71% or 29% Club?

You are a member if you are a hunter. Farmer, gatherer, inside sales, probably not. As you know, hunting has become a study in forensic sales: Strategic Sales, Relationship Selling, Value-Based Sales, The Complex Sale: these are all time-tested sales processes. But by the time the typical sales person hears about an opportunity, the influencers are already in place. It now becomes a matter of timing.

See Part 1: The Ability to Engage

The best hunters know that the one element of a deal that is still in their control is just that — timing. If they can get a seat at the table before it is set, they have a chance at helping to decide what is served. Real hunters do not waste time hunting where there is no game. They look for budget, ‘deciders’, urgency, and access. The most important of these is the decider, and how to reach him.

A recent survey by the Alliance Franchise Network concluded that 71% of the time, before the vendor comparison process even started, buyers knew who they were going to buy from. A third of the time, they had a ‘guy’ who they could ask for a referral. We all have network of ‘phone guys’, ‘tech guys’, and ‘car guys’ who are our go-to sources for warm referrals. Likewise, you need to be ‘in network’ for your potential client. Otherwise, you are in the 29% club.

Identifying the decision maker is relatively simple. Reaching them, not so much. If you can introduce yourself with a referral from someone the decision maker knows you’re well on your way. It starts with investigative work on your part. Big data and online sites provide myriad sources of potential references and referrals. You have a maze of data dots that, when properly connected, will lead to the referral name you need to pique a decision maker’s interest. Use that name in the subject line of an email and you are now a member of the 71% warm referral club.


Chris Pariseau is a Sales, Strategy & Marketing Partner for TechCXO in Atlanta. He is a firm SME on prospecting. See his full bio here.