Don't Let Time Be a Deal Killer. Network Effectively. Figure out how to collaborate to score referrals, make the right connections and close sales.

By Chris Macomber

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

In the sales process, letting too much time elapse can be a real deal killer. Once you connect with a prospect, follow up with the right information.

Closing deals is still largely about referrals, knowing where to go and the best people to contact. Social-networking sites do make the job of finding referrals easier, letting a businessperson's social graph play an important role in suggestions and deals.

Keep these tips in mind when using your social graph for collaborative selling:

Related: A New Model for Results-Driven Networking

1. Determine which person is the best connection.

Since people have so many connections, it's sometimes difficult to determine the most relevant and important ones. Knowing the strength or quality of a relationship can help you score more meaningful introductions and hopefully more collaborative sales.

2. Know that the best contact may be beside you.

Most companies have databases of their employees' skills and expertise and staffers have long lists of professional and social relationships.

Thus you might not even need to consult a social networking platform to learn that a colleague the next cubicle over used to work with a decision maker at the company that's a sales prospect.

Related: A CEO's Insider Secrets for Making the Sale

3. Figure out who knows what on the home team.

Many sales opportunities require a team approach due to their complexity. This is common for bidding processes requiring a request for proposal or request for information.

Knowing which of your fellow employees has specialized knowledge to address questions in a bid can mean the difference between winning and losing a contract. If people within your company possess critical knowledge, make it possible for the sales team to quickly identify who they are.

4. Use the right tools.

Using the right discovery engine can be a powerful tool in helping you better curate and catalog the people you know. Collaborative software tools help companies evaluate "who knows whom" and "who knows what" and understand the full scope of the workforce's capabilities.

If used correctly, collaboration can be a real deal maker. And at the end of the day, that's what successful selling is all about.

Related: Match the Right Communication Type to the Occasion

Chris Macomber

CEO of WhoKnows

Chris Macomber is the CEO of Mountain View, Calif.-based WhoKnows, which offers an enterprise platform that helps companies better understand personal resources and skills in their organizations. Previously, he was director of product management at Lytro and held project-management positions at Reputation.com, Intuit, Cisco and Sapient. 

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