Every good sales professional knows that leveraging personal contacts is a fantastic way to generate leads and close deals. A recent study by Reachable places numeric values on this common knowledge: The Value of Connections infographic illustrates the findings of the study, which took a look at a random sample of 300 business professionals involved in the purchase process at their companies. It found that:
- Calling on an account where there is a personal connection makes it five times more likely to receive a return call than those without any connections.
- More returned calls means more deals in the pipeline and results in an increase in sales productivity of 240%
- Callers with direct connections were about 11 times more likely to get a call back.
- For every 1,000 sales calls made, 345 were returned if the caller didn’t have a connection; callers who did have personal connections received 849 calls back out of 1,000 made.
Common sense tells us that personal connections enhance sales effectiveness. But the study shows that it’s not only direct personal connections that make a difference: A 2nd degree connection, or knowing someone who knows someone in an account significantly increases the likelihood that a sales call will be returned.
What does this mean in practical terms? It means companies are sitting on a goldmine that they haven’t yet fully begun to explore. Right now, most companies aren’t completely leveraging their connections. If they’re savvy sales people, individual employees use their connections to generate leads, but most businesses aren’t proactively taking advantage of all the connections – direct and indirect – within the organization and its partners, vendors and other stakeholders.
Given the incredible ROI companies can gain by leveraging their collective social graph, it makes sense to identify all the connections within an enterprise and capitalize on them. Fortunately, new technologies and new data sources have made this possible. Social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are great sources of connections. Email systems and other enterprise systems yield corporate connections to customers, partners and vendors. And powerful new analytics can now collect and score the connections to find the strongest links to any person or any account and extend the company’s social reach.
In light of these new tools, it also makes sense for company leaders to rethink the way they divide sales opportunities and pursue leads. Geographic or vertical-based sales divisions are traditional ways to manage sales territories. But since connections can drive a five-fold increase in responses and more than double productivity, businesses looking to revitalize sales or expand into new territories should consider a new strategy: social proximity, in which sales teams are organized around the social graph. By harnessing the power of social media and designing a sales approach based on the key driver in closing deals – connections – companies can improve ROI and generate new revenue.