Go to Amazon.com and type in the word "sales," and you get more than 600,000 results. We sales people are an easy target for authors and book publishers. We love tips, tools and guidance, don't we? After all, if you're reading this article, you are definitely one of those sellers who seek advice to help fine-tune your craft.
Well here is a sales tip you may not hear every day: Apply Metcalfe's Law to your craft.
Metcalfe's law, named for Robert Metcalfe, the father of Ethernet, states that the value of a network equals the square of its number of users. OK, so what? What does Metcalfe's law have to do with selling? Metcalfe's law was originally presented for communication devices. With the rise of the Internet and Web 2.0, it has carried over and can be applied to people. Think social networking. In the old days of sales, we would network by asking a customer for a referral. Of course that type of networking is still tremendously valuable, and you should do it on every sales call. Ask a simple question at the end of a meeting: "Given the discussion we just had, is there anyone else you recommend I meet with in your organization?" Or if you know a decision-maker you want to speak with, don't be afraid to ask: "Would you mind introducing me to Mr. Guy on the way out?" It's really very simple. What's the worst that can happen? They say no and you are right back where you started. Nothing gained, nothing lost.
With Web 2.0, though, we are now significantly better able to connect and grow our networks in the Metcalfe way--exponentially. You can thank the four horsemen of social networking--Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Reid Hoffman and Allen Blue of LinkedIn and Jack Dorsey of Twitter--for the wonderful tools they've given us. After every time you meet a new client, go back to your desk and link in to them. Do it while you're fresh in their minds and they're fresh in yours. Once you've linked, you can network their network and, as Metcalfe's law states, you will see your network grow greatly. If a customer is on Twitter, follow them. Facebook may not make sense, depending on the type of sales you're in, but stay connected in the networks your customer is in.
A few tips on how to network in the social sphere: Go beyond just connecting: Follow, post, share and comment as well. Thanks again to those four brilliant minds of networking, it really is simple. Post and share interesting industry news and articles, as well as useful updates and advice about what you have in common. Tweet when you are at industry conferences. Share your knowledge and expertise. When your customers post interesting articles, comment on them and share them with your network. This will help you forge new relationships and dialogues within highly personalized environments. You will also be providing a service and value for those customers. Do this well, and over time you will build your personal brand and your company's brand and ultimately form deeper, more meaningful relationships with your clients within their networks. And after all that, you will have more sales and longer-lasting, stronger partnerships.
Lauren Wray is San Francisco sales director of Forbes Media.
Thanks to Forbes