With all the changes in business, one thing remains the same: business is about people. Despite globalization, technology revolutions, social networks, and razor-thin competitive margins, business is still about people working with people. People who can’t connect effectively with others rarely do well in business.
Consider sales, for instance. We buy things from people we have a positive relationship with, people we like and trust. And if those relationships stay positive, we keep buying from them, even if they switch companies and sell something different. Recent research indicates that a prospect is five times more likely to return a sales call if they have some type of personal connection to the sales person. This results in a 243 percent increase in effectiveness throughout the sales process. Sales managers would die for a 24 percent increase in effectiveness, let alone a 243 percent increase.
So one would assume that when companies assign sales territories and determine which sales reps will sell to which accounts, they would consider the strength of social relationships – or “social proximity” – in their assignments, particularly since there is a goldmine of relationships they can leverage, from their employees, customers, and partners. But most don’t. Most sales territories are still determined by geographic boundaries and physical proximity. Sales reps are assigned to nearby zip codes or area codes, or they are assigned by state boundaries where they live.
Here are three reasons why you should consider social proximity selling for your organization:
1. Increase productivity for outbound prospecting. The recent research I mentioned above showed that for every 1,000 prospecting calls made, only 345 are returned if there is no personal connection but 849 are returned if there is a personal connection. As already stated, that is a 243 percent increase in productivity.
2. Improve conversion rate for inbound leads. Inbound leads can be prioritized by the strength of the personal connection somebody in your organization has to a prospective account. This enables you to focus your sales resources on opportunities where you have an inside edge.
3. Get deeper penetration into target accounts. Target accounts can be assigned based on who has the strongest personal connections to them. This will allow you to leverage established relationships with key influencers and decision makers in order to extend your presence within key accounts.
In the past, it would have been difficult to determine who had the strongest connection to a particular person or account. But now, solutions are available that can mine social networks, email address books, and CRM systems for connections between your company’s expansive network of contacts and your target customer. Incorporating this social proximity into your sales process could significantly increase sales productivity and drive top line revenue growth.