Tips for Turning Business Contacts into Customers

Tips for Turning Business Contacts into Customers

Everybody knows somebody. The key is figuring out how to leverage those contacts to make more money. Business networking can help you accomplish this goal in many different ways, such as enabling you to:

  • Expand connections and boost your online presence
  • Strengthen your reputation to earn more spots as a keynote speaker
  • Discover new opportunities that can help grow your career and increase your salary
  • Market your company without buying expensive advertisements
  • Convert contacts into customers to earn a commission or drive sales revenue

The topic of today’s post is all about that last point—transforming business contacts into paying clients, without coming across as pushy or ruining those valuable relationships. Keep reading for the best tips on how you can tactfully, yet effectively, use your connections to achieve greater success this year and beyond.

Tip #1: Establish Trust First and Foremost

Before anyone will buy whatever it is that you’re selling, they need to feel like they can trust you. Whether you’ve recently forged the connection or you’ve known each other for years, trust is at the core of any successful relationship.

This is true now more than ever in the post-COVID economy that’s forced many people to work from home due to public health concerns. Before the pandemic, you might have been able to drop by someone’s office during your lunch break or win them over with a drink after work, but now, your chances of a charismatic, face-to-face conversation are pretty slim.

To make a conversion, you’ll need to establish a trust-based relationship in new and creative ways. Here are some suggestions on how you can reach out to contacts while maintaining a safe, social distance:

  • Follow up. Did you know that only 2% of sales happen after the first discussion? The remaining 98% need at least one more conversation to feel as though they can trust you well enough to pull the trigger.

    That’s why it’s imperative to follow up after networking, at least if you want to turn your new contacts into long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships. Add them on LinkedIn, drop an email, or try to schedule a call. Bonus points if you can remember a specific anecdote from your talk!
  • Express interest. Consumers want to feel like they’re more than a number, knowing you genuinely have their best interest at heart—that’s why personal tidbits are so important to remember! By showing empathy to their problem or answering a question at hand, they’ll view the dialogue as meaningful interaction, more than just a stereotypical sales pitch.
  • Add value every time. There’s no faster way to lose contacts than by wasting their time, so make sure that every conversation includes a piece of valuable information. Industry news, seasonal sales, lucrative discount codes… anything goes!

Tip #2: Embrace the Digital

If you’ve been in sales for some time, there’s no doubt you’ve observed the digital transformation that’s occurred over the past several years. Hopefully, that experience put you ahead of the COVID curve by teaching you how to grow your virtual network, but if not, there’s no time like the present!

Increase your conversion rate by increasing your number of sales opportunities with a growing number of followers. Here’s how:

  • Interact with online followers. Like, share, comment—anything that makes you seem like a real person whose more than just a figurehead will help you engage more users, form more connections, and convert more leads.
  • Join entrepreneurial forums. You can still network virtually, you just need to find the right avenues!
  • Tell your story. Remember the bit about trust? One of the best ways to establish credibility and authenticity is by sharing your journey, including all the struggles and triumphs along the way, over social media platforms.

Tip #3: Reconnect with Old Contacts

Not seeing the results you’re looking for out of the recently established connections you’ve made online? It doesn’t mean that all hope is lost; it simply means you’ll need to become more resourceful.

It’s time to put your thinking cap on and recall all of the contacts you’ve made at past happy hours, conferences, and networking mixers. Search out all those old business cards you’ve tucked away in a drawer or converted into a bookmarker and make them work to your advantage. With health and safety concerns around COVID, consider utilizing video conferencing instead of meeting in-person to prioritize everyone’s well-being. 

Coming up empty-handed? Remember, this is one of the many reasons why it’s critically important to digitize your business cards (unless you enjoy throwing money away!).

Hopefully, you can find the contact information for at least a few former colleagues and acquaintances. If you felt like hunting down those leads was tough, prepare for the next challenge: how to strategically word your message when reaching out to them.

There’s no hard science that can teach you how to reconnect with old business contacts. Some insist it’s best to be direct and to include your request within the first interaction. Others believe you should “butter up” a person before asking a large favor or hitting them with a sales pitch, so you might wish them a happy birthday or send a congratulatory message to warm them into your graces.

Consider the following examples in communication:

  • “Hey Steve, congrats on your small business expansion! I’m happy to chat about localized SEO strategies that can help you gain traction in the new city. Give me a call anytime.”
  • “Hello, old friend! I noticed your recent transition from [former company] and had some ideas about how we might be able to benefit each other in our new roles. When are you free for lunch?”

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Be kind and sincere, but don’t waste their time with excessive small talk. Try to supply them with valuable information they can relate to, so the exchange doesn’t feel like a one-sided transaction. Pro tip: it’s a good idea to freshen up your social media accounts with your latest accomplishments before reaching out to increase your odds of a successful conversation.


With so much uncertainty looming on the horizon, our workforce needs to innovate to remain afloat. Rather than reinventing the wheel, simply go back to basics: human-to-human interaction. Use these tips when reaching out to business contacts so you can convert them into customers and increase your odds of success.