Congrats you have a brand-new “greenfield” sales territory!
Unlimited opportunity, untouched accounts, no other reps vying for your business. Not to mention our products are the most awesome thing ever invented. Boy, you are going to coin it in!
Let me translate.
Congrats, you have been dropped in the middle of a huge desert. We decided to make this more challenging by not giving you any water. Also, nobody that actually lives within 100 miles of here will give you any water. Unless you’re Bear Grylls, you’re not getting out of here alive!
The thing about getting water, and selling, is that it changes drastically when you know people.
But when you’re in a new market it feels like you’re caught between a chicken and an egg. I mean how can you get referrals when you don’t have any customers yet?
Doing some math
The answer I believe is to use all humans you know. Your friends, family, schoolmates, parents at the kids’ school, accountant etc. etc. Anyone that likes you.
We are all connected (actually we are all cousins!) You know the old “six degrees of separation” thing. Of course, with all these social media networks out there now it’s not six degrees any more. It’s more like 3.5, per researchers at Facebook.
There’s a professor of psychology at Oxford University called Robin Dunbar and he did some research on how many relationships we all have. He figured out that we have about 150 relationships we can maintain (keep in mind this was not for sales people using CRMs etc. so maybe when you’re such a professional the number could be quite a lot higher.)
Enter Linkedin and the ability to see who your 150 relationships know. Your so-called “second degree” connections on Linkedin. Here’s some interesting math:
- If you know 150 people and each of your connections (“first degree connections”) know 150 people then you can be referred to 150 x 150 people = 22,500 people!
My suggestion when you’re dropped into the desert (sorry “greenfield territory”) look for some of those 22,500 people that are willing to help you. They have “water”. I mean they will help you get into conversations with target accounts.
Most of the time business owners and marketing and sales managers define sales territories by classic demographics. “We should sell to tattoo palors in New Jersey because they will love our awesome products” etc. I get why this approach makes sense. Execs are thinking about the fit between your product and the market’s likely need.
The approach I’m suggesting is NOT to map out your territory by industry or geography only but to think about how you will meet your sales goals by following the “path” from one relationship to the other.
Think of this map as something like Google Maps for relationships. Think of the relationship connections between people as the “roads”. You want to drive your selling down the “roads” until you get to the person you need to sell that next big deal.
In the world of humans staying on the “relationship road” is way more efficient (and comfortable, I have to admit) than going “off road” (i.e. cold calling.) The terrain off road is super-bumpy and full of swamps.
If you have a “greenfield” situation, I urge you to develop a “relationship map” before you start your journey. Unless you’re Bear Grylls, then it doesn’t really matter.