave business on the table” if the person i spoke with made a sound choice. i’ve received many referrals from people i’ve never worked with because they were so pleased with this approach.

  4. Good Blog, and I loved the last comment. It is funny what people think that selling is and is not. If you walk away from an interaction with business in hand you SOLD something. You may have used one of 100’s of different ways to close the transaction but it was a sale.

    Thanks for the great information Ivan.

    Hazel M Walker
    Master Trainer
    Referral Institute – IN

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