Amy Franko, Founder and CEO of Amy Franko Associates
Amy Franko is a keynote speaker, sales strategist, and author specializing in B2B sales and sales leadership development. She works with professional services, insurance, and technology organizations to accelerate their growth results. With over 20 years of client-facing sales experience, Amy began her career with global companies IBM and Lenovo before pivoting into entrepreneurship. Her book of business includes some of the world’s most recognizable brands. Her book, The Modern Seller, is an Amazon best-seller and was also named a top sales book by Top Sales World. She is also recognized by LinkedIn as a Top Sales Voice.
Without strong relationships, the role as a professional seller would be difficult, if not impossible. Successful sales professionals and sales organizations respect the value of relationships. They treat relationships with purpose, and work to build strong networks both internally and externally. These networks represent their social capital – and the greater the investment, the greater the reward for both sides of the relationship. In short, social capital creates both intangible and tangible value in today’s sales environment.
The equation for Success One of my company’s largest deals came to fruition because I created mutual success was through social capital and this formula: (Create + Sustain) 2 – Leverage = Social Capital. This formula emphasizes putting twice the effort into providing value (creating and sustaining) in building relationships. When that foundation is in place, it allows for leveraging a relationship for a specific need. You can liken it to a healthy bank account. Your efforts to create and sustain relationships are your social capital investments. With consistency, those investments grow and earn interest over time. In the case of my company’s big deal, the opportunity began with social networking – a simple introduction on LinkedIn.
The person who became my key decision-maker within this account was with another organization at the time. I didn’t know her personally and reached out to connect based on our common interests around learning and leadership. I began to establish myself as a resource for her online, and over time that evolved. But there was no sell, no asks, no identified opportunity. This effort was simply to create and sustain the relationship. In the social capital relationship framework, from time to time you withdraw from the account. That’s the leverage – asking for what you need or coming together for a greater cause. In my example, that opportunity presented itself down the road when my contact transitioned to a leadership role at another company. I shared insights and ideas along the way. Finally, the time arrived when they were ready to choose a solution provider for a key initiative. My company was asked to participate in the RFP process. Throughout the process, the relationship equation proved critical at multiple levels across the organization. We were able to ask better questions, conduct more in-depth research, create a comprehensive response, and establish a competitive edge.
In the end, we won the business. All because we consistently applied the equation around creating and sustaining the relationship, providing value, and being willing to ask for the access we needed to create the best possible business fit and solution. The biggest lessons in this process? To trust the equation, to place value on the relationships first, and to leverage the relationships for the right reasons.