Relationships, networks and collaboration are the defining elements of the next era of business leadership. You can’t do big things anymore – as a company, as a team, as an individual – if you’re stuck doing them alone.
Here’s the stark reality of business in the age of networks:
- Research confirms the most critical single factor to business success – from productivity and innovation to sales and leadership – is relationships. Your network.
- Most individuals and organizations lack the number, quality and level of relationships to achieve peak performance and accomplish their goals.
- With the right mindset, process, skills and best practices, individuals and organizations can dramatically improve the productivity and speed at which they build business relationships and achieve critical business outcomes.
Will you become a sales leader or an afterthought? The research tells us the answer is etched in the contours of your network.
Researchers at Booz Allen Hamilton and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School, in a study of Fortune 1000 companies, found that the most successful and winning companies, the top 25%, all define and deploy relationships in a consistent, specific manner. In short, the most financially successful organizations are relationship focused. That’s their differentiator. And it’s no different for people.
The one commonality among the top 1% of sales earners is the size of their networks. People with the most social capital:
- Close deals faster
- Are more productive
- Receive larger bonuses
Receive higher performance evaluations
We’ve even begun to attribute real monetary value to our network. In a recent study conducted by IBM, researchers found that the average email contact was “worth” $948 in revenue. To arrive at that number, the researchers dove into the address books and emails of 1600 IBM consultants and compared their networks and communication patterns with the consultants’ performance in terms of revenue generated.
In other words, that person with 100 more Linked-In contacts than you is probably also generating $100,000 more in revenue per year.
The same researchers also found that those who had strong email ties with a manager enjoyed greater financial success than those who kept themselves more distant. In fact, those with strong links to a manager produced an average of $588 of revenue per month over the norm.
So here’s the million dollar question: You have a budget and finance plan. You have a strategic plan. You have plan for just about everything. But where’s you people plan?
That’s basically the question that for almost 10 years has driven my consulting business with CEOs and some of the top sales teams in the Fortune 500: Who are the 250 people most critical to your success in the next year? You don’t know? If you agree nothing is more critical to your success, why aren’t you applying the same process, rigor, discipline, training and focus to relationships that you apply to, say, finance?
You can build specific networks to accomplish specific tasks. There are people in every field, from artists and scientists to serial entrepreneurs and fortune 500 CEOs, who use the same set of mindsets, process, and skills to work smarter, not harder, to create networks that help them accomplish far more than the rest of us. We’ve come to call these people Relationship Masters.
They will be the people to dominate the business world in the next 100 years. Our research shows there are three main areas of Relationship Mastery:
- Mindsets: Generosity, Candor, Accountability, and Intimacy. Learn to use them and you’ll increase your social effectiveness – your ability to understand, control, and influence social interactions.
- Skills: The tools, tactics, and methods we use to transform our social effectiveness into social capital: the value – all the trust, information, and resources – in your network.
- Process: We call it Relationship Action Planning; a system to consistently and purposefully manage your social capital to create networks that gets things done.
How to use all three of these to architect your network for sales success will be the subject of this blog.