Your closest network helped jump-start your business, as did mine. For most founders, first customers come from their circle of friends and colleagues. But founders that could never find customers among friends might have been luckier after all.
Having a large network is very useful when your business is taking off. Some companies never sell beyond their network. It makes sense for local businesses and founders that don’t want to, and/or don’t need to grow them.
But if you have found your niche and want to keep growing, sales through networking won’t be enough. If your sales are based on your network for too long, you’re risking very serious consequences. What are they, and how can you avoid them?
Network sales aren’t technically sales
Every MLM is proof that almost anyone can sell to their closest network purely because of pre-existing trust. I’m guessing most of you know at least one person who tried their luck in Avon. Or LM (ah those cheap perfume knock-offs), or something similar. Some of them would become super important in their own eyes, because suddenly they were “businesspeople”.
But no-one cares about MLMs, and no serious founder builds a company using MLM. They use their network sales as a ““mastermind” group that you can tap to gain more information and knowledge”, as Ivan Misner described it.
When your business seems to be going nowhere, take a look at your customer base. Are most of your clients people that you knew personally before they bought?
If so, that might mean that to this moment your growth rate was based on lies. Based on hope that you “should” keep growing. But hope is only as effective as praying to the Flying Spaghetti Monster for extra money (and pasta) to keep your company afloat.
This is not a tragic scenario, and doesn’t have to mean you’re going to fail. It means that your company isn’t ready to grow yet. But you can still prepare your company for growth properly – don’t destroy your company.
In their latest book, A. Ross and J. Lemkin nicely describe “Clues You Aren’t Ready to Grow”. The clues are:
Now you might be wondering about clues that you are ready to grow:
- Pitching your offer to cold leads isn’t a problem
- You know how to close deals with cold leads
- You’ve had success at acquiring customers through cold sales
How can you reach that point? You could just start calling random companies and refining your pitch. But there’s one, much simpler, way that everyone can use to get better at cold sales.
Cold Emailing is the quickest way to sell beyond your network
Leaving your closest network and acquiring customers that didn’t know you before means leaving your comfort zone.
If you haven’t done it before, selling to unknown people will seem hard. Probably as hard as, say, leaving the classic 9-5 for a risky startup job.
However, I’ve heard of people that went back from startups to traditional jobs. But I haven’t heard of founders who went back to not-selling after learning how to do cold sales.
It takes a while to learn, and requires a different mindset than what you’ve been doing so far. You can’t rely on people’s trust anymore – you have to build it.
And if you don’t want to go through A LOT of negativity, try cold emailing. It’s a stress-free way to start approaching cold leads. And as you try and experiment, even by sending one cold email a day – you will get better. You can start right now with our short guide to get an additional long-term deal within a month.
If you’re able to achieve 4,000% ROI with a cold email campaign, your business is probably ready to grow.
Convincing cold leads in sales is a test of your skills, as well as your business. If you succeed at cold sales, it means that you can communicate with anyone. More importantly – that you know what you’re selling, your offer is solid and your product is interesting.
So interesting in fact, that it only takes a few seconds for people to understand the value (which is about how much time you get before someone deletes an email, or decides to read it and respond).
Go cold before it’s too late – learn sales quickly to avoid problems in the future
Talking to strangers is always weird. But for the sake of your business, talking to strangers should become your second nature.
It will make you more independent, and open up new opportunities for your business. Customers from your networking sales can be too demanding, and doing too many favors for them might be detrimental to your cash- and workflow.
But if you know cold sales, you can target any customers you see fit. And get better market validation, customer feedback and ultimately – bigger revenue.
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