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May 30, 2023
David Connors

The “networkization” of sales: Why modern sales teams embrace a network approach

Over the last couple of decades, the way we’ve approached sales has evolved dramatically. In the ‘90s, the phone (and the cold call) were king, only to be ousted by email in the 2000s. Today, sales organizations rely on a multi-pronged, tech-enabled array of inbound and outbound channels, with leads garnered through social media, content, cold calling and emailing, and advances in automation and AI.

However, that evolution is far from over. Now, with budgets shrinking, investor demands increasing, and prospects everywhere inundated by cold outreach, sales teams can no longer pursue the same high-volume, high-cost approaches that have worked for them up until now.

Instead, today’s conditions are ushering in a more strategic approach to sales — one that we’re calling the "networkization" of sales. Check out the big picture of that evolution below, and read on to learn about why we’re seeing this shift, how it benefits companies, and what the future of sales holds.

Why companies are pivoting towards a network approach to prospecting

In many ways, sales organizations today have been spoiled by the various tools available to them. B2B marketing teams know how to attract leads through social media, content and email marketing, events, and advertising, while sales can use AI to generate sales copy, rate and rank prospects, and send thousands of personalized cold emails at the press of a button.

However, these approaches are generally high-effort, high-volume, and low-conversion. Over the last decade, this hasn’t been a problem, as tech companies have enjoyed an infusion of record amounts of capital. Funding reached a fever pitch in 2021, but since then, it has slowed considerably, forcing startups to spend and operate far more strategically.

Today, companies are seeing the value in moving from a high-volume, spray–and-pray approach to one that more strategically leverages network connections. Prospects’ email, LinkedIn, and voicemail inboxes have become saturated with cold calls and emails, and teams can no longer spend indiscriminately on advertising and prospecting.

To break through the noise, teams are moving to a network approach. Rather than reaching out cold to leads, they’re identifying prospects that already exist within the team’s combined networks and using warm introductions to find inroads into companies. It’s a personalized approach that makes a prospect 5.2 times more likely to get a response and can increase sales productivity by over 240%.

This is the approach that we’re enabling and amplifying at The Swarm, where teams are able to bring their diverse networks together — imported from LinkedIn and Gmail — into a single, combined Network Graph. From there, prospects can be searched by title, company, location, industry, and connection type, then added to pipelines for outreach.

You can also search your combined network for certain companies. Search through companies by employee count, industry, and location. Your team can then click on the company name for details, review connections, and find which relationship holder can make a warm introduction. This will help you find warm connection paths into your target accounts, find net-new target companies within your warm network, or prioritize sales pipeline based on network connectivity. 

The Swarm makes it easy to see and search this unified network, filter through connections, and send intro requests. This is technology that places human relationships at the very center of your sales tactics — allowing sales teams to cut through the noise, thanks to trusted, warm relationships.

What to expect next: moving from network-led prospecting to network-led sales

Today, sales teams are mainly leveraging networks for prospecting. We see a future in which sales teams turn to their networks at every stage of the sales process:

  • Use connections to qualify inbound leads
  • Drive retention by deepening their relationships across organizations
  • Seed referrals from existing customers’ networks

Here at The Swarm, we use technology to make it as seamless as possible to center relationships in your sales organization. As we look ahead, we envision a world where AI suggests prospects from within your network based on lookalike parameters, prompts outreach to your existing contacts based on triggers, and facilitates warm introductions. But all of these technologies will keep relationships — and, by extension, trust — at the heart of your sales process.

Integrate a network approach into your sales process today

Feeling the pinch of increased expectations despite lowered budgets? Learn about how sales teams today are already using The Swarm to maximize their impact, and start building your company’s collective network on The Swarm here.