Sunday, January 3, 2010

5 Prospecting & Networking Tips for Sales Pros

Prospecting and Networking are the skills that separate the pro salespeople from the wannabes.

A good friend of mine, John Tripoli, is a pro. John sells for Northwestern Mutual Life, in an industry that has one of the highest turnover rates of sales people. It's full commission, and if you can't learn to prospect, starvation forces you into another line of work. John surprised me the last time we met by having printed my LinkedIn contacts. Instead of the traditional referral request, "Who else do you know that might find my services useful?", John walked down through my LinkedIn contact list and asked about them by name. Sure enough, he spotted a mutual acquaintance that neither of us had previously considered a prospect for him.

John is also a full-time business networker. He shows up at places where his target audience is likely to gather. Rotary meetings. United Way events. He also has a full-time assistant whose primary responsibility is to keep John fully booked with appointments. John knows how to prospect, and he's built a great book of business in the 5 short years since he joined NML.

He's a professional sales person, who knows exactly what he's doing and why. His success is no accident. What sets John apart from the average sales person, I believe, are his well-developed skills of both prospecting and business networking. I asked him recently to share some of his thoughts on these topics, and here's what he had to say:


  1. "Prepare a feeder list of the people that you would like to meet (10 to 20 names). Ask a nominator to become a referral source to those people in an effort to become “referred” vs. making a cold call. Sources: Linkedin, professional associations, partners, etc…
  2. "Be specific about the type of people you want to meet. You get what you ask for.
  3. "Be willing to share and provide referrals in exchange. Teach people the process and they are not only more likely to feel comfortable in referring but also they'll provide better introductions.


  1. "I view this as a means of becoming credible in my community. My goal is to become present and then when I meet people to better understand their businesses, I'm asking, "How can I help, and how can I generate a potential “center of influence”? -- either as a client or referral source?" This must be done outside of the networking environment and one on one. Takes time, but is well worth the process.
  2. "Network only in areas where you have a passion: Rotary, community boards, church groups, alumni associations, etc. Participation needs to be purposeful and sincere -- if not, you are not credible."
So, there you have it -- 5 good ideas to add to your prospecting and networking toolbox. Happy selling in 2010! Thanks again to John for helping out with this article

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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International

Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

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