For years, researchers and trainers have been trying to discover why some salespeople are so successful. Some have tried to prove sales skills are the key reason while others say it is the ability to prospect. Numerous other factors have been included in the equation, yet the answer seems elusive. Some salespeople with well developed sales skills fail and some people who make prospecting contacts daily do not succeed. What is the answer to this elusive question, “why are some sales people so successful?”
Maybe we are trying to make this question too complicated! If you really took a close look at most of the successful sales people around you, you would find one very common trait, they are “connectors.” What is a connector? It is someone who has the ability to connect people from diverse backgrounds, occupations, and lifestyles. These special people seem to know everyone! They do not know everyone, but their sphere of influence is incredibly diverse and widespread.
An experiment was conducted in the late 1960’s by the psychologist, Stanley Milgram. Milgram’s experiment was based on “the small world” syndrome. You know, you meet someone in New York who knows your best friend in Seattle. He wanted to know if each of us was really closely connected. Milgram used a chain letter to test his hypothesis that we were closely connected. He prepared packets that were mailed to 160 people in Omaha, Nebraska. He knew none of these people, but explained who he was and that it was an experiment. In the packet was the name of a stockbroker who worked in Boston, but lived in Sharon, Massachusetts. These people were chosen at random. Each person was instructed to write his or her name on the packet and send it to someone he or she thought could get the packet to the stockbroker. For instance, maybe one person knew someone in Boston. The person the packet was sent to would add his or her name to the list and then send it to another person. Milgram found that the packet actually reached the stockbroker in five to six steps. This is where we get the term “six degrees of separation.” The most astounding part of the experiment is out of the 160 packets, half of those that were actually delivered came through only three people…connectors!
What are the traits of connectors? First, they know a lot of people. In addition, the people they know are very diverse geographically, professionally, and in personality. Connectors are very active in charity, business, leisure activities, sports, etc. If a connector is watching TV it is with a group and he or she is interacting with that group. Connectors who are successful in sales share other characteristics:
- They have a strong work ethic. When they are meeting people, they are networking and asking for business.
- They have the ability to connect people to people. They understand that helping Joe find a new dentist, or a Realtor find a new listing all leads back to his or her own success.
- They stay in touch with key contacts. Once a connector finds a great referral source, this person continues to build that source and network it into other sources.
- They are usually very organized in regard to having a well-defined database of names.
Is every connector a great sales person? Absolutely not if they do not follow the four attributes just listed. Here is a simple experiment. Take a close look at the most successful sales people you know and apply the connector theory. You will be surprised by what you find. Not all will be connectors, but the ones who have the four attributes will most likely be your best sales professionals. Can anyone be a connector? The answer is yes and no. If a person diligently worked to spread his or her sphere of influence, the answer is yes. That is why a new person to a particular area can become very successful in a reasonable amount of time if he or she works hard to make connections.
Success in sales is about people meeting people and people connecting and networking with people. Have you ever known someone who always seems lucky? This person always got the “lucky” sale or knew the right person to get the sale. That is right! In reality, he or she was a connector! Do you want to get lucky? Start connecting today! Your commercial sales results will start increasing faster than you can imagine!
About Ken Taylor: