Five keys to make social proximity selling a success in your organization

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A growing number of sales executives and organizations are warming to the idea of distributing leads, if not entirely re-engineering their territories, based on the idea of social proximity. The argument goes that geographic, industry or alphabetical territory assignments are largely arbitrary and fail to take advantage of existing relationships someone (anyone) in the organization may already have to turn a cold call into a warm introduction or faster qualification.

This isn’t a radical idea, but think about it in practice. You’re the sales rep for California, but a big lead in your market has just been assigned to someone in Texas because “he knows someone” or happens to be one degree away from the decision maker in LinkedIn. Even with stronger connections than that, the idea of social proximity selling can be a sticky issue. But there are steps and conditions you can put in place to make the transition (or at least a test) easier for everyone. And if the end result is more sales, the work is worth it.

1. Get executive support and sponsorship for the initiative
At minimum, the VP of Sales needs to be 100 percent behind the idea. And ideally, other C-level executives would share public support for social proximity selling as well. Use them to help make a case with the rest of the sales organization who might not be as open to change.

2. Communicate the “rising tide” impact (and math) with the rest of the sales team
That rep from California in the example above is, of course, being a bit short-sighted. Because she probably has connections with companies and buyers well beyond his or her territory, that might just get assigned back to her. Social proximity selling isn’t about making territories more complicated, but instead giving your organization the best chance possible to engage in the opportunity and close the business. If executed well, this increases overall sales and conversion rates for the organization overall and for each rep individually. And that should translate to larger commission checks. Good in theory, but there are examples of this in practice at dozens of organizations nationwide now you can draw on to demonstrate that it really works.

3. Consider compensation for warm introductions
At least temporarily, to juice interest and participation in the program. Give your entire sales force a little greater incentive to leverage their networks for the benefit of others. Sometimes it’s what it takes to help the organization develop the habit, discipline and muscle of using and leveraging their networks.

4. Get the entire company to drive leads through/via their networks
What if someone in your accounting department used to work with the primary buyer and decision-maker at a marquee account? Social selling isn’t just about the sales organization. It’s about leveraging the collective relationships across your entire company to give yourself the best possible advantage at the top of the sales funnel. This doesn’t have to stop with full-time employees either. Why not leverage your contractors, partners and agencies? Your extended work “family” has a mutual, vested interest in higher sales. Take advantage of those relationships and mobilize far more people to drive introductions and warm contacts.

5. Use the right tools
LinkedIn has a smart integration with Salesforce.com, for example, that shows you (for any lead, contact or account) who you know and who others know. IntroRocket offers a tool that helps you leverage the collective relationship strengths of everyone in your organization to find the strongest “in.” Make it easy for your organization to find and share their relationships. And you can use these same tools to track progress & conversion of those opportunities, and reward those from where they came.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.

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