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The Way You Sell Through Your Network is All Wrong

2 min readMay 11, 2015

One of the most important aspects of outbound sales is ensuring that you have a steady stream of new leads to go after. For many reps, this entails networking with close friends and colleagues in order to drum up new business opportunities. But according to Sales Engine’s CEO Craig Wortmann, most sales reps are approaching networking the wrong way.

We recently hosted a webinar called The B2B Prospecting Code, which featured Craig as a panelist. Craig was quick to point out one of the most common ways sales reps misuse their network: “One of the most common mistakes we see people make is staying within that circle of people right around you,” Craig stated.

It’s understandable why many reps rely on their close network. After all, it’s a lot easier to go out to Starbucks with a college buddy or call a former co-worker than it is to pitch to strangers. As Craig put it,”We often default to the people around us because they’re the most comfortable people to reach.”

Take a Dive in the Cold Blue Ocean

Networking with close friends and colleagues can yield fantastic results. But it’s vital not to rely on your close network. One reason for this is because your close colleagues can’t be relied upon to give you accurate feedback. As an example, a close friend might listen to your proposal and say “it sounds great” even if he thinks your pitch is way off. But when you reach out to strangers (diving into what Craig calls the “cold blue ocean”) you are going to get very different feedback. Most strangers aren’t afraid to hang up on you, tell you they don’t understand what you’re talking about or insinuate that your offering seems useless. The feedback you get might be harsher, but that harsh feedback can be invaluable, as it can help you dramatically refine your elevator pitch.

So while Craig encourages reps to reach out to their close network, he advises that you spend at least an hour prospecting to the coldest part of your network —strangers and almost-strangers—for each hour you spend with your inner circle. This will help you get different forms of feedback and, ultimately, expand your network.

Ask For What You Want

Another actionable tip that Craig gave during his presentation is that, when networking with friends and colleagues, you should always make it clear what you’re asking for. As an example, if you want to be introduced to a CEO that your friend has done business with, make sure your friend knows! As long as they know what you’re asking for, your friends and colleagues will usually be happy to help.

Watch The B2B Prospecting Code on demand to get more tips from Craig on how to use your network more effectively.