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Use Your Social Life to Find New Clients

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 16 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Sales Marketing Sales And Marketing

As a sales and marketing manager, chances are good that you’ll occasionally find yourself in the position to attract new clients to your company. Though you probably have many means of doing so, one often-overlooked source of customers is your social network of friends and acquaintances.

Too often, sales marketing managers forget that it’s perfectly acceptable to “target” people you know. In fact, many successful business individuals systematically cultivate long-term client relationships from the men and women they know in their “off work” hours. After all, most adults like to work with adults they can trust, and if two people have established a comfort with one another, working together is an easy fit.

There are some rules of the road, however. You can’t simply call up everyone in your address book or mobile phone contact list and beg them to work with your company. Instead, you need to be savvy and smooth.

Below are five solid hints on how to utilize your social network for business purposes without losing friends or annoying family members.

1. Select Your “Target” Acquaintances Carefully

Do the products or services your business offers make sense for someone in your social life or his/her company? If so, feel free to set up a coffee, lunch date or chat to discuss the possibility of working together with him or her. Be very selective, though; not everyone can use what you have to offer. You want your prospects to feel that you’ve thoughtfully chosen them, not picked them at random.

2. Try a “Soft Sell” Approach

Even if you normally are known as an extremely tough salesperson, tone your technique down when offering your corporate products and services to friends. Sure, it might be difficult to change your methods, but a “soft sell” approach will reap many more customers than will a hard sell. (If your friends stop taking your calls, you’ll know that you went too far and need to make apologies!)

3. Approach Friends and Family Yourself

Let’s say that you’re a sales marketing manager and you rarely go out on client calls anymore… that’s fine, but if you’re going to sell to persons from your social network, you can’t delegate the task to someone else.

When you don’t know a prospect, it’s fine to have one of your staff members call upon him or her, but when you know that prospect (even if just on a somewhat superficial level), it’s important that you at least introduce him or her to the idea of working with your organisation. (From there, you can have a sales representative handle the business.)

4. Be Prepared to Treat Your Friend Like a Very Good Customer Regardless of How Much He/She Buys

Unless your friend never pays for your products or services or acts completely unprofessionally, you must be prepared to treat him or her like royalty. Let’s face it – if you’ve made the sale based on the fact that you’re friends, you do owe your new customer exceptional treatment. (And, really, you should be offering that to every client, anyway, correct?)

5. Make Sure You Can Divide the Professional from the Personal

Finally, it’s critical that you remove your professional life from your personal life when trying to take on a friend as a sales client. For instance, if you ask a friend to use your products or services and he or she says “no”, you don’t have the right to withdraw your friendship based on that response. Just accept it and move on. (And remember – you never know whether that “no” will turn into a “yes” down the road!)

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