4/8/2014 – LinkedIn Post
The Science of Sales: Quantifying
Since starting my career in sales, I have always been diligent about tracking my
prospecting activity. This has been critical to my success over the years, as it’s
impossible to optimize efforts unless you have a firm understanding about what is
moving the needle.
Sales Transformation - Shortly after the economic downturn in 2007, I began to notice
a sharp decline in my success prospecting for new leads. While cold outreach (calls,
emails) had always been a numbers game, I found that these techniques were no
longer effective enough to justify the time I was investing in them. There were plenty of
weeks that I would reach out to 200 different decision makers, only to schedule just two
or three meetings. Seeking an alternative, I pivoted to a relationship/social selling
strategy and quickly saw a significant increase in my prospecting metrics.
It wasn’t until I started working at LinkedIn that I was able to capitalize on the full
potential of relationship selling. While at other organizations I relied on my personal
network for introductions to new clients, this only scratched the surface. LinkedIn’s new
business strategy is heavily focused on team-selling, as all of LinkedIn’s employees are
encouraged to provide leverage by opening up their networks to help sales reps
penetrate new accounts.
Relationships - At LinkedIn, the process for mining warm introductions from colleagues
is automated. LinkedIn’s sales team uses a tool called TeamLink, which exposes who
else within our company has a relationship to any prospect, lead or customer. This
means that in addition my own relationships, I am also mining the hundreds-of-
thousands of relationships that exist throughout the networks of my co-workers’.
When I secure a meeting through one of these warm introductions, I like to ask the
Decision Maker if they would have responded to me if I had reached out directly through
a cold call or email, without the help of someone they already knew and trusted. Almost
without exception, the answer to this question is “not a chance.”
Tracking the New Strategy - As I have tracked the metrics associated with relationship
selling using warm introductions, it’s easy to see that the strategy has been wildly
successful. The graphic below breaks down the source of all of my new-business deals
and revenue, revealing the game-changing impact that all of these warm introductions
are having on my sales numbers.
What is particularly compelling about these numbers is that all of these warm
introductions are not only allowing me to easily get in the door with decision makers, but
they are having an impact throughout the sales process. By engaging buyers through a
common relationship, I have been able to more quickly build trust with the buyer,
resulting in shorter sales cycles and significantly higher order values.
Prospecting and lead generation is really difficult. If you are a leader in sales or
marketing, consider all of the missed opportunities by not addressing warm
introductions as a critical lead generation channel. As you can see from the data above,
by successfully implementing a team selling strategy you might find that your single
greatest source of new leads could come from untapped relationships that already exist
across your organization.