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How to boost sales through networking

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Let’s face it, most people struggle with networking at first. But once you’ve cracked it, it can be a huge revenue generator for your business. Make sure you’re not the poor fellow at the back of the room, wondering why it isn’t working for you. Check out Andy Preston’s top tips below.

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Whenever I’m working with salespeople and business owners and the topic changes to "networking", there’s always an interesting discussion that follows. Most people I speak to are concerned that the amount of time they spend networking doesn’t always seem to result in the new business sales that they would like.If that’s you, here are some pointers. Start to generate more of a return-on-investment from your networking efforts, right now!Qualify, don’t sellThe biggest thing you’ve got to remember here is that the room of people you’re meeting doesn’t automatically contain qualified prospects for your business. Most of the people at the event with you have also come to sell their products, so if you’re not careful you might end up in a "pitch-off" – both of you trying to sell your stuff to each other, and nobody looking to buy!

You need to qualify the people you meet first, to see if they have the need for your product or service. Find out a little about them, their company and their needs first, before pitching your product or service to them – you’ll enjoy far more success that way.

Don’t overdo it!If you’ve qualified the person properly and they potentially have a need for what you offer, keep the conversation fairly short. Think of this event like making a proactive business phone call – your purpose is to get to the next stage of your sales process (usually arranging a meeting), not to try and sell them your stuff on the day!

There are probably other prospects in the room for you – don’t waste all your time with one person and ruin your sales opportunity by talking about yourself and your product or service too much!Strike while the iron’s hotIf you think there is interest from the other person in what you offer, then make sure you get the next step agreed before you leave the event. If the next step in your sales process is to arrange a meeting, then get the meeting arranged before you leave. It can be more difficult to arrange afterwards.

Even if the person doesn’t have their diary on them, get a provisional date and time and confirm by email, suggesting an alternative if necessary. This is about controlling the process and getting the other person’s commitment – make sure you do it properly.

If you have any questions about this article or selling in general, you can contact Andy by going to www.andy-preston.com/ask-andy/

You can also see more about Andy’s bite-sized training for small businesses at www.salesbreakfast.net

Related articles"The only ‘business partners’ you’ll meet in a bar are rent boys" Are you a pro networker? The complete guide to networkingPicture source

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