Hans Hansson | March 2, 2015
"I know a guy," or "I know someone who can help" are sweet words to a salesperson that is working to make a deal.
Back in the old days, all that mattered was whom you knew. There was no LinkedIn or Facebook, email or text messaging. It was just socialization that lead to meeting people who connected to other people in the physical world, not just in cyberspace.
The old saying that if you knew three people, you knew everyone in the world stood true in the past and still does today. Recently, I sold a piece of property to a family from Australia only to learn that their best friend was a former agent of mine that I still am close to today. The world has become smaller by the day.
Connections are everything to a salesperson. Without connections, a salesperson is starting from a clean slate, without having one potential sale in the pipeline. Having an introduction and receiving references is a lot easier to open the door in sales, rather than making a standard cold call.
However, connecting one with another through someone else does come with some risks. If that person fails to deliver quality service, your reputation could be at stake. That is why it’s so important to hold all connections to a high standard before you make any introductions. If you know the person you are introducing does good work, then of course recommend their services. But if you know that person as an acquaintance and you are not certain of their work style, than be cautious, as it may come back to haunt you later.
Today, LinkedIn is a fantastic tool to create professional connections and maintaining past and current working relationships. One big challenge I find with LinkedIn is that the social platform is geared towards creating relationships that are not necessarily tested and can sometimes be, at best, casual in nature. For example, if you refer someone that is in your LinkedIn network, you may know of that person, but have never actually done business with him or her personally. Referring this contact to a client may backlash if that person fails to deliver the services promised. Your reputation could be tarnished and your integrity could be harmed because you referred someone without proper vetting.
In networks such as TCN Worldwide, we have agents that conduct themselves differently than you may perform. That does not mean that they do not provide excellent services, but their client may be used to a certain way that services are provided. If you refer someone and they fail to deliver similar services than you provide, then that could be a problem.
Connections are vital for salespeople, but can be risky. So, here are two important tips to consider:
- Get to know your references. It's always important that you get to know the people that you are referring on a personal basis. Once you have a solid perspective on the individual’s work ethic and service performance, only then are you in a position to refer that person to another.
- Be honest. If someone asks you to make a connection and you aren’t sure that you want to make an introduction, then step forward and tell that person honestly that you have not had enough business experience with that individual. It may not go over well with the person looking for the contact but may save you embarrassment in the long run.
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