Who You Know Isn't Enough

Simply put, having someone “on the inside” doesn’t close deals.

In the course of my work, I’m often asked “So, who do you know?” The question is intended to get at the number and rank of people I know inside a given company. It assumes that building partnerships and closing deals is first and foremoest a matter of having the right connections.

This assumption is not only incorrect, it’s counterproductive. Simply put: having someone “on the inside” isn’t what closes deals.

While being able to “call high” and get to the right decision maker is crucial, it’s only with the right opportunity, structure and process that a deal goes forward. Assuming you’ve invested in developing a trusted professional network and are competent at sales, tools like LinkedIn, Jigsaw and OneSource make reaching even the most senior executive a relatively straightforward exercise. But before you pickup the phone or draft the first email, there’s far more important work to do.

  1. Do you understand where you fit in your customers’ and potential partners’ ecosystem?
  2. Does the executive team support your efforts, or are you destined to become another cautionary tale?
  3. Have you done your homework and internal planning to get ready to partner?
  4. Have you developed a program and resources to help your partners succeed?
  5. Are you clear on timelines and desired outcomes?
  6. Ultimately, do you know how you’ll measure success?

With this work done, you’re ready to call in favors and pull strings. Without it, your someone on the inside may not be an ally for long.