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Referenceability & Introducability

Take the express lane to getting customers for large, complex products

introEvery salesman is desperate to avoid the dreaded cold call.  People with great networking skills have always been able to get introductions to prospective customers.  Social networks like Linkedin have revolutionized this type networking by making everyone able to find a 2nd degree connection within almost any potential customer.  The technique is simple– it ends with your Connector sending an email to the Target (and putting you on the cc) introducing you as a good guy to know.  In my terminology, your Connector has high “Introduceablity”.  Often such a Connector can introduce you to several others over time if you don’t abuse the privilege.

Introducability gets you the Target’s attention and results in a high probability of a meeting taking place.  Unfortunately it does little to build trust or get you any closer to closing a deal with the prospect.  For this, you need another type of Connector– one with “Referenceability”.
Connectors with Referencability know your product(or service) and are best when they know the Target personally.  Again, social networks come to the rescue– look for anyone within your existing customers who previous worked for one of your past clients and/or look for connections from the decision maker to people within your past or current clients.  Obviously, the best Reference person is a user of your product and a decision maker in a similar industry.

When selling complex products that are difficult to quantifiably assess (such as infrastructure technology, enterprise tools,  and outsourced services) consultative selling is essential and brand reputation is great. But if you want to skip 80% of the sales process and increase your chance of winning by 5x, find prospects that are connected to people with referencabilty.  You likely already use the simplest form of this approach– ask happy customers who they can refer you to. I’ll write another post to talk about how to do this more systematically.

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