Modern Sales Executive: The Value of a Strong Network with Scott Ingram
In this new series, we’re talking with sales professionals to hear how Nudge has helped them strengthen their network and reach their customers.
This week we sat down with Scott Ingram, Business Development Executive at Relationship One, and asked him how he gets value out of using Nudge.
Menaka: Why is it so important for sales professionals to constantly be growing their network?
Scott: One of the biggest differentiators in any sales experience is the individual managing that process and those relationships. It’s cliché to say that people do business with those they know, like, and trust, but someone recently suggested that inside most clichés is some fundamental truth. Relationships are fundamental.
It’s over ten years old at this point, but one of the best pieces I’ve ever read about networking (and I’ve read a lot, having once run a business networking organization) focuses on this idea. It’s a Harvard Business Review article called Better Sales Networks.
Often we think the main benefit of having a robust network is the ability to open doors and generate new opportunities. While this is definitely important in sales, this article discusses deeper benefits that come into play throughout the rest of the sales cycle, and ultimately in closing a deal.
I view growing my network as not just adding people as contacts, but by maintaining and strengthening my existing relationships. I’m a big believer in quality over quantity. More weak relationships are rarely the answer to my problems – stronger relationships, where my friends think of me proactively, are much more powerful.
Menaka: How do you measure the value you get from your network?
Scott: There are a ton of ways I think about the value of my network. The obvious tangible ones are introductions, referrals, references, etc. There’s also the ability to ask for any number of favors.
My network is also my extended intelligence. Of course you can find lots on Google or LinkedIn, but they don’t have insights on the inner political workings of an organization or the procurement process of a future client. And work is just a heck of a lot more fun when you get to do it with your friends, which is what your network becomes if you do it right.
Menaka: Has Nudge helped you keep track of your sales prospects?
Scott: Nudge has been a great tool for me to keep from dropping important relationship balls. When you’re managing a number of existing account relationships and a strong pipeline, it can be all too easy to let someone fall through the cracks.
The daily emails I get from Nudge let me know when a particular relationship is weakening, and also give me compelling reasons to proactively reach out to others.
Menaka: Strong relationships are always important, but do you also find benefits in cultivating your weak relationships?
Scott: There’s a lot of research, such as The Strength of Weak Ties, to suggest that most opportunities come from weak relationships. Of course, the definition of ‘weak’ can always mean different things in different cases, but there’s always a big difference between a weak relationship and a non-existent relationship. Having some way to maintain awareness and keep up the connection in those weaker relationships is key.
Menaka: What pain points in your sales cycle has Nudge helped you solve?
Scott: I’ve been using LinkedIn for years, but it leaves much to be desired when it comes to managing your contacts. LinkedIn has also recently removed some useful features that they had.
Nudge, on the other hand, provides a much more elegant way to search, sort and group my contacts. It also gives me details about relational strength and potential trends and insights I can leverage. Nudge’s innovation is helping me solve some of my biggest relationship management challenges.