I don’t believe it’s a secret, but I do believe the most successful strategy that’s often ignored in sales and marketing is the value of your network. People tend to focus on return on investment, statistics, research, branding, design, features, efficiency, productivity, etc. as they work through their marketing efforts. That’s all well and good but if you detail all of those things, none of them provide you the path to money that your business needs to survive and flourish.
Marketing is nothing without an audience or community. At its root, I believe that the job of sales and marketing isn’t to sell, it’s to develop trust between the person with the problem and your solution. I’ve met incredibly innovative individuals who have developed amazing products… but they lacked the network to sell them to. And… quite the opposite… I’ve watched really crappy products make it to market and flourish. Not because it was a great product, but because there was an audience that trusted the company selling it.
Personally, I don’t invest as much as I used to in companies, products or features. Instead, I invest heavily in people. I make time to meet more people, to help more people, to drive attention and sales to those who deserve it, and to even invest time and energy in opportunities where there’s no direct benefit to me. It all depends who the network is.
There are some successful business people I know who have burned their network. Their first company does fantastic and, through high pressure sales, takes off and does well. But their next company falls flat. Why? Because the trust is gone. This is why brilliant companies don’t hire based on experience or talent, they often hire based on the network you’re bringing them. Your network is much more valuable than you when it comes to sales and marketing. Invest in your network and you’ll find you’re a more valued possession to your employer or client.
Don’t believe me? Look to the businesses who are successful around you, keep a close eye on the networks of customers and vendors they work with. Revenue comes from people – not from products, features or cool logos. While we need to invest in a professional persona online, the objective shouldn’t be to sell – it should be to build a network and fill the gap between the purchasing decision and the sale with a bridge of trust.
Our most valued clients are those who have been with us for a while and trust us. They’ve invested heavily in our services and we’ve ensured their performance so we never lose their trust. In turn, they also bring us our best referrals… since trust already exists within their network. Invest in your network.